Friday, June 27, 2014

Ukraine Updates - June 27 , 2014 -- Ukraine and EU sign free trade zone deal ........Ukraine president tells EU leaders truce extended for three days in east Ukraine ........ EU summit participants not to impose sanctions on Russia .......Updates on restive South East Ukraine .....Items of note - RIO Novosti !

Ukraine and EU sign free trade zone deal

Ukraine has signed the economic part of the Association agreement with the EU, with Georgia and Moldova also joining the pact, even though big economic risks lie ahead.
The signing of the economic part of the agreement comes after 8 months of violent unrest in Ukraine, which broke out in Kiev and spread across the country in November after then-President Viktor Yanukovich decided to reject the trade agreement in favor of trilateral talks.
The document contains 31 signatures - Ukraine, all 28 EU member states, as well as that of the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The agreement will only come into force when it is ratified by every national parliament in the EU. It is expected that the ratification process will be complete by this fall.
Georgia and Moldova also signed both political and economic parts of the Association Agreement. Ukraine signed a political part of the agreement in March, shortly after Crimea rejoined Russia.
"By signing the association agreement, Ukraine, like European nation, which shares the same rules of law, stresses its sovereign choice to become a member of the EU Association Agreement in the future," said Ukraine's President Poroshenko before the signing ceremony. The Ukrainian President sees the trade document as a stepping stone to eventual EU statehood.
Friday signing the Free Trade Agreement will open up trade barriers between the former Soviet states, but doesn’t guarantee them EU membership, a main goal of the three governments.
“It is their sovereign right, but the Russian Federation will have to take measures in case it negatively effects the local market,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson said, commenting on the agreements signed between the EU and Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.
Russia has warned these "measures" could include $500 billion in lost trade and possible bans on Ukrainian imports.
In order to fully implement the free trade zone, it could cost Ukraine’s already fragile economy an additional $104 billion, according to a previous estimate by Yanukovich. This will include adopting hundreds of new trade laws and thousands of new laws to comply with EU standards.
In 2013, EU exports to Ukraine were worth $33 billion (23.9 billion euro), dominated by industrial equipment, chemicals, and manufactured goods.
Ukraine exported 13.8 billion euro worth of goods to the EU, mostly materials like iron, steel, and minerals. Agricultural and food products are also substantial exports.
The Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) will replace the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement Ukraine signed with the EU in 1998.
Eastern Ukraine, which rejects the new Ukrainian government's authority, is skeptical of Kiev’s European ambition, as is the EU itself.
“EU is not ready to integrate at this stage a country like Ukraine,”Jose Barroso, President of the European Commission said before the talks.
Brussels started the Eastern Partnership initiative to incorporate six former Soviet Republics into the EU free trade zone. Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia have followed Poland’s example, whereas Armenia, Belarus, and Azerbaijan are likely to opt for closer trade links with Russia.
Trilateral trade talks between the EU, Russia, and Ukraine will take place on July 11. Russia has made it very clear that by signing the trade agreement Ukraine can no longer enter the Eurasian Customs Union, which already includes Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Friday, June 27

08:12 GMT:
Self-defense forces have seized a military headquarters in the city of Donetsk after three attacks amid seven hours of heavy fighting, the Ukrainian National Guard’s press service declared. The battalion chief was taken captive, and the rest of the troops were transported to another military HQ “in order to save the military men’s lives.”
08:11 GMT:

The ceasefire announced by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has ended in the southeast of the country, ITAR-TASS reported. The leader’s act came into force a week ago at 11pm Moscow time (19:00 GMT) and stated that “if any armed attack is carried out on the Ukrainian military headquarters or civilian population, the army will open fire.”

Itar Tass....

Ukraine president tells EU leaders truce extended for three days in east Ukraine — source

 June 27, 15:56 UTC+4
BRUSSELS, June 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told leaders of 28 EU states in the Belgian capital that he had extended the truce in east Ukraine for three days. A European diplomatic source said this on Friday.

EU summit participants not to impose sanctions on Russia

 June 27, 15:08 UTC+4
BRUSSELS, June 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Participants in the EU summit did not take any decisions on imposing economic sanctions on Russia, the European Council said in a final statement on Ukraine at the EU summit, noting that new steps regarding Russia might be taken in the future, if the situation in east Ukraine required this.

RIO Novosti.....

Ukraine Split by Coup, Made to Choose East or West – Putin

Independence Square in Kiev
15:39 27/06/2014
Tags: Vladimir PutinUkraine
MOSCOW, June 27 (RIA Novosti) – An illegal coup orchestrated by forces outside Ukraine has caused a deep rift in Ukrainian society and forced the ex-Soviet nation to choose between Russia and the EU, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.
“The anti-constitutional coup in Kiev and attempts to force the artificial choice between Russia and Europe on the Ukrainian people have pushed the society toward a rift, toward a painful internal struggle,” the Russian leader said at a ceremony for foreign ambassadors to present their diplomatic accreditations.
Putin stressed Ukraine needs to return to the path of peace, dialogue and accord and ensure a long-term ceasefire.
“Ukrainians should be back on track of peace, dialogue and accord. Most importantly, a long-term truce must be ensured as a vital precondition for comprehensive talks between the Kiev authorities and representatives of southeastern regions,” Putin said.
The president said Russia is doing its best to assist in the peace process, and the recent decision to recall a legislative authorization for the use of military force in Ukraine is one such example.
On Tuesday, President Putin moved to cancel the authorization of Russian military action in Ukraine to the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council. The council revoked the authorization the following day.
The Kremlin said the decision was aimed at normalizing the situation in the east of Ukraine ahead of the proposed trilateral talks. Independence supporters in Ukraine’s eastern regions have been calling on Kiev to decentralize power and resolve the protracted political stalemate in the country, which is de-facto split into the Ukrainian-speaking west and Russian-speaking east.

EU Has No Wish to Tighten Sanctions Against Russia – Diplomat

EU Has No Wish to Tighten Sanctions Against Russia – Diplomat
11:08 27/06/2014
Tags: sanctionsEURussia
BRUSSELS, June 27 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union has no intention and political will to expand sanctions against Russia, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told RIA Novosti in an interview Friday.
"Of course, there is a theoretical possibility. The question is whether there is a wish or political will. In my opinion, no," Chizhov said answering a question if the bloc may increase sanctions against Russia.
The discussion on expanding the EU sanctions against Russia at the bloc’s summit on June 26-27 depends on how the EU leaders will assess the situation in Ukraine, a source close to the EU leadership said.
“The wish that the EU introduced sanctions is not in Europe itself but in another place, we won’t specify where, this is in line with those political, and I emphasize, economic interests. The intention to drive a wedge between Russia and Europe didn’t just come into being today and, unfortunately, it will not disappear tomorrow,” Chizhov said.
The EU has adopted and repeatedly expanded the sanctions list against people who they believe played a role in “violating Ukraine's territorial integrity.” A total of 61 Russian and Ukrainian nationals have been hit with EU travel bans and asset freezes over the crisis. Several Crimean enterprises have been targeted by the EU sanctions.
Moscow has repeatedly stated that the language of sanctions is "inappropriate and counterproductive" and warned its Western partners about the "boomerang effect" that sanctions would have.

No Proof of South Stream Non-Compliance with EU Rules – Russian Envoy

No Proof of South Stream Non-Compliance with EU Rules – Russian Envoy
11:40 27/06/2014
Tags: South StreamEU
BRUSSELS, June 27 (RIA Novosti) – The alleged non-compliance of the South Stream pipeline, currently under construction, with EU rules has not been proven and is only the opinion of the European Commission, Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told RIA Novosti in an interview Friday.
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said earlier this week that the construction of the South Stream pipeline should be suspended until the project meets EU regulations.
Commenting on the statement, Chizhov said: “No one has yet proven that [South Stream] does not correspond with the rules. But this is the opinion of the European Commission, or more precisely, a suspicion.”
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on European businesses not to politicize the South Stream pipeline, as it is an “all-European project,” beneficial both for Russian and its European partners.
The European Commission earlier sent a warning to Bulgaria saying it failed to comply with EU regulations while conducting a tender for the construction and operations of the Bulgarian leg of the pipeline.
Chizhov said there is no legal ban on carrying out the project while the European Commission is conducting its investigation.
In early June, Bulgaria announced it was putting the South Stream project on hold following a European Commission request.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said earlier this week that Russia and Bulgaria are resolving all working issues related to the country’s participation in the gas pipeline project and would implement the project on schedule.
South Stream is to carry Russian natural gas to export destinations in southern Europe across the Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine. Construction on the project started in 2012 as a move to diversify export routes for the Russian gas. Total capacity of the pipeline is estimated at up to 63 billion cubic meters. South Stream is expected to become fully operational in 2018.