At the 15th Ukraine-European Union Summit in December 2011, both sides agreed to initial the agreement. They took that preliminary step on March 2012. Finally, after tortuous negotiations, the moment of triumph – the actual signing of the agreement – was scheduled for the Nov. 28-29 Third Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
But six days ahead of the event, Ukraine’s government simply quit and decided to succumb to Kremlin pressure not to sign the deal with the EU.
For all his bluster about EU integration, President Viktor Yanukovych and his ruling Party of Regions simply found closer ties on Western conditions – choose your own metaphor here – a bridge too far, a bar too high. Diplomats say he told EU Commissioner Stephen Fuele in a Nov. 20 meeting that he wasn’t prepared to sign the agreement in Vilnius. The rejection became categorical the next day with a Cabinet of Ministers resolution abandoning the Western turn altogether as Yanukovych was in Austria on a two-day official visit.