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You're reading: EU or Russia? Watching Russian roulette, Yanukovych-style

Speaking last week in Toronto his message was this: Ukraine is as much
in danger from Russia as from its own internal rot.  Both disasters may be avoided by choosing the
European integration option.  The drop-dead
date for this salvation is looming.   What
will the beleaguered president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, decide at the Vilnius
Summit on Nov. 28-29? The EU’s free trade agreement or Russia’s?

 Russia is
determined to keep Ukraine from the EU; that in itself should be a key
motivator in doing the opposite given the bloody and oppressive centuries-old
relationship with the nasty neighbor. 
For now, it has initiated a trade war, built high barbed wire fences
along parts of Ukraine’s boarder and started military scare tactics.  In response, Yanukovych has
denied–to date– Russia’s Customs Union but his latest visits show a trapped man, desperate to pursue the option that is most favorable to protecting him and
his ill begotten wealth.

Russia’s anger
at the prospect of losing to Europe is not restricted to Ukraine alone.  Reminding the Europeans of the cold they
faced in 2009 when energy supplies were turned off, Russia is threatening a
rerun should Ukraine sign and putting
pressuring on Lithuania, the summit host, and Moldova, another candidate for European
integration at Vilnius.

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