The ‘New’ Russia – Same Bear?
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The visit to Moscow by Ukraine's newly elected president signals that his nation remains within the reach of the Russian bear's embrace, and implies a stark warning for Europe - and the United States.
Despite appointing a Prime Minister described as "anti-Kremlin," the first foreign visit for Viktor Yushchenko was to Moscow, where, according to reports, he appeared "reserved," and "nervous," and eventually declared Russia to be Ukraine's "eternal strategic partner."
Yushchenko has promised his countrymen that he will turn Ukraine away from its present Russian orientation and toward the West, especially the E.U. His task is formidable, since Ukraine is tightly bound to Russia through economic and energy ties.
During his Moscow visit, Russian President Vladimir Putin reminded Yushchenko that 60 percent of Ukrainian trade is with Russia, and noted that there has been a constant growth of commercial activity between the two nations, Itar-Tass' Russian Internet site reported. Yushchenko gave his commitment to keep Russian-Ukrainian relations stable.
Putin's plan is to keep Ukraine in a jail under his control - The Tablet, December 4, 2004
Even if Yushchenko is able to expand ties with Western Europe, Ukraine will still be bound to Moscow by substantial ties of oil and gas imports, commercial investment, and strong ethnic bonds. The eastern half of Ukraine is Russian-speaking, and in the weeks prior to the November elections, former president Kuchma and Putin even discussed common citizenship between Russia and Ukraine.
Some observers now fear that the European Union may be slipping into a dependent relationship with Moscow, similar to that of Ukraine.
Russia supplies 44 percent of the E.U.'s gas and 18 percent of its crude oil. Should Russia become an integral part of the E.U. developing defense structure, as France advocates, Moscow's still powerful armed forces would make Russia the senior partner in any Euro-centered military organization.
The people of the United States and the nation's leaders should take note of the growing E.U. dependence upon Russia, and carefully watch to see if Ukraine really is able to free itself from dependence upon Moscow. The not-to-distant future will indicate the actual intentions of the "new" Russia to its neighbors and ultimately to the United States.
Posted February 4, 2005
Toby Westerman publishes
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