Ukraine Would be Foolish to Sign EU Treaties

Patulcius:

It seems silly that prospective treaties between Ukraine and the European Union hinge on the release of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the leaders who came to power in the Western-backed Orange Revolution in 2004.

The Association Agreement with the EU would establish Ukraine’s political “association” (cooperation) with the EU, and the oddly-named Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement is what its title suggests. Poland and other formerly Communist Eastern European countries formed similar associations before their eventual membership with the EU.

For its part, the EU has a great opportunity to bring Ukraine into its sphere, but with its added demands for Tymoshenko’s release from prison, the EU has given the Russian-leaning factions within Ukraine, now in power, the opportunity to easily thwart the treaty.

Yulia-Tymoshenko-2011

But she’s too beautiful to rot in a prison cell! If Yulia Tymoshenko wasn’t such a pretty and iconic woman, would the EU have made her release from prison a sticking point in this treaty?

If Yulia Tymoshenko wasn’t such a pretty and iconic woman, with her golden braid banded so distinctively over the top of her head, and instead looked like the typical Ukrainian bullfrog politician (à la Yanukovich), would the EU have made her release from prison a sticking point in this treaty? Would the European public have cared?

Russia, of course, isn’t thrilled with Ukraine’s flirting with the West. This would be akin to the American reaction to Mexico joining a customs union and military association with China. Russia has threatened economic consequences should Ukraine accept this treaty and has delivered on such threats before.

For Ukraine’s part, that nation would be very foolish to move into the sphere of the European Union.

For one thing, Ukraine currently depends on Russia for natural gas and at least a third of its overall trade, and Russia will surely restrict commerce between the two countries if Ukraine moves closer to the West, as it has done in the past. It’s uncertain whether trade with the West would offset the loss of any Russian trade.

Strategically, Ukraine would make itself the front line in any Russian military assault against the West. Russia, with its close ally Belarus, nearly surrounds the country, and the key power centers of the West are far away. The EU is not a militaristic nation, and it cannot hope to defend itself without American military power. Would the United States go to war with Russia if it attacked Ukraine? (And if the US did go to war, how would it defend Ukraine from Russia?)

Politically, does this demand by the European Union for Tymoshenko’s release not demonstrate the way that the EU infringes on the national sovereignty of its members?  Is it worth giving up its internal freedom in order to gain very theoretical economic and military benefits?

Also, Ukraine is about evenly divided between those who lean towards the Russian sphere and those who lean to the West. If Ukraine moves solidly to the West, those who support closer ties with Russia will be alienated. Since the Russian-oriented groups are geographically dominant in the eastern part of the country, could this not lead to a secession movement in Ukraine, one that Russia could exploit?

The status quo would seem to suit Ukraine better in the long run than the acceptance of these treaties.

Clusivius:

Clusivius-sqMaybe certain factions within the European Union have made an issue out of Tymoshenko’s imprisonment in order to purposely thwart this Association Agreement. After all, the treaties provoke Russia and really don’t bring much material benefit to the EU in the short term, just another poor Eastern European country to deal with, and one where at least half of the population supports Russia.

As far as the front line in a war with the West, Ukraine is much like Poland. It will pay for such a conflict with its peoples’ blood one way or another, wedged as it is between the two sides.

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11 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Brittius.com.

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  2. There was a discussion in a takimag comment thread yesterday or the day before about Ukraine’s divided population. Apparently, the pro Russian East are actually ethnic Russians (Rus) brought in after the Holodomor. It sounds like a Scotland/England kind of situation, to me; two similar peoples, the smaller of which wants to hold onto it’s distinctiveness and not be absorbed into the larger group.

    “Among Ukrainians, there are several distinct subethnic groups, especially in western Ukraine: places like Zakarpattia and Halychyna. Among them the most known are Hutsuls,[89] Volhynians, Boykos and Lemkos (otherwise known as Rusyns – a derivative of Ruthenians),[90] each with peculiar area of settlement, dialect, dress, anthropological type and folk traditions. There are several theories about the origin of each of these groups. Ukrainian subethnic groups also include Polishchuks, Bodnars and Kuban Cossacks. Some of these subethnic groups were strongly influenced by the neighboring nations, but according to all relevant indicators they belong to the mainstream of Ukrainian people.”

    That wasn’t really on topic, but I thought it was interesting. I agree the EU is a bad idea, not just for Ukraine, but for everybody. Of course, Russia isn’t necessarily that much better, just different.

    A lot of posting here lately.

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    • Ethnography is a fascinating subject. I find it a pity that so many tiny ethnic groups are forgetting their local language and ancient traditions in favor of a larger ethnicity to the point of their extinction as distinctive peoples, but such is the history of mankind since at least the invention of the plow. Maybe it’s even a good thing, since ethnic division weakens a country.

      Ukraine (I always feel funny dropping the definitive “The” from the country’s name—maybe I’ll revert to the classic English exonym in the future) might be more like Ireland than Scotland, an Ireland that included all of Ulster and was colonized with larger numbers of Protestant Scots and English. England could hardly resist meddling in the affairs of such an Ireland as that, just like Russia meddles in the Ukraine (ahh, much better).

      Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union deliberately followed this policy of ethnic swarming in their acquired territories, and sensibly (though infuriatingly) so for their own sake. But it surely leaves quite a mess for the newly freed countries.

      Yes, a lot of postings. I’m trying to post something here almost every day just to keep the fire of writing going. I can get distracted with other projects if I don’t write regularly.

      Thanks, Roger; it’s always nice to see your thoughts on these issues.

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      • ” Maybe it’s even a good thing, since ethnic division weakens a country.”

        I would rather see a thousand tiny countries. Small is beautiful!

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  3. This is why we fought the Crimean War against Photius Heresy so they could never Bystra Paris again! That is why Cuomo Environmentles are exterminating Tchaikovsky swans for being too agressive. Putin’s tax, gay and oil policies are almost as bad as Sarah Palin’s. Putin should have violated constituional term limits just like Bloomberg. Does Yanukovich think he is Morsi? CNOOC should have been allowed to buy Unocal just like Exxon and Chevron tried to buy Yukos. We have no problems with pussy riots in St Patricks as long as they molest kids. Hermitage Browder granps was FDR’s chief red. Lvov and Aztlan both Medjugorje for Fatima. Alexander’s hangover has finally worn off. Charlemagne and Jagiello beware mermaids turning Danube into limestone with paraplastic phytotherm tufa stromatolite while Alexandria librarians infest Vatican archives with periplastic trichomonas termopsidis! Marco Polo negotiated the Sineurabia code with Magog Kublai Khan, partitioning Kievan Rus with Poland, whereafter Polish clergy masqueraded into Ukraine concocting the “western Rite”. That is why there are muslim Lipka villages still in Poland. Clinton import banned photos vindicating Serbs. Brzezinski instigated December 2008 Greek riots so bankruptcy would prevent Russian pipelines. Schindler’s Unholy Terror shows 9/11 was Yugo Crimean blowback. Alexander the Great beat back the Magog at Caucasian Dervent but their descendants massacred Custer’s Last Stand and bombed Pearl Harbor yet Gibbon glorifies them. Anyone who knows the cruel, vindictive ending of Vercingetorix, Spartacus and Carthage can only blame Rome for the death of the Messiah. Any student of history knows Hitler considered himself the heir to Charlemagne and Napoleon.

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    • You’ve got some interesting points here, but you’re running at full-auto and should maybe slow down to semi-auto. This old man can’t keep up!

      I’m not sure where you’re coming from on your points except that you’re no fan of the Vatican or the Romans, and probably not too keen on Kublai Khan either. Me myself, I kind of like Sarah Palin and Vladimir Putin, though they both admittedly have their faults. I’m not sure what to say about the rest; you’ll have to expound.

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