by Stephanie Boyd
Russia has warned that Ukraine's signing an historic trade and economic pact with the European Union Friday would have "serious consequences"
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Hailing Friday as the "most important day" for Ukraine, the country's president Petro Poroshenko signed a trade pact with the European Union. The pact, which is widely regarded as the trigger of the current Ukraine crisis, prompted an angry response from Moscow, including the threat of "grave" economic consequences for the former Soviet state.
Poroshenko inked the telephone-book-thick trade pact alongside two other former Soviet republics, Georgia and Molodva. The pact will open the vast 28-nation E.U. market, with its 504 million residents, to tariff-free exports from the countries in exchange for gradual work toward bringing regulations up to European standards.
Russia's reaction to the signing was threatening but unspecific. "There will undoubtedly be serious consequences for Ukraine and Moldova's signing," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said. Fearing the loss of influence over its strategic neighbour Ukraine, Russia is mulling its options. Russia's state-controlled gas company Gazprom warned Friday that it would continue to cut gas shipments to Ukraine and warned its European customers that it would limit supplies to countries that intend to re-sell the gas to Ukraine.
"Ukraine has no right to use the gas in its pipeline," Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said.