|The European Union has said it will suspend efforts to work with Ukraine on a trade and cooperation agreement, as 200,000 government opposition protesters gather for a rally, marking the start of a fourth consecutive week of unrest.The EU said on Sunday that Kiev’s government has “no grounds in reality”.
Stefan Fuele, EU enlargement chief, said on Twitter that he told Ukraine’s first deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov that the EU would further discuss a trade agreement if Ukraine’s government showed a commitment to sign it.
But Fuele said he has not heard back, so negotions are on hold.
Meawhile, tensions are expected to mount as authorities have organised a demonstration to counter the opposition’s scheduled rally.
They too vowed to hold a “non-stop protest” and said they would bus thousands of Yanukovich supporters from the provinces to a park near the opposition camp.
Protesters have remained in Independence Square in the capital Kiev since Yanukovich turned down the EU trade deal in favour of fostering closer ties with Russia.
Both US and European politicians have shown their support for the opposition’s cause.
Republican Senator John McCain flew to Kiev on Saturday for meetings with Vitali Klitschko, head of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party (UDAR), nationalist leader Oleg Tyagnybok and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the head of Yulia Tymoshenko’s party.
He praised the protests as “an incredible show of patriotism”.
President Yanukovich is under pressure to choose to align Ukraine with the West or with a Russian-led Customs Union.
He will travel to Moscow next week to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.