Russia criticised over 'pressure' on EU neighbours
The EU's Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner has accused Russia of putting "undue pressure" on the EU's eastern neighbours.
In a statement to MEPs on 11 September 2013, Stefan Füle said recent developments including "artificial trade obstacles, threats over energy prices and cumbersome customs procedures" were unacceptable.
The debate followed Armenia's decision to join a customs union with Russia, throwing EU plans to forge closer ties with the Caucasus republic into disarray.
Mr Füle said that joining a customs union with Russia was "legally incompatible" for countries wishing to sign free trade or association agreements with the EU.
For years the EU has been pursuing a new Eastern Partnership with former Soviet allies, and Ukraine and Moldova are due to sign association agreements in November.
However both have come under pressure to remain with Russia's sphere of influence, and Russia recently threatened to block imports of certain Ukrainian products.
The countries' heavy reliance on Russian imported energy has put them in a vulnerable position, with senior envoy Dmitry Rogozin telling the Moldovans on 3 September that "energy supplies are important in the run-up to winter, I hope you won't freeze".
Mr Füle said neighbouring countries needed "full sovereignty" over their own economies, something he argued would not be possible if they were to develop closer links with Moscow.
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