The former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine are allies engaged
in similar attempts to establish democratic rule, to join NATO and
realign themselves with the West, much to the displeasure of Russia.
During the conflict in Georgia, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko
prohibited ships from the Russian Black Sea Fleet that are engaged off
the Georgian coast from returning to port on Ukraine's Crimean
peninsula without Kyiv's official permission. VOA correspondent Peter
Fedynsky examines how the Kremlin may react to Ukraine's pro-Georgian
and pro-Western position.
In 2007, Public School Number 41 in
Tbilisi was named after Mykhailo Hrushevsky, president of the
short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic in 1917 and 1918.
current President, Viktor Yushchenko flew to Tbilisi to join his
Georgian friend and fellow head of state, Mikheil Saakashvili, in the
school's re-dedication ceremony. Both men rode to power following
mass pro-democracy protests that came to be known as colored
revolutions. Georgia's was the Rose Revolution and Ukraine's was the
Orange. Accordingly, the Hrushevsky School was painted orange.
has not disguised its displeasure with the colored revolutions and
refuses to deal with Mr. Saakashvili. On Tuesday, President Yushchenko
again flew to Tbilisi, accompanied this time by the presidents of
Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Mr. Yushchenko says the
task of the presidential mission is to show that Georgia is not alone,
that in this age the power of reason should not be replaced by the iron
The Ukrainian leader says the five presidents came to Georgia to
prohibit the of killing people and the execution of the country.
military analyst Oleksiy Melnyk, of the Razumkov Center think tank in
Kyiv, told VOA the Polish, Ukrainian and Baltic leaders do not
necessarily agree with all of the actions undertaken in the conflict by
Georgian leadership, but notes they risked their own physical security
to send a signal to Moscow.
Melnyk says Moscow should see the
presidential show of solidarity in Tbilisi as a serious signal that
Russian foreign policy of establishing control over former Soviet
republics and its neighborhood achieves a totally opposite effect. The
analyst says Russia is surrounding itself with nations that are, at a
minimum, not friendly and perhaps even hostile toward Moscow.
Melnyk says Russian military actions in Georgia could lead the majority
of Ukrainians who now oppose to their country's NATO membership to
reassess their opinions about the respective security threats posed by
the Western alliance and Russia.
The chairman of the European
Integration Forum in Tbilisi, Soso Tsiskarishvili, agrees with Melnyk's
assessment, but notes Ukraine is better prepared to meets NATO's
democratic standards for membership than Georgia.
says Ukraine's two recent parliamentary elections and Georgia's
presidential and parliamentary contests differ from one another like
heaven and earth in terms of democratic and transparent procedures.
Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer cautions that Ukraine could
be Russia's next target as part of what he says is a grand Kremlin plan
for the partial restoration of Russian greatness.
right now wants at least half of Ukraine to be annexed," said
Felgenhauer. "Vladimir Putin talked about that rather openly at the
NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania in April. Ukraine will disintegrate
into two halves, and we want the eastern half, including of course,
first and foremost, Crimea."
Felgenhauer says Ukraine's
overwhelming vote for independence in 1991, which included a majority
of Crimeans, means nothing to Kremlin rulers, who the analyst says do
not respect the will of even their own people.
analyst says Russia is tied down in Georgia and will not make any
immediate military moves against Ukraine. He notes, however, that
Russia's Black Sea Fleet, which leases naval facilities in Sevastopol
in Crimea, will likely steam back to port in defiance of a Ukrainian
presidential order that it must first ask for Ukrainian permission.
Russia openly challenges Ukrainian sovereignty, I think that Ukraine
will then turn to the West and say, 'you know guys, they're challenging
our sovereignty with their fleet.' And this will happen without any
kind of use of arms, or anything made in anger. Ukraine right now,
apparently wants to make the threat to its sovereignty obvious to
outside powers," said Felgenhauer.
Felgenhauer says Moscow's
vision of the world is that of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin; one in
which Russia and Washington share spheres of influence. The analyst
notes that Russia withdrew its bases from Cuba and Vietnam, expecting
the United States to stay away from what Moscow thought was to be its
sphere of influence. He says Moscow felt betrayed when Washington
began supporting colored revolutions among Russia's neighbors.
Soso Tsiskarishvili points to this week's visit to Tbilisi by
presidents of five countries that border Russia as a sign that they do
not trust the Kremlin.