Marek Siwiec MEP on Poland & Europe

I write a lot about the high possibility of the European Union signing an Association Agreement with Ukraine. I write about it frequently, so today here are a few words about what is happening on the other side of the fence, meaning, what is Russia doing to attract Ukraine into the EEC (Eurasian Economic Community), commonly referred to as the Customs Union.

Last week, President Yanukovych agreed to the accession of Ukraine into the EEC as an observer. He had met with Putin before the decision was made. As a result, Prime Minister Azarov signed a memorandum on deeper cooperation between EEC and Ukraine. The instantaneous change of attitude towards Ukraine in Russian television, where it was said that Ukraine has made a strategic return, shows how much Moscow has been waiting for this moment.

However, the truth is a little more complicated. There are a few reasons to assess that this move is phony. For example, paragraph 5 of the memorandum states that “it is not an international agreement and it does not result in the rights and obligations that are regulated by the law.” Prime Minister Azarov also said that he does not intend to be limited to being an observer in the Customs Union.

And so we have a situation, which, when translated from the covert diplomatic language into plain words, shows that there is an alternative for Ukraine, although not an obvious one; that the East is the first choice for this country.

This situation fits into the ‘wrestling’ moves being performed before the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. Every party is “flexin their muscles” and they all want to gain as much as possible. And this is what will be happening up until November.

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