Christopher Marsh and I, in our recently published book (Russian Foreign Policy: Interests, Vectors and Sectors), sketch out what we term “Putin’s Eurasian dream”—the ambition to create a Eurasian economic and political zone where Moscow sets the overall agenda and is able to hold its own in the global geopolitical competition with the United States, the EU and China—and to have the foundations laid by 2015. A major obstacle to this vision was abruptly removed on Thursday when Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych announced that his country would not sign a landmark partnership agreement with the European Union—which Russia had consistently opposed. The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which was to be concluded at the EU “Eastern Partnership” summit in Vilnius this coming week, was seen as the linchpin of a renewed EU commitment to engage with the states of the former Soviet Union. While Georgia and Moldova will still ink their own initial trade agreements with Europe, it has cast a pall over the Eastern Partnership process, because, as Steven Blockmans of the Centre for European Policy Studies notes, “The whole idea essentially falls apart without Ukraine.”
While Russia has not opposed some links between ex-Soviet republics and the European Union, it has opposed the EU Partnership Agreements because these bind the signatories to the EU in such a way as to make membership in the Moscow-sponsored entities (the customs union, the single economic space, and so on) impossible. While such agreements are not an automatic guarantee of future membership in the European Union, they put the country on the trajectory towards harmonizing its institutions with those of the EU member-states and would, over time, significantly reorient the economy away from traditional links with Moscow and towards fuller participation in a wider European market.
Of course, there were two drawbacks for Ukraine in the proffered EU agreements. The first is the requirement for domestic political change—and the expectation that the Ukrainian government would terminate its approach of “selective justice” (highlighting corruption charges only against political opponents of Yanukovych), beginning with a release of imprisoned former prime minister and principal political rival to Yanukovych, Yuliya Tymoshenko. Even the proposal for Tymoshenko to leave Ukraine for medical treatment in Germany, a form of soft exile, was problematic to the Yanukovych team, who continue to see Tymoshenko, whom Yanukovych narrowly beat out to capture the presidency in 2010, as their prime rival. In the short run, keeping Tymoshenko neutralized was more important than signing the EU deal.
Like Turkey, which has also had a rocky road with pursuing closer integration with the EU, the Ukrainian government has sought to secure as many economic benefits as possible while preserving as much sovereignty as it can so as not to have to make significant changes to its domestic institutions. Impelled by the desire for greater access to the European market, Ukraine did take a number of steps to bring its institutions into closer conformity with EU standards, but the Rada (parliament) balked this week at passing the last set of bills that would be needed to bring Ukraine into compliance with the EU—including the one concerning Tymoshenko’s ability to go abroad for medical care.
The second was the announced Russian response. Russia remains Ukraine’s largest foreign investor and Ukraine still remains highly dependent on the Russian market. Ukraine’s push to secure greater energy independence for itself by developing indigenous oil and natural gas projects will not bear fruit for a number of years, and the country remains dependent on Russia for low-cost supplies of energy. On Friday, Ukraine’s prime minister Mykola Azarov bluntly told lawmakers in the Rada that Ukraine could not, at this point, afford an economic rupture with Moscow. “What will be our compensation for the huge losses from losing the Customs Union market, what, I am asking you? Unfortunately, we did not receive a realistic answer to this question.”
Ukraine’s decision does represent a major setback for Western policy. It again exposes the hollowness of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s promises at the end of 2012 that the United States would undertake a major effort to counter Putin’s Eurasian integration plans; the United States continues to rhetorically oppose Moscow’s proposals but is not going to devote much time, energy, and most crucially, resources to the task. It also challenges the EU approach which believed that Moscow would have no choice but to acquiesce to greater EU activism in the Eurasian space, and that Brussels could present Russia with a fait accompli. Ulrich Speck, a visiting fellow at Carnegie Europe, summed up the naivete of this approach: “The EU always saw itself as someone that wasn’t in to playing geopolitical games. But the irony is that Putin’s new assertiveness forced the EU into playing power politics, so this has become largely a geopolitical game.”
For the time being, Yanukovych has acceded to Russia’s principal demand: to torpedo the EU deal. But Yanukovych has also always resisted Moscow’s blandishments and still does not want to see Ukraine fully absorbed into Russia’s Eurasian structures, although he has contemplated, in the past, a looser degree of “association” with the emerging Eurasian Union. Nor does he wish to preserve his country’s continued dependency on Russia—he still would like closer relations with Europe.
In addition, Yanukovych must also deal with unexpected public anger over his decision to suspend the deal. Protests in the capital—attracting more than 100,000 participants—were the largest since the Orange Revolution of 2004 and could easily turn into a major political liability for the government, especially given recent clashes between protestors and riot police. Monday’s statement by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will bolster the position of those who argue that Yanukovych backed down from his own stated commitment to pursue closer ties with Europe in the face of concerted Kremlin pressure: “It is up to Ukraine to freely decide what kind of engagement they seek with the European Union. Ukrainian citizens have shown again these last days that they fully understand and embrace the historic nature of the European association.”
Yanukovych’s preferred outcome would be to put real limits on any continued economic and political integration with Moscow—while seeking an accommodation with the EU that would help Ukraine’s economy but not challenge his political dominance of the country. When he meets with European leaders in Vilnius later this week, he will have an opportunity to sound out what he might be able to salvage from the wreckage of the deal. He would prefer to continue his precarious balancing act between East and West rather than find himself fully under Moscow’s thumb or answering to EU directives. The question now is whether either Putin or Brussels is willing to accommodate him.
About the author:
Nikolas K. Gvosdev is a contributing editor at The National Interest and a professor of national-security studies at the U.S. Naval War College.
Source: The National Interest
My choicest political adviser is God who told me to run for the Presidency
Rev. Pat Robertson, quoted in the Church Times, March 1988.
When all countries lived under absolutist governments the Churches enjoyed a much closer relationship with the State than they do in democratic societies. Some of most cruel rulers in history were happily accommodated by the Church. (Vlad the Impaler was a convert to Roman Catholicism).
In recent centuries the Roman Church has always favoured authoritarian regimes that have allowed it privileges, while opposing liberal and democratic governments that have not. For example, in 1862 Pius IX concluded a ...
There is less talk about the rump-Ukraine in the news these days, especially in the western corporate media, and there is a good reason for that: that short-lived Urkonazi “Banderastan” is falling apart. This is hardly surprising since the entire concept was never viable in the first place. Let’s remember how it all began.
It is crucial to remember that there was no spontaneous revolution or insurrection in the Ukraine, the Euromaidan had nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with the USA. Oh sure, the Ukrainian people were told that it was about “joining the EU”, but that ...
On Monday, February 8 (2016), the human rights organization Amnesty International published a 48-page report accusing the Syrian government of mass executions and tortures in Saydnaya prison. According to the watchdog, between September 2011 and December 2015, an estimated 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed.
The methods used by the report to count the alleged ‘victims’ is quite contradictory. Amnesty International admits it had little direct evidence for its claims. Instead, the report was based on conjectures and the words of former prison detainees and commentators who are linked to the Syrian opposition and have lived outside the country for ...
Both before and after Crimea left Ukraine and joined Russia in a public referendum on 16 March 2014, the Gallup Organization polled Crimeans on behalf of the U.S. Government, and found them to be extremely pro-Russian and anti-American, and also anti-Ukrainian. (Neither poll was subsequently publicized, because the results of each were the opposite of what the sponsor had wished.) Both polls were done on behalf of the U.S. Government, in order to find Crimeans’ attitudes toward the United States and toward Russia, and also toward Ukraine, not only before but also after the planned U.S. coup in Ukraine, which occurred ...
The truth about Kosovo and Metochia.
This documentary film was made by the Czech Republic TV and banned in all mainstream globalist media in western countries.
It will reveal to you the horrifying story of Kosovo that nobody ever wanted to tell you and debunking all hoaxes, lies and propaganda NATO used for trigger events...
In 1999 NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days and destroyed everything on its way bridges,hospitals,schools, telecommunication buildings, military bases...killing more than 2.500 and wound more than 5.000 civilians.
One of the reasons why NATO bombed Serbia is to build the biggest military base in Albania, so they can move ...
In the period before the 1999 NATO attack on Yugoslavia, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) waged a campaign to secede and establish an independent Kosovo dominated by Albanians and purged of every other ethnic group. In October 1998, KLA spokesman Bardhyl Mahmuti spelled the KLA’s vision: “We will never change our position. The independence of Kosovo is the only solution…We cannot live together [with Serbs]. That is excluded.”
Once NATO’s war came to an end, the KLA set about driving out of Kosovo every non-Albanian and every pro-Yugoslav Albanian it could lay its hands on. The KLA left in its wake ...
How incredible is this...
The United States is technically not at war with any country right now but dropped more than 26,000 bombs in just 2016 and this under a "anti-war" President.
We have an entire generation of Americans who have lived only under a system of "perpetual war".
The time is long overdue to redefine these issues.
Map of the US bombed states in 2016 with the number of dropped bombs
By Ben Swann
Source: Ben Swann FB
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Paris vs. Donbass
The British Labour Party no longer represents the working class. Under UK prime minister Tony Blair, the Labour Party became a vassal of the One Percent. The result has been a rebellion in the ranks and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, a principled Labourite intent on representing the people, a no-no in Western “democracies.”
Corbyn is too real for the Labour Party Blairites, who hope to be rewarded with similar nest eggs as Blair for representing the capitalist One Percent. So what is the corrupted Labour Party doing to prevent Corbyn’s election?
The answer is that it is denying the vote to ...
Because this article states so many things that might be likely to contradict what most people in Western countries have been led to believe, readers here are especially strongly encouraged to click onto any allegation which seems at all questionable, in order to get to the sources behind any given questionable allegation. And wherever a clicked-onto source turns out to be another article, one is encouraged similarly to do the same there, so that the reader will be able, in this way, to probe down to the ultimate sources, which are the sources upon which this article is finally based.
There was an interesting announcement recently that went almost entirely unnoticed in the Canadian media.
On June 17, Peter Szijjarto, foreign minister of Hungary’s centre-right government, made the startling declaration that his national security forces will erect a four-metre wall along the entire 175 kilometres of shared border with Serbia.
Szijjarto’s rationale for resorting to such a drastic measure results from a months-long flood of asylum seekers pouring into southern Hungary. While tens of thousands of these desperate illegal immigrants have been caught, detained and returned into Serbia, the vast majority have used the processing time for their asylum applications to simply ...
In this exclusive interview, Prof Peter Kuznick speaks of: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagazaki; US crimes and lies behind the Vietnam war, and what was really behind that inhumane invasion; why the US engaged a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and how that war and the mainstream media influences the world today; the interests behind the assassinations of President Kennedy; US imperialism towards Latin America, during the Cold War and today, under the false premise of War on Terror and War on Drugs.
Edu Montesanti: Professor Peter Kuznick, thank you so very much for granting me this interview. In ...
Seventy-five years ago Adolf Hitler launched the biggest and most destructive military campaign in history when three million German and allied troops invaded the Soviet Union along a 1,000-mile front.
Operation Barbarossa – the codename for the German invasion of Russia - was no ordinary military campaign: it was an ideological and racist war, a war of destruction and extermination that aimed to kill Jews, enslave the Slavic peoples and destroy communism. The result was a war in which 25 million Soviet citizens died, including a million Jews, executed by the SS in 1941-1942 – an action which became the template ...
According to news reports and to this appeal by Kristoferis Voishka, the pro-American government installed in Lithuania is persecuting Lithuanians who dissent from the anti-Russian propaganda that is driving Washington’s NATO puppets to war with Russia. Unlike their puppet government, Lithuanians understand that war with Russia means that Lithuania on the front line will be utterly destroyed, a result that would not bother Washington in the least, just as Washington is undisturbed when its forces obliterate weddings, funerals, and children’s soccer games.
What is Lithuania? To Washington it is a nothing.
Kristoferis Voiska runs an alternative Internet news site in LIthuania. Not ...
The Democratic Party has moved from being what you might call a reluctant war party to an aggressive war party with its selection of Hillary Clinton as its presumptive presidential nominee. With minimal debate, this historic change brings full circle the arc of the party’s anti-war attitudes that began in 1968 and have now ended in 2016.
Since the Vietnam War, the Democrats have been viewed as the more peaceful of the two major parties, with the Republicans often attacking Democratic candidates as “soft” regarding use of military force.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. ...
A now-notorious list of ostensibly “fake” news sites — created by a liberal professor, seemingly out of thin air — spread like wildfire online in the past two days and was eagerly reprinted by corporate media presstitutes hoping to vindicate their own failed reporting on the 2016 election.
But branding perfectly legitimate outlets with the same scarlet letter as those devoid of integrity deemed the professor’s list a spurious attempt to defame alternative and independent media — anyone dissenting from the left’s mainstream narrative — as a whole.
This is, in no uncertain terms, a hit list — or, at least, a laughable attempt — and ...
“Show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care.” – Popular conservative Sun (a British daily newspaper) commenting on the homeless war refugees from war-torn Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc. who are fleeing their militarily de-stabilized and devastated countries after their homes and homelands had been reduced to bloody rubble by soldiers obeying orders from their commanders (including NATO and American “interventionism” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc, etc).
Hopkins appears to be in good company. But she was probably just paraphrasing what she had been hearing from a multitude of ultra-nationalist ...
I am a lifelong FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) Democrat and therefore am anything other than prejudiced against the Democratic Party. But, that Party died when Bill Clinton became President and undid FDR’s regulations on the megabanks and FDR’s AFDC income program for children in poor families, and when Clinton replaced that with restoration of Wall Street’s control over America (like before FDR, only a more convoluted form of it).
However, the way in which both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton endanger all people’s lives and property and health and welfare, has to do with something else, something that’s even more ...
The paradox of the current global crisis is that for the last five years, all relatively responsible and independent nations have made tremendous efforts to save the United States from the financial, economic, military, and political disaster that looms ahead. And this is all despite Washington’s equally systematic moves to destabilize the world order, rightly known as the Pax Americana (“American peace”).
Since policy is not a zero-sum game, i.e., one participant’s loss does not necessarily entail a gain for another, this paradox has a logical explanation. A crisis erupts within any system when there is a discrepancy between its internal ...
Western Christianity and its traditional discrimination in favour of the Right Wing politics
The Ukraine Between Fascism, Ochlocracy and Breakup
Amnesty International Publishes a Fabricated Report on Mass Executions in Syria
Crimea: Was It Seized by Russia, or Did Russia Block Its Seizure by the U.S.?
Documentary film “Stolen Kosovo” (The Czech Republic)
“We have the right to live”: NATO’s war on Yugoslavia and the expulsion of Serbs from Kosovo
U.S. Bombs dropped in 2016
Western Democracy Is An Endangered Species On Its Way To Extinction
America Now Preparing For World War III
The Vatican And The World
On target: Ukraine could learn from Kosovo’s troubles
The Untold History Of U.S. War Crimes
Operation Barbarossa: The 75th Anniversary Of The Nazi Invasion Of The Soviet Union
Lithuanians Under Police State Attack And The World Under Washington’s Attack
Democrats Are Now The Aggressive War Party
Five Times Corporate Media Got Caught Publishing “Fake News” Causing The Death And Suffering Of Millions
“Collateral Damage” From America’s De-Stabilizing, Endless, Post-911 “Wars On Terror”
“Beating the Drums of War”: How Obama and Clinton Are Endangering All of Us
Time Is Running Out For Pax Americana’s Apologists