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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“Pereiaslav” revisited?

Thoughts on the outcome of Yanukovych’s meeting with Putin
19 December, 2013 - 10:44
Sketch by Anatolii KAZANSKY from The Day’s archives, 1998

“As soon as Yanukovych flies to Moscow, my country appears to be in a preinfarction state. When Yanukovych is in Moscow, every message from the Kremlin is like a shot, every tweet from an insider is like a needle in the heart, every absence of news is like hope. Did he hand the country over? Didn’t he hand it over? He hasn’t handed it over yet? So, has he handed it over already? My country is waiting for the news from Moscow with unease. The preinfarction state has become my nation’s chronic condition,” this is a Facebook comment by political analyst Serhii Taran on the meeting of the Ukraine-Russia government-to-government commission.

“What will he sign there again?” “What other strategic branch will he pass over to Russia?” “Will he sign the Customs Union agreement? Or just a part of it?” These questions have been filling the social networks and headlines in mass media. All of them are absolutely justified, considering the conditions in which the visit and documents for it were prepared.

“The government likewise made no special announcements before signing the Kharkiv Accords. And then it gave Russia a chunk of strategic territory for an illusory gas discount,” says Taran substantiating his misdoubts. “Yes, the prime minister and the vice prime minister promised that joining the Customs Union was not even discussed on the eve of the visit. But can we trust them?”

Events of the past few months (especially, the result of the Vilnius Summit) convinced everyone that it is naive at the very least to trust the words of people whose representatives can say something like “took ‘em for a ride” and who are guided by their own logic, which makes sense only to them, who do not consider it necessary to talk to their people and hear them.

On the one hand, we are being persuaded that it is just the “memorandum on intentions.” So, the documents signed by Yanukovych December 17 will not entail any legal liabilities. But on the other hand, the budget of Ukraine for 2014 depends on these “purely protocol” agreements. According to Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, the documents “with Putin’s wet signature” brought by Yanukovych will unfreeze the Ukrainian budget process. And the Party of Regions faction leader Oleksandr Yefremov immediately promised that by the end of the week, or at the beginning of the next one at the latest, the Verkhovna Rada will receive the long-awaited text of the country’s financial plan for the next year.

PUTIN AND YANUKOYCH MADE A DEAL?  / REUTERS photo

So, what is there in those mysterious documents, written hastily during the last night? Odious head of Kuchma’s secretariat, aka Putin’s crony, Viktor Medvedchuk is talking about a gas discount again. And as we know, this matter is always political, not economic. In one of the commentaries to The Day Bohdan Sokolovsky, Yushchenko’s spokesman for foreign matters and energy security noted: Moscow did not fight its way to this contract to just change it.

So, what is there in those documents? The gas transportation system? Aviation? Nuclear energy? Vice Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Rogozin, known in Ukraine for his bold micro blogs in Twitter, explained on air at the Echo of Moscow: “We are finishing the preparation of documents to be approved by both presidents. Today I had a meeting with a delegation of European industrialists and officials, which is lead by Ukrainian vice Prime Minister Yurii Boiko. We have studied the records on aviation, rocket and space industry, shipbuilding, motor building, and conformed all points of the protocol. If we bring all of this into accord, it might become a real chance for Ukraine to revive that powerful potential which is either asleep or destroyed.” When talking about the situation in Ukraine, the Russian vice prime minister said that the Ukrainian government had not explained to its citizens the difference between the association with the EU and joining the EU. “Association is a way to an endless queue. You undertake obligations on the full deindustrialization of the country. After all, Ukraine is turning into a country which will grow wheat at best. A third-rate European economy,” Rogozin said. “No one even explained to them that nobody ever had an intention to accept Ukraine into the EU, they were offered to join the queue to the anteroom, not enter the house,” he added. But at the same time, Rogozin does not deny that Russia would love to hop into that anteroom itself. The vice prime minister put special emphasis on the fact that Russia is also moving towards the EU and considers Europe to be its strategic partner, thinking of itself as a part of Great Europe. “For Russia, Europe is not some kind of a preserve we would never join,” he said. However, Russia must revive its industry before any deeper cooperation with Europe takes place, Rogozin noted. And it seems like the Russian Federation intends to do it at the cost of Ukraine’s economy.

We have been perceived by the Russian Federation as a competitor for a long time. A competitor for a place in “Great Europe” in the first place. And it seems like right now our neighbors started harvesting the crops of their 10-year-long sowing campaign: quotes in the government, bribing of the top figures. Our economy was undermined with gas contracts first, and then with trade wars. Then the Ukrainian political elite was persuaded to hit the brakes, after some obscure telephone calls and secret behind-the-scenes negotiations about the harm of European integration. The elite representatives realized that the economy, already overheated from overload and the deficit of capital flows, will explode and burn out a hole in the budget. And the Russian Federation wasted no time. And how do the kind neighbors help us put out the fire? By dragging the most precious possessions out of flames. It was for a reason that Rogozin flew four charters to Ukraine.

Yanukovych really needs the money, because his own government with its unreasonable engorgement has led the country into bankruptcy. This was openly said by former president Leonid Kuchma at Yanukovych’s roundtable. The West (the US and the EU in particular) offer money in exchange for reforms. And Russia does not demand any reforms, only... But isn’t this “only” too much of a price for our poor economy?

 COMMENTARY

Valerii MUNTIIAN, government commissioner on cooperation with the RF and CIS countries:

“First of all, it is a matter of improving bilateral trade and economic relations. In this framework a road map for lifting technical and trade barriers is being created. On the Russian part there are special customs barriers and anti-dumping measures. Therefore, this map has a list of measures for canceling them, and the deadlines for these measures. Which branches of economy are of interest for Ukraine in terms of simplification of trade with Russia? We are sensitive to the access of Ukrainian pipes and metallurgy products (galvanized pipes, forged shafts, machine-building mounts) to the Russian market. The same holds for candy manufactured by Roshen.

“Due to such trade simplification the amount of additional exports to Russia within one year can total up to 1.2 billion dollars.

“Secondly, we expect simplification in the fuel and energy complex, the lowering of gas prices to a fair level, as part of energy partnership. I am not authorized to speak in greater detail about this matter.

“Thirdly, investments in ship-building, aerospace industry, transportation and industry. Ukraine and Russia have developed 56 trade programs, totaling up to 56 billion dollars, up to 2020. Which of them will be passed and begin to work next year? This is the subject of the current negotiation process. Joining the Customs Union is not part of any document within the framework of this visit. Not a single document has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, moreover, nothing was offered for approval to the government. These are only memoranda.

“Cooperation with Russia will help to fulfill the next year’s budget on time due to the lifting of trade barriers, increasing the mutual trade between both countries, international loans and investments.”

By Alla DUBROVYK, The Day
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