World
Boris Novoseltsev
November 28, 2013
© Photo: Public domain

The Ukrainian government’s decision to make a pause on the way of rushing to join the European Union and to suspend the conclusion of EU-Ukraine Association Agreement which was to be signed by the end of November stoked emotional response in the country, as well as in the EU. What’s even more important – the situation has made surface a string of problems directly related to the Russia-Ukraine – EU triangle. No matter all the assurances coming from Brussels saying the association agreement is devoted solely to economic issues and has nothing to do with geopolitics, evidently it’s not the case. That is the main thing – Europe has started a big geopolitical game to have it lost… 

The jerk reaction of EU bureaucrats proves economy is the last thing on their minds when they push Ukraine to joining the agreement. 

The current events in Ukraine are the best evidence of the fact. The so called EuroMaidans look more like a false start of thoroughly planned wave of protests initially slated for the presidential election in 2015. Not much time was required for people to get together and hit the squares being well prepared in advance for the action (tents, food and posters happened to be at hand), besides technical devices were adroitly used (the coordination of mass activities with the help of social networks, direct transmissions addressing people at the very start) – it all says much. The way Euronews channel highlighted the events leaves no doubt about the Brussels’s involvement. 

European politicians have lost no time to publicly express support for «protests». 

The Ukrainian authorities must refrain from using force against the EuroMaidans Square protestors, demonstrating peacefully against the Ukrainian government's decision not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, said two key MEPs responsible for the Eastern Partnership policy, Foreign Affairs Committee chair Elmar Brok and rapporteur Jacek Saryusz-Wolski who warned: «Otherwise, there will be serious consequences». The very same day European Parliament deputy Pavel Koval urgently left for Ukraine to meet government officials and opposition leaders and take part in the Maidan events. A bit earlier, on November 25, the European People's Party (EPP) issued a statement. Its President Joseph Daul called on President Viktor Yanukovych «to respect the European choice of the Ukrainian people and urge him to fulfill the necessary criteria in order to sign the Association Agreement in Vilnius». Is not an ultimatum? If not, then what is it? Or, perhaps, this kind of rhetoric should be considered as «a dialogue of partners»? 

The «People’s European choice» is mentioned more frequently, the scale of protests in Kiev is used to prove the point. Though only 1500 people expressed their support for the «European choice» in Kiev on November 22-23 (in the city of almost 4 million). According to the boldest counting, there were 20-25 thousand protesters at most on November 24, not the alleged 100 thousand that the opposition is talking about. So let’s leave the stories about the «people’s European choice «to media men. 

The second problem is that the European Union is absolutely unprepared to seriously discuss the issues related to the state of Ukrainian economy. The prospects for the agreement have even aggravated the things. Europe has been reluctant to consider the Kiev’s requests for compensation of losses resulting from the would-be deterioration of relations with Russia. Right before the plans to accede to the agreement were stymied, there had been voices raised saying the signing would be impossible if Kiev received no financial aid. That’s what members of European parliament and economists said. Alexander Kvasnevsky, the ex-president of Poland, spent the whole year in Ukraine and almost never left the country while doing his best to find a solution to «the problem of Timoshenko». All of a sudden he «saw things clearly» and said that the European Union should understand the battle it is waging is much more serious than the issues related to European budget or EU options. It’s about what the West can offer to Ukraine as an economic aid package, for instance, what kind of credits is it ready to grant and on what conditions. He mentioned such things as options and European budget, so it looks like the European political beau monde is discussing the issue of granting credits to Kiev but it all is boiling down to what the European Union can offer at the times of hardships and financial constraints. Lech Walesa, another former President of Poland, puts it in a surprisingly candid way saying the European Union is not strong enough to lend a helping hand to Ukraine. 

Leading rating agencies take a dim view of the prospects for finding an accommodation with Ukraine. For instance, Bloomberg believes the Ukraine has managed to significantly reduce the financial risks due to its refusal to sign the association agreement with the European Union. It coincides with the opinion expressed by the experts of French bank Societe Generale. 

Now let’s make a conjecture that the European Union has committed a blunder on the way of trying to push Ukraine into the free trade zone and political association because it has completely ignored the interests of Russia. Not just keeping them out of consideration but rather writing Russia off as a non-existent geopolitical force. Somehow Brussels thought that Russia would not defend its vital interests in the post-Soviet space. 

The attempts by Brussels to influence Moscow calling on it «to stop exerting pressure on Ukraine» look very peculiar, the same way as if it would call on Russia to stop protecting its market and foot the bill for the European Union – Ukraine Association Agreement… 

The time is ripe for Brussels (as well as for Washington) to realize that the implementation of EU policy in the post-Soviet space is absolutely impossible without taking into consideration the interests of Russia. Moreover, the present policy results in much greater expenses than the West bargained for. Russia is not going to soothe the Europe’s vanity to the detriment of the Customs Union and its members. 

It’s clearly visible that Russia’s being resolute while providing maximum protection to its markets and the interests of Customs Union has made Europe mull over the concessions that were unthinkable only half a year ago. For instance, the European Union actually took the «problem of Timoshenko» off the agenda. Brussels started to think about granting credits to Ukraine etc. 

The effective steps taken by Russia to protect the interests of Customs Union make Kiev come to an important conclusion which it could have made a long time ago actually. The integration into the European Union, including the free trade zone, is evidently less beneficial than the prospects offered by Customs Union which boasts true and tried cooperative links and the market with great consumer demand for Ukraine-manufactured goods. The Russian Federation and Ukraine enjoy broad economic ties; the Russian economy is closely linked with Customs Union’s market. By joining the Union Ukraine will formalize the actual integration that already exists with Russia since the both countries were parts of one state. 

Brussels realizes that events may unfold this way; it perceives it as a threat. Being true to «Atlantic values», Europe will do its best to prevent rapprochement between Ukraine and the Customs Union now and forever. 

As Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has said recently «Democratic policy of the EU has lost the battle with the imperial policy of Russia. The Union should conclude». Probably the European Union will have made some conclusions before the Vilnius Eastern Partnership summit. 

As Poland and the Baltic states are ready to «fight» Russia over Ukraine, the European «old guard» shows much more restraint. Taking into consideration its clout within the European Union, it could be expected the «old guard» leaders will approach the «Ukrainian issue» with much more caution being ready for really pithy discussions with Kiev and Moscow. 

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
Russia – Ukraine – EU Triangle: Latest Developments as Events Unfold

The Ukrainian government’s decision to make a pause on the way of rushing to join the European Union and to suspend the conclusion of EU-Ukraine Association Agreement which was to be signed by the end of November stoked emotional response in the country, as well as in the EU. What’s even more important – the situation has made surface a string of problems directly related to the Russia-Ukraine – EU triangle. No matter all the assurances coming from Brussels saying the association agreement is devoted solely to economic issues and has nothing to do with geopolitics, evidently it’s not the case. That is the main thing – Europe has started a big geopolitical game to have it lost… 

The jerk reaction of EU bureaucrats proves economy is the last thing on their minds when they push Ukraine to joining the agreement. 

The current events in Ukraine are the best evidence of the fact. The so called EuroMaidans look more like a false start of thoroughly planned wave of protests initially slated for the presidential election in 2015. Not much time was required for people to get together and hit the squares being well prepared in advance for the action (tents, food and posters happened to be at hand), besides technical devices were adroitly used (the coordination of mass activities with the help of social networks, direct transmissions addressing people at the very start) – it all says much. The way Euronews channel highlighted the events leaves no doubt about the Brussels’s involvement. 

European politicians have lost no time to publicly express support for «protests». 

The Ukrainian authorities must refrain from using force against the EuroMaidans Square protestors, demonstrating peacefully against the Ukrainian government's decision not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, said two key MEPs responsible for the Eastern Partnership policy, Foreign Affairs Committee chair Elmar Brok and rapporteur Jacek Saryusz-Wolski who warned: «Otherwise, there will be serious consequences». The very same day European Parliament deputy Pavel Koval urgently left for Ukraine to meet government officials and opposition leaders and take part in the Maidan events. A bit earlier, on November 25, the European People's Party (EPP) issued a statement. Its President Joseph Daul called on President Viktor Yanukovych «to respect the European choice of the Ukrainian people and urge him to fulfill the necessary criteria in order to sign the Association Agreement in Vilnius». Is not an ultimatum? If not, then what is it? Or, perhaps, this kind of rhetoric should be considered as «a dialogue of partners»? 

The «People’s European choice» is mentioned more frequently, the scale of protests in Kiev is used to prove the point. Though only 1500 people expressed their support for the «European choice» in Kiev on November 22-23 (in the city of almost 4 million). According to the boldest counting, there were 20-25 thousand protesters at most on November 24, not the alleged 100 thousand that the opposition is talking about. So let’s leave the stories about the «people’s European choice «to media men. 

The second problem is that the European Union is absolutely unprepared to seriously discuss the issues related to the state of Ukrainian economy. The prospects for the agreement have even aggravated the things. Europe has been reluctant to consider the Kiev’s requests for compensation of losses resulting from the would-be deterioration of relations with Russia. Right before the plans to accede to the agreement were stymied, there had been voices raised saying the signing would be impossible if Kiev received no financial aid. That’s what members of European parliament and economists said. Alexander Kvasnevsky, the ex-president of Poland, spent the whole year in Ukraine and almost never left the country while doing his best to find a solution to «the problem of Timoshenko». All of a sudden he «saw things clearly» and said that the European Union should understand the battle it is waging is much more serious than the issues related to European budget or EU options. It’s about what the West can offer to Ukraine as an economic aid package, for instance, what kind of credits is it ready to grant and on what conditions. He mentioned such things as options and European budget, so it looks like the European political beau monde is discussing the issue of granting credits to Kiev but it all is boiling down to what the European Union can offer at the times of hardships and financial constraints. Lech Walesa, another former President of Poland, puts it in a surprisingly candid way saying the European Union is not strong enough to lend a helping hand to Ukraine. 

Leading rating agencies take a dim view of the prospects for finding an accommodation with Ukraine. For instance, Bloomberg believes the Ukraine has managed to significantly reduce the financial risks due to its refusal to sign the association agreement with the European Union. It coincides with the opinion expressed by the experts of French bank Societe Generale. 

Now let’s make a conjecture that the European Union has committed a blunder on the way of trying to push Ukraine into the free trade zone and political association because it has completely ignored the interests of Russia. Not just keeping them out of consideration but rather writing Russia off as a non-existent geopolitical force. Somehow Brussels thought that Russia would not defend its vital interests in the post-Soviet space. 

The attempts by Brussels to influence Moscow calling on it «to stop exerting pressure on Ukraine» look very peculiar, the same way as if it would call on Russia to stop protecting its market and foot the bill for the European Union – Ukraine Association Agreement… 

The time is ripe for Brussels (as well as for Washington) to realize that the implementation of EU policy in the post-Soviet space is absolutely impossible without taking into consideration the interests of Russia. Moreover, the present policy results in much greater expenses than the West bargained for. Russia is not going to soothe the Europe’s vanity to the detriment of the Customs Union and its members. 

It’s clearly visible that Russia’s being resolute while providing maximum protection to its markets and the interests of Customs Union has made Europe mull over the concessions that were unthinkable only half a year ago. For instance, the European Union actually took the «problem of Timoshenko» off the agenda. Brussels started to think about granting credits to Ukraine etc. 

The effective steps taken by Russia to protect the interests of Customs Union make Kiev come to an important conclusion which it could have made a long time ago actually. The integration into the European Union, including the free trade zone, is evidently less beneficial than the prospects offered by Customs Union which boasts true and tried cooperative links and the market with great consumer demand for Ukraine-manufactured goods. The Russian Federation and Ukraine enjoy broad economic ties; the Russian economy is closely linked with Customs Union’s market. By joining the Union Ukraine will formalize the actual integration that already exists with Russia since the both countries were parts of one state. 

Brussels realizes that events may unfold this way; it perceives it as a threat. Being true to «Atlantic values», Europe will do its best to prevent rapprochement between Ukraine and the Customs Union now and forever. 

As Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has said recently «Democratic policy of the EU has lost the battle with the imperial policy of Russia. The Union should conclude». Probably the European Union will have made some conclusions before the Vilnius Eastern Partnership summit. 

As Poland and the Baltic states are ready to «fight» Russia over Ukraine, the European «old guard» shows much more restraint. Taking into consideration its clout within the European Union, it could be expected the «old guard» leaders will approach the «Ukrainian issue» with much more caution being ready for really pithy discussions with Kiev and Moscow.