NYTimes, Dec 3, 2013
ODESSA, Ukraine — Both Russia and Ukraine consider themselves European nations, part of Western civilization, and in both countries pluralities favor membership in the European Union. So how did the European Union manage to turn such a favorable situation against itself?
By pitting both nations against each other, and then attempting to force Ukraine to choose Europe over Russia. Instead of adopting a strategy that would have allowed Ukraine to capitalize on its close cultural, religious and economic ties with Russia, and which could have also served to build deeper ties between Western Europe and Russia, from the outset European negotiators went out of their way to turn Union association into a loyalty test.
First, they rejected Ukraine’s suggestion — to which Russia initially had no objection — that accession to the European Union could be compatible with membership in the Customs Union, the precursor to a Eurasian Union linking former Soviet states. Now they have apparently also rejected President Viktor Yanukovich’s proposal to resolve the remaining issues (the main one being the very real possibility of European goods being dumped into Russia through Ukraine) through a three-way format that would include efforts to curb cross-border smuggling — something one would think would also concern Brussels.