On Thursday the Ukrainian parliament reject a final set of laws designed to pave the way for Ukraine to join the EU's "Eastern Partnership" program as an associate EU member. The surprise move cast a shadow on the Eastern Partnership signing ceremony scheduled to take place in Vilnius, Lithuania next week.
With this move, Ukraine has signaled an end to its interest in further formal association with the European Union and a preference for participation in the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.
Perhaps sensing that a relationship with the EU would also involve endless meddling in internal Ukrainian affairs, the last straw for the Ukrainian parliament was a package of Brussels-demanded legislation which would have released from custody former prime minister Yulia "Gas Princess" Timoshenko, serving time on corruption charges.
The Western media marches nearly in lock-step condemning Russia's role in "bullying" Ukraine into stepping away from the EU agreement. The Western media's near-universal claim is that Ukraine is missing out on the deal of a century. But as usual there is far more to the story.
As European asset manager Eric Kraus points out, Ukraine opted for a reliable trading partner next door rather than an EU that is neither interested in importing Ukrainian products nor has the financial means to provide support for modernization of Ukraine's economy. So despite deceptive and biased Western reporting, Ukraine has settled on guaranteed trade rather than empty suggestions of possible aid.
Western media and governments cannot understand why Ukraine would not drop everything to join the Western club, the EU, but as Kraus explains in the above-linked interview:
The EU offers lots of words...what they don't offer is what Ukraine needs, which is money.... Ukraine is not vital to the EU. It is part of a geopolitical chess game and they'd like to take that piece. But they are not going to spend a lot of money for it. They can't. They've got Portugal, they've got Greece, pretty soon they've got France.
As a recent RPI report pointed out in detail, Westernized politicians from the former East like Poland's Radek Sikorski pretend that their countries have benefited from EU membership when in fact it is predominantly the elites in these countries -- often with nomenklatura ties -- who have done particularly well for themselves while their countries' economies have disintegrated. Sikorski's Poland, for example, "enjoys" a 30 percent youth unemployment rate and a population whose only hope for the future is emigration to the UK.
As RPI contributor Christine Stone points out in the above recent report:
Cheap labour and cut-price prostitution will be Ukraine’s major exports if the Polish or Baltic model of European integration is anything to go by. Poland’s main ‘export’ is cash remittances from almost three million migrants scattered across the western EU, especially in Britain. Maybe Foreign Minister Sikorski hopes that Ukraine will replace Poland as the mega-El Salvador of Europe if it accedes to a visa-free association with the EU?
With Ukraine out of the EU's "Eastern Partnership" program, the association includes just Georgia and Moldova, both economic basket-cases that make even Ukraine look like Switzerland. Good luck with that, Brussels.