Blackmail, economic pressure or buying even politicians and the media: Russia will not hesitate to use any of these methods to stop Ukraine from signing an association agreement with the EU at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November, according to Gazeta Wyborcza.
The story follows claims published on Saturday in Ukrainian weekly Dzerkalo Tyzhnia alleging Russia has a secret plan to block Ukraine’s integration with the EU. At the same time, Moscow is trying to woo Kiev to join the customs union between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan and become part of these countries’ Common Economic Zone.
According to the plan, reportedly prepared by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s economic integration advisor Sergey Glazyev, Moscow is targeting Ukrainian media moguls trading with Russia and attempting to make their television stations more pro-Russian.
In an apparent display of economic pressure on Kiev, Russia virtually blocked imports of Ukrainian goods last week, threatening to cause the Ukrainian economy huge losses and to “deepen the economic crisis, and bring many key companies to the brink of bankruptcy,” writes Gazeta Wyborcza. Moscow also wants to enlist the support of the Russian Orthodox Church operating in Ukraine and the Ukrainian Choice pressure group, led by Viktor Medvedchuk, a friend of Putin and a former head of Ukraine’s Presidential Administration.