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Ear to the Ground

Russia Makes Power Move to Lure Ukraine Away From EU

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Posted on Dec 17, 2013
AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych talk during a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

One thing that can reliably be said about Russian President Vladimir Putin is this: The man is not subtle. Putin’s latest dealings with his Ukrainian counterpart, the politically embattled Viktor Yanukovych, provide further support of this characterization.

Putin extended an offer Tuesday that would relieve Ukraine of debt—and sweetened the deal with an offer to drop the price of Russian gas by nearly a third—but of course, something must be expected in return. However, what that “something” is isn’t entirely clear yet, but as the BBC reported Tuesday evening, Putin’s goals aren’t entirely opaque: 

The moves come amid Russian attempts to stop Ukraine moving towards the EU.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said they had not discussed Ukraine joining a Moscow-led customs union.

Ukrainian opposition leaders have demanded to know what Mr Yanukovych has offered Moscow in return for the deal.

 


Yanukovych’s huddle with Putin drew fire from the Ukrainian opposition, including established boxing champion and nascent political player Vitali Klitschko, who drew upon his training from the world of sport to challenge his country’s president, announcing in Kiev’s Independence Square that he was keen to meet President Yanukovych “in the ring.”

Russia’s aid to Ukraine includes the purchase of $15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds, according to the BBC, and critics worry that the help comes at the cost of a significant chunk of the Ukrainian economy.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson.

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