6.03.2010

Ukraine is out

NATO will not be expanding eastward soon:
Since his February inauguration, Mr Yanukovych has wasted no time in re-shaping Ukraine's foreign policy in a more Moscow-friendly way, the BBC's David Stern in Kiev says.

In April, he agreed to extend the lease allowing Russia's Black Sea fleet to be stationed in the southern port of Sevastopol by 25 years in return for cheaper gas.
Expect no outcry from Europe -- they'll remain content with Ukrainian politics so long as the natural gas continues to flow from Russia, which should have no problem doing with a pro-Moscow government in power.

How this will play with Russia's relationship with the West more broadly is the more interesting question, really, and remains to be seen. Hopefully, it will bolster the strength of the oligarchs -- essentially, the clique associated with Yukos, the Russian oil giant -- who have a more Western orientation, given their business needs, and give the military hardliners less of a plank. On the other hand, it could bolster the hardliners, giving them to believe that aggression and hardball politics gets things done. But the current government in Ukraine may not be all bad, despite the move east.