22 July, 2013 15:15 ▪
Eurasia Review on Russian aggression and Ukraine’s accession
“In the wake of the Cold War, the EU acted decisively and brought a group of fragile, newly-independent states into the European Community in a geopolitical gamble that paid off big. Now, as Ukraine finds itself between an increasingly menacing Russia and a lethargic Brussels, it is time to act once again,” writes Nicholas Kaufmann for Eurasia Review.
When the Berlin wall fell, fears that the former Soviet states were too poor or too corrupt to join the Union haunted the Accession process at every step. Western leaders nevertheless saw a “historic opportunity”, in the words of former European Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen, in the Accession of their Eastern neighbours and, in 2004 welcomed 10 new Member States into the Union in what would be its largest ever single expansion; a geopolitical gamble that has overwhelmingly paid off, the expert writes in his article.
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Now, “Ukraine directly borders an increasingly menacing Russia and daily faces mounting pressure from Putin to return under his fold,” Kaufmann notes. “Russia has instated its own customs union along with Belarus and Kazakhstan, a union that former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has referred to as a new Soviet Union. Last January, Russia redoubled its attempts to bully Ukraine into signing the customs treaty by charging the country with exorbitant gas prices. Meanwhile, EU leaders have shown reluctance to include Ukraine in their Union because of concerns over the country’s corruption levels and the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.”
These factors are noteworthy, the author argues, but if the EU backs out now, there is no question that Ukraine will be pushed under Putin’s thumb. “Closer links with the EU would at the very least place pressure on the Ukrainian government to implement judicial reforms and properly process allegations of human right violations. All in all, an Association Agreement would help the country along the rocky path towards democracy and away from the specter of Sovietism,” he claims in his article for Eurasia Review.
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