The Russian website Ukraina.ru published a story claiming the European Union has admitted the Free Trade Agreement with Ukraine is futile. The article states that the Free Trade Zone is a complete failure because impoverished Ukrainians don’t buy European goods and domestic companies are not ready to enter the European market. The article attributes these claims to the head of the EU Delegation in Ukraine Jan Tombinsky, who allegedly said this at a conference in Kiev.

Website screenshot Ukraina.ru

Website screenshot Ukraina.ru

The article refers to ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who at the last minute pulled out of EU Association Agreement negotiations: “the lack of readiness of Ukrainian manufacturers to the introduction of a free trade zone with the EU was the premise on which President Yanukovych asked to postpone the signing of the EU Association Agreement” writes Ukraina.ru.  The article then further claims that European and American political support for the Maydan protests led to a coup, the signing of the EU agreement and an economic downturn, which all led to the failure of the Free Trade Zone.

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Website screenshot Ukraina.ru

Ukraina.ru completely misquoted Tombinsky  who never called theFree Trade Zone a failure. What Tombinsky actually said is: “Today we can say that the free trade zone, the open market with the EU is not being used as we wanted and expected it to be used. And all because of the many structural weaknesses of the Ukrainian economy. ”

Tombinsky did not call the Free Trade Zone unnecessary and useless; he explained that the zone is encountering obstacles. He is however optimistic and points out that Europe is ready to help identify those Ukrainian businesses, who can export their goods to the EU. “Nothing will be given just like that; the European market is very competitive. Use the support, including the material support, that Ukraine receives ” Tombinsky advised.

Website screenshot Unian.net

Website screenshot Unian.net

StopFake contacted the EU press officer in Ukraine, David Stulik asking him to comment on Ukraina.ru’s claims.

The Russian site completely twisted what Tombinsky said, wrote Stulik. “Statistics show that the EU is already Ukraine’s largest trading partner. The number of Ukrainian business with the necessary certificates to export their goods to the EU is growing, as is the number of investors from the EU and other regions.” – said David Stulik.

“Those Ukrainian companies that comply with EU standards export all over the world, because EU standards are internationally recognized standards, first of all by developed countries. It is too soon to see results from the Free Trade Zone, this is a medium term process. Ukraine must invest in its own businesses so they comply with world standards” wrote David Stulik.

Ukraina.ru completely misrepresented the real situation with the Free Trade Zone and EU representatives never called it useless.

The EU Association Agreement and the Free Trade Zone came into effect on January 1, 2016 and has been  in operation only three months.