News / Europe

Will Moscow-Kiyv Ties Improve After Ukrainian Election?

Ukrainians go to the polls Sunday to elect a new president. Analysts say who wins will determine the course of relations between Ukraine and Russia.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Public opinion surveys indicate current President Viktor Yushchenko is trailing several other candidates as the country prepares to vote in presidential elections Sunday, January 17. The two front runners are former Yushchenko ally and prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Viktor Yanukovich, leader of the "Party of Regions" in the Ukrainian parliament.

During his five-year presidency, Mr. Yushchenko has steered a distinctly pro-Western course, seeking membership in the European Union and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - or NATO.

Russia has consistently criticized Mr. Yushchenko's pro-European policies and strongly opposed Ukraine's NATO membership bid.

James Sherr, with the London-based research organization, Chatham House, says there are two reasons for Moscow's position.

Will Moscow-Kiyv Ties Improve After Ukrainian Election?
Will Moscow-Kiyv Ties Improve After Ukrainian Election?

"Ukraine, for Russia, is not just a neighbor. Ukraine, for Russia, is part of Russia's own identity. Kiyv and Rus is the origin of the Russian, as well as the Ukrainian state - that's the way Russians see it. So any movement by NATO into Ukraine is seen, at least emotionally, as a direct encroachment on Russia itself," he said.  "And the second issue is that behind NATO they [the Russians] see the United States and U.S. power - and they remain as convinced as in the past that it is in the U.S. national interest to weaken Russia as an authentically independent countervailing pole in the international system," he said.

Many analysts say if pre-election public opinion surveys are correct and current president Yushchenko is defeated, that would mean potentially better relations with Russia.

"With the exception of Yushchenko, most of the politicians, including all of those vying for the presidency, and certainly the two major candidates, are arguing for, in one way or another, a balanced policy that would attempt to create a constructive, productive relationship with Russia," said Robert Legvold of Columbia University. "Some tilt more in favor of focusing on Russia, like the leader of the Communist Party [Petro] Symonenko and Yanukovich, as the head of the 'Party of Regions.'  And others, like Tymoshenko and a few other candidates focus on the European option as well. But there is nobody who is saying that we ought to choose one side - East - over the other side - West - or vice-versa," he said.

In the last presidential election in 2004, Russia openly supported Viktor Yanukovich, who was declared the winner in a run-off with Viktor Yuschenko. But hundreds of thousands of Yushchenko supporters took to the streets, protesting the results, which were subsequently declared fraudulent by the Ukrainian Supreme Court and international monitors. In a second election, Mr. Yushchenko defeated Mr. Yanukovich.

Robert Legvold says this time around, the Russian leadership is far more guarded.

"They obviously are very interested in who is going to win this election, but they don't appear to feel that they have a horse in this race that they need to go to lengths to support," he said. "I think they would be perfectly content if Tymoshenko wins, they know that Yanukovich, who in the past has been their preferred candidate, would not do their bidding, that in the end he will defend Ukraine's interests as he sees it. And if that means cutting deals with the European Union or with the West, he will do it. So I think the Russians are more or less comfortable with what's going to come out of this election," he added.

Experts say sources of friction between Kiyv and Moscow will remain whoever is elected president of Ukraine, such as the long-term, unresolved question of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol. But analysts say the strong anti-Russian views as espoused by President Yushchenko will no longer be part of the Ukrainian political landscape.

Watch a VOA Ukrainian Service analyst roundtable discussion on the election. (In English)

 

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid