Valeriy Kucheruk on Ukraine

The past week was marked by the start of a full-scale economic war between Russia and Ukraine. The Russian Federation (RF) on a unilateral basis significantly tightened the rules of customs control for Ukrainian goods. Thus, the entire Ukrainian export, bound for Russia, was stopped, that caused significant damage to many Ukrainian enterprises.

Ukrainian political and economic experts immediately named Russia’s unfriendly actions, a kind of, “enforcement to the Customs Union”. By analogy to the military operation “Peace enforcement”, which the Russian Federation held against Georgia in August 2008. And, indeed, no one had any doubt that before the deciding summit for Ukraine in Vilnius, where Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU can be signed, the Russian leadership has decided to demonstrate ways, with help of which it will oppose the signing of the document.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian media reported the details of the present and future confrontation between Russia and Ukraine because of the EU. According to this information, in Vladimir Putin’s official family the Strategy of preventing Ukraine from signing of the agreement with the EU and roping it in the Customs Union was specially designed. The document was developed by the Russian presidential adviser Sergei Glazyev together with the former head of the presidential administration of Ukraine Viktor Medvedchuk, who is a confidant of Putin in Ukraine. The Strategy states that by striking the largest Ukrainian producers, who export their products to Russia, Moscow intends to cause substantial problems for their business, thereby forcing the owners to demand from the Ukrainian leadership to give up the association with the EU in favor of the Customs Union.

In addition to preventing the signing of the Association Agreement the document also presupposes long-term measures. Among them – the formation of an influential network of pro-Russian social and political forces capable of restraining the Ukrainian authorities from adverse action in respect of Russia, as well as forcing them to joining of Ukraine to the Customs Union and Common Economic Space (CES). As well as neutralization of political influence and weakening of media influence of pro-European activists and creating conditions for Ukraine’s accession to the Customs Union and CES before 2015. “In case if Yanukovych continues to drift to the West, giving up Ukraine’s sovereignty to the EU, the result of this work should be the victory of our candidate in the upcoming presidential elections in 2015”, – the document says.

It is noteworthy that the interconnection of the ongoing economic warfare with the possible signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU has recently confirmed and the aforementioned Sergei Glazyev. “The Russian Customs Service carried out preventive activities, related to the preparation for the change of regime of customs administering in case, if Ukraine will sign an association agreement with the EU, – he said, commenting on the actions of the Russian Customs officials.” “This check was of a one-time nature. Now the situation has returned to normal, but just in case we are getting ready to tighten customs administering, if Ukraine by any chance will make this suicidal step and sign the Association Agreement with the EU.”

It should be noted that, according to many Ukrainian experts, the result of such “enforcement to the Customs Union” will be inversely proportional – severe pressure will even further push Kiev to European integration, and Russia will lose the last arguments of influence on Ukraine. This process will be painful, since the reorientation of big business in Ukraine from Russian to other markets will take considerable time, and lost profits will have a serious impact on the deterioration of economic situation in Ukraine. But it is in the short term and in the medium term and further, Ukraine will be able to finally get rid of the “painful” levers of influence of Moscow. In the meantime, the Ukrainian government has decided to stall for time in the relationship with Russia, trying to avoid the rigid confrontation.

Meanwhile, it is now clear – Russia will throw all of its forces “to subdue the rebellious Ukraine”, so in this confrontation Europe should not stand aside. The silence of the European partners in respect of Russia’s pressure will not be the best demonstration of sincerity to Ukraine.

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