On June 27 the European Union and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine signed historic and much awaited Association Agreements that establish Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU. Overall this deal is a result of years of the EU's engagement within the framework of its Eastern Partnership initiative, launched in 2009 and targeted to insulate and encircle Russia. The groundwork for the present accomplishment goes back even further--to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements concluded in late 1990s. The new deal comes as quid pro quo backlash to the Moscow-initiated Eurasian Economic Union signed in the Kazakh capital of Astana on May 29--a union that binds Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia economically and politically together. In direct contrast, the new EU deal means further absorption of post-Soviet space into politico-military and trade economic orbit of the West and its reorientation from Moscow-centered alliances. It seems certain that Association Agreements are an outgrowth of GU(U)AM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova), a forum set up in 1997 that became the bulwark of US wider grand strategy of countering Russia in the Caucasus, Central Asia and South Eastern Europe. Uzbekistan, too, briefly participated in its activities between 1999 and 2005.
The available sources also indicate that EU acted in sync with recommendations of the Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 introduced on May 1, 2014 by U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)--ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee along with 24 Senate Republicans providing a strategic US response to deter Russian aggression in Europe. Point 10, Section 201 of this bill specifically indicated that “it is the policy of the United States to support the people of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia in their desire to forge closer ties with Europe, including signing an Association Agreement with the European Union as a means to address endemic corruption, consolidate democracy, and achieve sustained prosperity.” The legislation also calls for Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia to be treated as major non-NATO allies, enabling them to receive US military assistance. It is worth noting that all these countries have territorial disputes with Russia. As parties concerned come closer to each other it is expected that their domestic and foreign problems will be internationalized and become common problems of Washington and Brussels by default. Meanwhile the Russian Foreign Ministry earlier issued a statement that “attempts are being made to simplistically shift the responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine wholly to Russia.” The new EU deal may mark formalization of the beginning of the end of Russia’s sphere of influence in key countries of Caucasus and South Eastern Europe, in effect narrowing Russia’s area of responsibility to within its own borders.
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