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KIEV, August 30 (Itar-Tass) - Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich said the question of the country’s joining the European Union or the Customs Union would be decided at a referendum.
“We are not sure when it is due. Though, clearly, it will be organized. Whenever we make a decision on joining the European Union or the Customs Union, anyway we shall not be able to do without a referendum,” he said in an interview with the national television channels.
Ukraine has made it clear that it was planning to build closer ties with Europe, including integration into the EU economy. This has put the country in a tough situation as Russia hoped its Western neigbor would join the Customs Union, instead.
Previosuly, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Ukraine’s integration with the European Union may compel countries of the Customs Union to think of protective measures.
“If our neighbours [Ukraine] liberalize considerably the customs regime with the European Union, Ukraine’s market will inevitably be flooded with commodities of quite good quality and price and goods of Ukrainian makes will be forced out of the Ukrainian market,” Putin said on Thursday at the meeting devoted to the social and economic development of the Rostov region.
“The countries of the Customs Union [Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan] will then have to consider protective measures,” Putin said.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov tried to defuse the situation, promising to develop mechanisms to interact with the Customs Union and with the Eurasian Economic Union within the context of a free trade zone with the EU.
Later, Moscow has urged the European Union not to distort reality, noting that it has never objected to Ukraine's "European choice".