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Financial Times: Ukraine is bluffing over Russia’s offer

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Jan. 14, 2013, 9:12 p.m. | Op-ed — by Steven Pifer

Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president, says that deepening his country’s relations with the EU is a priority. Recent comments by his officials hint, however, at a turn towards Russia and the customs union Moscow has formed with Belarus and Kazakhstan.
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Steven Pifer

Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president, says that deepening his country’s relations with the EU is a priority. Recent comments by his officials hint, however, at a turn towards Russia and the customs union Moscow has formed with Belarus and Kazakhstan. Will these hints become reality? Unlikely, Mr Yanukovych is flirting with joining the customs union as part of an effort to persuade the west to ignore Ukraine’s regression on democracy.

The EU and US should adhere to their values and make clear that respect for democracy and human rights is crucial to better relations between Ukraine and the west.

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