Ukraine, which is negotiating a free-trade agreement with the European Union, is unlikely to join a customs union with three ex-Soviet republics, the EU enlargement commissioner said on Monday, according to RIA Novosti.

Stefan Fule, commissioner for enlargement and European neighborhood policy, told the Ukrainian edition of Russian business daily Kommersant that the Ukrainian authorities would hardly work towards joining the customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan while holding negotiations on a comprehensive free trade zone with the EU.

The commissioner said the EU had made it clear to Ukraine that entering a free trade zone with the EU would be incompatible with joining the post-Soviet customs union.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was inaugurated on February 25 and is seeking to improve relations with Russia damaged during the presidency of his predecessor Viktor Yushchenko, has not given his consent to discuss the issue of customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Irina Akimova, first deputy head of the Ukrainian president administration, earlier said Ukraine was not going to join the post-Soviet customs union. Her position was reiterated by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Tigipko, who said that the post-Soviet customs union ran counter to Ukraine's membership commitments in the World Trade Organization and stressed that Kiev was keen on creating a free trade zone with the EU.

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