Ukraine: proposals and threats

Article published on July 13, 2014
community published
Article published on July 13, 2014

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Ukraine: Proposals and Threats

So here we go again. The European Union gently re-asked Kiev to sign friendly economic contracts that will substitute those existing between Ukraine and Russia. With a growing population of over 45 million people, the Ukrainian market plays an important role on the Eastern European scenario. Russia has always known it all and the cultural background that binds their history, language, literature and traditions together was stressed so far by the governments in order to make the economic agreements clearer and more obvious.

In 2009 EU, Lithuanian presidency first on the list, started the Eastern Partnership. Aim was binding more and more closer Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, economically and legally speaking, to the Union, through the creation of a Free Trade Area. All these ex-USSR countries, since the Dissolution in 1991, always mantained a strong relationship with Mother Russia, willingly or not. Their markets meant a lot for Russian economics. Losing them meant losing important partners, especially in the gas market.

Rather superficially, EU considered the creation of parternships with these ex-USSR countries just out of its need for new markets for exportations, especially during a crisis long but finished. EU cannot offer as much as Russia does though. Its raw materials are not even enough to cover its own needs. Nonetheless, EU represents an interesting partner for those Eastern countries. A possible entering into the Union would mean a greater social, economic and political improvement for them.

EU did not consider the weigh of Russia in the matter though. Ukraine especially represents a complex issue. The biggest country in the area is almost split in two halves, a completely Ukrainian one and an eastern Russian-friendly one, which often was heard being called "Malaja Rossija", that is "little Russia". This last part, which includes the cities of Kiev, Poltava, Donetsk, Sevastopol and whole of Crimea, is inhabitated by a majority of Russian-speaking population, that shares with their Russian cousins traditions, history, culture. It does not seem strange then, that when it came to get closer to Europe, Russia (and this part of Ukraine) felt like it was not much fair. 

The riot movement that burst in January and February was not something unpredictable; it was just the peak of a critical process started back in 2009. The situation since then crumbled and collapsed. The country got split. Blood covered Maidan square as well as many other areas of Ukraine. And yet, this has not stopped at all. USA intervened (as it happens anytime something gets critical and war-like anywhere in the world), willing to control (as scandal calls showed) everything from behind the scenes. 

Again EU invited Kiev to sign the association agreement, not having understood that the most advisable interlocutor would be Russia. Ukraine has not the power to choose for itself in this matter. 

Again Putin acted like a tsar, threatening both Ukraine and EU on several points. To his members of the government he explained the Ultimatum he is now giving: all importations that Ukraine asked Russia (around 15 million US dollars per year) will not be provided; the borders will be closed for Ukraine citizens and goods and for goods transiting through Ukraine; gas provisions for Ukraine will be interrupted; debts for 16.6 billion dollars will be asked by Russia to Ukraine for withdrawing from previous agreements; Russia does not guarantee Europe gas provisions for next autumn and winter seasons unless 5 billion dollars are paid for the Russian gas preservated into Ukrainian soil.