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Rough waters ahead in EU-Ukraine relations

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Rough waters ahead in EU-Ukraine relations

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The sentence in the Tymoshenko case has shocked Ukraine and surprised many people around the world. Just after the sentence was passed, euronews witnessed the reaction of people on the streets, who were clashing with riot police.

We asked an expert on International Relations Vadim Karaszov about the further consequences of this sentence on Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy.

Alexandra Vakulina, euronews:
“In your opinion will this sentence be a decisive moment for the Ukrainian political establishment?”

Vadim Karasyov:
“Well, it could be if Tymoshenko is jailed. Then apparently it’s clear that the concentration of personal and political power in Yanukovich’s hands will be complete. And the political regime he has formed will be finalised. It is absolutely sure that there will be some questions or issues for Ukraine-EU relations. There will also be some concerns about transparency during the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2012.”

euronews:
“In the last couple of weeks the EU has insisted that Ukrainian justice has a selective approach to the Tymoshenko case. What are the possible further steps the EU can take?”

Vadim Karasyov:
“The questions of the free trade zone and the political association agreement will arise. Europe can cancel the signing of those agreements in such conditions. So the Ukrainian authorities will have just two choices. The first one is to turn towards Putin’s Eurasian Union or to play off geopolitical talks between Ukraine and Russia and Ukraine and the EU to strike the best deal. I think if Tymoshenko stays in prison and the appeal court confirms the sentence then Yanukovich will turn towards Putin’s union, and demand lower prices for gas as a reward. The alternative is Yanukovich will just sit and wait to see if the EU signs the free trade zone agreement without demanding Tymoshenko’s release.”

euronews:
“According to Ukrainian law an appeal must be lodged within 15 days. Is it possible that the sentence could be changed?”

Vadim Karasyov:
“It will depend on how the EU reacts. Will Brussels succeed in convincing Yanukovic to step back? If not, and Tymoshenko stays in jail then a big question mark hangs over Ukrainian foreign policy and the country’s European choices.”

euronews:
“Will the sentence influence the gas relationships between Ukraine, the EU, and Russia?”

Vadim Karasyov:
“It will influence every aspect of the trio’s relationship. But if Tymoshenko stays behind bars Ukraine will be left isolated whenever there are gas problems with Russia. Ukraine’s gas pipeline system could be divided between Ukraine and Russia.
It’s not only about gas. It’s also about equality, a relationship of equals between Ukraine and Russia, and more about the greater or lesser integration of Ukraine into Putin’s Eurasian project, which he presented only last week.”