Russia moved to increase its influence over Ukraine sharply yesterday by pledging to invest $15bn in the country’s bonds and slashing the price it charges Kiev for gas, dealing a blow to those hoping the country will integrate more closely with the EU.
The series of agreements signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich appeared to give Moscow the upper hand in a geopolitical struggle with Europe. But the perception of Mr Yanukovich “selling” the country to Russia could fuel the popular protest movement that has gripped Kiev since Mr Yanukovich aborted an integration agreement with the EU last month.
俄罗斯总统弗拉基米尔•普京(Vladimir Putin)与乌克兰总统维克托•亚努科维奇(Viktor Yanukovich)签署的一系列协议，让俄罗斯在与欧洲的地缘政治斗争中占据上风。但亚努科维奇将国家“卖给”俄罗斯的观感，可能会进一步激化民众抗议活动。自从亚努科维奇上月停止与欧盟的入盟协议谈判以来，抗议便一直困扰着基辅。
Russia said it would invest $15bn of reserves in its national welfare fund into Ukrainian securities. It also said it would temporarily cut prices it charges Ukraine for natural gas – among the highest in Europe – from more than $400 per thousand cubic metres to $268.50. The presidents also signed deals aimed at ending Russian bans on Ukrainian imports, which have contributed to a sharp fall in trade between the countries.
Russian observers said the promised support was conditional on the Ukrainian government surviving the protests. “If Mr Yanukovich stays, this money will be put in during the next year, and this will make Ukraine very much dependent on Russia,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, a Russian policy expert.
Addressing thousands of pro-EU demonstrators in Kiev’s main square last night, the three top opposition leaders called for protests to continue through the new year to force elections and the downfall of Mr Yanukovich’s government. They rallied the crowds with chants of “out with the bandits”.
Economists said the deal would put off Ukraine’s balance of payments crisis for about two years. While an EU agreement would have been more painful in the short term, economists argue that it could have been a catalyst for integrating its manufacturing sector with western European markets.