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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arsenyi Yatsenyuk (c) talks with EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (r) and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

KYIV/MOSCOW (BosNewsLife)– The European Union and Ukraine have signed a landmark agreement on forging closer political and economic ties, in a show of support following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The accord was signed while, in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin formally absorbed Crimea into Russia.

Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister, Arsenyi Yatsenyuk, signed the long-awaited EU Association Agreement amid concerns over his nation’s future.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s abandonment of the EU deal in November triggered protests, his removal and Russia’s incursion into Crimea.

In emotionally charged remarks, Yatsenyuk reminded EU leaders that scores of people had given their lives for the agreement.

“It started as pro-European protests. And let me commemorate those who gave their lives for this treaty, too. And for our freedoms and liberties. And for our European future,” he said.


The EU Association Agreement is designed to give the country’s interim leadership economic and political support at a difficult time for Ukraine.

At a pompous ceremony in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin signed a parliament-approved law, formally absorbing the Crimean Peninsula into Russia.

“Moving forward, we’ll need to put a lot of work into adopting Crimea and bringing it in line with the Russian Federation’s constitution, economy and social system,” he said.

While he spoke, Crimean residents were seen queuing up to exchange their Ukrainian passports for Russian ones.


The full integration period of Crimea into Russia is expected to take nine months. However, British Prime Minister David Cameron made clear the EU will not wait that long with tough sanctions against Russia.

“We have subjected 12 more individuals to travel bans and asset freezes, bringing the total to 33. We have cancelled the EU-Russia summit, agreed not to hold bilateral summits and we’ll block Russian membership of the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] and the International Energy Agency,” he told reporters following an EU summit in Brussels.

“We have agreed to rapidly implement economic, trade and financial restrictions on occupied Crimea. We will only accept Crimean goods in the EU if they come from the Ukraine and not Russia,” he added.

Moscow has pledged to retaliate, raising concerns in Kiev that Russia will double natural gas prices. About one-third of natural gas supplies to Europe come from Russia.

Speaking in Kiev, however, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he still hopes the current crisis can be resolved peacefully and diplomatically, “based on principles of the United Nations Charter, including respect for sovereignty”.


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