Moscow to be part of July talks over Kiev's pact with EU
Russia said on Thursday it had finally got Brussels and Kiev to include it in talks over a landmark association agreement between Ukraine and the EU to be signed this week.
Much to Russia's chagrin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday is set to sign the final chapters of the landmark EU pact that has been at the heart of a raging crisis in his country.
However Moscow hopes it will still be able to raise its concerns over possible damage to its economic interests as a result of the agreement which has seen it threaten to protect its markets against Ukrainian goods.
"We have lots of questions, the Russian side has handed over a special note about its concerns," deputy foreign minister Alexei Meshkov said.
"Finally agreement has been reached today on a trilateral format, a meeting at the level of technical experts is possible literally today or tomorrow," Meshkov was quoted as saying by the state news agency ITAR TASS in Vienna.
"And at the request of the EU a ministerial meeting should take place in mid-July," Meshkov said.
The foreign ministry said the meeting under discussion would take place on July 11.
While Moscow agreed to the negotiations, it stressed that "such meetings should have been held before the signing of such important documents."
"The Russian and Ukrainian sides had earlier proposed a three-way format for the consultations but Brussels had rejected them," the foreign ministry said.
Poroshenko's predecessor Viktor Yanukovych's abrupt decision to put the key trade and political agreement on ice under pressure from Moscow in November sparked huge Kiev protests that eventually led to his ouster.
Moscow said on Thursday it still believed Brussels's planned association pacts with Ukraine as well as Moldova and Georgia "can hurt Russia's economy" as a result of a feared rupture in trade and economic ties with the ex-Soviet neighbours.
Separately, Meshkov accused the United States of seeking a pretext to slap tougher sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
"It's completely obvious that there are certain forces, first and foremost the United States, which are extremely interested in seeing sanctions introduced against Russia under any contrived pretext," he said.
"Therefore it does not depend on us whether sanctions against Russia will be introduced or not."
© 2014 AFP