Putin has always behaved as a bully toward Ukraine. He has forced Ukraine, both under presidents Yushchenko and Yanukovych to allegedly pay the highest prices in Europe for gas. Since the summer Putin has conducted a trade war against Ukrainian importers..And as everyone knows, when a bully smells weakness the bullying inevitably increases...
Yanukovych has sat in the middle of the see saw playing off Russia on one end against the EU on the other. Now the president has pushed the EU off their end, Ukraine will be even more vulnerable to Putin's demands.
Russia has its own financial woes and capital is short. There are rumours that the Russian state pension fund will soon start raiding the country's private pension funds. Any loans from Russia will have to be paid for, as a former British PM once said, by Ukraine "selling off the family silver". There is no guarantee exports from Ukraine to Russia will pick up either.
What of the Europeans? The chief negotiators of the European Union and Ukraine initialled the text of the Association Agreement, which included provisions on the establishment of a DCFTA about nine months ago. Everything was agreed and ready ...then last week's dramatic volte-face by the Ukrainian side..
Yanukovych is as a result can now be considered 'damaged goods' - an unreliable and unpredictable interlocutor. Next autumn Europarliamentary elections take place. The new boys will not be as friendly and understanding as the current lot.
There are reports that despite this mess, behind the scenes negotiations are still taking place between Ukraine and the EU.
Rinat Akmetov is allegedly suggesting to Yanukovych that if the EU provides 7-8 Bn Euro stabilisation money and improves quotas for Ukrainian metallurgical products, a deal could still theoretically be done in Vilnius later this week. His big-selling newspaper, 'Segodnya', unlike state broadcasters, seems to have been most objective when reporting recent events.
I watched portions of yesterday's anti-maidan. The PoR speakers....tired political geriatrics like Anatoliy Kinakh, looked like yesterday's men. Half of the audience that had gathered had their backs to them as they spoke and stuttered...they all dispersed very quickly..
As for the true Euromaidans, these are student-dominated. A countrywide general students strike is currently being seriously discussed; if it comes to fruition, an significant new civic force will have been created.
The president's first official response to Thursday's Cabinet of Ministers' bombshell [poorly translated here] is vague and confusing waffle. The freezing of the AA is not mentioned at all.
He says: "The will of Ukrainian citizens have always been, is and will be decisive for every my decision." Well, we will see..
p.s. Petro Poroshenko has done a half hour interview on BBC 24's HARDtalk with the excellent Stephen Sackur, who was at the recent YES summit. It may be available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03mkby1