Ukraine signs EU pact that set off revolution

posted at 8:41 am on June 27, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko calls the signing of the EU trade pact that set off months of war in his country “the Rubicon,” as Ukraine moves to decisively enter the Western orbit economically and diplomatically. He’d better hope he’s wrong about that:

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed an association agreement with the European Union on Friday, the same deal whose reversal set off a crisis in the nation.

His predecessor’s decision to shun the deal last year and work with Russia instead unleashed deadly strife that led to the ouster of the nation’s President, the loss of Crimea and a pro-Russia separatist rebellion.

Sealing the deal may be the second-most important moment in Ukraine’s history, Poroshenko said, after its independence from Russia.

He said the signing “shows how dramatically things can change in a short time, if the will of the people is strong enough.”

Crossing the Rubicon was a point of no return for Julius Caesar, when he led the Roman army into Rome for the first time ever to complete his seizure of power. That didn’t work out well for Caesar in the end. In this case, it might be the Rubicon for Vladimir Putin too, who has vowed not to let Ukraine spin away from Moscow’s influence. Putin made his displeasure clear earlier today with Ukraine’s decision:

Russia has said that it views the expansion of E.U. ties to its border to be a Western encroachment on a region that has long fallen within the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. E.U. leaders — along with those of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova — have said that the deal presents no such challenge to good relations with Russia.

“The anti-constitutional coup in Kiev and attempts to artificially impose a choice between Europe and Russia on the Ukrainian people have pushed society toward a split and painful confrontation,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Moscow on Friday.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said the deal would “no doubt . . . have serious consequences,” Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

At least Ukraine has company in this pact. Both Georgia and Moldova signed the agreement in hopes of expanding markets for their exports and participating in the economic growth of Europe. All three nations are particular sore spots for Russia. Putin fought a war with Georgia in 2008 and ended up breaking two of its provinces away (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) to keep them under Moscow’s thumb, and Russia still has troops in Moldova’s Transnistria district. The people of Transnistria want a return to Russian control, and the war in Ukraine might end up providing Moscow with a path to the territory if Ukraine falls apart.

With all of that said, Poroshenko had little choice but to sign the pact. The fall of the previous Moscow-friendly government run by Viktor Yanukovych was caused by a reversal on an earlier pledge to sign the popular agreement. The Euromaidan protests explicitly demanded a more Western-looking policy and more independence from Moscow. It’s now up to Poroshenko to put the best face on it with Moscow and temper their reaction diplomatically and economically.

Is that possible? The problem in dealing with Putin, Poroshenko says, is that he’s kind of … emotional:

That may be a diplomatic way of saying irrational, but Poroshenko had better not base his policy on that assumption. Everything Putin has done has been in service to his overarching goal of recreating a Russian empire by transforming the surrounding republics into satellites of Moscow, and attempting to destabilize any government that doesn’t cooperate. Putin tried it in Georgia in 2008 and he’s succeeded in Ukraine, at least for the last few months, while taking back the Crimean peninsula. He’d better hope that Putin doesn’t see this as the Rubicon, and that good relations are still possible with a Ukraine that looks in both directions. If not, expect that violent unrest in eastern Ukraine to get a lot worse in the coming weeks.


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Putin has already got what he wanted: The Crimea. And no one is demanding that he withdraw from it.

As for the EU, Ukraine will be a liability for them, and it will be decades before their own fracking operations could give them independence from Gazprom. Decades in which Russian Spetznaz operators will no doubt be busy sabotaging domestic drilling operations in Ukraine.

ConstantineXI on June 27, 2014 at 8:45 AM

lol – whatever’s left of the Ukraine is going to be another Bulgaria, nothing but a welfare-dependent tax drain for Western Europeans. The only things they will be exporting to the EU are gypsies, beggars, and sex workers.

abobo on June 27, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko calls the signing of the EU trade pact that set off months of war in his country “the Rubicon,”

Alea iacta est

The real question here is if the West is going to defend Ukraine as Russia tries to pull the country back into their sphere of influence.

Happy Nomad on June 27, 2014 at 8:48 AM

The only things they will be exporting to the EU are gypsies, beggars, and sex workers.
abobo on June 27, 2014 at 8:45 AM

They all live in the Crimea.

albill on June 27, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Crossing the Rubicon was a point of no return for Julius Caesar, when he led the Roman army into Rome for the first time ever to complete his seizure of power. That didn’t work out well for Caesar in the end.

I’d submit that it did work out for Julius – he did rule the Roman Empire long enough to get a month named after him, his nephew took over, and the Roman Senate never really regained power.

Steve Eggleston on June 27, 2014 at 8:52 AM

I’d submit that it did work out for Julius – he did rule the Roman Empire long enough to get a month named after him, his nephew took over, and the Roman Senate never really regained power.

Steve Eggleston on June 27, 2014 at 8:52 AM

I just had a vision of Baraculus The Magnificent leading his Civilian Defense Corpse across the Potomac to seize power from the Congress.

Or has he already done that?

ConstantineXI on June 27, 2014 at 9:16 AM

lol – whatever’s left of the Ukraine is going to be another Bulgaria, nothing but a welfare-dependent tax drain for Western Europeans. The only things they will be exporting to the EU are gypsies, beggars, and sex workers.

abobo on June 27, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Unlike Bulgarians, Ukrainian women tend to be highly attractive and very skilled in the abovementioned profession.

Rix on June 27, 2014 at 9:21 AM

I just had a vision of Baraculus The Magnificent leading his Civilian Defense Corpse across the Potomac to seize power from the Congress.

Or has he already done that?

ConstantineXI on June 27, 2014 at 9:16 AM

That would, of course, presume that Congress (a) had power and (b) had goals that were signfiicantly different than Teh SCOAMT.

After all, how many divisions to the Capitol and Supreme Court Police have?

Steve Eggleston on June 27, 2014 at 9:24 AM

“Do”, even. Where’s my caffeine?

Steve Eggleston on June 27, 2014 at 9:25 AM

I’d submit that it did work out for Julius – he did rule the Roman Empire long enough to get a month named after him, his nephew took over, and the Roman Senate never really regained power.

Steve Eggleston on June 27, 2014 at 8:52 AM

I agree. Until fairly recently in recent history, rulers of empires were rather lucky to die peacefully in their beds, it was just a freaking job hazard and anyone who wanted the post had to accept it. Frankly I’m not sure if I’d mind missing a few ‘silver years’ to have a freaking month of the year named after me!

LawfulGood on June 27, 2014 at 9:26 AM

***Russia warns ‘grave consequences’ will follow Ukraine’s signing of EU agreement******

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/ukraine-protests-over-eu-agreement-delay/

Ukraine, Russia political crisis
Ukraine

1h
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko: ‘We cannot accept our soldiers being killed and our tanks being captured. We should defend our country’ – @CNBCWorld
see original on twitter.com

European Union
2h
European Union leaders set Monday deadline for Russia to agree on ceasefire or face new sanctions – @SpiegelPeter

Ukraine
2h
Update: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko extends ceasefire with rebels in east for 3 days – @tggrove
see original on twitter.com

Ukraine
2h
Ukraine’s national security council extends ceasefire in east of the country by 12 hours – @guardianworld
Read more on theguardian.com

European Union
3h
Photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko after signing EU agreement – @RegSprecher via @GermanyDiplo
see original on twitter.com

European Union
3h
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy says EU stands by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova: ‘You have our support and solidarity, our recognition of your territorial integrity’ – @euHvR
see original on twitter.com

Russia
4h
UN: 110,000 people fled Ukraine to Russia this year – @RT_com
Read more on rt.com

European Union
5h
Russia warns ‘grave consequences’ will follow Ukraine’s signing of EU agreement – @BBCBreaking
Read more on bbc.co.uk

canopfor on June 27, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Apparently, part of the move towards Europe was to have France train Ukrainian troops.

mankai on June 27, 2014 at 10:12 AM

No need to worry about Putin. O put him in his place! It’s over, baby, Vlad is scared of Barry’s steel spine.

Man, obama kicked putin’s ass.

What a whuppin’.

Putin’s talk was cheap, obama’s sanctions were expensive.

everdiso on June 13, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Are you gonna believe your own deceptive eyes or the glorious peoples’ tweets from OFA?

mankai on June 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Hey, nobody got shot when Poland went down, either.

We’re at that somebody’s personal ox has to get gored point.

formwiz on June 27, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Trying to be on topic – I have to wonder what the EU guarantees will mean when Russia turns off the gas as they drive to western Ukraine. After all, Europe abandoned Ukraine once before (twice if you count the UK and the Crimea).

Steve Eggleston on June 27, 2014 at 10:52 AM

…it’s not over yet!

JugEarsButtHurt on June 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Trying to be on topic – I have to wonder what the EU guarantees will mean when Russia turns off the gas as they drive to western Ukraine. After all, Europe abandoned Ukraine once before (twice if you count the UK and the Crimea).

Steve Eggleston on June 27, 2014 at 10:52 AM

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

That is what Putin wants them to think. He is bluffing.

Did Europe freeze in the winter before there was Russian gas?

Russia needs the money more than Europe needs the gas. That’s just a fact. Why do you think they allowed Ukraine to run up a $3 billion gas debt? Because they need the European revenue even more. They can’t go very long without it.

Russia isn’t a rich country in the Putin era, it’s gone from dictatorship to oligarchy with the attendant corruption and thievery. Oil and gas revenue keeps it afloat.

If Putin wasn’t afraid the Europeans would cut him off, he would already have invaded and taken over the rest of Ukraine.

Adjoran on June 27, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Crossing the Rubicon was a point of no return for Julius Caesar, when he led the Roman army into Rome for the first time ever to complete his seizure of power.

Point of order: Caesar wasn’t the first Roman commander to “march on Rome.” That distinction goes to Lucius Cornelius Sulla almost 40 years earlier.

Otherwise, the “crossing the Rubicon” comparison is apt, not for the Ukraine but for the West. Russia is virtually certain to act militarily to stop this some time soon, and the question isn’t what the Ukraine will do — what can it do? — but what we will do.

I’m afraid of the answer to that question, because we already have enough 1930s comparisons going on that we don’t need any more. But we’re going to get another one, anyway.

Spurius Ligustinus on June 27, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Heh, you unamerican Putin fanboys are kinda pathetic.

Your boy Vlad lost, and in embarassing fashion.

You don’t have to cheer for him anymore.

everdiso on June 27, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Putin has already got what he wanted: The Crimea.

what on earth makes you think Crimea was crucial in any way?

that’s a ridiculous misreading of the situation.

everdiso on June 27, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Are you gonna believe your own deceptive eyes or the glorious peoples’ tweets from OFA?

mankai on June 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM

er, if your eyes are in working order, you’ll notice that Ukraine just signed the very agreement that Putin started this war to stop.

Your boy lost. Embarassingly. Stop cheeringleading for him.

everdiso on June 27, 2014 at 1:50 PM

what on earth makes you think Crimea was crucial in any way?

that’s a ridiculous misreading of the situation.

everdiso on June 27, 2014 at 1:39 PM

???

Your boy lost. Embarassingly. Stop cheeringleading for him.

everdiso on June 27, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Who the heck is cheer leading for Putin?

Count to 10 on June 27, 2014 at 5:52 PM