MOSCOW, October 23 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a summit in Minsk on October 24 will hold a separate bilateral meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters.
The Belarusian capital on October 24 and 25 will host two consecutive events - a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council to attend which the Ukrainian president is also invited, and a meeting of the Council of the CIS Heads of State.
According to Ushakov, a separate meeting of the Russian and Ukrainian leaders in Minsk is scheduled in addition to their “stand-up” contacts during the summits.
Asked about the issues that Putin and Yanukovich intend to discuss at the negotiations, the presidential aide said that they have “a very extensive agenda.”
However, he confirmed that the agenda also includes the issue related to Ukraine’s choice between an associate membership in the EU and participation in integration processes within the framework of the Customs Union.
“I think that the issue is ‘hanging’ over the whole range of our relations. And naturally, the presidents will be touch upon it in some way or another,” Ushakov said.
The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU may be signed at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November 2013.
The process of Ukraine’s integration into the European Union has recently been a key item on the agenda of bilateral relations. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that Ukraine, if it becomes an associate member of the EU, will lose its trade preferences with Russia. In particular, Vladimir Putin stated in early October that if Ukraine signs an association agreement with the EU, the Russian Federation would make decisions to protect its market.
Ukraine in this case also will not be able to become a full-fledged member of the Customs Union, which currently brings together Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.