The European Union’s trade chief rejects Russian accusations that Brussels is to blame for Moscow’s failed unilateral bid to join the World Trade Organization, her spokesman said.

Lutz Guellner, spokesman for EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton, was responding to comments by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov on Tuesday that the EU and the United States were to blame for Moscow’s decision to ditch unilateral talks for a joint bid with Kazakhstan and Belarus.

“No, we reject this claim. We have been facilitating this process. We have been helpful and very supportive of Russia’s bid,” Guellner said.

Russia, the biggest economy outside the 153-member global trade watchdog, is now negotiating entry with its former Soviet neighbors as part of a proposed new customs union.

The move, announced by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, came just days after Russian officials had held talks with US and EU trade representatives.

Ashton and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk held bilateral talks with Russian Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina on the sidelines of an OECD meeting in Paris. (Reuters)