KIEV’S EUROPEAN Square (the renamed Independence Square) was roiling with anger and confusion in the frozen late afternoon of December 17. Word had just come through of the deal between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart, Vladmir Putin, to cut gas prices and purchase Ukrainian government bonds.

Putin had apparently outflanked the protesters, who were demanding Yanukovych’s resignation and new elections. Having pressured the government of Ukraine not to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union, the Russian leader made a counter offer of his own: Russia would slash the price Ukraine would pay for gas by a third; and Moscow would also acquire $15 billion in Ukraine bonds. The offer was a generous one, but it was clear that its rationale was not economic in nature. Moscow was willing to pay whatever price was necessary to keep Ukraine in the fold.

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