As soon as the new treaty between the Russian Federation and the European Union failed, the European Union decided that it was about time to bite off a big chunk from the pie of the Eurasian Union that President Vladimir Putin wanted to bake. The chunk is Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, Vladimir Zharikhin, Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries told Pravda.Ru.
Ukraine and other countries in the Eastern Partnership are not subjects, but objects of the EU policies, whose tasks do not include improving the welfare of the peoples of those countries. If Ukraine steps on the path of integration into the EU, one should not make a drama out of it, as there is a positive side of that for Russia, he said. "We will have to find a replacement to a number of products that Russia currently obtains from Ukraine. We will be able to establish self-sufficient industries in such fields as aircraft-building, railway transport and engineering," he said.
As for the gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine, it is the Ukrainians who are to blame for the fact that their price per cubic meter of natural gas is higher than in Germany. Yulia Tymoshenko, unlike the Germans, pegged the price on gas to the oil price. In 2009, all experts told her that the oil price would be declining. The price did not fall, says Zharikhin.
Russia should not be under Ukraine's thumb no matter what the two countries may want to discuss. "As for all other issues, not just the gas one, Russia should negotiate with Ukraine as it did in Kharkov: we cut you the price, a hundred dollars off per cubic meter of gas, and you prolong us the lease of the naval base in Sevastopol. Concessions can be made, of course, if there are adequate steps being taken in return. But Ukraine does not want to play that way. It wants unilateral concessions from Russia, while moving towards Europe," the expert said.
Zharikhin believes that no matter where Ukraine goes - towards the EU or the Customs Union - Ukraine will not fall apart. But the help from the EU will not be adequate to that from Russia: "It goes about the difference of millions there and billions here." In contrast to the Russian Federation, the EU is not prone to philanthropy. The Ukrainian elite impedes the union with Russia, pulling President Yanukovych to the European Union. Yulia Tymoshenko was jailed because she "sold herself to Moscow."
Zharikhin believes that Yanukovych may preserve power in 2015 through undemocratic methods. "If elections were held now, Yanukovych would lose to any politician in the second round. He could cancel the election by saying that the country was having hard times," said the expert.
Any politician who will come to power instead of Yanukovych - either Klitschko or Tymoshenko - will not be loyal to the Russian Federation. This is a big problem for Russia: the entire Ukrainian elite is set to alienate from Russia. The problem also exists in another factor that impedes integration with Russia - there is no mature state structure in Ukraine.
Speaking of other candidates for the European integration, Armenia, for example, did not give anyone any advances. They carefully studied the 900-page document, the copies of which were made for all "eastern partners." They studied the whole situation, not just the economic part, the expert said. "From the economic point of view, it could be beneficial for Armenia to integrate with the EU, as it has a powerful diaspora in the West. But the Armenians estimated the overall political situation, including the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, where they need a military alliance with Russia, and made a decision.
Ukraine has been trumpeting its European choice for a long time, but then asked to explain the conditions of the association. Europe gave the Ukrainians harshest conditions, eliminating the possibility of staying in the free trade zone with the EU and Russia at the same time. Therefore, the union with the EU is beneficial only for Ukrainian oligarchs, and detrimental to the people and the economy.
As for the presidential election in 2015, Vitali Klitschko (UDAR party) and Yulia Tymoshenko (Fatherland party) hold similar chances to win. Possibly, Klitschko will be excluded from the race in accordance with the law that does not allow election candidates to have residence in another country. "Chances are high for Klitschko, because he is one of the most successful Ukrainians, and Ukraine lacks success, just like in Georgia, where billionaire Ivanishvili won the most recent presidential election. The cult of success is important for unsuccessful countries. The standard of living in Ukraine is 2.5 times worse in comparison with Russia. When we parted in the 1990s, the state of affairs was different," said the expert.
According to Zharikhin, Russia should not be pulling Ukraine into the Customs Union, because the country may destroy it. Ukraine only wants to take, it does not want to give anything. "That's why Russia builds two gas pipelines to bypass Ukraine, because Russia does not trust the Ukrainian elite. Let them go to the European Union, they will return with no pants on."
"One should stop brotherly relations with Ukraine and support them only within the scope of the World Trade Organization, as Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said. We must build our ties with Ukraine the way we build them with the Finns, the Czechs and the Japanese - as loyal as possible, in a friendly way, but making no advances for the sake of personal friendship. After all, Ukraine owes Russia 7 billion on the gas contract, but Russia does not ask for them right now," Vladimir Zharikhin, Deputy Director of the Institute for CIS Countries told Pravda.Ru.
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