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Gas transit conflict will have serious consequences, especially for Ukraine - Rahr

MOSCOW. Jan 12 (Interfax) - By sparking up a gas conflict with Russia, Ukraine repeats mistakes made by Georgia, said Alexander Rahr, a representative of Germany's Council on Foreign Relations.

"The consequences will be catastrophic for Ukraine, I think. If anyone hoped to primitively play the role of victim and make use of the sympathy for Ukraine that arose after the Orange Revolution, they are mistaken," Rahr told Interfax on Monday.

Problems related to the transit of Russian gas will have the most negative impact on the prospect of Ukraine's membership of various Euro-Atlantic organizations, he said.

"People are no fools in the West and they are aware, that it was after all Ukraine that was the main player in the gas war which seriously affected Europe. I think this will tell very negatively on the prospect of Ukraine's membership of the European Union," the expert said.

"Ukraine has made the same mistake Georgia did," he also said.

"Georgia, too, wanted to join NATO and provoked a conflict with South Ossetia, believing that the West would take its side the moment the "Russian Bear" appeared on the world's screens. In Ukraine, (President Viktor) Yushchenko or (Prime Minister Yulia) Tymoshenko hoped to play on the same emotions (Georgian President Mikheil) Saakashvili did in August - to provoke Russia to certain crude and tough moves and then run to the West and point at the bad Putin the Bear," he said.

On the other hand, the gas conflict will also hit Russia, Rahr said.

"A very rigorous discussion will begin in the West now on whether Russian gas imports should be abandoned altogether. This discussion will be fueled with special zeal by individual countries, including Poland, or Baltic countries and Sweden," the expert said.