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Moscow Again Warns Kyiv Over EU Deals

Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov says the EU deals with Ukraine won't harm Russia.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov says the EU deals with Ukraine won't harm Russia.

A senior Russian official has issued a strong warning to Ukraine against signing a trade and cooperation agreement with the European Union.

Russian presidential adviser Sergei Glazyev dismissed the expected benefits of the planned free-trade deal between the EU and Ukraine as "mythology."

He warned that tariffs and trade checks that Russia would impose after the deal could cost Ukraine billions of dollars and result in a default.

Russia is pressuring Ukraine and other former Soviet republics to join a Moscow-led Customs Union.

Glazyev was speaking on September 21 at a conference in the Black Sea resort of Yalta.

Russia has said it fears its market could be flooded by EU goods entering Ukraine free of import duties and then being re-exported across the border with Russia.

However, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov -- also attending the Yalta conference -- said such fears were unfounded and "hypothetical."

He also expressed frustration at Russia's refusal to reduce the price of its gas sales to Ukraine and said Kyiv may be obliged to reduce further the volume of its gas imports.

Ukraine pays more than $400 per thousand cubic meters of gas and Russia has refused to drop the price despite numerous pleas by the Azarov government.

Moody's Investor Service cut Ukraine's sovereign credit rating on September 20, partly on concern over relations with Russia. On the other hand, Moody's was upbeat over the prospects of Ukraine signing the EU agreements.

Also at Yalta, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski urged Ukraine to resist the Kremlin pressure and sign the agreement in November, citing Poland's success in joining the bloc.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on September 20 repeated his intention to sign the agreements with the EU at a November 28 summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

But he refused to say whether he would free his jailed political rival, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who the EU says is a victim of 'selective justice'.

Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2011 for abuse of office after a trial that she says was orchestrated by Yanukovych.

Based on AP and Reuters reporting