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Ukraine to Russia: We've Got a New Friend, Get Used to It


Fresh off the heels of a top advisor to Putin declaring Ukraine’s potential deal with the EU “suicidal,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov is firing back, telling Moscow to start coming to terms with a more Western-looking Ukraine. “Ukraine will create a free trade zone with the EU – this also has to be inevitably accepted as a reality,” Azarov declared. Reuters reports:

Clearly alluding to Kremlin threats of possible retaliatory trade moves, Mykola Azarov said: “The whole world is changing, the global system of economic relations. But to build a fence to protect yourself from changes using artificial barriers is simply pointless.”

The Prime Minister wants to continue to strengthen Ukraine’s trading relationship with Russia, saying that “drawing up new dividing lines is not in the interests of our peoples”—a dig at Putin, who cracked down on Ukrainian goods entering Russia last week in retaliation to the former Soviet state’s dealings with the EU.

This spat is a gut-check for Russia, an un-ignorable sign of its waning influence. If the deal goes through, Putin is going to look impotent, an impression likely to be reinforced if the West chooses to bomb Syria over Russia’s probable veto at the UN. Alas for Putin, but we fear that no number of Snowden asylums or Security Council vetoes will make his dream of regaining Soviet-sized clout for Russia any closer to being realized.

[Putin photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • ljgude

    Nice to see Putin taking a few lumps considering how many he is giving Obama.

  • Kelly Hall

    Despite Putin’s fervent desire to user in a new Russian Golden Age, the odds are stacked against him. Demographically the country is collapsing: the ethnic Russian birth rate is in the tank, and life expectancy is plummeting due to chronic alcoholism and drug use. Unless he finds a way to suddenly infuse his fellow Russians with health and fertility, his country is on the road to oblivion, not greatness.

  • USNK2

    Wishful thinking re: Russia’s “waning influence” on the part of Mr. Mead and his too-young interns who really need to learn how to read maps, and some non-western news sources before jumping to premature conclusions.

    • Corlyss

      I’m inclined to agree. Putin is a regional actor of increasing strength, esp. vis the US and perhaps the EU. He doesn’t have to rely on trade to discipline Ukraine; with its large Russian population, he needs only to give the word for ugly destabilization to start up and put an end to the western interest.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Respectfully, I must disagree. I think that Putin would like very much to have the capabilities that you describe, but he is holding very few cards, and those are depreciating rapidly. The Fracking revolution is undercutting what economic leverage that he might have, pervasive demographic collapse among ethnic Russians is undermining the cohesiveness of the country, and even the military (with the exception of the nuclear arm, which is by and large useless for anything other than a last-ditch defense of the state against open invasion) is deteriorating rapidly.
        The external threats are multiplying rapidly even as the internal situation festers. The Chinese are quiet now, but their long-standing claims on much of Siberia have not been foresworn, the muslim menace in the south continues to multiply (say that three times fast!), their former clients in Eastern Europe are beyond their control, and the Russians are increasingly without friends of any value. Even their recent ‘victories’ in the middle east are of limited worth…the Saudis are simply opportunist, and the Syrians are a black hole.
        I see little that Putin (or any other Russian leader, though Putin is worse than most) can do about reversing this trend. Even now, Russia’s situation would be worse than it looks were it not for the incompetence of the American leadership and the cupidity of the EUnicks….

        • NCMountainGirl

          A Russophile I know who has lived there ever since the fall of the Soviet Union- and not in Moscow- has given up hope. He
          seldom has been candid whenever he calls me from Russia. The last time we
          talked he was beyond candid. He was bitter. He says Putin is ruining
          the Russian economy.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Much as I hate to defend Putin (a villian if there ever was one), he isn’t the one doing the ruining. Russia is a country of astonishing corruption, limited only by their innate indolence. THAT is what is destroying the economy…
            Mentioning Putin reminds me of one of my favorite mini-series “I, Claudius”. At one point, the unspeakably evil Sejanus (portrayed with deliciously bland malice by Patrick Stewart of all people) is confronted by one of his soon to be victims with this immortal prose, “I suppsoe that you are not the destroyer, we shall have to look elsewhere for that. You are merely the putrefaction that comes after death” Putin is a 21st century redux of this 1st century monster, and this quote sums his malign influence up as well as any I have ever seen.

        • Corlyss

          I hope you’re right and I’m wrong. Events will tell.
          BTW bravo on the EUnicks neologism. May I use it? May I quote you, although f1b0nacc1 lacks the zing of a real name?

          • f1b0nacc1

            Feel free to use the neologism (in fairness, I am sure that I stole it from someone…such is the way of the web…), and as for my name, email me and I will share it with you.

          • Corlyss

            Well, as our NASA ISO 9000 consultant bade us often when we were ramping up to obtain ISO 9000 certification for HQ, “Steal with pride!”
            How’s about just a first name and initial? Would that be too much publicity for you? If you’re really a mind to gimme your particulars, you can shoot ’em to me at drinkard (at)

          • f1b0nacc1

            Remember the immortal words of the great Lobachevsky (as related by Tom Lehrer)…Plagarize, but remember to call it ‘research’!
            Just sent you an email, let me know if it reached you…

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