Ukraine has been more open in this regard from the beginning – on November 9 the official website of Viktor Yanukovych announced that the president will pay a working visit to the Russian Federation. That’s it. The site of the Russian President Vladimir Putin did not provide any information at all. And this, as we know, arises many speculations, guesses, and insinuations…
Authorized anti-Ukrainian advocate, Russian host of TV program “Vesti Nedeli” Dmitry Kiselev in his usual style announced on November 10 that Yanukovych did not show up in Moscow and did not have a meeting with Putin.
“Yanukovych has already come with a visit to Sochi just as unexpectedly two weeks ago,” said the TV host. “There he met with Putin. No results have been announced but we can still talk about the feelings it has left – five-hour talk with the most powerful man in the world (Putin) was such a strong pill that the European integration of Ukraine seemed to have lost momentum. Now the main integrator to the West all of a sudden again is moving towards the East. However, he has disappeared unexpectedly – he did not show up in Moscow, while it seemed that he left Kyiv. So, where is Yanukovych then?”
“In fact, Kiselev as a master of intellectual provocation, knowing that Yanukovych came with a visit to Russia, said that he did not come to Moscow, that means that he had no meetings in Moscow,” Ukrainian political analyst Kost Bondarenko said in a comment to UKRINFORM. “That’s true, Yanukovych did not go to Moscow, but Russia is not only Moscow. I know one thing: the visit took place, it took place in Russia, perhaps not in Moscow but certainly somewhere in Russia.”
Thus, in order to put an end to rumors, we asked the press service of the Ukrainian president for final and official information. However, we did not receive any answer on November 11. Spokesman for the Russian President Dmitry Peskov did this for them. He broke the information silence and said that on November 9 a short working visit of Yanukovych to Moscow indeed took place, where the presidents discussed trade and economic relations between Russia and Ukraine. That’s all he said.
What might come out of this? “I remember when in 2004 during a meeting on the Azov Sea suddenly Kuchma and Putin dropped out of sight of journalist for about a day… When they appeared again, Kuchma unexpectedly withdrew the part ‘on NATO policy’ from the military doctrine… Which, as we all remember, was successfully passed even in the parliament. That’s why it is alarming when the president disappears,” Larysa Ivshyna, Den/The Day Editor-in-Chief, wrote on her Facebook page. As you can see, not providing information for the public is a bad sign.
Volodymyr HORBACH, political analyst at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation:
“I do not know whether the meeting took place or not. If it didn’t, this would have been viewed as the humiliation of the president of Ukraine, who announced it, but never got a chance to have one. If it did, he must have told the public what was discussed and what agreements were reached. A similar situation already happened in Sochi. However, remaining silent is the worst solution. Then there appear many versions and their supporters, which have nothing to do with the reality.
“What we see is the attempts of Viktor Yanukovych to bargain Ukrainian interests with both the EU and Russian Federation. Last week he bargained with Russia, showing unwillingness to accept the conditions of the EU, and a logical continuation of that would be an official visit to Moscow. This week he might try to bargain with the EU. In general, the situation is rather absurd, comical, and tragic at the same time. This is the way geopolitically isolated entities act – they try to sell themselves at the highest rate in all spheres. However, such game might end in that both the West and Russia would do everything to ensure bankruptcy of Yanukovych’s regime. It would be really sad, if that takes place along with the bankruptcy of the entire Ukraine.
“There is no need to look far back in the past and talk about Leonid Kuchma. Not so long ago, there was held a meeting between Yanukovych, Putin, and Medvedev in Orekhovo-Zuevo. That’s when we got the Kharkiv Agreement. Since we do not know what they are talking about, anything might happen and any changes in any direction might take place any moment.
“Of course, knowing that the game can end in defeat, that means that there will be no agreement, the government is trying to shift the responsibility on its partner. Ukrainian opposition, which could also become the side that could be held responsible for that, acts in a surprisingly constructive way and is in a win-win situation – they agree to all conditions. They do not give a reason to blame them in that they undermined something. Then there is only the EU left. This looks rather like looking for the guilty part, instead of searching for a solution.
“What concerns Yulia Tymoshenko’s case, I would like to say that, first, her medical treatment does not apply in any way to the subject of selective justice. This is, in fact, a humanitarian mission of Cox and Kwasniewski aimed at simply moving her abroad and taking from under the control of the current Ukrainian government. Both Tymoshenko and the opposition understand this, that’s why they agree to all the necessary steps. But, the President Yanukovych and his entourage, who are afraid of this and do everything possible to avoid her release, also understand it all very well.
“I am not very optimistic on this issue now. My prediction of how the situation will develop is as following: Tymoshenko won’t be released until the Summit in Vilnius, she won’t leave Ukraine by then, the Association Agreement will not be signed at the Summit, the EU will initial agreements with Moldova and Georgia, and in a declaration they will say that Ukraine has also done a lot, but still hasn’t resolved the issue of selective justice, that’s why the Ukrainian leadership is given time to think and solve the problem. The agreement will not be signed, unless the Ukrainian government suggests some solution to this problem. And it might be signed if Ukraine fulfills this requirement in, let’s say, spring of 2014 before the elections to the European Parliament. It is clear that there will also be no financial aid, loans from the IMF until then – this will be serious economic pressure. However, it is still not clear how it will all end.”
Semen NOVOPRUDSKY, independent journalist, Moscow:
“There was practically no information in Russia concerning that meeting last week. There was hearsay about Russia allegedly trying to talk Ukraine into abandoning the Association Agreement idea at the last moment, but, like I said, no official data, not even concerning the meeting last week (if it really took place). Assuming the talks are underway, they are kept secret. This might be Russia’s last arm-twisting attempt in regard to Yanukovych’s effort to come to terms and save his face, if and when Ukraine refuses to sign the Association Agreement – or how to deal with Russia after signing it. I’m inclined to believe that bilateral consultations are taking place behind closed doors.
“Sad but true, keeping such top-level meetings away from the public eye fits perfectly into the Ukrainian and Russian political culture pattern. Russia relies on political arrangements and special operations. Ukraine is trying to pull wool over public eyes, because Yanukovych is apparently undecided, trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. He could be considering the possibility of not making any decisions or making one that would not affect his political career. Russia’s political course is such that it could even benefit from Ukraine’s EU membership. There is nothing Russia can offer Ukraine now, considering that all its business projects were aimed as stopping using Ukraine as Europe’s predominant gas transporter. Russia was the one to start turning away from strategic partnership with Ukraine. Such meetings are proof that Ukraine is principally sure about the final decision, and that Russia is trying to pressure Ukraine (without washing dirty linen in public) to make it change heart at the very last moment.”