Justin Vela

Yanukovych to Brussels…then to Moscow…

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Helsinki-Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko may still be insisting on fraud during the country’s presidential elections this week, but her opponent, opposition candidate Viktor Yanukovych, is set to be inaugurated this Thursday.

Interestingly enough, Yanukovych will make his first trip abroad as president to Brussels, not to Moscow.

He wants to assure the West that Ukraine will continue to move towards eventual integration with the European Union.

Yet at the same time there is speculation that Yanukovych will join Ukraine into a customs union with Belarus and Russia, extend the Black Sea Fleet’s lease on the Sevastopol harbor, and possibly even sell part of the country’s pipelines to Gazprom.

These are exactly the demands voiced to me by pro-Russia organizations in Sevastopol earlier this month.

Yanukovych’s election began a good month for Russia. Only a few weeks later Finland finally agreed to the building of the Nord Steam pipeline. This means that Europe has further acquiesced to the reality of reliance on Russian energy. The holdup by the Finns had more to do with environmental concerns than avoiding dependence on Russia. The building of Nord Steam also means that Russia will have another route to deliver energy to Europe if the pipelines through Ukraine are again turned off.

Ukraine strengthening ties with Russia again after a confrontation only a few years since the 2004 Orange Revolution has me eager to return to Crimea to continue my work on the ethnic-Russia population there.

Read this piece in Foreign Policy Journal on the need for good relations with Russia.


Written by Justin Vela

February 23, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Posted in Europe

Tagged with , , , , , ,

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