Hours before 10 Soviet republics were to sign an economic treaty, the Ukraine withdrew from the agreement. The loss of the industrial and agricultural powerhouse dealt another major setback to an accord seen as key to Moscow's bid to attract foreign aid.
The decision by the Ukraine was announced a day ahead of today's scheduled signing in a Kremlin ceremony that capped weeks of intense negotiations. Despite the Ukraine's move, President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's office said the signing was still expected to take place.The Ukraine explained that the republic wants to maintain trade and economic ties with the other republics but insists on independence and will not join in any economic union with the central government.
It added, however, that it remained open to further talks.