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MOSCOW, December 13. /ITAR-TASS/. U.S. and top-rank European officials are conducting a tough political game in Ukraine tantamount de facto to an overt intervention in the internal affairs of the former Soviet republic, experts polled by the Itar-Tass Center for Political Analysis said Thursday.
They named a range of reasons that have made a scenario of this kind possible.
Dr. Sergei Karaganov, a political scientist and dean of the department of world economy and politics at the Higher School of Economics National Research University, agreed with the postulation that Ukraine had become a target of external pressures.
“It appears so far that Russia’s pressure is more efficacious than what Ms Victoria Nuland (the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Eastern Europe and Eurasia — Itar-Tass) and our European partners are doing,” he said.
“Moscow’s stance is apparently bringing more fruits,” said Dr. Karaganov who is Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy.Tamara Guzenkova, a deputy director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Research, said the Ukrainian authorities had in many ways lubricated this particular course of events with their own actions.
“One thing I’d like to call attention to is that the harsh and tough foreign policy control and influence, which at times escalates to the point of an overt pressure on Ukraine, didn’t emerge today or yesterday — it is a system, the groundwork for which was laid some time ago,” Dr. Guzenkova said.
“U.S. consultants, including George Soros, frequented Ukraine some twenty to fifteen years ago. Soros was an adviser to President Leonid Kuchma,” she went on. “They did a very tight monitoring of the Ukrainian government and made out recommendations on the foreign and domestic policy likewise.”
As she mentioned the most recent developments, Dr. Guzenkova recalled the tight grip that various diplomatic officials and EU bureaucrats from Brussels have kept on the European integration issues.
“The Poles were certainly in the lead,” she said. “Take for instance the never-to-be-forgotten Tusk-Komorowski group.”
“Not only did they visit Kiev. They were enmeshed in the routine activities of the Verkhovna Rada committees and attended sessions of the Rada,” Dr. Guzenkova said.
“And when something failed to work, they would start making direct threats. Quite naturally, the Europeans were seething with indignation when the signing of the association agreement at the Vilnius summit flopped.”
“None of them showed even a particle of hesitation over the fact that Ukraine could conduct a political course of its own since it was a sovereign state,” Dr. Guzenkova said. “All those foreign diplomats and politicians rushed to the Kiev squares and streets, climbed the rostrums and started belching out their appeals without paying any attention to the presence of a president and a government in the country.”
“But on the other hand, it’s absolutely clear that the Ukrainian leadership simply got the Europeans used to this. One could see it especially graphically during the ‘orange revolution’ of 2004/2005.”
“That’s why there’s no surprise in the fact the Europeans went over from preachments and private diplomatic conversations to a blatant political and financial pressure, political threats, and threats of sanctions,” Dr. Guzenkova said.
Fyodor Shelov-Kovediayev, Russia’s Foreign Minister in 1991 and 1992 and currently the chief research fellow at the Russian Public and Political Center (ROPC), believes that one can feel Ukraine is in encirclement.
“A range of emissaries visited Kiev before the summit in Vilnius and special envoys of the EU went there, too, and had meetings with the oppositionists,” he said. “We also know perfectly well that the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton is also a frequent visitor to Ukraine.”
“All this rush is easy to understand because it’s critically important for the EU to get access to an open Ukrainian market,” Shelov-Kovediayev said. “The Europeans have commodity surpluses that they can’t sell anywhere else, and hence why they are highly interested, or at any rate it became obvious after a recent exchange of niceties between Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov, Berlin and Brussels over an amount of 20 billion euro.”
“The issue of monies didn’t spring up from nowhere because /Ukrainian President Viktor/ Yanukovich had conducted talks behind closed doors on getting loans long before the failed signing of the Ukraine-EU association agreement,” Shelov-Kovediayev said.
“As far as I know, Yanukovich was prepared to sign the documents if the EU paid at least a half of the monies Ukraine owned to Russia,” he said. “And Ukraine’s debt is quite impressive. Kiev owes about 30 billion euro to various economic, financial, and state institutions in Russia.”
“The EU said then that lending of this sort was off the agenda of discussions and the officials repeated it to Azarov,” Shelov-Kovdiayev said.
“When someone is asking money from the EU, this means Germany is the only country that can lend it but the Germans are not ready to make the step,” he said. “And then the question arises on whether Europe is ready to pay anything at all for getting the doors of a new market flung open.”
“It looks like the Europeans are unready to pay, and I think Yanukovich instructed Azarov to make a statement that would give everyone to understand the EU was not prepared to make any steps beneficial for Ukraine, since it was concerned only by its own problems,” Shelov-Kovediayev said.
He indicated, though, that the EU’s stance is understandable. “They are going through a crisis, a recession, and they are trying to smooth out the rough economic factors.”
“No ending to this crisis is anywhere in sight - nothing is clear about when it might end, and hence the Europeans are feeling nervous,” Shelov-Kovediayev said. “I wouldn’t call it a hysteria, the way my colleague Sergei Lavrov did, but it’s absolutely clear they are nervous.