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CRISIS IN KIEV

E.U. halts discussions on Ukraine trade deal

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    Pro-E.U. activist Andriy Zavodyuk shows Ukraine’s national flag’s colors on his face at a rally in Kiev.

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    Activists cook meals during a rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine. About 200,000 anti-government demonstrators converged on the central square of Ukraine’s capital on Sunday. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) spoke to the crowd.

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

16n2ukraine-3

Pro-E.U. activist Andriy Zavodyuk shows Ukraine’s national flag’s colors on his face at a rally in Kiev.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

KIEV, Ukraine — The European Union on Sunday broke off talks with Ukraine on a far-reaching trade deal that protesters have demanded for weeks as an E.U. spokesman all but accused Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych of acting under false pretenses.

E.U. spokesman Stefan Fule wrote on Twitter that the words and actions of Mr. Yanukovych were “growing further and further apart” even as the Ukrainian crisis was showing signs of deepening.

More than 100,000 protesters clogged a main plaza and surrounding streets on Sunday, rivaling earlier weekend rallies in size.

Mr. Fule’s message suggested that the Ukraine government might have to change before the E.U. deal can be revived.

He said further talks on the trade agreement hinge on receiving clear signals from Ukraine’s government, but he had received no response.

“Work on hold,” he tweeted, saying he had told Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Arbuzov that the government had to show “a clear commitment to sign.”

Officials in Brussels, the headquarters of the E.U.’s executive arm, the European Commission, confirmed the decision to suspend talks with Ukraine.

After years of negotiations with Brussels, Mr. Yanukovych was supposed to sign the E.U. association pact late last month.

Instead he announced that he would not because austerity measures demanded in a related International Monetary Fund loan were too stringent, and Russia had threatened trade sanctions.

His government began talks on rival trade and economic deals with Russia even as Mr. Yanukovych insisted he intended to sign the European Union deal eventually.

High-level Western diplomats traveled to Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, last week.

16n2cook

Activists cook meals during a rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine. About 200,000 anti-government demonstrators converged on the central square of Ukraine’s capital on Sunday. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) spoke to the crowd.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

Mr. Yanukovych told the E.U.’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and a U.S. assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, that he intended to sign the European trade deal and would not join the rival Russian-backed customs union.

By Friday, though, the Ukrainian government had again issued orders to ministers to plan to reconcile Ukrainian customs and trade legislation with the Russian-led customs union, not the E.U., the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda reported.

In Kiev’s Independence Square on Sunday, a crowd gathered to hear several speeches, including one by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), who was in the capital for meetings with opposition leaders and Ukraine’s foreign minister.

“Ukraine will make Europe better, and Europe will make Ukraine better,” Mr. McCain told the crowd. “We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe.”

At a news conference later, Mr. McCain and Sen. Christopher Murphy (D., Conn.) said the Senate would consider imposing sanctions against the Ukrainian government should there be any further violence against protesters.

Mr. Murphy said he accompanied Mr. McCain on the trip to show bipartisan support for the Ukrainian demonstrators, and he said he was impressed by the peaceful nature of the rally.

The pro-E.U. protest leaders asked supporters to turn out Tuesday, when Mr. Yanukovych is to meet with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The two leaders have been negotiating over financial aid that could include discounts on natural gas and, perhaps, a bridge loan for Ukraine.

Opposition leaders say they fear that Mr. Yanukovych is secretly preparing to sign the customs union pact.

If the government chooses the Russian deal, it would further inflame the protest movement in Kiev.

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