Ukraine’s Pivot to Moscow Leaves West Out in the Cold

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from The Wall Street Journal,

President Viktor Yanukovych, facing the biggest political crisis in Ukraine in nearly a decade, reached out to the European Union on Monday in an apparent attempt to placate thousands of pro-Western demonstrators angry over his pivot toward Russia.

But the EU’s executive reacted coolly to the request for new talks, telling Mr. Yanukovych that the sweeping trade deal he refused to sign last week after six years of talks wasn’t open for renegotiation—and warning him against using force to disperse the crowds barricaded on Kiev’s main square.

The U.S. also expressed its disapproval of the latest developments. A State Department spokeswoman voiced concern Monday about weekend violence against demonstrators, and insisted that “European integration is the surest course to economic growth” for Ukraine.

Across the former Soviet Union, Moscow’s increasingly tight embrace is forcing governments that had long sought to maneuver between Russia and the West to choose sides.

In his first public comments since riot police broke up antigovernment demonstrations, Mr. Yanukovych defended his decision to back away from the EU partnership agreement.

He had argued that European offers of financial aid for its flagging economy weren’t rich enough to offset lost trade with Russia—and too often were encumbered with politically painful conditions mandated by the International Monetary Fund.

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