Earlier today Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed agreements with Russian President Vladmir Putin that anti-government protesters in Ukraine have been dreading.
Ukraine has been struggling economically, with the European Union slow to respond to the country’s plea for financial aid. Despite the organization’s skepticism regarding Ukraine’s intentions, they remain highly critical of Russia’s attempts to interfere.
When Ukraine initially reached out to the EU, Russia moved to sanction the country. This action is thought be the cause for President Yanukovych’s unexpected decision to walk away from a pact agreement with the European Union. This surprise move last month sparked national outrage. There have been weeks of anti-government protest in Kiev, centered around the capital city’s Independence Square.
In the face of major backlash, Yanukovych appeared to be rethinking his position. There was a plan to resume talks towards some sort of agreement with the European Union. However, those talks were called off by Union officials.
— Štefan Füle (@StefanFuleEU) December 15, 2013
The reason given for the halt revolved around a lack of honesty and transparency on the part of the Ukrainian government. There was also the matter of Yanukovych’s plan to meet with Russia.
Despite the talks with the European Union being put on hold, Yanukovych proceeded to meet Putin in Moscow to discuss possible agreements. Once there, the Russian president assured Yanukovych that Russia would do its best to help Ukraine face its financial woes. In return for strengthening ties through a pact, Russia would buy $15 billion dollars worth of Ukrainian government bonds. It would also cut the cost of Russian gas deliveries from $400 per 1000 cubic meters to about $268 per 1000 cubic meters.
The agreement would stave off immediate economic woes. Even so, the controversial pact will only serve to contribute to turmoil within Ukraine. In the aftermath of the pact, Ukrainian anti-government protesters vowed to continue demonstrating. There are calls for Yanukovych to step down and for early elections to take place.
Ukrainian opposition leaders had harsh words for the embattled president. Oleh Tyahnybok called the president a traitor who had sold out the Ukrainian people. Vitali Klitschko accused Yanukovych of making the country’s assets collateral for Russia.
Russia plans to put the terms of the agreement into action and will begin buying Ukrainian government bonds this month.
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