Around 300,000 Ukrainians rallied on Sunday to demand closer Western integration after the European Union abruptly suspended historic partnership talks because of the government’s continued courtship of Russia.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele announced in a tweet at the start of Sunday’s rally that the bloc was halting all negotiations until it received “a clear commitment” from Yanukovych that Ukraine was serious about the deal. “Ukraine: Words and deeds of President and government regarding #AssocAgreement further and further apart,” Fuele said.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov instead insisted that European integration was still a priority for his country. “We have been told the doors to the EU are open to us as well as those of the Customs Union” of ex-Soviet nations that Russia wants Ukraine to join, he said. “It is very good that we can choose and we have chosen European integration,” Azarov added.
Yanukovych is due in Moscow on Tuesday for talks with Putin that pro-EU protesters fear could result in an even firmer alliance between the two neighbours.