The United States on Thursday expressed disappointment with Ukraine’s decision to abandon the planned signing of landmark agreements with the EU at a summit in Lithuania next week, deals that could have weakened Kiev’s ties with Russia.
“If the decision is the Ukrainian government’s final decision before Vilnius, we’re disappointed,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news briefing. “We believe there was ample time to resolve all remaining obstacles to signing the association agreement in Vilnius with sufficient effort and commitment.”
Ukraine’s government announced Thursday that it was halting plans to sign association agreements and free trade deals with the EU at the two-day summit in Vilnius that kicks off November 28, citing a need to consolidate economic ties with Russia and members of the Kremlin-led Customs Union trade bloc.
Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s parliament rejected draft laws aimed at allowing jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to seek medical treatment abroad, which EU officials had stipulated as a condition for the agreements to go ahead.
The about-face was welcomed by officials in Moscow, who had been courting Ukraine to join the Customs Union that includes Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Officials in Washington in recent weeks have been advocating for Ukraine’s deeper integration with Europe as well as for Tymoshenko’s release.
The US Senate on Monday passed a unanimous resolution calling on Ukraine to free Tymoshenko, citing Kiev’s now shelved bid to sign the agreements with Brussels next week.