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|European Union in association battle with Russia over Ukraine
President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych attended the EU Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, still saying his country is not interested in joining the Eastern Partnership under current conditions. The European Union was unconvincing in its bid for a historic Association Agreement with Ukraine, even though, it says, it is the most ambitious ever offered to a non-EU state.
Yanukovych was still negotiating on Thursday’s eve of the summit, detailing that he needs to find 12.5 billion euros in the next 18 months to pay Ukraine’s gas and other debts, notably to Russia. He previously called an offer of 600 million euros of EU aid “humiliating”.
The European Council’s President Herman van Rompuy said it was not closing the door on the country of 46 million people but suggested that putting more money up front was out of the question.
Van Rompuy said: “We stand ready to sign with Ukraine once the benchmarks put forward by the EU are met, and we are really close. We may not miss this rendez-vous with history later on. We have to set aside short-term considerations and we have to overcome pressure from abroad.”
The Eastern Partnership plan’s foremost opponent is Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has already managed to convince Armenia to join his Customs Union instead. Kyiv’s decision could break momentum for a long time.
Natalia Marshalkovitch spoke with analyst Tamara Gouzenkova – a specialist on problems in former Soviet countries and deputy head of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies in Moscow – from euronews headquarters in Lyon.
Natalia Marshalkovitch, euronews: “Why is Russia so against the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU?”
Tamara Gouzenkova, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies: “It is important to understand that Russia is not against the Association Accord between Ukraine and the EU. The complexities lie elsewhere – how to build relations with a country integrating with another union while it has quite close economic cooperative links with a country not integrating with the EU.
“Of course, Ukraine is in a complicated economic and financial position, and is very interested in favours from both sides. But that’s more or less impossible because the European free trade zone and the Customs Union with Russia are two different integration plans. Each has its own rules, demands and standards. That is why, if Ukraine is to join one of them it will have to choose which one. Not only the Customs Union has said that; the Europeans said it first.
“Perhaps Ukraine has to stop for a while and think seriously about how to establish relations with the east and the west at the same time, and how Ukraine, the EU and the Customs Union can come to an arrangement.”
euronews: “You talk about three-way relations… Do you think this is really possible, since Ukraine – with its geographic position – will always be a bone of contention between east and west, Moscow and Brussels. What will happen?”
Gouzenkova: “I think the Europeans and the Russians have to do everything they can so that Ukraine is not an obstacle, to let it gradually become part of the complex global processes that are taking place in relations between the east and west, between Russia and the EU. I think the Ukrainian authorities may have been in too much of a hurry. They did not adequately inform themselves of the pros and cons of this decision. In my opinion, the Europeans also tried to lure Ukraine into their court. They didn’t figure that Ukraine is very closely tied to the Eurasian Customs market, or simply they didn’t want to see it.
“Now there has to be a period of calm, without getting worked up, without mutual reproaches such as there are now – being relayed by both European and Russian media – to discuss this problem more calmly and find the time to sit down and negotiate, to think together how Ukraine, which is a very big country, can avoid bankruptcy, so it can choose the best way to develop geopolitically and economically.”
Maritime ‘black hole’: Russia launches new ‘stealth’ submarine
Russia has launched its new state-of-the-art Novorossiysk submarine, which set sail from a St Petersburg shipyard to become the first of six diesel-electric stealth subs delivered to the Russian Black Sea fleet in the next two years.
The Novorossiysk belongs to the Varshavyanka-class (Project 636), which is characterized by advanced stealth technology, making it virtually undetectable when submerged.
“Our potential opponents call it the ‘Black Hole’ due to the very low noise emission and visibility of the submarine,” Konstantin Tabachny, captain of the Novorossiysk, told Channel One TV. “To be undetectable is the main quality for a submarine. And this whole project really fits its purpose.”
The construction of the Novorossiysk at St Petersburg’s Admiralty Shipyards took over three years, beginning in August 2010.
Construction was also started on two other Varshavyanka-class vessels – the Rostov-on-Don sub in November 2011 and the Stary Oskol in August 2012.
Project-636 submarines are mainly intended for anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in relatively shallow waters.
Armed with 18 torpedoes and eight surface-to-air missiles, they have an extended combat range and can strike land, surface and underwater targets.
The Novorossiysk and other subs of its class can reach a speed of 20 knots (37 kilometers per hour).
With a cruising range of 400 miles on electric propulsion and max submission of 300 meters, the vessels have the ability to patrol for up to 45 days with a crew of 52 people onboard.
The Varshavyanka-class subs will be tasked with patrolling Russia’s maritime borders and protecting Black Sea coastal territories.
The Novorossiysk will be deployed in its namesake port of Novorossiysk, on the Black Sea.
The sub will make the two-month journey to its home port under its own power, said Rear Admiral Victor Bursuk, the deputy commander of the Russian Navy.
Russia Plans to Launch 11 Military Satellites By 2015
SOCHI, (RIA Novosti) – President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia will launch a total of 11 military satellites by 2015.
Speaking at a meeting on the development of the Russian satellite fleet, Putin said five military satellites have already joined Russia’s orbital group in 2013 and that five more will be added to it before the year is out.
Next year, Russia will launch another six satellites in line with the state arms procurement program, he said.
Putin did not specify the type of satellites or whether they would include dual-purpose Glonass navigation satellites.
According to Maj. Gen. Alexander Golovko, the commander of the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces, Russia currently operates some 120 active satellites in orbit. About 80 of these satellites are reportedly military or dual-purpose.
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