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Russia offers Ukraine far more than European Union

October 24, 2013, 19:22 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, October 24 (Itar-Tass) - Should Kiev put its signature to an association agreement with the European Union, the economic relations between Ukraine and Russia will be unable to follow their usual course, the deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee, Andrei Klimov, told ITAR-TASS in an interview on Thursday.

“We, the Russian side, have been telling our Ukrainian colleagues that the moment it signs the agreement with the EU Kiev will change its legal stance towards Russia and the Customs Union, because both Russia and the Customs Union will be faced with the need for reconsidering a number of issues in relations with Kiev, for introducing special rules to control the flow of goods and services across the Russian-Ukrainian border. This would be harmful to Ukraine first and foremost,” Klimov believes.

In his opinion, “Moscow’s revision of a number of positions in bilateral relations with Kiev will by no means be addressed to the people of Ukraine or further political consideration with a neighbouring country.”

Kiev’s intention to sign an association agreement with the European Union is fraught with major economic and political consequences for Ukraine, the dean of the world economics and world politics department at the Higher School of Economics, Sergei Karaganov, told ITAR-TASS.

Karaganov, the honorary president of the Foreign and Defence Policy Council, believes that in case the association agreement is concluded, Ukraine should brace for further degradation of its economic and political system, because the Ukrainian elite is unable to make a conscious choice and draft its own development plan it would be able to press for in the European Union.

The analyst is certain that the choice in favour of the EU is not a choice for Ukraine at all, because Kiev will derive no benefits from its associated membership. “Ukraine will remain in a state of great uncertainty, because the country’s political elite is reluctant and unable to begin a fundamental upgrade of its country,” Karaganov said.

“After the ink dries up on the agreement with the EU in Vilnius on November 28 Ukraine will have to reconcile itself with Russia’s forced measures to protect its internal market and its foreign policy interests,” Karaganov believes.

At the same time in his opinion he hopes that after a brief rapprochement with Europe Ukraine will set eyes on cooperation with Russia again, as soon as it develops the awareness its agreement with the European Union is fictitious.

Asked by ITAR-TASS if the Ukrainian politicians’ lack of decision might lead to the establishment of external administration in Ukraine, Karaganov replied such a possibility looked very slim to him.

“Nobody will offer external administration. Those days are gone never to return. Whereas in the 1990s global players were strong enough to offer external administration services to some CIS member-states, now, after the string of world crises no country is strong enough to do that. In that sense the West is no longer what it used to be.”

The director of the Institute of Political Studies, Public Chamber member Sergei Markov told ITAR-TASS that when it offered Ukraine the status of an associated member, “the European Union hoped it would turn the country into a transit corridor for its tax-free goods to flood the Russian market.” In that case, Markov believes “Ukraine would have a chance of becoming a double transiter - to move Russian oil and gas to Europe and EU goods to Russia on very favourable terms.

“This has not happened, because Russia took a very firm stance - either admission to the Customs Union or the agreement with the EU. Now this project is absolutely disadvantageous to Ukraine, because by virtue of many EU restrictions it will be able to export no more than two percent of its products to the European markets,” Markov said.

He sees only one winner who will receive indisputable gains from Ukraine’s associated EU membership - Warsaw. “It is not accidental that a Polish citizen, Jan Tombinski, is the European Union’s ambassador in Kiev. Poland has been pressing for very disadvantageous terms of Ukraine’s membership of the EU in order to tighten its grip on Ukraine as much as possible.”

“The people of Ukraine are disillusioned with the authorities - with Kuchma, with the “orange” team and their current blue-and-white successors (the Party of Regions). They are pretty close to saying good-bye to part of their country’s economic sovereignty without bothering to find out the gist of the 1,000-page text of the agreement of Ukraine’s association with the European Union.