mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Battle for Ukraine
Putin's Billions Outweigh EU's Sweet Nothings

While media reports spilled gallons of ink on the ups and downs of the Ukrainian protest movement over the weekend, few seemed to be wondering what Putin’s next move would be in response to the latest developments. Well, we now know.

Emerging from talks with Yanukovich in Moscow today, Putin announced that Russia would buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds and sharply cut the price of natural gas to help Ukraine stave off a financial crisis and keep Kiev out of the EU’s grasp.

Policy-makers in Brussels and Washington seemed to have been hoping that soft power would be enough to get Kiev to sign an association agreement with the European Union. But those soft power visionaries simply underestimated Moscow’s determination not to lose Ukraine. Putin is playing a much tougher game, and he shares no scruples with Europe over Ukrainian transparency as he hands money to the government.

But the battle for Ukraine isn’t over yet. Protesters in Kiev have accused Yanukovich for almost a month now of selling out to Russia. Today that accusation has even more teeth. The pro-EU Ukrainians and the opposition politicians who lead them are unlikely to go home quietly straight away.

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