The West Must Shield Ukraine from Russian Reprisals over Association Agreement, Says Academic

Nov 13, 2013, 03:21 ET from Ukraine Monitor

KIEV, Ukraine, November 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

A leading academic has warned Ukraine could go into economic "free fall" or even split along pro and anti-Russian lines should Russia retaliate against Kiev for signing the Association Agreement with the European Union later this month.

Professor of Political Science, Andreas Umland of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, says the European Union and the U.S. must do more to protect Ukraine and the "political stability in Eastern Europe" and give explicit signals towards Moscow that Russian economic pressure on Ukraine is unacceptable.

"The EU has a large share in creating the current situation that may be entailing considerable risks for the Ukrainian economy, society and state," he wrote in the German Council on Foreign Relations journal.

"The West should use its considerable leverage to raise the stakes of a Russian confrontation with Kiev."

His warning comes amidst increasingly hostile language emanating from Russia. President Putin's official adviser on economic integration, Sergei Glazyev, recently branded Kiev's planned signing of the Association Agreement a "violation of the Russian-Ukrainian Friendship Treaty on which the entire foundation of our relationship is built." 

It is such talk that has sparked fears that Russia could do all in its power to crush the fragile Ukrainian economy in the face of rejection in favour of Europe.

"Should Moscow use its considerable leverage to the full, the Ukrainian economy would be unable to withstand, and could go into a free fall," Professor Umland warned.

He added the EU should not think it can have it both ways, demanding Ukraine embark on a painful journey to meet EU standards while EU member states "continue doing business as usual with a Russia that punishes Kiev for its association with Brussels." 

In recent months, Russia has made it clear that it would make Kiev pay if the Association Agreement goes ahead. In August, Moscow contrived a trade dispute with Kiev and, more recently, there have been threats of fresh gas supply stoppages from Russia.

Umland urged the West to make as clear as possible to the Russian leadership "the entire array of economic, financial, political and diplomatic repercussions that a Russian strangulation of the Ukrainian economy would have for Moscow."

Such a signal would help Moscow to get a clear picture of the risks it will face in case of an escalation, he added.

SOURCE Ukraine Monitor