Ulyukayev met on Tuesday with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in Brussels for a "frank discussion" of Russia's concerns that the liberalization of trade between Ukraine and the European Union could adversely affect Russia’s foreign trade.
"There is no doubt that the agreement is a matter between Ukraine and the EU, but our concern is to protect our companies, our business and economy from possible consequences," Ulyukayev said after the meeting.
The minister reaffirmed that if Moscow's concerns are not taken into account Russia would have to take protective measures, including the introduction or toughening of customs tariffs [on Ukrainian goods].
Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision not to sign an association agreement with the European Union triggered a major political crisis in the country back in late 2013, which resulted in his overthrow last February.
The EU association deal was signed after a new Ukrainian government came to power, though the establishment of a free trade area, one of the agreement’s provisions, was suspended to early 2016 following trilateral talks between Russia, Ukraine and the EU last September.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern that this could result in an uncontrolled flow of duty-free goods from the EU to the Russian market.