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D-FOX Developing Information

As Ukraine looks west to Europe, Russia's shadow looms

Lynsey_ADMIN_Lynsey_ADMIN_ Administrator
edited October 2013 in Daily News
When Russia wants to get its point across, it tends not to leave room for misunderstanding.

Put out by Europe's efforts to build closer relations with six countries in east Europe and the Caucasus - former Soviet republics that Russia regards as in its sphere of influence - Moscow has been steadily turning up the heat.

Armenia was the first to cave, turning its back on an "association agreement" with the European Union and agreeing instead to join Russia's customs union - a trade zone with Belarus and Kazakhstan launched in 2010.

Moscow has also homed in on defense or trade vulnerabilities in Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan, although the first two remain likely to move ahead with closer EU ties at a special summit in Vilnius in late November. Belarus, despite friction with Moscow, remains firmly in Russia's camp for now.

The big question is Ukraine, economically and politically the most important of the partnership countries. Despite pressure on trade, including key gas supplies from Russia, which sees Ukraine as culturally its own, Kiev is determined to look West and seal closer links to Europe next month.

That's not what Moscow wants to hear, or will accept.

"What we have seen during the past few weeks is brutal Russian pressure against the partnership countries of a sort that we haven't seen in Europe for a very long time," said Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt last month, describing Moscow's actions as "economic warfare".

"Before you embark on a Journey of Revenge, Dig Two Graves" Confucius (504 bc)
“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”
"If angry, count to ten. This will give you time to find a weapon." - Will Spencer
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