The Unites States and the European Union has said the trial for former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was politically motivated and has condemned the seven-year jail sentence.
A Ukraine court imposed the sentence on Tymoshenko on Tuesday for abuse of office. The judge ruled that the former prime minister criminally exceeded her powers when she signed a gas deal with Russia back in 2009.
Tymoshenko has also said the charges are politically motivated and that she plans to appeal the sentence and fight for Ukraine until her last breath.
The White House released a statement on Tuesday stating that it is deeply disappointed with the conviction and sentencing and called it a politically motivated prosecution.
The charges against Mrs. Tymoshenko and the conduct of her trial, as well as the prosecution of other opposition leaders and members of the preceding government, have raised serious concerns about the Government of Ukraine's commitment to democracy and rule of law, the statement read. The United States strongly supports the Ukrainian peoples' goal of becoming a democratic and prosperous European state, and remains dedicated to strengthening bilateral cooperation based on shared values and shared interests.
The White House also said that Ukraine cannot reach that goal without redoubled efforts to protect and advance democracy and the rule of law for all its citizens. It has encouraged Tymoshenko's release for these reasons.
Russia and the EU have also responded just as sharply to the verdict and sentencing, which was reportedly the maximum sought by state prosecutors.
Moreover, the he EU also said besides being disappointed with the verdict, the way Kiev handled the case could have implications for its hopes of being integrated into the EU.
Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, noted in a statement that the verdict displayed that justice was being applied selectively in politically motivated prosecutions.
The EU will reflect on its policies toward Ukraine, she said in a statement on behalf of the EU.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also said the seven-year sentencing could impact energy relations between the two former Soviet states. Its foreign ministry has stated that it has sensed an obvious anti-Russian subtext in the outcome, according to reports.
Putin was the one who signed the deal with Tymoshenko and he has said he didn't understand why the ex-leader had been jailed.
It is dangerous and counterproductive to cast the entire package of agreements into doubt, Putin was quoted by Reuters.
Judge Rodion Kireyev handed down the seven-year sentence after a three-month trial that jolted the 10-year contract with Russia into the spotlight. The 2009 agreement was between the state energy firm Naftogaz and Russia's gas giant Gazprom. It reportedly ended a pricing dispute between Ukraine and Russia that had led to disruptions of gas supplies to some EU countries.
The agreement was a relief for Europe at the time, MSNBC reported.
But the government under President Viktor Yanukovich, who won Tymoshenko during the run for presidency in February last year, has said the deal burdened Ukraine with an excessive price for Russian gas, according to reports.