West are totally stupid and counterproductive, said Viktor Pinchuk, one of Ukraines wealthiest men and the host of an international conference here that ended Saturday, after Clinton and a parade of American and European leaders urged Ukraine to finalize the deal with the E.U. Putin wants Ukraine to join the customs union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan instead, but his strategy has been all vinegar and no honey. The Ukrainian prime minister, Mykola Azarov, called Russias demands an attempt at humiliation. And yet, as much as Putin seems to be pushing Ukraine into Europes embrace, ambivalence here runs deep. Azarov and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have said they intend to sign with the E.U. in November, but they have a way of hedging every statement. Its a momentous choice. Ukraine has the chance to opt for a road that in theory would extend European values of transparency and the rule of law far to the east. Or it can join Russia in a financial and cultural zone that is increasingly defining itself as separate from the West and not answerable to Western norms. As a nation of 46 million, Ukraine would be a significant addition to Putins Eurasian Union. If Ukraine is to sign what is called an association agreement with the E.U., dismantling most trade barriers, it will have to pursue far-reaching legal reforms and renounce the sort of selective justice that has landed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other political opponents of the current government in prison. Yanukovych said Friday that he wants to release her, as Europe demands, but just cant seem to find the legal means to do so. His opponents charge that hes also reluctant to tackle the countrys endemic corruption. Total corruption has eaten the country today, said Vitali Klitschko, a boxing champion who heads the UDAR opposition party. Signing the association agreement is a vital step toward rooting it out, he said. If Yanukovych fails to meet the E.U.s terms and the agreement falls through, Klitschko asked the president to his face, Will you have the guts to resign? Russias abrasive tactics Theres another factor.

Russia seeks to derail Ukraine’s trade deal with E.U., deploying taunts and insults

14, 2013, after reaching an agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons./ Getty Russia’s deputy foreign minister said Tuesday that negotiations between Moscow and the U.S. to craft a United Nations resolution aimed at ridding Syria of chemical weapons were “not going smoothly,” and that there was no guarantee the deal would be agreed this week. “Unfortunately it’s necessary to note that in contacts with the Americans, things are not going so smoothly … they are not quite going in the direction they should,” Ryabkov told members of Russia’s parliament, according to the Reuters news agency. The primary sticking point in the talks — which has been the sticking point since the U.S. and Russia agreed the framework of the deal at a meeting weeks ago in Geneva — is the strong desire by the Obama administration and its allies in Europe to have language in the resolution which provides for punishment of the Syrian regime should it fail to abide by the resolution’s terms. Kerry briefs U.S. allies on Syrian chemical weapons agreement In Geneva, Russia managed to get Washington to agree in principle to a resolution not drafted under the U.N. charter’s Chapter 7, which carries the prospect of possible military force if the resolution’s terms are violated. “Attempts of the Americans, actively supported by the English and French, to push the U.N. Security Council to craft a resolution that would contain a direct danger to Syria look absolutely illogical,” said Ryabkov on Tuesday. “There is no talk of adopting a U.N.

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