A group of experts will assess the economic consequences for Russia. Putin: “We got an impression that Ukraine was going to be taken out of the former Soviet republics community”. Barroso: “The meeting was held in a spirit of frankness. Our relationships are too important.”
As expected, the focus of the European Union – Russia summit was Ukraine. Not only because of the difficult political situation of the country, but also for the several attempts made by Brussels to stop Moscow from thwarting a possible EU-Ukraine treaty.
“We addressed openly the convergences, and divergences,” said President Van Rompuy, during “a frank and far reaching discussion.” A frankness due to the fact that “much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid,” said José Manuek Barroso citing Dostoyevski. According to the President of the European Commission, the relationships between EU and Russia “are too important to not address our differences.”
What differences? Easy to say, according to the Russian President Vladimir Putin: “It is all about the consequences of this association agreement for the Russian economy” because “we got an impression that Ukraine was being taken out of the zone that unites several former Soviet republics.” In addition to this Russia fears that European goods could enter Russia as ‘Ukraine products’ and they could not accept “such a backdoor entry to our market” said Putin.
“The Partnership is not against someone, it is for something” said President Barroso, and EU is ready to give Russia all the necessary clarifications on the matter. “We both agreed to pursue bilateral consultations at experts level on the Eastern Partnership Association Agreement and the economic consequences on both sides,” Russian and European, explained President Van Rompuy. Brussels is then ready to involve Russia in the negotiations with Kiev, aiming to dismantle the Russian veto on the agreement (which came along with a €15 billion loan in government bonds and a remarkable discount on Russian gas prices), which led Yanukovich to suspend the negotiations in the agreement with the EU. The stop to the negotiations fueled an already burning wave of protests in Ukraine.
Nevertheless, Russia will experience hard times in Kiev now, with an outgoing government and the possibility of new elections. “No matter which government comes democratically to power in Ukraine, Russia will not reconsider its earlier signed agreements” said Putin, who said he is ready to “talk to any political party” given that “we had a very positive relationship during Timoshenko’s government.” Yet, he added: “It is crucial for Ukraine economy to work” and “for the government to make structural changes in the economic system” to reassure Russia that “our credits will be reimbursed” given that “our financial support is bigger than any financial institution’s.”
Quite an interesting way for Putin to underline the importance of Russia in any government Ukraine might have. The opposition is warned.