Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has taken his latest step on the perilous regional tightrope, submitting an altered EU association agreement to his parliament that now postpones a much trumpeted trade deal until late next year.
The EU’s legislative headquarters are set to also consider the changes on Tuesday.
Moscow has long objected to the union and promised retaliatory action. Alexey Ulyukayev, Russia’s Minister of Economic Development, warned that if eventually brought to bear, Moscow will have act accordingly:
“Even if ratified, this agreement will not be implemented for 15 months until 31 December 2015. If unfortunately it is implemented, we will cancel the preferential regime for the Ukrainian goods.”
But this is more breathing space than a broken promise on a long discussed agreement.
Disagreement over the EU trade deal proved the initial spark of unrest last year that eventually led to the ousting of former Ukrainian leader Victor Yanukovych.
The pact is likely to linger as a thorn in Russia’s side, as Kyiv remains resolute about its eventual implementation, with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently remarking:
“After the ratification of the Association agreement, the first Association Council will take place on 17th of November 2014. This will be a concrete and practical mechanism for the realisation of the Association agreement and implementation of its main directives which are focused on reforms.”
Some parts of this controversial bill were already passed in June
Amidst waves of Western sanctions and a war in Ukraine’s east, Russia has also already taken some punitive aim at Kyiv.
Petro Poroshenko’s own chocolate company has had its goods barred from crossing into Russia on apparent health grounds.