Nov. 12, 2013, 3:04 p.m. | Andreas Umland
Recent comments by high-ranking Russian officials on Ukraine’s imminent inclusion into the European unification process have led to a Russian-Ukrainian war of words, with some Moscow commentators reacting hysterically.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official adviser on economic integration, Sergei Glazyev, said recently that Kyiv’s signature of a political and economic association agreement with the European Union on Nov. 28-29 will be “economic suicide,” a “surrender of sovereignty,” and a “violation of the Russian-Ukrainian Friendship Treaty on which the entire foundation of our relations is built.”
Russia is seemingly preparing a whole battery of “reactive” measures concerning both its exports to Ukraine, above all in the energy sphere, and its imports from Ukraine, in a number of sensitive trade areas.
Large sections of the Ukrainian economy are dependent on Russia. This concerns both the availability of Russian markets to Ukrainian producers, and the delivery of Russian raw materials, including natural gas, to Ukrainian companies and households.
In its current difficult economic situation, Ukraine will be especially vulnerable to Kremlin pressure. Should Moscow use its considerable leverage to the full, the Ukrainian economy would be unable to withstand, and could go into a free fall, with grave social repercussions, including a likely rise of tensions between the Ukrainophone and Russophone parts of the country. All this would not bode well for the fragile Ukrainian state, and raise the specter of separation or even civil war.