Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed Wednesday to push through a trade deal with the European Union that is due to begin in 2016, despite Russia's suspension of its own such pact with Kiev in apparent retaliation.
Speaking ahead of talks in Brussels, Poroshenko said he was aware that "unfortunately" the decision announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin would cause "damage" to the Ukrainian economy.
"But we are ready to pay this price for our freedom and our European choice," Poroshenko told reporters, flanked by EU president Donald Tusk and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
"Our position is firm and clear. From the 1st of January the DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement) will be introduced in full between Ukraine and the EU," he said.
"The DCFTA cannot be postponed, that's for sure," he added.
The EU pact was meant to start this year but was delayed while Kiev and Brussels held talks with Russia over its concerns, against the backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine between pro-Moscow rebels and the Kiev government.
But there has been no agreement with Moscow and Poroshenko in Brussels insisted the deal had to go ahead.
"The whole year or trilateral talks proved that Russia unfortunately did not strive to find any compromise solution. Its goal is just to put a veto," Poroshenko said.