The Ukies Are Ready to Step Into the Breach to Replace the UK

Kiev responded to the decision of Great Britain to leave the European Union with concern and a sense of urgency.

President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman expressed hope that Great Britain would not in fact exit from the European Union.

“I believe that the unity of the European people will be preserved,” the Prime Minister posted on Twitter.

Poroshenko emphasized in his statement that he hoped for the preservation of the sanctions against Russia.

The Director of the Ukrainian Delegation to PACE, Vladimir Ariev, warned that the sanctions could be weakened because of Brexit.

“They are likely to start removing the sanctions against Russia in 2017, and a vise free regime for us, Georgia and Turkey will be postponed indefinitely,”  he said.

According to Ariev, the European Union will now isolate itself from "external irritants" and focus on internal problems in order to prevent "a chain reaction".

A deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the Radical Party, Andrei Lozovoy, also saw serious chances of a EU collapse.

“The possible break up of the European Union, which is now quite real, is on the minds of British officials: they have been messing with us and other countries that wanted to enter the EU for a long time,”  he posted on Facebook.  

Nevertheless, Lozovoy thinks that a "reasonable response" to the Great Britain exit would be expansion of the EU to the east. Independent Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Anna Hopko agreed with him, saying that Ukraine could replace Great Britain in the EU.

“Europeans will stop worrying about peace in Ukraine. Berlin should be proactive: having lost Great Britain, Europe should gain Ukraine,”  Hopko thinks.

The Brexit will have negative consequences for Ukrainian diplomacy, according to the Vice-Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Irina Gerashchenko.

“Now, when the EU is focusing in its own serious problems, it’s harder for us to defend our cause,”  she noted.

The Governor of the Odessa region, Mikhail Saakashvili, also refused to give any optimistic estimate. He is convinced that in the context of the Brexit, Ukraine will have to accelerate its reforms.  

“Now, any delay means death; they will ignore us, and their hand won’t even shake,”  he posted on Facebook.

The same opinion was expressed by the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the "Poroshenko Bloc" Sergei Leshchenko, who called the British referendum a "cold shower".

However, the deputy of the People’s Front, Anton Gerashchenko, thinks Kiev shouldn’t despair. According to him, the European Union doesn’t want to see Ukraine in.

“The EU didn’t want us anyway, with our level of corruption, chaotic legal system and low level of economic development,”  he posted on Facebook.

Gerashchenko is sure that Kiev needs to turn toward Canada or the US, and not count on integration with the EU.

Ukraine is desperate to enter the EU, and in 2014 signed the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement. However, this agreement doesn’t necessarily lead to EU membership. According to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, it will take 20-25 years for Ukraine to enter the EU or NATO.


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