7 October, 2013 19:05 ▪
The Economist: Ukrainian oligarchs see the Association Agreement as protection not only against Russia but against Yanukovych
The Kremlin’s tactics towards Ukraine smacked of desperation. A purported Kremlin plan proposed “putting pressure from all sides, creating a sense of inevitability for joining the [customs] union as a way of survival for the ruling elite,” The Economist says. Whether the plan was real or not, it led to counteractions from the Ukrainian side – Ukraine is now more willing to sign the Association Agreement.
“The country’s economy is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy—largely a result of corruption and a lack of reform—and a presidential election looms in 2015. Mr Yanukovych needs either Russian money (which comes with the price tag of joining the customs union) or an association agreement with the EU, which could clear the way for disbursement of money from the IMF. An agreement with the EU seems the lesser of two evils,” The Economist admits.
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As it says “Ukrainian oligarchs also have their reasons for backing Ukraine’s European integration. They see it not only as protection against being swallowed by larger Russian businesses, but, more importantly, as protection against Mr Yanukovych himself. Having made their fortunes in the chaotic and lawless privatisation of the 1990s, they are now looking for the rule of law and property rights. The potential loss of the Russian market could hit them hard, but it would also give them an impetus to modernise their businesses”.
The situation is worsening because of the differences among EU members. “For Sweden and particularly for Poland, whose future was decided in Yalta in 1945, drawing Ukraine away from Russia’s sphere of influence and into that of the EU is of existential importance. France and Spain, on the other hand, may be quietly pleased to see the deal fall through. As so often, the final decision will rest with Germany’s Angela Merkel. Yet nobody needs an association agreement as much as Ukrainians themselves,” The Economist underscores.
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