The Two Ukraines
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s government is widely seen as “pro-Russian” and is much less democratic than its predecessor. Yet it is engaged in negotiations with the European Union on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) accord, whose provisions go far beyond the elimination of tariffs. Russia is pressing Ukraine to join the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union (CU) instead, but Ukraine seems set on DCFTA. Moreover, Ukrainian officials now lament the 2010 Kharkiv Accord with Russia, which ended up giving Ukraine higher gas prices than those paid by EU members. Based on Russia’s demonstrated determination to retain its predominance in its “sphere of privileged interest,” its evident opposition to the DCFTA, and its efforts to persuade Ukraine to choose the CU instead, one should not overlook the possibility of a crisis in Ukrainian-Russian relations this year.