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How Russia and EU Can Build a Greater Europe

Published: December 3, 2013 (Issue # 1788)

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to not sign the Association Agreement with the European Union should motivate the EU to adopt new tactics regarding Russia. Above all, the EU should stop isolating Russia and work a lot harder to include it as an integral part of Europe.

Initially, Yanukovych saw the Association Agreement as a good way to establish friendly relations with Europe and increase his chances for re-election in 2015. Indeed, Ukraine's economy would have benefited as a transit nation for EU goods destined for the Russian market.

But President Vladimir Putin burst that bubble by making it clear to Yanukovych that Moscow would not permit Ukraine to act as a transit country because it would destroy several key sectors of Russia's economy, including automobile, aviation and agriculture. That would also have led to major economic losses in Ukraine's southern and eastern regions, ensuring electoral defeat for Yanukovych in 2015.

At the same time, however, I believe Yanukovych and Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov when they said they would have signed the agreement if the EU had offered to pay Kiev 50 billion euros ($68 billion). This amount would have compensated Ukraine for losses it would have sustained from Russia's punitive measures, as well as the crushing, one-sided conditions that the EU agreement itself would have placed on the country.

In reality, Yanukovych would have probably signed if he was offered 20 billion euros, but the EU only offered 1 billion euros plus aid from the International Monetary Fund that required Ukraine to adopt strict economic reforms. In weighing the Russian and EU offers, he only had one concern: Which one would better increase his chances of being re-elected in the presidential election.

Brussels' logic in this affair is also clear. The EU aims to surround itself with dependent countries possessing resources that the EU can use for its own needs. The EU has successfully concluded such agreements with countries located in the southern parts of the union. What's more, those countries are so underdeveloped that the prospect of deindustrialization does not frighten them. But Russia is offering the countries on the EU's eastern flank more promising projects involving a common market and joint development of advanced technologies. That, plus the fact that the process of deindustrialization is already underway in those countries explains why the same EU policy met with resistance in the East.

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Times Talk


Thursday, Apr. 24

Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegation’s visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.

AmCham’s Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.

Friday, Apr. 25

Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finland’s Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from

Saturday, Apr. 26

At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping mall’s Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.

Sunday, Apr. 27

Families shouldn’t miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.

Monday, Apr. 28

The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBA’s Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.

Tuesday, Apr. 29

Improve your English at the British Book Center’s Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.