MOSCOW, October 25 (RIA Novosti) – Russia never put the right of Ukraine to develop partnership relations with the European Union at question, it only warned of the economic risks that such relations entail, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"I want to stress that we never questioned Ukraine's right to develop partnership relations with the European Union. What's at issue here is that it should not harm Russia, its partners in the Customs Union and all members of the CIS free trade zone, which includes Ukraine," Lavrov said in an interview with the Verdens Gang (VG) Norwegian newspaper.
The Russian Foreign Minister added that Ukraine's trade relations with the European Union "should not create side paths for the duty-free entry of cheap European goods into our territory".
The political provisions of the Ukraine-EU association agreement were signed in March, after the then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted and an interim government came to power in the country. The economic part of the agreement was signed by the current president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in June.
Early in September, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union reached a compromise on Kiev's free trade agreement with the European Union, postponing its entry into force until January 1, 2016.
The deal was reached during trilateral talks in Brussels, which were held after Moscow expressed concerns about the economic risks the implementation of the association agreement entailed both for Russia and Ukraine, which is still a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The CIS currently has nine full members - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - and two participating states –Turkmenistan and Ukraine.