Outgoing Ukranian president Leonid Kuchma’s plea to world leaders not to interfere in his country’s domestic affairs has fallen on deaf ears, with strong condemnation coming from the West. Thursday’s EU-Russia summit at The Hague – which will be attended by Russian president Vladimir Putin – is set to be dominated by the election.
The new head of the EU Commission Jose Manuel Barroso claimed it was Europe’s duty to say it was not satisfied with the Ukranian poll. But he said he was interested in avoiding violence and finding a solution to the stand-off. Putin has said he is willing to talk about Ukraine with the EU later though he described Brussels’ concern as “misplaced”. And, in a statement, Russia accused the 25-member bloc of inciting violence by labelling the election as fraudulent. Earlier this week, Putin congratulated Yanukovich on winning before the final result was declared. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana declined to comment on that statement, but said Ukraine’s election commission presented results which, the EU believes, did not take into account the fraud. He added that the relationship between the EU and Ukraine will be based on Ukraine’s relationship with democracy. Washington appeared to go one step further, with Secretary of State Colin Powell issuing what could be seen as a veiled threat: “If the Ukrainian government does not act immediately and responsibly there will be consequences for our relationship and for Ukraine’s hopes for a Euro-Atlantic integration and for individuals responsible for perpetrating fraud.”