Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (C) poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (L) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy at the EU Council in Brussels June 27, 2014. (AFP/Stringer)
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Ukraine signed Friday a historic free-trade agreement with the European Union that has been at the heart of months of violence and upheaval in the country, drawing an immediate threat of "grave consequences" from Russia.Soon afterwards, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, drawing outrage and sanctions from the United States and EU, and pro-Russian separatists began an uprising in eastern Ukraine that has claimed hundreds of lives.Poroshenko urged the EU to reward Ukraine for its sacrifices by promising the country would be eligible for membership of the EU once it was ready.Ukraine sends 24 percent of its exports to Russia, worth $15 billion a year.It is also concerned that Ukraine may re-export EU products into Russia, avoiding duties that Russia imposes to protect its own output.The EU exported 23.9 billion euros of goods to Ukraine in 2013 and imported 13.8 billion worth, EU data shows.
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