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Russia: EU, not Moscow, is bullying Ukraine

December 12th, 2013
02:49 PM ET

By Mick Krever and Claire Calzonetti, CNN

Russia said Thursday that the European Union is trying to bully Ukraine into signing a free trade deal against the wishes of the majority of Ukrainians.

Russia itself has been accused of strong-arming President Viktor Yanukovych into rejecting such an agreement. For weeks, thousands of Ukrainians have braved the bitter cold to protest that decision.

“The EU offers a token package, which is not of any interest to the Ukrainian government,” Alexei Pushkov, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Russia’s Parliament, told CNN’s Hala Gorani, who was sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

“That’s why Mister Yanukovych has initially rejected it,” he said. “Then all these demonstrations started with the participation of the European ministers…who were speaking on the Maidan [Kiev’s Independence Square], joining the protesters, and so on.”

This is taking Ukraine by the neck and trying to…bring it forcefully into the paradise.”

On Thursday, there was a hint that Yanukovych may be bowing to the opposition’s pressure and reversing course.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, spoke to Yanukovych and told CNN afterwards that he “still wishes to sign the association agreement with the European Union.”

Pushkov said he was not so sure.

“He never actually rejected the possibility of signing a deal with the European Union,” he said. “But he said on many occasions that he is not happy with the content of the deal.”

According to Pushkov, Yanukovych may yet sign “some kind of deal,” albeit altered to better suit Ukraine.

“This is not clear yet, and I will need some more information to make my judgement.”

The protests in Kiev – the largest since 2004’s Orange Revolution – turned violent Tuesday night when riot police moved in on encampments, even using chainsaws and bulldozers to pull down barriers.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “disgust” at the police action.

Pushkov was incredulous.

“My feeling is that the United States are disgusted with the governments they don’t like, and they are quite happy with the governments they like, even if these governments are killing people.”

The U.S., he said, is not “disgusted” with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or Egypt.

“But the United States are for some reason disgusted with the democratic government of Ukraine, and with the president, who has been democratically elected and recognized by the United States.”

“The only reason for this is geo-politics. The United States want Ukraine to become part of Western sphere of influence.”

Russia too is pursuing a trade deal with Ukraine, and Pushkov made clear that he believes that that deal would be a better fit.

“Look at Serbia,” he said. “Look at Bulgaria, which is member of the EU. These countries have lost much more from joining the association or the membership in the European Union.”

“Their industry is destroyed. Their agriculture is almost non-existent. And they are still waiting for investments from the European Union, which are never coming.”

Ukraine, he said, should be comparing itself to those countries, not Denmark, Norway, or Sweden, which he characterized as “well to-do countries.”

“We have noticed that the association of the European Union does not really spell well for a number of southern European countries with under-developed economies.”

Were Ukraine to enter into an agreement with the EU, he said, Russia would “reconsider its trade terms” with Ukraine in order to “defend” its market from goods coming from that country.

But with Russia on its side, Pushkov said, Ukraine will be able to compete.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Ukraine
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Gennadi

    People of Ukraine want freedom of speech and movement. Money of Russia cannot offer that! We need dignity and not dirty Russian money.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Ukraine is a democracy. You might not like the election result, but you have to live with it. Trying to close down the government to incite a heavy-handed crackdown on the hope that the US will intervene or try to bring about the collapse of the elected government through sanctions etc is trying to overturn the election result, and walking away from democracy.

      December 13, 2013 at 4:12 am | Reply
  2. seawolf73

    In Ukraine there is 50-50 pro and against if it is not in the taste of Armampour...EU is not how it look likes...Immagine a middle age Lord going from village to village taking taxes from poor people...thats the EU. Probably that Ukraine could do better than become a "poor country" in the EU. Play both sides, yes you can.

    December 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • ep tor

      Speak English please. In the past few months we have seen Russian legislation pushing the country backwards into the mid twentieth century. Russia's form of uncontrolled Capitalism and corrupt government is destroying the middle class and until the government enters the 21st century, it's best to stay away. Most Ukrainians can see the bullying tactics of Putin and his cronies and want no part of it.

      December 13, 2013 at 1:01 am | Reply
      • Jim

        seawolf73's point was clear enough to me. Ukraine is half russian facing and half europe facing in the loyalties of its population. That's reflected in the election results. To your point about Russian capitalism ... agreed, the face of pure capitalism is an ugly one. US propaganda glosses over the negative aspects of the capitalist model, so would-be capitalists don't make informed choices about whether the model is right for their countries. A socialist model such as in scandinavia and the benelux countries works best for the masses. A final point... anyone condemning the Ukranian clampdown on the protesters blockading parliament would do well to remember the US government clampdown on the wall street protesters.

        December 13, 2013 at 3:47 am |
      • seawolf 73

        apprend les langues cowboy....

        December 13, 2013 at 6:02 am |
      • gina

        you have no clue what u r saying, new radical government is not ukraine its only small portion of it, they killing those people who are not agree with their views, they threatening russian speaking people who live in ukraine. The government can not be legitimate if a bunch of radicals choose them among themselves

        March 2, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
    • Brain

      50% – 50% ... no ... An alliance with the Russian majority. Just East of Ukraine working in factories at this time and does not participate in paid western Europe mess.

      December 13, 2013 at 5:10 am | Reply
    • desert voice

      Why not part of Ukraine returning to Poland? Ukraine was Polish for centuries, and there were no problems, until the bolsheviks started messing things up ... to this day! What we need is a Yalta II, to return Ukraine where it historically belongs! Ukraine does not want to become another Putin"s whipping boy, after Chechnya and Georgia!

      December 17, 2013 at 6:17 am | Reply
  3. Zorblane

    We dont see too many Russian flags flying in Kiev during the demonstrations. Not too many Ukrainians hot on falling into the arms of Mother Russia again.

    December 12, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      No. It's a rally by supporters of the opposition who were defeated in the last election. Rallies are illegal in Saudi Arabia. Protesters are arrested and imprisoned. US/EU condemnation is only dished out to countries who aren't client states of the West. That's why the condemnation is met with contempt.

      December 13, 2013 at 4:00 am | Reply
  4. ibis

    Hala rebounded Alexei's counter accusation of EU bullying cunningly with concluding that the EU is the strong arm and not russia 😉

    December 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Abetted by the fact that it's true. e.g. US threat of sanctions against Ukraine for making the "wrong" choice. Why didn't the US impose sanctions on Bahrain when they arested and imprisoned the democracy protesters, or on Saudi Arabia when Saudi tanks crossed the causeway into Bahrain to help the Bahraini dictatorship crush the democracy ? The US 5th fleet sits in Bahrain. urely they could have lent some assistance to the protesters.

      December 13, 2013 at 4:06 am | Reply
  5. Aleksei

    It is like great artist the Prince singing sine of the Times!

    December 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  6. keithturkjr

    Russia is infamous for its passive aggressive soft propaganda misinformation practices. Pretty much anything that comes from the mouth of the Russian government has to be looked at with a skeptical eye towards subversion.
    RIA Novosti and its subsidiaries continue to conduct state sponsored misinformation to sow disorder and unrest in the world to benifit mother Russia. If you dont believe just look on youtube.

    This isn't about the EU's money bullying the Ukraine in global trade, this is about the Russian Federation not wanting to compete with the economy of the EU in regards to its trade partner despite all the abundance of other viable trade partners.

    December 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Reply
    • seawolf73

      Do you mean Gazprom?

      December 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  7. carmelrainbow

    American diplomats walk around that square giving food and hot drinks to those "fighters for democracy," encouraging them to fight on. No Russian diplomats do so. Who is the bully? Evidence, please.

    December 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  8. midgick1

    We see this all the time here. When one is found out to be criminal or of wrong doing, they automatically try to turn it around and put the blame on the other party.
    Anyone who trusts Putin will get what they deserve. That's a knife in the back or a poison pill or something along those lines.
    Russia is one of the most repressive Powers next to and including China and North Korea and of course Iran.
    Their track record on Human Rights is non existent and most brutal.
    The only thing that's keeping them slightly in check is our military. It's okay to be advanced and seem above all of this, but it usually comes down to the strongest will survive. Sometimes you can't negotiate you have to use all the muscle you have and never let your guard down.

    December 12, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Reply
    • seawolf73

      bla bla bla...weapons of mass destruction, selling weapons to the Syrian Islamists, bombing Afghan childrens with drones, bad Ruskies...Usual bla bla bla from the red-necks "Sometimes you can't negotiate you have to use all the muscle you have and never let your guard down." in other means "I shoot the fging guy because he is different than me and dont listen what I say"

      High middle-class USA intellectualism

      December 13, 2013 at 12:15 am | Reply
      • KinOman

        For all its many failings and shortcomings (and crimes), it's still the country with the most stable government in the history of the world...........with the longest queue (line) to get in.

        December 13, 2013 at 6:18 am |
  9. Free_Thinker

    Ukraine will be better off staying out of EU. Russia is trying to hold the grip as they know if Ukraine signs any bi-lateral trade agreement with EU, many things will follow. And of course, US and EU working together for their narrow political and economical gains. So, obviously US will be more than happy to assist the demonstrators using them as a cat's paw to fulfill their dirty wishes against Russia.

    December 13, 2013 at 3:13 am | Reply
  10. Henk

    The EU is the worlds largest economy. It is also the worlds largest exporter. Larger then China and much more exports then the United States. Can Russia propaganda stop pretending Europe is poor. Average EU income per person equals over twice that of Russia`s income per head. On top of that Europe is going for energy independence with wind, bio, solar, geothermal. But more importantly now even hybrid and electric vehicles. And the EU continues to pay the costly price of integration. Like Germany spent 2 decades of troubles and huge cost of integrating East Germany. Poland for example receives over 18 Billion Euro`s each year.

    And Russia`s main number 1 income is oil and gas. Russia literally has ZERO large international companies besides oil and gas. As prices stabilize and move down like over the past 2 years it will harm Russia ever more. A big and historic energy shift is happening. And with Europe and the world's nations become ever more energy independent it will not be in Russia`s favor. And then we don`t even talk about corruption in Ukraine and Russia. Making even Berlusconi seems like a fruit fly. Ukrainians don`t want more of that. They want it much, much less. And as soon as possible.

    December 13, 2013 at 4:27 am | Reply
    • visitor

      And EU has been doing SO well recently... I will not be surprised if the whole system collapse within a decade or so and will be remembered as yet another failed experiment to unite Europe (this time around - a peaceful one).

      December 13, 2013 at 11:57 am | Reply
    • C Goto

      Someone will start a war and get the price of oil and gas jacked up again.

      In many countries the price of fuel is STILL up 50% over 5 years.

      December 16, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  11. Yuri

    As usual – we get some misinformation, not by chance of course. It was the crowd that used bulldozers against the police, not the other way around.

    December 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  12. Andrey

    Ukrainians let foreign powers manipulate them, they keep running in circles because they never learn from their mistakes, they always look for somebody else to blame when they fail, they keep waiting for hand-outs and get angry when none are coming: they will fit into EU perfectly!

    December 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  13. VSB

    I think that there is a delicate balance, because Ukraine is not like Estonia or Latvia. These countries made the transition from Communism to democracy without any problems. The EU is trying to help Ukraine finish the transition process like the other Warsaw Pact States. Even China has capitalism. The Ukraine should look at Finland as a role model.

    December 14, 2013 at 8:41 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      So tell me why Finland would be good role model for Ukraine: is it because of the size? Ukraine is forty five million, Finland is what: four or five – with all the immigrants flowing in? Or is it because other similarities: like prevalent agricultural sector and coal mining (that was sarcasm you would not recognize)?
      Then why not Estonia that you have mentioned: with just one million of population Estonia is the perfect model (sarcasm alert!)!

      December 14, 2013 at 11:33 am | Reply
  14. stankovic slavisa

    This is another attempt of western countries to destabilize one independent country and establish government which they will.But I hope Ucraina's peple will recognize all of their pranks and lies and leaders of opposition whose are under instruction of western securitiy sercice.These things our people know better than you.If you don't belive me ,you can ask peple in Bulgarija,Romenia,Slovakia etc.Their economies were destroyed when they have been entred in EU,and they are now economic colonies.It is an economic occupation carried out Hitler's planof one Europe under German command.THE DEFENCE!!! Greetings from Serbia!!!

    December 14, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  15. martin jude

    Yanukovych must stop acting like a spoiled child. He keeps looking to the left or to the right - looking for which side butters his bread better.
    His track record shows he is quite adept in lining his pockets and that of his son (and their clan of acolytes), but somehow when it comes to doing the same for his people he comes up bereft of any ideas. His only bet is to have Moscow and Brussels locked in an auction match. It suits his style well.
    The people also see this quite well. In due time Russia and EU will see through this game as well. Neither of them want to be saddled with a milestone around their neck.
    It's time for a change in leadership. Ukrainians will be better served with a leader who is in touch with the people. The time for dictators and usurpers is long gone.

    December 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Reply
    • stankovic slavisa

      Sir I must tell you that in Ucraine live about 50% Russian people,so that least this number of people want good relationship with Russia.The most of people on the square in Kiev is manipulated of the leaders of oppositin who are under control western security cervices.You only can something take of them,naturally ,nothing to help and nothing to give.It is a sistem already all known as in Slovacia,Bulgaria,Romenia,Serbia etc.Western countries want colonies,it is only their goal.Ucraina is reach counrtry with naturally resourses,but Russia,when evryone have no more natural resourses ,Russia will have least 200 years.That is reason why you want to be nearer Russia.If you try yo ply with Russia ,it will the end of Western civilisation!!!

      December 15, 2013 at 5:07 am | Reply
  16. joyce

    for me, It is very annoying. Ukraine should fight for their rights and not be affected from the bullying of Russias.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:23 am | Reply
    • alessandra

      It's very unfair from the part of Ukraine. They should not underestimate the Ukraine just because they think they are more powerful.

      December 15, 2013 at 3:25 am | Reply
      • ivy

        Yeah i guess, Ukraine fights for their rights and they fight for what they think. It's good for their country. But for me. World Peace Everyone!

        December 15, 2013 at 3:28 am |
  17. hyacinth

    Do not lose faith and trust in the fact that there are a lot more good people in the world than the current bully / bullies that are making your life feel worthless and like you’re living in a never-ending hell. Everyone – Everywhere – Should Stand Up Against Bullying without hesitation or the feeling of pity for bullied victims. You’re Standing Up because it’s the right thing to do, it can save a dream and a life, and to one day bring an end to such a vicious toxic behavior.It is the lack of knowledge of, or the unwillingness to recognize, or the deliberate denial of the existence of the serial bully which is the most common reason for an unsatisfactory outcome for both employee and employer.No one deserves to feel worthless . Keep safe and be alert always no one deserve to be judge check this out at!/page_home.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:31 am | Reply
  18. Chris Herz

    Ukraine has been split 50-50 between East and West, Orthodox and Catholic since forever. Certainly the USA has little role in this matter except, as usual to make things worse. Mccain - butt out.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:00 am | Reply
  19. Angel Ivanov

    I am Bulgarian. And I’d like to impose my deepest protest against Russian speculations about negatives as results of our EU membership! All these things are Russian dirty lies! Yes, Bulgaria is the poorest country in EU, but the reason for that is Russian occupation lasted here for more than 50 years. What we have left from their soviet socialism – old fashioned industry and Russian technologies good for nothing. Severely polluted environment by the Russian military production and “kolhoz” type of agriculture where only gipsy worked! From a flourished European country before the war, Russian occupation left the country as the poorest one even on the Balkans. I also can say about millions of Bulgarians suffered from the soviet bloody communist regime foisted by the help of Russian bayonets!
    Even now, after being members of EU and NATO, Russia continue with its interference in our life. They interfere in our political life, they interfere in our business and they interfere everywhere with their KGB agents and with their “fifth colon”. For me Russia is a symbol of dark empire and it play a sinister role much more than positive in our history. That’s why I and many other Bulgarians fully support Ukrainian people fighting for their liberty and their fate without Russian domination! At the end of the day I say: Yes, we don’t want you Russians! Stay away from us! Let us create our fate – good or bad without you! Let us to determine it alone!!!

    December 16, 2013 at 4:24 am | Reply
    • C Goto

      So, you are saying `No` to Russia, and you are saying `No` to Europe?
      Listen buddy, alonse, your country "alone" may well end up being pillaged by Moslem hordes or china may invade and use you for spare parts.
      Russia also has a need to have buffer zones from countries which want to destabilise it. that world may not be a place you want to witness; that could be a world what you would beg to join Russia and/or Europe.
      But I agree that a BALANCED CHOICE should be offered.
      Half of the country share with Russia, half share with Europe.
      What would SOLOMON do?

      December 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Reply
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