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EU chief greets Yulia Tymoshenko and pledges support to Ukraine

EU chief greets Yulia Tymoshenko and pledges support to Ukraine
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Symbolism and diplomatic language have dominated the rhetoric on Ukraine. EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton held a second day of meetings with the country’s politicians including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ashton, the first senior foreign official to visit Kyiv since Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, promised the EU’s backing.

“We know and understand the strong trade links that have existed with Russia, the strong trade links that need to exist with Russia in the future and that message needs to be understood. We also think it is very important to send a strong message about the territorial integrity and the unity and independence of Ukraine,” she told reporters.

Earlier Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answering questions in Luxembourg following talks, said Ukraine should not be pushed in one direction.

“We agree with our Luxembourg partner that it is dangerous and counterproductive to try and force upon Ukraine a choice based on the principle of : ‘You are either with us or against us’. Ukraine has to be part of a global European family in the full meaning of the term,” he said.

Above the parliament building in Kyiv the Soviet star was removed as “a symbol of totalitarianism” from a flagpole. The action was taken reportedly on the instructions of parliament’s deputy speaker Ruslan Koshulynsky.