During his 9th annual press conference held on December 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly returned to the reasons behind his concessions to Ukraine that included a discount on gas and a loan amounting to 15 billion dollars. “We really understand that they have solvency issues. We must act as a close family and support the Ukrainian people in this difficult situation. So why deal a death blow to a first-rate partner?” he said to explain his decision. Besides, the Russian president repeated the old argument that Russia was comfortable with the Ukraine-EU Association. The Day asked Semen NOVOPRUDSKY, an independent journalist from Moscow, to comment on the Russian president’s reasoning about his concessions to Ukraine.
“Actually, his long-established political style is to say one thing, to think quite another and act in yet another way, keeping a poker face all along. This is political trolling, because it is obvious that Russia has made every effort to get where we are now. Condemning or not Ukrainian leadership for yielding to the pressure and failing to sign the Association Agreement with the EU is a different matter. Obviously, had Ukraine not abandoned its association policy, Russia would never have agreed to a temporary decrease in gas price or investing its hard currency in Ukrainian bonds. Of course, it is a direct payment for Ukraine’s actions. Putin’s reasons are a different matter again, as he said at the press conference that Ukraine would have to pay for it were it an independent nation. Everything rests on the fact that Putin still does not consider Ukraine to be an independent nation. He does not recognize Ukraine’s right to an independent foreign policy.
“When Putin answered that the price formula was the same as for other countries, it remained unclear how this formula allowed rich Germany to pay for gas, miraculously, less than Ukraine was paying, even though distances are greater in the former case. Clearly, the formula statement was obviously untrue. In any case, the president has shown the immutability of his political style and his unchanging attitude towards Ukraine as a country that has not, in his view, the right to make independent internal decisions.
“Talk about honest cooperation always starts whenever Russia makes another attempt to have a political rapprochement with Ukraine, to strangle it with embraces. Cooperation does exist, it could be mutually beneficial, but I, as a Russian citizen, cannot understand Russian arguments that Ukraine-EU Association Agreement would damage this cooperation. Nobody prevents our countries from cooperating on a mutually beneficial and equitable basis to develop all joint projects in areas of common interest which Putin mentioned at this press conference. Where it is beneficial for Russia and Ukraine, the association would be no obstacle.
“Obviously this is a political cover for an ideology that is behind all Russian policy towards Ukraine. When the Ukrainian government agrees to comply with it, it receives temporary privileges, without any guarantees that they would not be withdrawn at any moment. The latest gas agreements say openly that this is a temporary solution only. Of course, if all of a sudden Ukraine continues negotiations on association and succeeds to any extent, then Moscow may revoke this decision unilaterally. This also applies to investing in bonds. From the Russian point of view, this is quite an interesting situation. Russian law contains a direct prohibition on investing the National Welfare Fund in bonds rated as low as Ukraine’s are. The Cabinet is now rushing through a decree that will allow this investment to go ahead. This only adds to my doubts on Russia’s sincerity in this affair. Putin’s actions are actually illegal in Russia itself. Of course, if he was really concerned about the economic situation in Ukraine, he could act just as well six months or a year ago.”