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.
Originally published on 2013-11-26
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
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]
The United States the use of force against the sovereign state of Syria is a prima facie violation of international law. It is an act of aggression against the UN Member State in violation of the Charter of the United Nations. It therefore gives Syria the right to react in self-defense or a legal justification for the use of force and it gives any other United Nations Member State the right to act in collective self-defense and to support Syrian action against the US This is the basic understanding of the international legal consequences of the United States use of ...
Seventeen years ago today, on March 24, 1999, NATO began a 78-day deadly and devastating U.S.-backed intervention of Yugoslavia. It was the first time in history that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization decided they would attack a country without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.Nineteen countries took part in the aggression led by the United States that was supposed to stop the repressive activities of the Slobodan Milosevic government and to establish a framework for its Southern province, Kosovo, under international law. Milosevic was president of Serbia from 1989 to 1997, and of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000.The attack was ...
One of the most controversial, influential, and well-known revolutionary organizations in the world was the Irish Republican Army (the IRA) considered to be both patriotic and terrorists.The FeniansIt is of extreme debate the question of its real origin but it is mostly accepted the standpoint that the origins of the IRA are in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (the IRB) or popularly known as the Fenians as it grew out of the Fenian movement. The name is coming from the Irish armed forces in legendary times. The Fenian movement was founded as both the Fenian Brotherhood in the USA by John ...
The book of evidence about ethnic cleansing and policy of genocide committed by the neo-Nazi Ustashi government in Croatia against its own citizens of the Serb nationality in August 1995. That was a third genocide against the Serbs committed by the Croats in the 20th century: 1. during the WWI; 2. during the WWII; 3. in the 1990s. Today, Croatia is almost totally ethnically cleanced from all non-Croats like Kosovo and Albania from all non-Albanians. During the WWII, around 700.000 Serbs were brutally killed by the Croats and Bosnian Muslims on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia.Read our ...
There was a time when Russophobia served as an effective form of population control – used by the American ruling class in particular to command the general US population into patriotic loyalty. Not any longer. Now, Russophobia is a sign of weakness, of desperate implosion among the US ruling class from their own rotten, internal decay.This propaganda technique worked adequately well during the Cold War decades when the former Soviet Union could be easily demonized as «godless communism» and an «evil empire». Such stereotypes, no matter how false, could be sustained largely because of the monopoly control of Western media ...
Stalinist “Land of Eagles” As in neighboring Yugoslavia, the communist revolutionary guerrilla forces, established by the aid and crucially supported by the Yugoslav communists led by local Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha, took over the power in Albania in 1944. From 1945 to 1948 Albania was under the strong influence of Titoist Yugoslavia and both counties being under the hand of J. V. Stalin. Yugoslavia lavishly supplied Albania with deficient material, mainly nutritious ones, like wheat, etc. As testified by the Montenegrin zealot communist and revolutionist Milovan Đilas, one of the leading Yugoslav politicians at the time, and a member ...
“Srebrenica” has become the symbol of evil, and specifically Serb evil. It is commonly described as “a horror without parallel in the history of Europe since the Second World War” in which there was a cold-blooded execution “of at least 8,000 Muslim men and boys.”  The events in question took place in or near the Bosnian town of Srebrenica between July 10 and 19, 1995, as the Bosnian Serb army (BSA) occupied that town and fought with and killed many Bosnian Muslims, unknown numbers dying in the fighting and by executions. There is no question but that there were ...
The speech delivered Tuesday by Donald Trump to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York was without precedent either for the UN or the American presidency.Speaking before a world body ostensibly created to spare humanity the “scourge of war” and founded on the principles elaborated at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders, the American president openly embraced a policy of genocide, declaring that he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people.The fact that nobody in the assembly moved for Trump’s arrest as a war criminal, or even ...
The best reporting on the depth of America’s dictatorship is probably that being done by Atlanta Georgia’s NBC-affiliated, Gannett-owned, TV Channel “11 Alive”, WXIA television, “The Investigators” series of local investigative news reports, which show, up close and at a cellularly detailed level, the way things actually work in today’s America. Although it’s only local, it displays what meets the legal standards of the US federal government in actually any state in the union; so, it exposes the character of the US government, such that what’s shown to be true here, meets America’s standard for ‘democracy’, or else the federal ...
When it comes to a few key indicators, Ireland, the UK, Canada and even Albania and Greece are surpassing America.America is declining, in large and important measures, yet policymakers aren’t paying attention. So argues a new academic paper, pulling together previously published data.Consider this:America’s child poverty levels are worse than in any developed country anywhere, including Greece, devastated by a euro crisis, and eastern European nations such as Poland, Lithuania and Estonia.Median adult wealth in the US ($39,000) is 27th globally, putting it behind Cyprus, Taiwan, and Ireland.Even when “life satisfaction” is measured, America ranks #12, behind Israel, Sweden and ...
The United States, Germany, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom launched "Operation Jericho"Once again, the Obama administration has tried to force the change of a political regime that resists it. On February 12, an Academi (formerly Blackwater) plane disguised as an aircraft of the Venezuelan army was supposed to bomb the presidential palace and kill President Nicolas Maduro. The plotters had planned to place former MP María Corina Machado in power and have her immediately acclaimed by former Latin American presidents. President Obama had given a warning. In his new doctrine of Defence (National Security Strategy), he wrote: "We ...
Recently expressed by Turkey’s President R. T. Erdoğan a possibility to organize a national referendum on Turkish membership to the European Union (the EU) opened many questions of different nature followed by old and new problems.
A current European political concern is reflected in many controversial issues and one of those the most important is facing the EU about whether or not to accept Turkey as a full member state (being a candidate state since 1999). Turkey is, on one hand, governed as a secular democracy by moderate Islamic political leaders, seeking to play a role of the bridge between the ...
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 ...
America’s hegemonic project in the post 9/11 era is the “Globalization of War” whereby the U.S.-NATO military machine –coupled with covert intelligence operations, economic sanctions and the thrust of “regime change”— is deployed in all major regions of the world. The threat of pre-emptive nuclear war is also used to black-mail countries into submission.This “Long War against Humanity” is carried out at the height of the most serious economic crisis in modern history. It is intimately related to a process of global financial restructuring, which has resulted in the collapse of national economies and the impoverishment of large sectors of ...
First published by Waking Times, posted by Global Research in May 2014, this article provides a historical viewpoint. It is of particular relevance in relation to the Monsanto-Bayer merger.
Of all the mega-corps running amok, Monsanto has consistently outperformed its rivals, earning the crown as “most evil corporation on Earth!” Not content to simply rest upon its throne of destruction, it remains focused on newer, more scientifically innovative ways to harm the planet and its people.
1901: The company is founded by John Francis Queeny, a member of the Knights of Malta, a thirty year pharmaceutical veteran married to Olga Mendez Monsanto, for which Monsanto Chemical Works ...
It’s all over but the postmortems. Trump and Clinton are their parties’ presumptive nominees. Choice for voters in November amounts to death by hanging or firing squad. Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Trump was the last GOP aspirant left standing after all others dropped out, an unlikely choice, a surprise winner, prevailing despite party bosses opposing him.Democrat power brokers chose Clinton before primary/caucus season began. The race was over before it started.Voters in November get to choose between a dirty business as usual billionaire racist, demagogue and a recklessly dangerous neocon racketeer, war criminal, Wall Street tool she ...
Antisemitism needs an excuse and Netanyahu sadly provides it every day on the Israeli- Gaza border. His heavily armed snipers have gratuitously killed over 200 unarmed Palestinians at the March of Return protest and injured over 10,000 at the border since 30 March 2018 in a sickening exhibition of state sponsored violence that has brought death and disability to those actively, and largely legitimately, demonstrating for return of their land and property.
You cannot deprive 2m of their human rights, enshrined in international law, without consequences. Israel is not an island in the sky and the dispossessed Palestinian people are very ...
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was given a host of assurances that the NATO alliance would not expand past what was then the East German border in 1990 according to new declassified documents.Russian leaders often complain that the NATO extended an invitation to Hungary, Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia to joint the alliance in 1997 at the Madrid Summit in contravention of assurances offered to the Soviet Union before its 1991 collapse. The alliance has dismissed the notion that such assurances were offered, however, scholars have continued to debate the issue for years. Now, however, newly declassified documents show that ...
“The Palestinians face the last bastion of the legalized racial rule on the planet.”The great nakba, or “catastrophe,” began in 1492, when Christopher Columbus proclaimed the lands of the “Indies” for Spain. Within half a century of his voyage, 95 percent of the inhabitants of the America’s had been killed by European-borne diseases, war, famine and enslavement: 100 million dead, or one out of every five human beings on the planet, the most catastrophic loss of life in recorded history.But, the nakba had just begun. For the next half a millennium, Europeans would inflict countless “catastrophes” on the world’s darker ...
Churchill’s famous dictum about the Soviet Union, that it was “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” is arguably just as applicable to Srebrenica. July 11 this year will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of that landmark event of the Yugoslav wars which the late Prof. Edward Hermann, speaking somewhat less poetically than Churchill, had called “the greatest triumph of propaganda at the close of the twentieth century.”Whether we choose to view Srebrenica as a criminal investigation to sort out who and at whose direction executed prisoners of war, or as a political provocation to lay the groundwork for ...
Why the United States’ Use of Force Against Syria Violates International Law
“Humanitarian Imperialism”: US, NATO Lie to Justify Genocide and Destruction in Yugoslavia
The Irish Republican Brotherhood
Genocide against the Civilian Population of the Republic of Srpska Krajina in August 1995
Russophobia – Symptom of US Implosion
The Post-WWII Albania and Kosovo
Edward S. Herman: The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre
Trump’s “Mein Kampf” Tirade at the United Nations (September 2017)
12 Signs America is on the Decline
Obama Failed his Coup in Venezuela
Turkey and the European Union: The Question of Cultural Minorities and Their Religious Identities
Amnesty International Publishes a Fabricated Report on Mass Executions in Syria
America’s “Long War” Against Humanity
The Complete History of Monsanto, “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”
“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton
Israeli Blockade of Gaza: The Only Solution is the Establishment of an Independent Palestinian State
Newly Declassified Documents: Gorbachev Told NATO wouldn’t Move Past East German Border
Unwrapping the Riddle of Srebrenica
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS