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Yanukovich says neglect of good-neighborliness with Russia was Ukraine’s worst mistake

Ukraine’s former president admitted that before the coup d'etat of 2014, which resulted in his overthrow, Kiev had certain disagreements with Moscow, too. "But we solved them through negotiations and mutual concessions," Viktor Yanukovich pointed out
Viktor Yanukovich Vladimir Gerdo/TASS
Viktor Yanukovich
© Vladimir Gerdo/TASS

MOSCOW, August 17. /TASS/. Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovich, has said neglect of good-neighborliness with Russia was his country’s biggest mistake committed over the past 30 years. He made a statement to this effect in a message to his compatriots on the occasion of Ukraine’s 30th independence anniversary, obtained by TASS.

"Not so long ago, the first president of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, said that his greatest mistake was to trust Russia. It was very strange to hear something like this from a politician who stood at the cradle of Ukrainian independence. I am deeply convinced that the main mistake in our thirty-year-long history was not deceit by trust towards Russia, but our neglect of good neighborliness with it," Yanukovich said.

Compromises with Russia benefited Ukraine

Yanukovich admitted that before the coup d'etat of 2014, which resulted in his overthrow, Kiev had certain disagreements with Moscow, too. "But we solved them through negotiations and mutual concessions," he said. Very often solving these problems required mutual compromises and political will by both sides. "However, we succeeded, because on both sides there was an understanding of the need to move forward by deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in all spheres of bilateral relations, which guaranteed our peoples’ greater well-being, that is, the achievement of the main goal of any responsible national leadership," Yanukovich said.

Ties with Russia helped avoid social collapse

In the first years of its existence as an independent state, Yanukovich said, Ukraine followed the paradigm of processes characteristic of most post-Soviet countries: a very vague idea of what was to be done following the collapse of the USSR, when the proclaimed right of nations to self-determination suddenly materialized.

"I think I will not be mistaken, if I say that during these first years, while the constitutional foundations of the state were still being shaped, we were saved by the inertia of economic ties with the former Soviet republics, mainly with Russia as the central link that kept together the common national economic complex of the former Soviet Union," Yanukovich recalls. "Although that period went down in modern history as the "wild nineties", since it was then that "wild" capitalism set in here, the Ukrainian industry continued to work in close cooperation with enterprises in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and other former republics, earning money for the state budget. Without these revenues the state would have been doomed to inevitable social collapse, Yanukovich said.

Ukraine then demonstrated decent economic growth and strengthened the social component of its domestic policy, he recalls. "With such a reserve we approached an event that, as it would turn out later, triggered the dismantling of Ukraine that we were building - a country that chose the path of gradual integration into the European economic and political space while maintaining traditional ties with both Russia and with other republics of the former Soviet Union. The issue of signing an association agreement with the EU was that trigger," Yanukovich said.

Western pressures, CIS flaws

The former Ukrainian president admits that over time, his country's economic ties with Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union began to weaken. The main reason for this, he says, was pressure from the Western countries and the anti-Russian course pursued by Ukrainian nationalist-minded politicians. At the same time, Yanukovich believes that the policy of orientation towards the West and Russia at the same time, which was pursued by his administration, largely stemmed from the shortcomings of integration processes in the post-Soviet space. In his opinion, "economic egoism began to prevail in relations between the former Soviet republics, while the CIS, as a new mechanism of a political and economic union, turned out to be unable to cope with the expected functions."

"Thanks to the multi-vector approach we managed to maintain internal stability," he stressed.

Yanukovich recalled that he had decided to postpone the signing of the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU in order to "analyze the economic component of the agreement more deeply in the context of eliminating likely contradictions to ensure mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia, meeting the national interests of Ukraine." This "served as a signal for the beginning of the illegal seizure of power and anti-Russian hysteria, which soon became the backbone of Ukraine's foreign policy," the former president of Ukraine said.

Confrontation with Russia and Ukrainian society’s split

Ukraine’s 4th president is certain that the policy of permanent confrontation with Russia, conducted by the politicians who came to power in Kiev after the 2014 coup has had deeply negative consequences for Ukraine. "What did it lead to? To a war, to a split in Ukrainian society, to permanent social instability, a profound economic crisis, rampage by radical nationalist organizations, persecution of the opposition, and the closure of television channels critical of the regime," he said.

"The people of Donbass are urged to leave for Russia, if they disagree with forcible Ukrainization, oddly enough, being enforced by the Russian-speaking leadership, and the residents of Crimea are denied the right to consider the peninsula as their homeland and told over and over again that they are only temporary guests there," Yanukovich concluded.