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25 December, 2013 22:34   ▪  

Andrew Wilson: 2014 may be a year of permanent crisis in Ukraine

After almost a month of demonstrations, ‘stalemate’ seems the most appropriate word to the current situation, Andrew Wilson, the expert of the European Council on Foreign Relations, says.

“The authorities’ foreign policy game has been sussed. They have been trying to leverage all sides with questionable figures and geopolitical blackmail. The EU has put a stop to talks on that basis, rather than to talks as such. So the authorities either had to change tactics or make the only possible deal, with Russia. But they are weaker with Russia too – Moscow is perfectly used to such tactics, but now knows the current authorities have nowhere else to go,” the expert claims.

So the deal cut with Russia on Tuesday was aptly summarised by opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk: “the only place with free cheese is a mousetrap”. According to Wilson, the price of the deal with Russia will come in asset sales.

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“The Ukrainians may end up selling more to the Russians than Belarus has. Yanukovych may even pass the tipping point where, instead of using his country as collateral in a positive-sum bargaining game between Russia and the West, he has to sell more and more at the margin simply in order to survive, especially as he will be more dependent on Russia first to get to and then to try and win the 2015 election,” the expert predicts

In the last week, since the second attempt to clear the Maidan on 11 December, there had been the outlines of a solution to the crisis. “Defectors from the Party of Regions would provide the votes to oust the government and install a new national unity coalition. Now the oligarchs who might have provided the necessary extra votes seem to have got what they want” Wilson thinks.

In his opinion Ukraine faces a very specific type of deadlock. “What will happen if the protestors remain solid over the winter, through December at least, while politics drifts away from them? A new government is still possible in January, but it might actually contain some more ‘pro-Russian’ members. 2014 may be a year of permanent crisis in Ukraine,” the expert says.


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