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                        THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2024
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Yanukovych and Putin in surprise meeting
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Oct. 27 President Viktor Yanukovych traveled to Sochi on Sunday for a surprise meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin just days after their meeting in Minsk had failed to sort out trade differences.

Yanukovychs press service, which reported on the meeting in progress, released no comments upon its completion. It said the presidents discussed the same issues as at their recent meeting in Minsk.

Ukraine and Russia are in intensive discussions over the future bilateral trade after Moscow had threatened with $12 billion/year in trade damages to Ukraine should Kiev sign trade and political deals with Brussels next month.

Yanukovych tried to convince Putin in Minsk that any trade concerns must be sorted out with the creation of a trilateral body that will include Ukraine, the EU and Russia.

"We have a common anxiety about trade after the creation of our free trade area with the EU, Yanukovych told Putin in Minsk. Therefore, we proposed to form a permanent advisory body.

Putin rejected the idea and had again reiterated his trade threats against Ukraine.

We reserve the right to use the protocol number six to protect our markets, Putin said. It means that [Ukrainian] products will not enjoy preferential treatment under the Free trade regime.

AS tensions have been growing between Kiev and Moscow over future trade issues, a leading Ukrainian opposition leader on Sunday had called on Russia to stop its policy of dividing Europe into two blocs.

Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of the largest opposition group Batkivshchyna, in a speech at a conference in Krakow, Poland, said Russia has built a new trade wall between itself and Ukraine. Yatseniuk then used former U.S. President Ronald Reagans famous 1987 quote addressed to then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Berlin urging him to tear down that wall.

Russia is simply infuriated by Ukraines sovereign choice, Yatseniuk said. A new wall of threats, hostilities and trade wars has emerged.

"Mr. Putin, tear down that wall, Yatseniuk said. We want to be partners. We as Ukraine, we as members of the WTO and we as friends who want to succeed.

Putin said on October 8 that Ukraines signing of the free trade and political association agreements with the EU would cause trade difficulties, but added it would not cause any political problems with Kiev.

Putins allies said earlier the agreements wouold cost Ukraine $12 billion annually in restricted trade with Russia, effectively destroying the countrys aerospace, aircraft manufacturing and shipbuilding.

Reagan used the quote June 12, 1987 to challenge Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall, in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall.

Addressing Gorbachev, Reagan said: If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! (tl/ez)

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