In particular, the strategy seeks to take advantage of Ukraine’s current negative balance of payments to stimulate the country to develop closer ties with the Russian financial sector, including taking out loans from the Russian state and state-controlled banks. The strategy also aims at giving the ruble the status of a fully convertible international currency in Ukraine, which would contribute to the Kremlin’s ambition of creating an international financial center in Moscow. Per the strategy, the Russian–Ukrainian–Belarusian investment corporation Mir will facilitate implementation of joint innovation projects. Similarly, unification of the requirements towards local credit-rating agencies will be aimed at strengthening the mutual dependence of Russia and Ukraine at the expense of Ukraine’s economic integration with the West.
Russia also aims to take over the Ukrainian aircraft industry. In addition to a recently created joint corporation between the state-owned United Aircraft Corporation (Russia) with the leading aerospace company ANTK Antonov (Ukraine), the Glazyev–Medvedchuk plan recommends unification of ANTK Antonov and the Motor Sich engine manufacturer with their Russian counterparts, Progress and Aviastar–SP. Such a step would lead to the “creation of the most competitive aircraft company” in its segment of the market—military transport and passenger aircraft manufacturing. Creation of such a company will then serve as a driver of economic growth and will have a strong pro-integration effect, the plan’s authors believe.
The contest is aiming to bring together young people’s views on the future development of the region seen through the prism of the ongoing processes of EU-integration and cooperation among the SEE countries. Eligible to participate in the contest are young people aged up to 29 from all South-East European Cooperation Process participants - Albania, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey and Kosovo*.
To the Kremlin’s disappointment, Viktor Yanukovich has not proven to be a reliable proponent of Ukraine’s deep integration with Russia. For Yanukovich, his own presidential power is more important than giving more power to the Kremlin. The Ukrainian president has been trying to maintain good relations with Moscow, while not giving up Ukraine’s prospects of integration with the European Union. Yanukovich has been trying to sit on two stools at once. He agreed to Ukraine’s observer status in the Customs Union, which lacks any legal basis, but balked at deepening the integration with Russia at the expense of the European trade ties.
Glazyev believes that the U.S. and Europe are engaged in “legalized aggression” to devour raw material resources of Russia and keep its economy underdeveloped. It accuses Ukrainian politicians and businessmen, including those close to Yanukovich, of being Western spies—and condemns the EU for “imposing obligations” on Ukraine—as if the Customs Union was obligation-free. Allegedly, Yanukovich is ignoring the potential benefits of the Customs Union due to fears that Ukraine may become directly dependent on Russia. This may indeed be the case. These fears are likely to be intensified further by this heavy-handed document originating from Kyiv and Moscow, and by the blockade of Ukrainian goods destined for Russian markets, which began in June of this year, causing over $2 billion in losses to the Ukrainian economy.
Moscow’s strategic objectives concerning Ukraine have barely changed over the past 400 years. By working to pull Ukraine into its fold, Moscow is seeking to expand its coastal line on the Black Sea; get its power closer to the Balkans; integrate 44 million Eastern Orthodox, Russian-speaking Slavs into its own dwindling Russian Slavic population; gain control over Ukraine’s military–industrial base (including aerospace); attain access to the richest agricultural potential in Europe; and lock up Ukraine’s offshore and shale oil and gas reserves.
Integrated Multi-Pronged Strategy. The Russian presidential strategy concerning Ukraine calls on all branches of the Russian government to work actively to form civic, business, media, and political organizations in Ukraine that “understand the necessity” of economic and political integration with Russia.
The existence of a Russian strategy to subjugate Ukraine is not a surprise. It had been known for a long time that Moscow was trying to convince Ukraine to voluntarily join its Customs Union and move toward greater integration with Russia. Moscow pressure tactics have also succeeded in forcing Armenia into joining the Customs Union, while Moldova is still resisting. All these countries, including Customs Union member Belarus, were interested in improving ties with the European Union as well However, as Ukraine seems not to be willing to run into Russia’s arms voluntarily, the Kremlin has developed a plan to force Ukraine’s integration through economic pressure and a multi-pronged use of “soft power.”
Until now, Moscow did not view economic warfare as a main means of effecting closer integration with Ukraine. The Kremlin expected that the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko on abuse-of-power charges would serve as a sufficient barrier, keeping EU leaders from signing the Association Agreement. However, while the Europeans continue to demand Timoshenko’s release, it is unclear whether this means they are unwilling to go ahead with bringing Ukraine on board.
The Kremlin expected the current Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, to facilitate Ukraine’s reintegration in the Russian political and economic sphere, as he was Moscow’s preferred candidate in 2004 and 2010. Yanukovich hails from the Russian-speaking Eastern region of Donetsk, and many of his voters from the country’s east and south would be happy with a closer relationship with Russia.
The leading role of Parliaments of SEECP PA in organizing the competition corresponds to one of their basic functions, i.e. to be the voice of their voters in the process of shaping major policies such as regional cooperation and European integration, which guarantee the stability, security, economic prosperity and social progress of South-East Europe.
The competition is managed by The Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation in South-East Europe (RSPC SEE).
Thus, it is important for American policymakers to understand and counter Russia’s neo-imperial designs on Ukraine. Specifically, the U.S. should announce public and diplomatic support of associate EU membership for Ukraine and the DCFTA in Washington, Europe, and in Kyiv; send high-level officials to visit Ukraine; provide technical assistance, if requested, to boost the country’s lackluster economic performance; and encourage Europe to lower its trade tariffs with Kyiv.
- Regional cooperation and good neighborly relations- key to political, economic and social development of SEE
- The economic prosperity of SEE region – a guarantee for personal success and development of the young people
- The European Union’s accession process – benefits and opportunities for the youth
- Active citizenship and freedom of expression – the choice of young people from South-East Europe
- The common history and traditions in the region - opportunity for future partnerships and development