Ukraine takes EU money and runs to sign with Russia

Štefan Füle, Member of the European Commission in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, received in Brussels Sergiy Arbuzov, Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister, on 17 October 2013. Until the very last moment the Ukrainians nurtured EU’s ambition for an Association Agreement with this important country. Then Kyiv said it signs with Moscow. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Štefan Füle, Member of the European Commission in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, received in Brussels Sergiy Arbuzov, Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister, on 17 October 2013. Until the very last moment the Ukrainians nurtured EU’s ambition for an Association Agreement with their key country. Then Kyiv said it signs with Moscow. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Yesterday, Ukraine threw away in the dustbin EU’s ultimatum issued last Monday by the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius during the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. Lithuania currently holds the EU Council Presidency, representing the entire Union. Linkevičius said that “Ten days remain for Ukraine and the European Union to take crucial decisions to sign the Association Agreement in Vilnius Summit”. The Agreement could lead to full membership after say ten years. True, the EU’s offer to Kyiv was not a small thing. Let’s follow the facts.

The European Sting almost predicted the Ukrainian rejection of EU’s offer. Last Tuesday Suzan A. Kane wrote, “The Eastern Partnership, EU’s major and expensive initiative to extend its influence up to the southern borders of Russia is faltering dangerously. Ukraine doesn’t seem ready to sign the Partnership after Armenia recently rejected it…The European Union has been very actively preparing the Vilnius Summit scheduled for 28-29 November, where Ukraine is expected to sign an Association Agreement with the EU. Ten days ahead of this Vilnius Summit and Ukraine doesn’t appear ready to fulfil the prerequisites set by Brussels, to a great embarrassment of the EU dignitaries”.

With EU’s money

During the last two years, the European Union has spent time and a lot of money to bring Ukraine closer to the West, away from Moscow. Only last October the European Investment Bank (EIB) supported the extension of the 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. The contract was signed on 25 October in Luxembourg by the Ukrainian Finance Minister Yurij Kolobov and EIB Vice President László Baranyay. The EU is, or rather was, even preparing visa liberalisation for Ukrainian nationals. In any case, Brussels has offered a lot of goodies to the Ukrainian President  Eastern Partnership and of course had promised a lot more after the signing of the Association Agreement.

However, all along, Moscow didn’t stay idle. The Russian President had personally threatened Kyiv not to sign this Agreement with the European Union. Obviously Russia considers Ukraine, as belonging, in a ‘historic way’, to its own sphere of influence. This country, with its 50 million people, was the second largest Soviet Republic of USSR. Before that, it belonged to the Imperial Russia. Almost half of the population speaks Russian.

Ukraine was the major ‘item’ in EU’s eastern neighbourhood policy. According to this writer, “The Eastern Partnership, EU’s major and expensive initiative to extend its influence up to the southern borders of Russia is faltering dangerously. Ukraine doesn’t seem ready to sign the Partnership, after Armenia recently rejected it”. It remains a mystery how the Brussels bureaucracy was caught literally with the pants down.

A Kyiv’s game

Until the very last moment the EU commissioner, in charge of relations with Kiev, Stefan Füle, a German, seemingly believed that Yanukovich would sign the deal. Füle was in Kyiv for three days from 18 to 20 November. On his return to Brussels on Wednesday he said “The EU’s commitment to bring EU Ukraine relations to a new quality, opening up new opportunities for the Ukrainian people, is firm. The door for such a qualitative step forward is open and we look forward to the government’s implementation of its decision of 18 September 2013 to sign the association agreement in Vilnius on 29 November 2013”. Other sources say that Yanukovich told Füle he is not signing on Tuesday 19 November.

In any case, what the Ukrainian President said, after he turned downed EU’s proposals, indicates that he had planned this from the very beginning. His target was to get as much money as he could from the West, and then turn again towards Putin’s Russia, as if nothing had happened in the between.

Yanukovich justified this full U-turn in his foreign policy, by saying that this Association Agreement with the EU would cost to his country €500 billion in lost trade with Russia over the next few years. But the relevant estimates of redirecting Ukraine’s trade towards the West instead of Russia were available from the very beginning when the discussions with the EU started two years ago.

In any case the EU rather overestimated its control over the entire case. The insistence of Brussels that Ukraine freed former Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko from jail and let her travel to Germany, was rather the extra Western demand that turn Yanukovich’s scale towards Moscow. Tymoshenko could be most the important contestant of the 2015 presidential election. She was sentenced in 2011 to seven years imprisonment for embezzlement. The EU believes that Ukraine’s judicial system is politically influenced. Tymoshenko is a staunch friend of the West.

Probably Vilnius overdid it?

Another point that the EU may have misjudged, is the fact that Brussels let the Lithuanian Foreign Minister blatantly tell the Ukrainian President, what he had to do ‘within ten days’. Lithuania is such a small country in comparison to Ukraine, and the Vilnius government has on many occasions provoked Russia’s wrath. Even yesterday Linkevičius while announcing the bad news was rather extra harsh with the Ukrainian President.

Yesterday Kyiv not only briefly threw in the dustbin EU’s ultimatum, but Prime Minister Mykola Azarov right after announcing the suspension of the talks with the EU, he said Ukraine is resuming the procedure to join the Moscow-led customs union and the former Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States. Not to forget that this summer Armenia, instead of promoting its ties with the EU, suddenly changed course and signed a membership agreement with the Eurasian Union (EAU).

In any case the whole affair is an unforgivable failure of EU’s eastern opening. Even if Moldova and Georgia sign the EU papers, the fact remains that Brussels lost a decisive battle in the Dnieper River plains.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

A comprehensive strategy for Eurozone’s long term growth gains momentum

EU-China relations under investigation?

Outbreak of COVID-19: The third wave and the people

How a new encryption technique can help protect privacy amid COVID-19

EU4FairWork: Commission launches campaign to tackle undeclared work

Local innovation, international impact: SMEs and the ITU Telecom World Awards

To end deforestation, we must protect community land rights

How green investment will help Latin America and the world fight climate change

Antitrust: Commission launches sector inquiry into the consumer Internet of Things (IoT)

Students in Milan are moving in with the elderly to fight loneliness and save money

Reforms in Latvia must result in stronger enforcement to tackle foreign bribery and subsequent money laundering risks

Brexit negotiations: Can May’s Britain bounce back?

Trade: EU-Singapore agreement to enter into force on 21 November 2019

Madagascar: UN chief commends leaders, State institutions following ‘historic milestone’ election

How to tackle the perils of air pollution

From his room with a view, UN chief takes to Instagram with an eye on hope and a brighter future

Banking on sustainability – what’s next?

Commission: New proposal for centrally managed bank resolution

State aid: Commission approves €20 billion Spanish guarantee schemes for companies and self-employed affected by coronavirus outbreak

European Parliament calls on Russia to end occupation of Georgian territories

UNICEF welcomes Bangladesh statement that Rohingya will not be forced to leave

Greece and Ukraine main items on EU28 menu; the course is set

G20 LIVE: the EU trade gold rush continues as EU and Australia agree to launch Free Trade Agreement (FTA) live from Antalya Turkey

WHO working to save lives following powerful earthquake in Albania

Commission opens infringement procedures against 12 Member States for not transposing EU rules banning unfair trading practices

The Catcher in the Rice

Schengen: MEPs adopt their position on temporary checks at national borders

Digital Finance: Commission holds closing pan-European conference following extensive outreach events

The Sichuan Province of China presents its cultural treasure to the EU

“Be aware where you put your I Agree signature on and something else”; now Facebook by default opts you in an unseen private data bazar

How much more political is the new EU leadership? Does this include personal bend?

Draghi hands over to banks €77.7 billion more

Take Care of In Order to Be Taken Care of

In the United States, there aren’t enough hours in the week to make rent

How to bring precision medicine into the doctor’s office

Encouraging progress made in 2018, in ‘zero tolerance’ effort to end sexual exploitation and abuse across UN

Cyclone Fani hits India, UN moves to protect vulnerable refugees in Bangladesh

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Nets’ account-to-account payment business by Mastercard, subject to conditions

MEPs approve deal on tap water and demand that EU water legislation be respected

How smart tech helps cities fight terrorism and crime

Why impoverishment and social exclusion grow in the EU; the affluent north also suffers

Chart of the day: These countries have the highest share of electric vehicles

Commission presents far-reaching anti-tax evasion measures

Can Kiev make face to mounting economic problems and social unrest?

State aid: Commission approves close to €94 million support for waste-to-energy high-efficient cogeneration plant in Bulgaria

Commission proposes measures to boost data sharing and support European data spaces

FROM THE FIELD: Faces and Voices of Conflict

Merry Christmas from Erdogan, Putin, Mogherini and the Polish firefighter

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

This project is decarbonizing the UK area with the highest industrial CO2 emissions

In this Tokyo cafe, the waiters are robots operated remotely by people with disabilities

Turkey presents a new strategy for EU accession but foreign policy could be the lucky card

Afghanistan can rely on international support along harrowing road to peace, and beyond

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

Forest fires: EU mobilises planes to support Turkey

New York to London in 90 minutes? These companies think it’s possible

One year on from #MeToo, what’s changed?

How a different kind of investment could transform Latin America

Africa: Urgent action needed to mobilise domestic resources as tax revenues plateau

Climate change: ‘A moral, ethical and economic imperative’ to slow global warming say UN leaders, calling for more action

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s