Books on Ukraine
Update No: 356 -
The most important
geopolitical relationship for Ukraine by
far is that with its giant neighbour,
Russia. Its own capital, Kiev, was once
the capital of Rus, the origin of Russia.
To this day Russians do not really regard
Ukraine as a foreign country.
Putin and Yakunovich meet in Crimea
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and
Ukrainian President Vyktor Yanukovych held
talks on a wide-range of issues on August
1. The meeting took place at Mr.
Yanukovych's vacation home in the town of
Foros on Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.
Russian media reports say the talks
focused on trade issues.
Prior to the meeting, Mr. Putin
participated in a motorcycle rally near
the port city of Sevastopol on the Black
Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. Mr.
Putin roared to the rally on a Harley
Davidson motorcycle where he addressed
thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts.
Mr. Putin's visit to the Crimea coincided
with Russia's Navy Day, which is observed
on August 2 every year. Sevastopol is home
to Ukrainian naval forces and to Russia's
Black Sea fleet. Speaking on August 1 Mr.
Putin said it was symbolic of the
friendship between Russia and Ukraine that
both Russian and Ukrainian seamen will
celebrate the Russian holiday.
The Russian base at Sevastopol was a major
issue of contention between Russia and
Ukraine after the break up of the Soviet
Union. Ukraine's previous government
wanted the Russian fleet to leave after
its lease expired in 2017. However after
Mr. Yanukovych came to power in February,
Moscow and Kiev signed an agreement to
extend the Russian lease by another 25
years to the year 2042.
Russia ready to demarcate border with
Russia has officially confirmed its
readiness to demarcate its border with
Ukraine. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Oleh Voloshyn told journalists
on August 3 that the ministry received the
official confirmation from Moscow on that
day. Voloshyn said a special commission
will be created in the near future to work
on the demarcation of the border.
The agreement on the border demarcation is
considered important for the possible
introduction of visa-free travel for
Ukrainians to European Union countries. A
demarcation agreement was signed by the
presidents of Russia and Ukraine, Dmitry
Medvedev and Viktor Yanukovych,
respectively, in Kiev on May 17.
Moscow and Kiev have been at odds
regarding the Russian-Ukrainian border in
the strait connecting the Sea of Azov with
the Black Sea since the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991.
In 2003 Ukraine officially accused Russia
of trespassing upon Ukrainian territory,
when Russia began building a dam on Tuzla
Island in the Kerch Strait. The conflict
was resolved after the then-presidents of
Ukraine and Russia, Leonid Kuchma and
Vladimir Putin, respectively, signed an
agreement on the joint use of the Azov Sea
and Kerch Strait in December 2003.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union,
Russia has been reluctant to demarcate its
borders with several former Soviet
neighbours, namely the Baltic states,
Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and the
countries in the Caucasus.
Nationalists protest visit by Russian
Nationalist groups have always been wary
of Russia in Ukraine. They gathered near
the "Ukrainian House" in Kiev to protest
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill's visit
to Ukraine in late July.
The some 80 protesters gathered
representing the nationalist Svoboda
(Liberty) party, the Congress of Ukrainian
Nationalists, Ukrainian National
Assembly-Ukrainian National Self Defence,
and the Ukrainian People's Party. They
staged a performance called "Glamorous
Tour of a Moscow KGB Agent" that was
officially banned by the Kiev authorities
on July 26.
The protesters also displayed Ukrainian
flags, their party banners, and placards
saying "Reverend Kirill muddies the waters
for the Ukrainian nation" and "No to the
Moscow priest-colonizer!" About 30
policemen watched the protest but did not
intervene. No violence was reported.
Other protests during Kirill's eight-day
trip had been disrupted or otherwise
Kirill, who started his visit to Ukraine
on July 20, attended a religious service
on Kiev's Volodymyr Hill on July 27 to
celebrate the day of Russia's conversion
Anti-corruption drive top priority
Ukraine has slid to place 146 (out of 180)
in Transparency International's corruption
index for 2009.
Since the election of President Yanukovych,
the new Ukrainian government has announced
several anti-corruption measures,
including welcome steps to deregulate
business. That in turn could help cut the
number of opportunities for corruption.
But many Ukrainian and foreign business
people continue to report that corruption
is a major problem in Ukraine - even at
the simplest level of the reputation of
the traffic police for demanding bribes.