BRUSSELS (AP) — Ukraine's new president says his country has "paid the highest possible price" to make its "European dreams come true."
Today, Petro Poroshenko signed the economic and political pact with the European Union that his predecessor backed away from last November. He says this may be the most important day for his country since its independence from the Soviet Union 23 years ago.
The issue has divided the country, toppling the previous government and sparking an insurgency in eastern Ukraine by those who favor closer ties with Russia.
The signing of the treaty has also brought protests from Russia, which is warning of possible trade sanctions. A Russian foreign ministry official says there will be "serious consequences."
Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn't yet commented on the trade pact. But he has signaled that he wants to de-escalate the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have been battling pro-Russia separatists.
Poroshenko last week began a unilateral cease-fire against the separatists. It's supposed to expire later today. A rebel leader in eastern Ukraine says his group is ready to extend it.
131-a-18-(European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, at news conference)-"with any neighbor"-European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says the EU is not seeking an exclusive trade relationship with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. ((note length of cut)) COURTESY: EBS ((mandatory on-air credit)) (27 Jun 2014)
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052-a-11-(Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in remarks at EU pact signing)-"this moment happen"-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the EU pact is not just political and economic. (27 Jun 2014)
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APPHOTO XDL110: Pro-Russian fighters dance and fire in the air in an Ukrainian military unit captured by pro-Russian fighters in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, June 27, 2014. 'Donetsk People's Republic's' fighters captured the Ukrainian military unit in Donetsk on Thursday, June 26. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) (27 Jun 2014)
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