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You're reading: Misplaced exuberance in Ukraine-EU negotiations

This shock was unexpected as it was mainly because the
gentlemen in Brussels didn’t quite take into account the personality traits of
Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president. In fact, four years ago he was viewed
favorably in Western business circles, while Yulia Tymoshenko, the Orange
candidate in the 2010 presidential elections, was seen as a question mark
populist, who didn’t have a sound grasp of economics.

Even now, Yanukovych’s backing off from the economic and
political pact with the EU is explained in the media by his mainly pragmatic
concerns, such as fear of Russia’s economic reprisals and strained relations
with the IMF.

But a really corrosive influence, at least as important as
economic aspects, is his mentality as a “Donbas blatnoy” – the product of
street gang upbringing  —  utterly incompatible with the EU civility,
and, when push comes to shove, his fears that ties with Europe is not his cup
of tea. Sloshing with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president may be no fun, but at
least Yanukovych would be on familiar grounds.

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