Ukraine pays the price for lying between Russia and the EU

The 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit, in Vilnius (28-29/11/2013) brought together the heads of state or government from the 28 EU member states with those of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council (on the left), and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission pictured here, must have realised that the situation was desperate but not serious any more. (EC Audiovisual Services).

The 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit, in Vilnius (28-29/11/2013) brought together the heads of state or government from the 28 EU member states with those of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council (on the left), and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission pictured here, must have realised that the situation was desperate but not serious any more. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Yesterday, it was a difficult day in Brussels with the EU’s Eastern Partnership under stress, because of the violent suppression of the pro-western street protests in Kiev. This same day the Russian President Vladimir Putin – the architect of Ukraine’s changing sides and joining Moscow’s Eurasian Union – chose to go to Yerevan to meet President Serge Sarkisian. By this move the Russian ruler wanted to remind everybody in the European Union and the entire West that Armenia was the first country to turn down the Brussels offer for an Association Agreement and embrace instead his own proposal for an ex USSR member states economic union.

In any case, protests continued yesterday in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, against President Viktor Yanukovych’s last minute decision to turn down the EU offer and embrace instead the Russian option. It was exactly what Sarkisian had done last summer. Only days ahead of concluding the details of a final agreement with the EU, over a similar Association Agreement, the Armenian President turned it down and joined the Moscow led Eurasian Union, as Yianukovych did last week.

Moscow wins the first round

At this point it must be noted that the two countries had been discussing for at least three years with the EU. All along this period Brussels had been very generous to both of them. Reality however is rather cruel to both Armenia and Ukraine. They depend almost exclusively on Russia for their energy supplies, mainly in the form of natural gas. In the case of the land locked Armenia, its only source of natural gas is the final end of a pipeline going through Georgia and transporting Russian fuel.

Going back to Kiev, the government not only violently suppressed the protests but it accused the parties of the opposition that by staging the rallies, they try to overthrow the democratically elected government. Mykola Azarov, the Ukrainian Prime Minister said yesterday that there are “all the signs of a coup”, as protests continue and gain momentum. He added that the government was aware of plans to seize the parliament building in the capital Kiev.

Patron of democracy

Putin didn’t lose the opportunity to protect the democratically elected government of Ukraine, which quite undemocratically destroyed the country’s EU prospects and embraced the Russia led Eurasian Union. From Yerevan, the ruler of Kremlin fully adopted the Azarov statement that the opposition parties are trying to overrule a democratically elected government. Putin also said that the protesters seemed trained for this job. With that he meant that the European Union has been financing and organising the rallies in Kiev.

With Putin’s consent or not, after the huge Sunday’s rally, demonstrators are now blockading government buildings in the centre of Kiev, protesting against the government’s decision not to sign the deal with the EU and follow the Moscow way. In view of the continued confrontations in the streets, Yanukovych has called on the demonstrators to protest peacefully. He also called the President of the European Commission, Manuel Barroso on the phone.

A severe Barroso

According to a Press release issued by the Commission, Barroso was very harsh on Yanukovych. If one believes this text to the letter, Barroso just dictated a number of terms to the Ukrainian President, who didn’t say anything else than yes…yes…yes. The relevant part of the text goes like “During the call, the President of the Commission made the following points regarding the current tense situation in Ukraine: 1. all sides should show restraint 2. all civil rights and liberties should be respected 3. the use of force by the police should be investigated as soon as possible 4. it is important that the Ukrainian authorities urgently engage with all relevant political forces 5. a peaceful and political solution is the only way for Ukraine out of the current situation. President Yanukovych agreed with this approach…”

No doubt all sides are now trying to make the most of the situation in the streets of Kiev. It has to be noticed though that there are no noticeable reactions in other Ukrainian cities. If the discord with Yanukovych’s decision was nation-wide and the large majority of citizens rejected it, there should have being similar demonstrations in all the major cities of the country. This is not the case though and an impartial observer cannot neglect this fact.

It’s the natural gas stupid

The truth remains that Moscow used as the utmost convincing argument Kiev’s dependence on Russian natural gas, in view of the freezing Ukrainian winter. Brussels couldn’t put anything on the table to counter this ruthless blackmail. Seemingly this is the new Russian strategy towards the West. Employing all the available means and using them to their limits. It was like that in Syria where Russia threatened the Americans with real war. Moscow had in place the military means and the will to use them.

In contrast in Libya, the West in the absence of any opposition used the country for shooting exercises of air pilots and missile operators, paying no attention what will become of it afterwards. Today all Libyans are at the mercy of the many armed militias terrorising the entire country. Only the oil rings and pipes are effectively protected by the West and its agents on the spot.

Ukraine, after the backed by the West ‘orange revolution’, didn’t have any better luck. People froze in the winter and the country’s leaders supported by the EU, like Julia Tymochenko and Viktor Yushchenko proved to be as corrupt as the ones before and after them.

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