News / Europe

Ukraine’s Future Path May Hinge on One Bitter Political Rivalry

Supporters of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko chat in a protest tent camp in central Kiev on Oct. 7, 2013.
Supporters of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko chat in a protest tent camp in central Kiev on Oct. 7, 2013.
James Brooke
To hear Russian President Vladimir Putin say it, Russia and its biggest neighbor, Ukraine, are “one people.”
 
“We have common traditions, a common mentality, a common history and a common culture. We have very similar languages,” he said last month at the Valdai Discussion Club, the Kremlin’s annual meeting with Western thinkers. “In that respect, I want to repeat again, we are one people.”
 
Russia’s leader makes this argument because Ukraine and neighboring Moldova are at a historic crossroads: join a free trade pact with the European Union next month - or join President Putin’s Moscow-based Eurasian Union. For Moscow, a lot is at stake: after Russia, Ukraine is the second largest of the 15 former republics of the Soviet Union.
 
Russia faces an uphill battle. All of Ukraine’s major political parties and its three Orthodox Christian denominations favor going with the West.

Moving westward
 
So, Moscow recently gave Ukraine a taste of the penalties it faces for moving westward. The Kremlin tightened customs controls, threatened higher gas prices, and warned that Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine could secede and join Russia.
 
Here is President Putin again on Ukraine’s future outside his Eurasian Union:  “If we introduce such limitations, these companies - and perhaps whole industries - will then face severe problems. That’s what we’re talking about, that’s what we’re warning about. We are doing so in good faith and in advance, without in any way encroaching on [Ukraine’s] sovereign right to take a foreign policy decision."
 
Political scientist Olexiy Haran at Kyiv Mohyla University says this tough talk is backfiring on the Kremlin.
 
“The Ukrainian elite, including President [Viktor] Yanukovych, does not want to be swallowed by Russia,” he said from Kyiv. “And they understand the danger of being too close to Russia.”
 
Now the major obstacle to Ukrainians realizing their dream of association with Europe is President Yanukovich’s decade-long political feud with opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Yanukovich's "devil"
 
Tymoshenko, with her trademark golden peasant’s braid, is the darling of some Europeans. But she is the devil to Ukraine’s president. He narrowly lost to her coalition in the 2005 presidential election, and narrowly beat her in the 2010 presidential election. The next year, she was convicted of embezzlement and abuse of power and sentenced to seven years in jail.
 
Now the EU says: Free Yulia, or no trade deal.
 
Germany says it will take her in. Tymoshenko says she will go. Last  week, a pro-Yanukovych newspaper carried a Tymoshenko photo with the headline: “Guten Tag, Berlin!”
 
But Yanukovych fears that Tymoshenko will return to Ukraine to run against him in the 2015 presidential election.
 
“He is afraid of Tymoshenko,” Haran said. “If she is freed, then she is able to participate in political struggle, in political life in Ukraine, and then potentially run in presidential  campaign.”
 
One formula calls for Ukraine’s President sending Tymoshenko to Germany for medical treatment, but not pardoning her.

Stumbling block
 
Oleksandr Sushko, research director of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, says that the only stumbling block between the EU and Ukraine is Tymoshenko’s continued imprisonment.
 
“There is no guarantee of freeing of Yulia Tymoshenko,” he said “And, there is no guarantee for signing of the Association Agreement with the EU - just because of this.”
 
He says there is no guarantee that she will be freed. He predicts the horse trading will continue right up to the November 27-28 EU summit in Lithuania.

Until then, the future path of Ukraine - east or west - depends on a bitter rivalry between two politicians.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bob from: UK
October 14, 2013 9:09 AM
The whole notion of the EU wanting to better Ukraine is pure hyperbole the only reason the EU wants the Ukraine is because of the idea of Russia gaining a foothold. Ukraine is very much like Russia, Europe is much different to Ukraine. To think Ukraine could just be simply bolted onto the EU is pure stupidity. Their industrial fabric is very much in twinned with Russian industry, their industries are one of the same. If this is allowed to happen the East part of Ukraine and the Crimea will break free of this anti-Russian agenda. The Ukraine billionaires are scared of losing their billions. It's not about the people it's about elitist Ukrainians caring more about themselves than the country. If this sinister EU courtship is allowed then the breakup of Ukraine will be the outcome. If that truly what these greedy elitist billionaires want. To ruin industry and just be another market for German made goods etc. It's a one way street. Ukraine belongs with it's close brother. Not an interloper.


by: Donetsk dream from: Ukraine Donetsk
October 14, 2013 3:47 AM
I dont believe that the EU care about Ukraine ... they only care to market German and French goods in Ukraine, like they are doing in Bulgaria and Romania . If Ukrainians are ready to pay up to 100 Euro per month for electricity and more than 200000 families in Ukraine are ready to lose them jobs, and to to have more extra taxes to pay every month than you are ready for the EU . And if you think that Germany and French and Italy will run to buy Ukrainians good than you are naive


by: Anonymous
October 13, 2013 12:55 PM
Ukraine is not Russia.


by: Tom hrynkiw from: lviv Ukraine
October 13, 2013 12:53 AM
It is of no surprise that negative comments would come from Ukrainians that left Ukraine most likely nownliving in van. Canada
I can't call them Ukrainians and if I did , only by DNA
Don't forget they ran away from our country it's great there gone
As for me I think I'm the first to give up a Canadian passport and become Ukrainian
Why?
To build a better ukraine
In the three years now here I can say I have helped
All I here from ukrainians there in the west is "how bad the Ukrainian government is "
on contrary it is in a hard place. For anyone to be
Or any government
This current president has kept an incredible balance between the old and new ways with many people trying to force there ways on him
He has done much to improve things here amidst his enemies
And kept them aloft tactfully
He has lost much of his original power I can only pray that all Ukrainians give him strength to carry on
I wasn't a supporter of him rather my roots come from west Ukraine
But only when we realize that this beautiful country is ours.
Will we protect it from the north,west and all who just want to use Ukraine and in the end spit it out
So help us build this great country, think of positive things for us
The time is now that we need all Ukrainians to help
If you want to invest here and build here as I have done, then do it
I can help you
But everybody needs to stand up for Ukraine and the ruling government and help them help them selves
Only then can they say no to all the terrible influences around them


by: byron hill from: san francisco
October 12, 2013 8:38 PM
"Mankind" is one. Vladmir is a fool to believe otherwise. Russia is and always has been a Thug Nation, as is Ukraine. If a Russian expat living in UA wants a Russian culture, then the door is wide open.... go home. Moscow will continue to rape and pillage it's neighbors, this is her history. The majority of Ukrainians want their country back. Ukrainians want to be a sovereign nation but have discovered after 20 years of independence that all roads of corruption begin and end in Moscow. The Ukrainian can never realize what freedom is until this cancer is cut free. Once UA is disconnected from Moscow's corruption, then she can rid her own house of Russian remnants.


by: Valentyna from: Vancouver
October 12, 2013 7:10 AM
As a First Generation of Displaced Persons from Ukraine, there are issues I totally agree with President Putin. He is correct that we are one people, one culture and more important of all is that we are all historically descended from the same people.

I pray that Ukraine does not join the EU - it will be biggest mistake she makes and her downfall. The EU has nothing to offer. I still have a very large extended family all across Ukraine and none of the older generation want this union, they do not want to be americanised.

In Response

by: Volodya from: Canada
October 13, 2013 12:11 AM
Which only tells me that you're brainwashed by centuries of Russian domination. Time to dump the second class "Little Russian" mentality, and join the world. Having lived in the Americas and western Europe, and visited Ukraine many times, and Russia as well, anyone who is willing to settle for what Russia has to offer has to be a little bit off their rocker. Ukraine needs to only look at Poland, and the Baltic states to see how far they have left the embrace of "Big Brother" and joined the civilized rest of the world. Time for Ukraine to do the same.


by: Keen from: Philippines
October 12, 2013 4:27 AM
I guess Ukraine's President Yanukovych is facing a great dilemma at this point...I believe that it's really hard for a man of his position to decide whether to secure his political career or secure Ukraine's future...He should weigh things carefully and choose wisely not just for his benefit and personal gain for the better welfare of Ukrainians...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid