Ukraine’s participation in the Customs Union, in whatever form, is one of the most important issues for its European partners, who hope that Ukraine will not integrate with Russia. An agreement on the lease of Ukraine’s gas pipeline system would upset those who favor an alliance with Europe.
Ukrainians used Russian as their literary language until the second half of the 19th century, when the language spoken by ordinary Ukrainians was elevated to literary Ukrainian under the influence of romantic nationalism.
Is Ukraine ready to do something about the gas pipe? What does it think about joining the Customs Union? These are major questions for President Putin who wants to involve Ukraine in integration is some form. In this context, the Tymoshenko issue is of secondary importance.
As long as Viktor Yanukovych’s team is in power, the only goal of European policy towards Ukraine will be to prevent any rapprochement with Russia. In particular, Europe does not want Ukraine to cede control of its gas transportation system to Russia or to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Ukraine will not become a fully-fledged EU member, even in a medium-term perspective. The future of the EU is vague. At the same time, intensified economic integration in the territory of the former U.S.S.R. may bring about tangible. This is why Ukraine may revise the thesis on Europe being its only alternative.
CIS countries do not consider Russia a dominant global player (although they are wary of its recent growth in strength), and again, some CIS countries are focused more on the expanses of Europe, while others are busy cementing contacts with China.
Russia has no dominating influence over the post-Soviet space, and more often than not it is easier for it to find allies on international issues that concern it (like the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia) in Latin America than among its neighbors in the former Soviet republics. It is common knowledge that this kind of vacuum is immediately filled by Russia’s geopolitical rivals.