Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ukraine, the riddle

Reading Russian politics is not easy. As it is not easy at all to understand its influences in the immediate neighbourhood as Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, Central Asia or Belarus. A "yes" could be a "not" and a "not" could be a "yes". Or we are tempted to read it so, because of our inner naivity and lack of comprehension.
What do we need, in fact, to understand? As the institutions are strictly connected with individuals, we need to know "who's who" and all the Byzantine personal relations dominating the political, economic, social and cultural life. The genealogical approach is useful, as it is necessary to have permanently a direct contact with this world. Sympathies could turn into animosities and love into hate. Or, at least, for me is one of the most useful approach. But, as I rarely address such topics, I do not have any pretention at all to provide a clear perspective.
We will shortly stop now to Ukraine, where the new elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, announced no intention to join NATO. A pleasant news for the ears of Kremlin, that harshly opposed any close and direct relationship between the North-Atlantic Alliance and Kyiv. It was the same in the case of the Baltic states and these states are today members of both EU and NATO. It is worthy to mention that Ukraine is an active member of the dialogue with NATO. Yanukovych's declaration didn't addressed this activity or the eventuality of putting an end to this dialogue. The issue was whether or not to join the Alliance and he answered "no". Or, at least, "not now" - in the next four years of his presidential mandate.
We could question as well: is Ukraine prepared to enter NATO? Are the Ukrainian institutions ready enough to tackle to financial and administrative pressures involved by the full membership to this alliance? Are the Ukrainian military structures prepared to reform significantly in order to be trusted enough for sharing information with the North-Atlantic partners?
Yanukovych was considered one of the main looser after the 2004 "Orange Revolution". But, in reality, the term "revolution" was overrated and for six years already Ukraine fought a serious political instability and lack of reform. The expectations were too high and not took into consideration the Soviet heritage and the problematic structure of the country. It is Russia guilty for the general instability? Moscow is not innocent at all and continues to exert its influence through first and second and third range politicians or more or less public figures. But, it was like this in the Baltic states as well. Or continue to be. And there, the reforms were possible. Maybe the countries are smaller. But, with - most likely - or without Russia - almost impossible - the question is about having a serious track of reforms. A record not achieved during Yuschenko. Whould Yanukovych, whose slogan was "Stability and Order", change somehow this situation? He never made a secret of his support from the part of Moscow and probably he would not disappoint his friends. But, as the case of Belarus showed, when it is about business - gas business - money talks. And, given the large number of friends Russia is having in Ukraine, any choices could be make very easy. Voronin, in Moldova, never denied his Russian close ties. But, he is now recent past history.
Indicted several times for a robbery and moderate assault, or for "mild degree body injuries" in the 70s, autodidact, close friend of business community from Donetsk area - among which Rinat Akhmetov, in Top 50 European Forbes -, where he served twice as governor, former prime minister, Yanukovych is an interesting character in the strange riddle of Russian matrischkas game.

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