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Ukraine: Poroshenko poised to sign trade pact with EU

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said he would personally sign an association agreement with the European Union on June 27. He told reporters that will decisively shift Ukraine away from Russia’s influence and rule out joining a Moscow-led customs union.“That’s what we have been waiting so long for, what millions of Ukrainians wanted to achieve and what they’ve been fighting for over the last six months. And I am sure it will take place next week,” said Poroshenko.Earlier, the parliament in Kyiv confirmed Ukraine’s next foreign minister will be the current Ambassador to Germany Pavlo Klimkin.He, along with Poroshenko’s candidates for central bank chief and general prosecutor, was given majority support by lawmakers. As Poroshenko prepares to unveil a peace plan on Friday, footage from Ukrainian national television (Natsionalna Telekompanya Ukrainy) purports to show Russian troops heading towards the border with Ukraine.On the other side of the border, meanwhile, armed Ukrainian men are reportedly poised to fight rebels who rejected a call from Kyiv to lay down their weapons.Kyiv has accused Russia of fomenting the unrest and allowing volunteer fighters from Russia to cross into Ukraine to support the rebels.This is denied by Moscow, which has been urging Poroshenko to end “punitive action” against the rebels.Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande voiced concern over Ukraine’s military operation in the east, according to a Kremlin statement cited by Russian news agencies.

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