Vladimir Putin has condemned the European Union’s interference in Ukraine. In a Tuesday meeting in Brussels between Putin and representatives from the EU, Putin warned that more ‘intermediaries’ would only cause Ukraine more problems. The statement comes after Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych recently dismissed the Prime Minister as well as his Cabinet in hopes of appeasing the Ukrainian people. Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk admitted that revolution was indeed underway and “all the world acknowledges and Ukraine acknowledges that the state is on the brink of civil war”.
Immediately following the meeting, the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton left for Kiev in hopes of helping bring about a peaceful end to the unrest. The visit has been planned for weeks and Ashton is not the first representative to visit Ukraine during the crisis. Serhii Liovochkin, an aide to President Yanukovych, has stated that members of the international community present in Ukraine may help facilitate dialogue and compromise between the government and the opposition. Ashton plans to assist the reconcile process and will continue to emphasize ‘democratic values’.
Vladimir Putin has condemned the EU’s decision to send envoy’s to Ukraine, suggesting that Europe would be upset if Russia did the same. Putin likened the situation to a hypothetical scenario in which Russia sent its foreign minister to a European nation experiencing austerity protests. He acknowledged that it would not be good for relations if Russia was to do that. Certain member states of the European Union have seen large social unrest within the last few years due to the recession and the resulting economic policy. Putin stated “I’m sure the Ukrainian people will sort this out and Russia is not going to interfere”.
However, many in Ukraine accuse Russia of too much meddling. The Ukrainian people accuse Russian media outlets of presenting bias reports discrediting the revolution as a product of extremism. Many Ukrainians are quick to criticize Russia’s own crackdown on protests that followed Vladimir’s Putin’s election a few years ago. It is widely believed that Russia is pressuring Ukraine behind the scenes especially when it comes to dealing harshly with the revolutionaries on the streets. Russian cash is seen as highly influential in Ukraine due to the weak state of the Ukrainian economy. When trade talks with the European Union were stalled last November, Russia gave cash strapped Ukraine a $15 billion loan. Many Ukrainians are discontent with growing Russian influence over their government.
Putin has stated that Russia would continue to aide Ukraine in economic stabilization regardless of what political party was in charge of the government, but that Russian assistance would not be the same if Ukraine signs a free trade agreement with the European Union. As the revolution seems to be gaining momentum, pro-Russian Yanukovych is loosing his grasp on power. Putin has condemned the EU’s interference in Ukraine because a pro-European government established in the near future would most likely harm Russia national interests. Putin has officially stated that his country would not get involved in the Ukraine revolution, but it seems that Russia has too much interest in Ukraine to completely remove itself from the situation.
By Peter Grazul