European Union trade ministers are warning Russia to stop pressuring neighborhood countries that seek closer ties with the EU.
Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says since the end of the Cold War, countries that once served as Russia’s “buffer zone” increasingly look to the West.
“We now have the Central European countries that are all members of the European Union and many others in the region that have been engaging regularly with Western Europe,” Grillot says. “I think Russia is now starting to respond with somewhat of a heavy hand.”
The 28 nations hope to sign or initial closer cooperation agreements with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia at a special summit next month, but Moscow has urged them to instead align themselves closer to Russia.
“This is different than when a Czech Republic or a Slovakia becomes part of the European Union,” says Rebecca Cruise, the College’s Assistant Dean. “That was more of a satellite country. Now we’re talking about the former Soviet republics. So it’s even closer to home.”
Russia has told Ukraine a price cut in gas would only be possible if Ukraine doesn't sign up to an EU association agreement at a Nov. 28-29 summit. Last month, Russia banned Moldovan wine, arguing it did not meet quality standards.
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