Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Russia’s Influence Advances In Ukraine

MOSCOW, Russia -- Newly inaugurated Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych visited Moscow last Friday and promised Russian officials a “sharp turn” in bilateral relations between the two countries.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (left) shakes hands with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on his first visit to the Kremlin on March 5.

During the last five years, little has vexed the Kremlin more than Ukraine’s drift away from Russia under the pro-Western leadership of Yanukovych’s predecessor, so the shift into a new phase of heightened cooperation is a victory for Moscow.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he hopes the relationship between Ukraine and Russia will “assume a new quality in dynamics, become much closer, and be based on kind sentiments and pragmatism.”

Yanukovych vowed to “open a new page” in Russo-Ukrainian bilateral ties, and said the relationship should never have fallen to such a poor state.

“One of my key tasks is to make sure that relations between Ukraine and Russia take a U-turn in the right direction,” Yanukovych said.

Yanukovych also said that during his presidency Ukraine would be “a European, non-aligned state,” indicating that he has no desire for Ukraine to become a nato member.

The two presidents signed a statement saying Russia and Ukraine will improve ties in such sectors as aviation, nuclear power and military technology. The top priority, according to the statement, is energy cooperation, particularly in regard to natural gas.

In recent years, relations between Russia and Ukraine have suffered from arguments over the price of Russian gas flowing to Europe through a major transit route in Ukraine. Yanukovych has said he will seek to create a gas transit consortium involving Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, which would aspire to quell these pricing disputes.

Yanukovych also met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who invited Ukraine to join a customs union whose current members are Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, with Kyrgyzstan also interested in gaining entrance soon.

On March 9, the Ukrainian parliament passed a historic law that amends the constitution and eases the requirements to form a majority coalition in parliament. If the ruling stands, it will be a great boon to Yanukovych, allowing him to establish the coalition he needs, and to start filling key positions with his own appointees. The law will permit the new president to steer Ukraine even more swiftly down the pro-Russian path.

For years, the Trumpet has pointed to Ukraine as crucial turf in a future pact between Russia and Germany. Control of the strategic area will determine the line at which their individual imperialistic aims meet. With the staunchly pro-Russian Yanukovych in power, Ukraine is now essentially in Russia’s hands.

Watch for Russia to seek to increase its power, and watch for Europe’s response. “As Russia gets stronger, as the world grows more dangerous, as economic problems escalate, the Germans will be crying out for strong leadership!” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in 2008. “[Germans] are looking for a king -- with a fierce enough countenance to stand up to Vladimir Putin!”

Source: The Trumpet

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