The root of the failure of the Saturday meeting lies with Uktraine's hankering to join the European Union. Ukraine government eyes are firmly fixed on the Eastern Partnership Summit on September 29-30,in Warsaw. Ukraine is hoping to become an associate EU member later this year. But EU officials say that is an illusion. A Ukraine EU summit has been postponed from September to December and that is unlikely to result in any agreement on a roadmap to Associate membership.
Russian observers are puzzled why their southern neighbour is so intent on joining an EU which is riddled with problems and preparing to batten down the hatches as a Greek default is now a distinct possibility acknowledged by the G20 at their recent meeting in Washington. Russia is now Ukraine's largest trade partner, having surpassed the combined trade volume of Europe since 2008.
Ukraine is proud of its status as a WTO member since 2008 and hopes to enter a European Union free trade agreement similar to its 2010 agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. However European politicians have told Mr Yanukovych that if a Kiev court sends the former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, to prison the country can forget about closer integration with the European Union.
The warning was given during a tense two-hour meeting between President Yanukovych and a delegation of EU politicians on the sidelines of a major policy forum in Crimean town of Yalta last weekend. "I hope we brought to him very clearly the message that the rule of law is of critical importance," said the Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, after the meeting. "Ukraine has a problem, and I hope that he understood that it needs to be resolved."
EU officials say a conviction would be "incompatible with EU values" and jeopardise the finalisation of a free trade agreement that would solidify the country's ties to Brussels.
Stefan Fule, the EU enlargement minister, said relations would "be hardly the same between the EU and Ukraine" if the charges against Tymoshenko were not dropped.
One independent foreign observer of the region told BSR "Damned fools! Even rats don't swim ONTO sinking ships!" referring to the Ukrainian hankering over EU membership.
The logical move for Ukraine would be to accede to Russian blandishments and join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan which would bring with it the promise of further discounts on the price it pays for Russian gas. That would accelerate even further the growth of trade with the CIS states and encourage even more inward investment. But logic does not necessarily rule the day in East European politics.