News / Europe

Putin Makes Bold Move to Keep Ukraine in Moscow’s Orbit

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych talk during their meeting in Moscow, Dec. 17, 2013.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych talk during their meeting in Moscow, Dec. 17, 2013.
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— Moving aggressively to keep Ukraine in Moscow’s sphere of influence, Russia’s president has offered Ukraine $15 billion in loans and a sharp discount on natural gas prices.

Vladimir Putin made the offer to Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday in an effort to block Ukraine from moving toward the European Union.  Last month, President Yanukovych unexpectedly backed out of signing a trade and political pact with the EU.

Meeting in the Kremlin, the Russian president cautioned that his offer to cut gas prices is conditional.

“We believe this is a temporary decision, which means that long-term agreements should and will be signed,” Putin said after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart in the Kremlin.

President Yanukovych accepted the aid offer without disclosing the conditions; but, he knew that he would return home to face hostile protesters.

For the last month, protesters have occupied the center of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, demanding that a free trade pact be signed with Europe.

On his way to Kyiv’s international airport, the presidential motorcade passed protesters waving signs reading, “Yanukovych, turn back to Europe.”

After the Russian aid was announced, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of the opposition Fatherland Party, spoke to tens of thousands of protesters gathered on Kyiv’s Maidan square.

“We told Yanukovych, he signed the agreement with Russia; it is his one-way ticket” to Moscow, he told the crowd, apparently referring to a customs union that the Russia president is promoting.

President Putin wants to create a Eurasian Union from the Pacific Ocean to the borders of the European Union. Leaders of the two rival trade unions say that Ukraine cannot belong to both groups.

Oleg Tyagnibok, leader of the nationalist Svoboda, or Freedom, Party wondered what Ukraine’s president offered as guarantees for the massive loans.

“What kind of guarantee was offered for $15 billion?” he asked.

Russian and Ukrainian officials said that joining Putin’s customs union was not discussed in Moscow during the one-day visit by Ukraine’s leader.

As Yanukovych flew to Moscow, the European Business Association, a Kyiv-based group of 900 foreign and domestic businesses, called instead for Ukraine to win loans with the International Monetary Fund.
 
On his return, Ukraine’s president faces mounting political challenges.
 
Vitaly Klitschko, the heavyweight boxer turned opposition leader, challenged Yanukovych to face him in early presidential elections.
 
“Only early elections can be a solution for the country,” said Klitschko, the former World Boxing Council  heavyweight champion.  “I am challenging Yanukovych - he is my personal rival, and I am calling him to the ring.”
 
Presidential elections are to be held here in March 2015, but the ruling Regions Party is worried about the viability of Yanukovych as a candidate.  On Monday, Regions Party parliamentary deputies called for a total overhaul of the Cabinet.
 
And, a recent effort to mount street demonstrations to support the president backfired.  The Regions Party chartered trains and buses, but was only able to muster a crowd less than 10 percent the size of the opposition crowd, which was around 200,000.
 
The Kyiv Post reported that on the way home, some pro-government rally participants smashed train windows and papered cars with opposition stickers.  They complained they had been paid far less than promised to demonstrate in support of the president.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Igor from: Russia
December 19, 2013 8:29 PM
To Ruashi from: uk.
Pls think twice before uttering a word. Russia’s president has offered Ukraine $15 billion in loans and a sharp discount on natural gas prices. Putin does not demand that Ukraine must give up his freedom and democracy. Do not distort his offer. The people of Ukraine are free to choose their ways.

In Response

by: Suman from: India
December 20, 2013 1:03 AM
Well Russian have every right to defend their action. Western world will be happy if they see decrease in Russian Influence in CIS countries. They opposed Russia in Afghanistan by proxy using Islamic fanatics but when they tested their own medicine in world trade centre then they entered in Afghanistan. What is the definition of freedom for UK and USA their actions in Iraq has demonstrated that. US and UK has only one agenda -reduce Russian influence. If they are really serious then they should offer 20 billion USD offer and give full membership to Ukraine in the line of UK and French people then we will understand their seriousness and concern for freedom for Ukraine and its people.
Russian are far more reliable and do not show disrespect to their friends.

In Response

by: Ruashi from: uk
December 19, 2013 10:13 PM
Thanks I get it now as it is that old game of the higher bidder takes all......now is clear but still not believe Ukraine and it people deserve a stand in such humiliating shop sale process .why not organise a referendum as the matter is engaging the very future if not the destiny of Ukraine itself as an independent state and from there make a final decision in accordance with d result of d majority vote?


by: jeffersonchenko from: Ukraine
December 19, 2013 10:33 AM
Ukrainians want freedom, both socially and
economically. Their current president promised an EU 'direction' but then reversed himself after years of discussions/negotiations, just prior to signing
an 'association' agreement with EU. That was simply the trigger, not the only reason for these protests.
Ukrainians simply want a free democratic society, where they have a voice in their government, and lives. In Ukraine, all persons are not equal under the laws.
The MP's, judges, and many, many other officials have Constitutional Immunity from prosecution of any criminal acts, breaking the law of any sort, meaning they are above the law. The same law breakers when they are regular
citizens, are severely punished.

Small businesses are extorted by government officials, just for being in business. There is NO recourse for that extortion. The legal/judicial system is dysfunctional.

The government don't work for the people, it's function is like a 'business club' for the benefit of the few.
Moving in the 'direction only' of EU brings in a judicial/legal system, that at the least, is significantly more people based than anything that Ukraine has had in the past.

That's basically it, Ukrainians want freedom and justice in their country.


by: MikeBarnett from: USA
December 18, 2013 2:26 PM
This deal helps Russia and Ukraine with transit through Russia for Ukrainian goods bound for Asia. Some people have ignored the food production of Ukraine and the growing populations of Asian nations. The recent rail link that China completed through Kazakhstan allows the economical joining of Ukraine's food production with China, India, Pakistan, and southeast Asia. The EU's population growth is stagnating, but Indians, Pakistanis, and southeast Asians grow in numbers. Also, China is revising its "one child policy" and may need to import more grain to feed more herds and flocks in the future to feed a rising population of Chinese. The author and many commenters are not thinking about the future and about events, such as the new rail link, that can shape that future.

In Response

by: amir from: detroit
December 18, 2013 10:44 PM
I don't know where ur getting these so called facts from but asia is notgrowing. Only in certain asian countries it is growing but not in china or india. China is not revising its one child policy only that it is allowing people in more rural regions to have a second child if the first childs a girl. India is experiencing a now stagnating population as a result of increasing family planning .Both populations will rise but not by alot and china's will peak by 2020 then begin declining afterwords.


by: Sunny Enwerem from: Abeokuta, Nigeria
December 18, 2013 4:38 AM
Putin really needs to come to africa and learn how to bribe because his offer is an insult to a nation calling for change.............Vitaly Klitschko, the heavyweight boxer turned opposition leader, challenged Yanukovych to face him in early presidential elections?why don't they face in a boxing ring while the incumbent gets to wear the best gloves and his opponent wears a fake and who ever smiles with his teeth intact wins.

In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
December 18, 2013 9:10 PM
How can a heavy boxer can represent a whole nation!!! If Ukraine was led by a heavy boxer, the whole nation would become an arena. Who would care for the poors, the farmers???Heaven knows!!!
Also, Vitaly Klitschko, who earns a living by fighting, would never know how to run a government and would become a clown,


by: Igor from: Russia
December 18, 2013 12:41 AM
Russia’s president has offered Ukraine $15 billion in loans and a sharp discount on natural gas prices. What about the EU? What has it offered to Ukraine? Only empty words. As we are practical, we cannot live on empty words.

In Response

by: ruashi from: uk
December 19, 2013 1:32 AM
how come a big and proud people of Ukraine can refuse to auto determine it own destiny just because of money? all the money in the world will never buy freedom gentlemen that is an insult

In Response

by: Cor Lemmers
December 18, 2013 10:32 AM
Yes, you are right. The EU offered only 1 bilion to Ukraine. And if the EU really want Ukraine as a member. They must show this, by stopping the Visa rules for Ukrainian people.


by: Jeremy
December 17, 2013 10:54 PM
They pay for demonstrators? What a waste of public funds!


by: greg from: canada
December 17, 2013 9:54 PM
the Ukraine population want autonomy - particularly away from Russian influence. A $15 billion loan from Putin will only reinforce the Ukrainian peoples' position. Expect civil unrest to escalate.

In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
December 18, 2013 8:50 PM
You are wrong. We cannot not live alone in this world without depending on each other. Russia depends on Ukraine and vice versa. Do not be fooled by the illusion that the EU will give you everything for free. They are not your friends but partners. When you are in difficulties they will let you down if they think you are no longer good for them.

In Response

by: Don from: NA
December 18, 2013 3:55 PM
Well, I think Ukrainian people are being misled by all parties (government, EU, and not much by Russia), because we know that this is a geopolitical fight between EU and Russia. As far as I know, this is the first time EU begs a country to join in? EU is useless to lead Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, etc. What assures EU agreement will be beneficial to Ukraine? There is always a labor country when a country's competitiveness is low. Best move, but costly, is to work with the IFM and then sign free trade agreements with EU and Russia in better terms. USA was very candid as either fears Russia, or USA has a dark geopolitical agreement with Russia. Besides, USA is not to trust either.


by: Maxim from: Ukraine
December 17, 2013 7:29 PM
to all our American friends, thank you for your support. now listen, the glaring incompetence of Obama and his idiot stooge Kerry, has emboldened Putin to place new continental nuclear ballistic missiles in Europe. do not think for a moment that you are not threatened directly by this move. here is what is going to happen here in Ukraine: Ukraine is going to split in two... Obama stupid move with reference to Iran has upset the delicate balance in Europe. Europe is as vulnerable to nuclear Iran as is Saudi Arabia. your friends who thought they could rely on you no longer do so. your enemies who respected you - today, despise you.

In Response

by: Garnet Rossi from: Montreal CANADA
December 18, 2013 6:39 PM
Any Ukrainian who goes against the Govt and Russia should be arrested and citizenship annulled and all assets frozen and seized and the rebel kicked out of the country right into Europe. Let's see if Euro really cares for Ukrainians as it says it does. EVERYTHING about the Euro is BULLSH*T. Stay away from BULLSH*T. It is EMPTY. Empty policies, empty promises, empty morally and ethically too.


by: Steve Bruce
December 17, 2013 7:13 PM
Once again Vlad shows himself to be one heckuvva canny operator on the world stage, while antiques like John McCain embarrass the former United States and accelerate its decline.

In Response

by: amir from: detroit
December 18, 2013 10:47 PM
Oh please Putin is just a russian version of george bush. Only western russiaphiles like yourself r to gullible to see it.

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