BRUSSELS: The European Union and Ukraine signed a landmark political cooperation accord on Friday, committing to the same deal former President Viktor Yanukovich rejected last November, a decision that led to his overthrow.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, EU Presidents Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso, and the leaders of the bloc’s 28 nations signed the core chapters of the Association Agreement during an EU summit in Brussels. Soon afterward, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation completing the process of absorbing Crimea into Russia, defying Western leaders who say the Black Sea peninsula remains part of Ukraine.
The deal commits Ukraine and the EU to closer political and economic cooperation, although its more substantial parts concerning free trade will be signed only after Ukrainian election on May 25.
Van Rompuy, the European Council president, said the agreement would bring Ukraine and its 46 million people closer to the heart of Europe and a “European way of life.” He said this “recognizes the aspirations of the people of Ukraine to live in a country governed by values, by democracy and the rule of law, where all citizens have a stake in national prosperity.”