Russia 'bewildered, disappointed' by EU criticism over Ukraine
The Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday said it was perplexed by recent European Union accusations that Moscow had pressed Ukraine to scrap a key trade and partnership pact with the 28-member bloc.
"Moscow took note of a joint statement by European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso over Ukraine," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Such and other recent statements by a number of European politicians and EU leaders cause bewilderment and disappointment."
Barroso and Van Rompuy had said on Monday that they "strongly disapprove of the Russian position and actions" over Ukraine.
"Apparently, they are caused by a desire to make Russia responsible for the problems which have arisen in Ukrainian society due to the politics of open pressure conducted by the European Union in relation to Ukraine and a number of other states within the framework of the Eastern Partnership initiative," the Russian statement said.
"We have always stressed that the choice of economic unions is a sovereign matter of our neighbours which we will respect."
It added Ukraine's signing of the so-called Association Agreement with the EU would bring about "a years-long period of economic hardship."
Last week, Kiev stunned the EU by announcing it was halting all preparations for the signing of the political and free trade agreement at a summit in Vilnius this week.
President Viktor Yanukovych's government instead offered establishing a three-way commission with Russia and the EU on trade.
The Russian foreign ministry noted that the EU had rejected the offer.
"Brussels has begun putting even tougher pressure on the Ukrainian leadership trying to convince them at any cost to sign the agreement," it said.
The statement also accused the EU of interfering in Ukraine's domestic affairs and warned against "creating new dividing lines in Europe."
© 2013 AFP