The new Kiev rulers ask $35 billion from the West

Yesterday, Catherine Ashton (on the right), High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, went to Kiev where she paid tribute to the victims at the symbolic place of the protest movement EuroMaidan, Institutska Street. The Vice-President then met with acting Members of the new government, led by Oleksandr Turchynov (on the left), President ad interim of Ukraine. (EC Audiovisual Service, 24/2/2014).

Yesterday, Catherine Ashton (on the right), High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, went to Kiev where she paid tribute to the victims at the symbolic place of the protest movement EuroMaidan, Institutska Street. The Vice-President then met with acting Members of the new government, led by Oleksandr Turchynov (on the left), President ad interim of Ukraine. (EC Audiovisual Service, 24/2/2014).

The new rulers of Kiev now demand from the West 35 billion in an aid package, without making it clear if this is in dollars or euros. As they say ‘after the meal comes the bill’ and the West has to come up with a convincing support scheme, because Ukraine can turn around and change direction just like that. Mercenaries can turn against their pay master if they find a better offer from the adversary. At the beginning of the Peloponnesian War in 431 b.c. the Thessaly cavalry, hired by Athens, in the middle of a battle against Thebais changed paymaster and side and turned against the Athenians. The West should be very careful when talking with the Ukrainians about money.

Facts are the strongest arguments against wishful thinking and hypocritical rhetoric which hides unspoken ambitions. Apply this little theory to what happens in Ukraine and you might come up with concrete answers. After the ‘Orange Revolution’ inspired by the West, the duo Yushchenko -Tymoshenco followed individual strategies for personal enrichment, letting down their western masters and driving the country to the abyss. It was the time when the oligarchs emerged out of the government-business unlawful embracement, making corruption the name of the game. The result was that Yanukovych backed by the Russians managed to reemerge as leading political force.

Need for natural gas

The problem is that the Ukrainian winter is very harsh. The country completely depends on its gas imports from Russia to power its productive machine and keep warm and alive its 45.5 million people. The West is completely incapable of supplying all those hydrocarbons the country needs. In many respects, the fact that Ukraine after the 2004 Orange Revolution fell again in the hands of Moscow, may be considered as an inevitable geographic reality.

The ideology of…corruption

The corrupt governance of the Orange Revolution heroes Yushchenko –Tymoshenco, close allies to the West, helped Yanukovych to win the 2010 Presidential election against Yulia Tymoshenco. Later on, she was condemned to 7 years imprisonment in a politically influenced trial, during which her old ally Yushchenko testified against her. This was an infallible witness that the duo had gone so deep in the unholy land of the corrupt business dealings that their conflicting interests dwarfed their liberal (?) ideology. Personal enrichment and individual political strategies had buried deep in the frozen Ukrainian ground any ideological facade the duo had used during the Revolution.

So corrupt and unpredictable had become the Ukrainian political scenery, that, around 2012, the Moscow backed Yanukovych turned to the European Union and started negotiating a full Association Agreement with Brussels. The contacts with Brussels became a valuable source of money and the European Investment Bank financed the extension of an existing metro line of Dnipropetrovsk, a city of more than one million people in south Ukraine. The EIB accorded a loan of €152 million over 25 years, with favourable terms.

West or East: Look at the weathercock

However, Yanukovych, following the ruinous for the country political practice of serving personal interests, last minute changed his mind and instead of signing the Association Agreement with the EU, chose to endorse the Moscow led Eurasian Union. There was more to it though. Reportedly, the EU Association Agreement provided only for €3 billion in soft loans, while at the same time Brussels demanded the release of Tymoshekco, his most fearful political opponent. On top of that, the EU Agreement provided no answers for the energy problem of the country.

In the last minute Yanukovych choose to take the Moscow offer containing a $15bn credit line, a generous price reduction for the Russian gas supplies and no demands about Tymoshenko being released from jail. The fact is though, that with Yanukovych now gone to an unknown destination, the needs for money and hydrocarbons remain the same and occupy the central reality for whoever governs Ukraine. If the West fails to come up with convincing answers about all that, everything may change from one day to the next. The regiments of the armed ‘protestors’ will disappear, if the hundreds of thousands of the Kiev citizens decide to come down again to the Maidan Nezalezhnosti.







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