Ukraine just made what geopolitical expert James Sherr called “a civizational choice”: On the table sat an Association Agreement and trade pact with the EU — an open invitation to integration with the West — as well as a Russian offer to join the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia customs union.
Last month John Lloyd of Reuters wrote that if the Ukraine signed the EU pact, “a major state will move into the West’s sphere of influence.”
[Ukraine President Viktor] Yanukovich’s prime minister issued the dramatic order to suspend the process in the interests of “national security” and renew “active dialogue” with Moscow. EU officials, who had hoped the president’s complaints in recent days were a last-minute bargaining tactic, saw little chance of saving the deal.
The result is that the Ukraine stays in the “Slavic-Orthodox cultural bloc” that includes much of the former Soviet Union and parts of East-Central Europe.
John Schindler, a former NSA analyst and counterintelligence officer, called it a “big win for Putin and the Kremlin” and detailed why:
The Wall Street Journal provides more detail on why Ukraine’s “turn away from Europe” is significant:
… without Ukraine, the EU’s Eastern Partnership program, a push to strengthen ties with former Soviet territories, would come under further question. Armenia, which had been expected to sign a deal with the EU, abruptly changed course in September and announced it was aligning with Russia instead. Georgia and Moldova are still expected to initial agreements with the EU in Vilnius, but Ukraine is by far the largest economy targeted by the EU program.
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