Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Putin Discouraged Ukraine Treaty With The European Union

The Ukraine decided not to sign a trade agreement with the European Union that was opposed by Russia's President Putin.  This article describes some of the reasons for Putin's opposition to a Ukraine treaty with the EU.  It also suggests that it may have harmed Russia's position with its neighbors and with the EU.  Moreover, Russian trades more with the EU than it does with its more immediate neighbors which used to be part of the Soviet Union.  Russia exports four times as much to the EU than it does to its immediate neighbors and it imports three times as much.  This raises a question about Putin's motivations for opposing a Ukraine treaty with the EU.

One explanation offered is that Putin views foreign policy in terms of its relations with the US more than he does with Europe.  He may have been encouraged by President Obama efforts to develop his relationship with him by choosing not to intervene in his efforts to form a Customs Union as a trade bloc with its immediate neighbors.  It is also suggested that Putin suffers from the British Disease.  That is, he is struggling with the loss of empire that Britain endured as the British Empire dissolved over time. Nobody really knows what motivates foreign policy in Russia, or the Ukraine, but it is a very important part of the world that is struggling economically and politically.  We should be paying more attention to the economy of this region than we have in the past.  Leaders in the EU were certainly very interested in developing stronger relationships between the EU and the Ukraine.

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