"...Reacting to the verdict in Kiev, Putin, who is currently on a visit to China, ostentatiously distanced Moscow from Tymoshenko herself and indirectly questioned Western motives: "Tymoshenko is not our friend, and for me personally, she is neither a friend nor a relative. Moreover, she is rather a political competitor, because she has always been ... a Western-oriented politician."
But Putin warned that it would be "dangerous" and "counter-productive" to reopen the 2009 gas deal and pointed out that Ukraine and Russia would gain more by combining their efforts on integration projects.
In reality, he echoed his proposal for creating a Eurasian Union, which he first mooted in a signed article in Izvestiya merely a week ago. Putin said Russia-Ukraine integration would be "more beneficial, as they would yield economic benefits". He then repeated tactfully, "I am not speaking about politics."
The Eurasian Union idea promises to be the leitmotif of the Putin presidency that may commence in 2012 and may last until 2024. The closing of the door on Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization in the near term gives impetus to the idea of expanding the existing Customs Union.
But what would give the Customs Union real traction would be Ukraine's entry. If that happens, no matter what the rubric is called, an Eurasian Union is born. The tussle over Tymoshenko's fate goes way past a matter of rule of law and the legacy of a "color" revolution".