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Russia To Continue 'Efforts' To Normalize Ukraine Ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow "will continue making efforts" to resolve trade disputes with the European Union and Ukraine.

"I think we will return to these issues more than once. We want to normalize relations [in trade] with our partners -- with Ukraine and with the European Union," Interfax news agency quoted Putin as saying on December 22.

Last week, Putin ordered his government to suspend the country's free trade zone with Ukraine from January 1, 2016. Putin cited "extraordinary circumstances affecting the interests and economic security" of Russia.

The decree was signed as Ukraine and the EU agreed to begin the implementation of their bilateral trade agreement on January 1.

In a related development, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on December 22 that Russia was ready "to take part in talks and search for compromise" on the Ukraine-EU trade agreement.

Last-ditch talks to address Russian concerns over the EU-Ukraine free trade agreement ended with no breakthrough in Brussels on December 21.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax