The Mania of Ukraine’s Euromaidan

December 29, 2013 Topic: European Union Region: Ukraine

The Mania of Ukraine’s Euromaidan

The proposed EU agreement for Ukraine falls patently short of any commitments to improve the lives of Ukrainians or truly give them new rights in Europe.

Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s visit to Kiev was a pivotal moment. Accompanied by calls in Congress to impose sanctions against many Ukrainian officials and businessmen disloyal to Washington, she had confidential meetings with the most influential of them, threatening that they would be put on a list of sanctioned persons barred from entry into the United States and other NATO member-states and have their accounts and property seized. The blackmail of the most influential Ukrainians was attended by the publicized distribution of food to “suffering” supporters of Euro-integration and accusations against Russia for tough pressure on Ukraine.

President Putin called for mutual efforts to put an end to the paradoxical relations in the American-European Maidan around Ukraine. This was met with hysteria. In response to the warning that Russia would end preferential trade ties with Ukraine in accordance with WTO norms should the Association Agreement be signed, Ukrainian and European politicians began hurling accusations at Russia, blaming it for blackmailing and exerting pressure. When Yanukovich refused to sign the agreement because it would both hurt Ukraine and violate its Constitution, he was blamed domestically for treason, while internationally there was an attempt to provoke a coup and unseat the president. In the end, when the Russian leadership came to help Ukraine with credits and discounts in the price of natural gas, saving it from imminent bankruptcy and economic disaster, it was accused of buying out the Ukrainian leadership.

Compare the economic effects of the two regional integration scenarios for Ukraine. The side-by-side comparison of both—the signing of the Association Agreement and entry into the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space—shows the conspicuous benefits of the latter. In foreign trade, the Customs Union promises Ukraine’s economy $9-10 billion in the near future. With EU association, the forecast is a net loss of $2-4 billion. Depending on the depth of integration until 2030, Ukrainian entrance into the Customs Union and Common Economic Space is projected to increase GDP anywhere between 3 and 9 percent; under the Association Agreement it is projected that GDP would fall about 2-3 percent. In the financial sphere, the EU scenario would mean the growth of foreign debt, a devaluation of the currency, a government default, peak inflation, and ultimately, a lower standard of living. All of this would lead to increased unemployment. Overall, the economic benefit difference between the two scenarios by 2030 is about 7.5 percent.

Second, we must remember the common history of Russia and Ukraine, as well as previous attempts at European integration. During both World Wars, integration resulted in genocide against the Ukrainian people.

Third, we must admit that the Eastern Partnership project is in its nature anti-Russian and exceptionally detrimental to the establishment of good neighborly relations and stability in Europe. We must unpack the personal motives of European politicians and bureaucrats, who have manifestly violated all norms of international law in their pursuit of imposing the unconstitutional and one-sided Association Agreement on the Ukrainian leadership.

Fourth, we must negotiate a stop to interference in the domestic affairs of Ukraine and allow the Ukrainian people to decide their fate without blackmail from abroad. The geopolitical choice the country faces should be put to a national referendum.

Fifth, we should combine the efforts of both the EU and the Customs Union in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community to optimize trade and economic cooperation with Ukraine.

The last proposition, recently articulated by Prime Minister Azarov of Ukraine, has excellent potential for improving the trade, economic and political relations in Europe. As we know, Russia and the EU have failed to establish a constructive dialogue since the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation expired some years ago. This is largely driven by political tensions caused by the anti-Russian Eastern Partnership. President Putin supported Azarov’s proposition, which was then rejected by frenzied Lithuanian politicians and by some European officials. Fortunately, the terms of those officials are coming to an end, and it is possible that this may also bring an end to the Maidan “schizophrenia,” which poisons the climate for cooperation in all of Europe.

Should the blackmail of Ukraine’s elite continue, the meddling of politicians and secret agencies of NATO countries in the domestic affairs of Ukraine will also endure. This could make the conflict spill beyond the limits of the Maidan in Kiev to overtake all of Ukraine, ensnaring Russia and the EU in it, and further aggravating relations between all parties. The escalation of this conflict would inevitably lead Ukraine to split, which would throw the entire Eastern European region in a spiral of instability and political tension. In the context of the continuing global economic crisis, this would have severe consequences for the trade relationship between the Customs Union, Ukraine and the EU, undoubtedly bringing about losses. It is possible that American political pundits are deliberately manipulating Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs dependent on them, however the realization of such a plan would damage the United States itself because it would further weaken the EU, America’s main ally in the post-Soviet world.

The staging of trilateral discussions between Ukraine, the EU and Russia together is the best possible outcome of the current stalemate. The EU’s ignoring this proposition would be counterproductive and reflect the involvement of the current European Commission, as well as the disproportionately large ambition of the Polish and Lithuanian politicians trying to enmesh the EU in their own anti-Russian adventures fanned by old inferiority complexes in their own countries. It is time to stop the growing conflict zone around the EU, which is still paying for the Balkan wars after the collapse of Yugoslavia. Russia’s interest lies in a stable and strong European Union, as it is the country’s main trade partner. The temptation of Ukraine, which was and is a historic and spiritual center of the Russian world with Kiev—the mother of all Russian cities—could end in catastrophe for the EU, as has already been explored in previous attempts to forcefully integrate Russia into Europe.

Sergey Glazyev serves as an adviser to the Russian President on Regional Economic Integration. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own made as a private citizen and do not necessarily reflect those of the Russian government.

Image: Wikicommons/Creative Commons.