President has set out a timetable for joining the EU. But as Ivor Bennett reports, it’s not expected to go down well with Russia where sanctions are beginning to bite.
East or West? The dilemma is where Ukraine's crisis began. Unlike his predecessor though, it seems Petro Poroshenko will not be changing course. The Ukrainian president unveiling a raft of reforms to kickstart Kiev's courtship of Brussels. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT, PETRO POROSHENKO, SAYING: "It provides for 60 separate reforms and special programmes, which will prepare Ukraine for applying for membership in the European Union in six years time." The reforms target the social and economic spheres. Corruption and energy independence are among the priority areas. A reformist majority in next month's parliamentary elections will certainly aid Poroshenko's cause. But the ultimate goal of EU membership is more based on rhetoric than reality, says Nomura's Alastair Newton. SOUNDBITE (English) ALASTAIR NEWTON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, NOMURA INTERNATIONAL, SAYING: "Had the European Union been seriously interested in Ukrainian membership, it could've made the offer at almost any time since 2004. Furthermore, even if the offer were to be made, I think you're seriously looking at a couple of decades before Ukraine is likely to be anywhere close to be meeting the standards expected of even new members of the European Union." Realistic or not, the move is sure to rile Russia. An agreement to boost trade ties between Ukraine and the EU has already been postponed to appease Moscow which fears the pact will hurt its markets. Russia's Central Bank has raised interest rates three times this year in a bid to contain currency turmoil. Punitive sanctions since then - the latest coming from Japan - have seen the rouble fall even further. But the bank's deputy governor Ksenia Yudayeva insists it's not a major concern. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK'S DEPUTY GOVERNOR, KSENIA YUDAYEVA, SAYING: "This nervousness of the market, it affected the exchange rate definitely. But this also means that it can rebound as soon as the sentiment of the market stabilises." Three weeks after it was agreed, a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine finally seems to be holding. According to Kiev, this is the first day in months during which no deaths or wounded have been reported.