Russian Foreign Min to Go to Ukraine over Post-Soviet Customs Bloc

January 3, 2013, Thursday // 05:54

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Kiev on January 13-14 to discuss Ukraine's participation in the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara has announced.

Kiev and Moscow are set to intensify their negotiations in the coming months on Ukraine's participation in the post-Soviet customs bloc, Kozhara said, as cited by RIA Novosti.

"In the first months [of this year], discussions will intensify over the formats of Ukraine's participation [in the Customs Union] without joining it," Kozhara said.

Ukraine, which has proclaimed a strategic course for Eurointegration, plans to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union in late 2013.

At the same time, Ukraine has announced its readiness to join some of the Customs Union rules gradually.

Russia has repeatedly offered Ukraine to join the Customs Union, promising cheaper gas supplies in return.

RIA Novosti points out that Ukraine is reluctant to become a full member of the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union, because such a deal would rule out signing a free trade agreement with the EU, and has suggested cooperating with the union under a 'three plus one' scheme, which would not mean full membership.


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