On Wednesday, reports appeared in some media that president Yanokovych was going to be in Moscow on December 19th rather than in Kyiv where, on that same date, the EU-Ukraine summit is to take place.
A few hours later the European Union's Delegation to Ukraine said that the EU-Ukraine summit hasn't been cancelled at all and was still scheduled for Dec.19th.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said they knew nothing about the participation of Yanukovych at any meeting of the Eurasian Economic Community Council on that day either.
It seemed that not everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Rumours immediately appeared that the president's administration had deliberately put the story out to torpedo the EU-Ukraine summit, or at least to indicate that Yanukovych was not going to 'fall over on his back with his feet in the air' for sake of the Europeans. [What a horrible thought..]
Polish and other European media, without waiting for explanations saw this as an indication that Yanukovych was turning away from the EU and heading north.
Later that evening Hanna Herman, who's job it is to explain away her boss's gaffes, appeared on TV, declaring:
"We have to take into account the fact that right now we are at a critical point in Ukraine's negotiations with the EU and the Russian Federation. And it sometimes happens that in such cases it is necessary to make unexpected moves on the diplomatic chessboard. And sometimes one cannot, or should not explain them...How should all of this be perceived by society? We just have to trust the president. To believe that he is doing everything possible to gain the best possible terms for their country, and that the president will make a step in the direction that best suits the national interests of Ukraine," assured Herman.
[Yanukovych's trust rating, incidentally, is currently about 20%, i.e. 80% do not trust him]
On Thursday Yanukovych took a similar line. When asked by journalists in Sumy whether he will be going to Moscow on 19th December, he cryptically replied:
"..The intrigues spread by politicians, we have become accustomed to them, and this is no surprise for me. I did not give any information where I will be on the 19th. I will be where I need to be."
So who is playing games here? How can these comments be perceived as anything other than negative by European leaders?
p.s. It is not wise to make too many unexpected moves whilst playing chess - your pieces can sometimes drop over the edge of the board...