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You're reading: A gift for Russia

Certainly, President Viktor Yanukovych would like to get greater integration with Europe. However, he’s been quite naughty this year. The EU has warned him repeatedly about negative consequences for failing to release leading political opposition members, primarily Yulia Tymoshenko. Her imprisonment is widely seen as a perversion of justice. Instead of amends, Ukraine’s corrupted legal system seems determined to prevent her contesting the 2012 presidential elections. She’s seen as the favorite against the president.

Progress towards EU integration, which Ukraine views as its birthright, would be a heavenly gift. Public opinion is consistently supportive while trade–other than energy– is rising with Europe at Russia’s expense. This will continue as Ukraine “normalizes” relations with Europe from travel to telecommunications. Its nouveau riche have personal and business ties while its children study there.

However, some member states–fearing Ukraine’s size, natural resource base, agriculture and science–impede integration with the “doesn’t meet standards” excuse while the economic crisis there have many Ukrainians asking: Where’s the benefit? Nonetheless, integration is imperative for Ukraine’s peace, security and economic wellbeing. It needs to balance further incursions by Russia with stronger European links. For obvious economic and historic reasons, EU needs this too.

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