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Russia suspends free-trade deal with Ukraine

Russia has said it will suspend its free trade deal with Ukraine as of January next year. The announcement came after tensions between the two nations had heightened in recent weeks over a number of issues.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree to suspend Moscow's free trade agreement with Ukraine from January 1, 2016.

The decree cited "exceptional circumstances, which impact the interests and

economic security of the Russian Federation."

The free trade accord in question was signed in October 2011 as part of a wider vision in which eastern nations were meant to join forces in a "Eurasian Union" with shared economic and political interests.

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Kyiv halts trading with Crimea

Cool-headed approach missing

Putin's move Wednesday came hours after Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said his government would ban commerce with the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea.

Yatsenyuk made it clear that as of next month, Ukrainians would no longer be allowed to provide goods or services to Crimea, except for personal items, food, and humanitarian aid.

In another broadside fired at the Kremlin, Yatsenyuk said his government was preparing a NATO collaboration plan for next year, in an effort to lay the groundwork for joining the Western military alliance.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine had accused Russia of looting two of its oil rigs after Crimea-based oil and gas firm Chornomornaftogaz moved the equipment off the coast of the peninsula into Russian waters.

Ukraine had long lost control of the rigs, but said it would seek compensation from Russia in international courts for its annexed Crimean oil and gas assets.

hg/nz (dpa, Reuters)

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