November Eastern partnership summit in Vilnius is heading to a signature of EU – Ukraine association agreement despite all doubts. Predictably but still surprisingly Russia reacted on this by engaging in tough rhetoric, a chocolate war and threat of trade sanctions. Almost the exact same scene was played out during the later stages of Ukraine’s efforts to receive a membership action plan from NATO.
Interestingly, back then Russia declared it had no objections to Ukraine’s European choice. However, with signature on the horizon, Russia again showed its true colors and moved kill-off Ukraine’s EU deal. Just last week, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, openly declared that he considers Ukraine and Russia as “odin narod” – one nation or one people. Yet the Russian’s shot themselves in the foot. As they increased the pressure, so Kyiv pushed back and sped up their efforts to meet the EU’s criteria.
In fact, from a rational point of view Russian concerns are groundless. The Association Agreement has no membership prospect, while the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, even if implemented, offers a much lower level of integration than the Russian-led Customs Union. Ukraine’s sovereignty will remain intact.