The Ukraine was snubbed by John Kerry as he decided to skip a visit to Kiev, and instead endorse the small republic of Moldova during the Secretary of State’s diplomatic trip to Eastern Europe.
Monday night a senior White House spokesperson said that it was Washington’s intention to support those countries who are committed to reform in their trade policies. They are also committed to allying with the European Union in their efforts to expand the economy. A recent move by the Ukraine to align its trade interests with Moscow, Russia has the US retiterating their support for the EU.
Kerry’s visit to Moldova on Wednesday will not be a long one. It is a show of American support for Moldova, which has faced retaliation from Moscow. Russia has recently banned imports of Moldavan wine.
Kerry also plans to attend a two-day NATO meeting in Brussels, where he will attempt to strengthen his mission to support Afghan troops. Kerry is advocating sending more soldiers to train those troops. Unfortunately, President Kharzai has not yet agreed to sign documents legally sealing the deal. President Obama stated said that Kharzai must approve of any further American involvement in Afghanistan.
Protesters in Kiev have called for the resignation of President Victor Yanukovich. In parliament, Kiev attempted to give a vote of no-confidence for Yanukovich, however, that motion did not pass. The measure got the support of 186 members of the Ukranian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, 40 shy of the majority needed.
Ukranian National News (UNN) reports that the building of the Verkhovna Rada is being protected by hundreds of special forces soldiers, and that police buses are blocking Grushevskogo Street. As the vote was being held, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the building.
Ukraine’s currency and bond markets came under pressure in the wake of massive protests against Yanukovich. This conflict may have fueled Kerry’s decision to bypass Ukraine. Kerry will also meet with Maia Panjikidze, the foreign minister of Georgia, which has also sought political and trade pacts with the European Union.
Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, apologized for the violence involved in containing protesters in Kiev, while at the same time defending the troop’s actions. “We are open for dialogue,” Azarov said. “We have extended our hand to you, but if we encounter a fist, I will be frank, we have enough force.”
Azarov told the chamber before the vote that his government has, “confirmed their commitment” to European integration and that a Ukrainian delegation will go to Brussels next week for talks. He added that Ukraine would sign the EU pact after it reaches an agreement with Russia on its trade disputes.
Polish lawmakers called for temperance in the reaction to Ukraine’s decision to sign trade agreements with Moscow. The legislature adopted a resolution calling for dialogue between Ukraine’s opposition and the government, rather than resorting to violence.
Kerry will be kept busy with this process, as he snubs the Ukraine in the midst of their turmoil, and embraces those Eastern European countries that have shown loyalty to the EU and its economic directives.
By Lisa M Pickering