11 October, 2013 14:02 ▪
Steven Pifer: this is no time for Yanukovych to miscalculate
“The E.U. Council of Ministers expects to decide in late October whether to sign the association agreement. The question currently divides the Union’s member states. If the council voted today, a significant number of council members would most likely vote no, believing that Kiev has not yet done enough to meet E.U. conditions,” Mr. Pifer said.
“On the other hand, were Yanukovich to release Tymoshenko and permit her to travel abroad for medical treatment, the vote almost certainly would turn out yes. (While the E.U. conditions center on principles rather than individuals, Tymoshenko’s treatment has become the litmus test of the Yanukovich government’s readiness to end selective prosecution.),” former ambassador claims.
READ ALSO: Who Will Win The Game?
So, according to Steven Pifer, “the question boils down to this: Is Yanukovich, despite his personal antipathy toward Tymoshenko, willing to let her go? Or will he gamble that his government can do just enough to meet E.U. conditions without freeing her? It is a big bet, and the costs of miscalculation are high.”
As Mr. Pifer said, a failure to sign the agreement would not only be a significant defeat for Yanukovych, but also “would leave Kiev with reduced freedom for maneuver vis-à-vis Moscow, which desperately wants to turn Ukraine away from the West and toward the Russian-led Customs Union.”
READ ALSO: European Choice for Yanukovych
Moscow’s heavy-handed approach also raised concern in Brussels. E.U. officials and the European Parliament deplored the Russian pressure. Individual Union member states now may be more sympathetic toward Ukraine — though it is not clear if that sympathy will temper the view that Ukraine needs to do more, including taking action on Tymoshenko, Mr. Pifer admitted.
“Yanukovich did not reveal his final hand on the matter in Yalta. But time grows short. Allowing Tymoshenko to go abroad for medical treatment would win him a signing ceremony in Vilnius. Will he take the necessary step and go for the sure thing — securing an association agreement that would give a major boost to Ukrainian-E.U. links, Kiev’s European course and perhaps his own political future? Or will he attempt to squeeze by without action on Tymoshenko and bet that the European Union will nevertheless agree to sign? Much is at stake, and this is no time for Yanukovich to miscalculate,” Mr. Pifer underscored.
READ ALSO: Resetting to a Cold Peace
- Yulia Tymoshenko: as long as Yanukovych is in power, Ukraine risks losing its independence
- Kwasniewski: The EU is forming an economic package to compensate for Ukraine’s losses
- Political analyst: Ukrainian government pops off a step away from the Association Agreement
- U.S. Senate calls for Tymoshenko release
- EU gives up hope on Ukraine deal at Vilnius summit
- Tymoshenko accepts the proposal to get medical treatment in Germany from Cox and Kwasniewski
- Adam Reichardt: Shedding the Soviet skin is a long and painful, but Ukraine should do it
- The European Parliament offers sanctions against Russia for pressure on Eastern Partnership countries
- Yanukovych promises Ukraine’s friends to solve the issue with Tymoshenko by October 21
- The Economist: Russia is fast losing Ukraine through its own arrogance and bullying