Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Annoyance as Ukraine shows unwilling to be the rope in an endless tug of war.

The OSCE has hailed Ukraine's presidential election as “open, transparent and honest”, yet Yulia Tymoshenko claims she will never accept Viktor Yanukkovych’s victory.

This is the scion of democracy whose defeat is causing wailing and gnashing of teeth in some newspapers.

The truth is that the coverage of recent Ukrainian politics has been exposed by Yanukovych’s victory. The zero sum game between western liberalisers and neo-Soviet bureaucrats, consistently portrayed in the papers, was misleading.

Ukraine’s ‘Orange Revolution’ was not a defiant repudiation of Russia and an embrace of the so-called west. Voters wished to see an end to corruption in politics and economic stability. Viktor Yushchenko resoundingly failed to deliver and the electorate has chosen to try another approach.

The idea that Yanukovych vs. Tymoshenko represented Russia vs. The West was equally misleading. Vladimir Putin is said to enjoy a positive relationship with Tymoshenko and regards Yanukovych with some distaste. The man from Donetsk wishes to renegotiate Ukraine’s gas commitments.

Of course Yanukovych's Party of the Regions does have its heartland in the Russophone east, but an election isn’t decided in the heartlands. Central Ukraine and Kiev have also swung in this election.

Editorials will dwell on incidents in Yanukovych’s past and allegations which arose from the last presidential election. However it appears likely that he will conduct his duties with a new spirit of pragmatism.
Out will go Yushchenko’s ideological commitment to Nato and baiting of Russia.

Yanukovych wishes Ukraine to become a bridge between Russia and Europe. It might not suit the Russophobe agenda, but a future as a bridge is better than a future as the rope in an endless tug of war.


Phil Larkin said...

A very good and interesting piece, Owen. In particular it has assisted in fixing my preconceptions on the relationship between Putin, Yanucovich, and Tymoshenko (possibly one of the most attractive women in the world of politics today?).

I was going to ask whether Ukraine could become a bridge between the West and Russia, and you seem to mention this as a possibility. Do you have any more to say about this, because it is an interesting idea? Ukraine certainly has much going for it, including many natural resources, a well-educated and industrious population, and, of course, the "Black Earth Belt", making it the "breadbasket" of that region.

However, one factor you neglected to mention in relation to the Orange Revolution of 2004/05 was that the attempt to poison Yuschenko managed to put the backs up of many Ukranians and interested people in the West. Had Russia stood back from Ukraine more and allowed tham to manage their own destiny, then perhaps the overhyped Orange Revolution would not have caught the world's imagination as it did.

Phil Larkin

Chekov said...


In truth I can't disagree with your final paragraph. I do believe that Ukraine has a chance to be a bridge between Russia and Europe as long as it is resistant to being used in a tug of war between the two. If Yanukovych sticks to his word and attempts to pursue good relations with both, as well as reflecting a common aspiration to pursue EU integration without a Nato connection, then there's every chance. A visit to the country is enough to convince anyone that the it is a meeting place of cultures.

DoppiaVu said...

Because I thought that the whole Ukraine thing was simply about the pro-Russian bloc vs the pro-Western bloc, I generally skimmed newspaper articles about Ukraine.

Although having said that, I did notice that the Independent yesterday did refer to Yanucovich re-negotiating on gas - which didn't sit well with the overall pro/anti Russia narrative coming from our press.

Glad someone is shedding some light on this.