This is an excerpt from RPI Academic Advisor John Laughland's recent RT interview. -ed.
Joining an old European geopolitical and ideological project would have been catastrophic for the Ukrainian economy, political expert John Laughland told RT, noting that it was actually the EU, not Russia, blackmailing Ukraine into signing a suicide note.
RT: The European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says Ukraine's U-turn is indeed a major disappointment. Who is the biggest loser here - Ukraine or the EU?
John Laughland: The biggest loser here is the EU because the EU has conceived this Association Agreement, like all the other agreements that it tries to sign with the former Eastern European states, as a geopolitical project. It is very important to understand that in the midst of all the accusations against Russia it is actually the EU which sees Eastern expansion as a geopolitical and indeed an ideological project.
We saw this back in September when Armenia, which of course in comparison to Ukraine is a tiny country and therefore is mostly below people’s radar screens; Armenia signed up for the customs union with Russia and the other members of the customs union of the customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus and so on. And immediately Brussels said that any possibility of it signing an Association Agreement with the EU was off the table.
So the EU back in September made it clear that you either have to sign an EU agreement or you had to sign the Russian one. If you wanted to sign the Russian one, you would not be allowed to sign the European one. And that is because it has been pursuing now, for 20 years as a European Union, as I say, geopolitical, ideological project of ever further integration. And that is what just hit the rocks today.
RT: What do you make of President Putin's statement that the EU “blackmailed” and “pressured” Ukraine over the trade pact suspension?
JL: He is absolutely right. All the Western press are accusing him of blackmail but he is absolutely right. That is what I have just said about Armenia. They’ve told Armenia that all chance of signing an agreement with them is off the table as soon as they sign the customs agreement. And that message was obviously meant for Ukraine. We have to see this in the context of geopolitical projects.
It is no coincidence that all of the EU’s chief envoys, ambassadors and rapporteurs on this Ukrainian issue have been Poles. They have been Polish citizens. Former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski, was the special envoy, the EU’s ambassador to Kiev is Polish. This is an old geopolitical dream of Poland, which has always regarded Ukraine as its back yard. And there is no other way to see this. It did not need to be like this however. This is, after all, only a trade agreement. And where I think Ukraine has been very clever, I think one has to give credit to Yanukovich on this, is that he has offered a three way talk, a tripod discussion between Ukraine, the EU and Russia. His government always said it wants to be a bridge between the EU and Russia. And that amiably reasonable proposal has been angrily rejected by the EU, because precisely the geopolitical project consists in forcing Russia as far out of European affairs as possible.