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New Ukraine president says to sign EU economic pact June 27

Ukraine’s new pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday he would sign the crucial trade and economic relations portion of an historic EU pact in Brussels on June 27.

The old Kremlin-backed leadership’s rejection of the EU Association Agreement in November sparked months of deadly protests that led to the February ouster of president Viktor Yanukovych.

The interim government headed by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signed the political relations portion of the deal in Brussels on March 21.

But Kiev delayed signing the economic section because it demanded that Ukraine lift import barriers aimed at protecting its farmers and steel mills in the east from direct EU competition.

The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported that Poroshenko was considering pushing back the trade agreement’s signature until he stabilised the recession-hit economy and resolved the pro-Russian separatist insurgency gripping the industrial east.

The complete pact’s signing will effectively cut Ukraine off from a Moscow-led economic alliance of a few former Soviet nations championed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia on Thursday once again threatened to impose trade restrictions against Ukraine should it sign the full EU deal.