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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 49,537 41,380 37,600 55
GNI per capita
 US $ 970 770 720 137
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Ukraine

Update No: 362 - (26/02/11)

Anniversary of unusual victory
February was the anniversary of the upset in effect of the Orange Revolution of 2004. In February 2010 Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine's then opposition leader, narrowly won the presidential election against Yulia Tymoshenko, the then prime minister, who had been a leading light in the 2004 upheaval.

The victory by Yanukovych marked a remarkable comeback by the then 59-year-old ex-mechanic, who had been disgraced in 2004 by the "Orange Revolution" mass street protests, which Tymoshenko led.

The revolution was a massive disappointment to its supporters, which was derailed by events beyond the control of its leaders, notably the global economic downturn from 2007 onwards. Tymoshenko had long been tarnished by accusations of corruption and other misdemeanours during the build-up of her career as a billionaire gas oligarch. But she had and still has supporters, impressed by her feisty personality, her 'get-up-and-go,' which brought her billions, and her good looks. If she could do so well for herself, they thought, why not for us too.

She narrowly lost. Many thought Ukraine, in deep economic trouble, needed a more important energy player than her, namely Russia. Viktor Yanukovych, representing the one-fifth of the country's population which is Russian and Russian-speaking, is a close ally.

How to handle the Kremlin
Actually, Yanukovych has shown himself in his year in office to be anything but a tool of Moscow's. He is scrupulously polite in his relations with Russian leaders and, speaking the same language, has re-asserted a 'special relationship' to Russia, such as the UK cherishes with the US.

There is indubitably a meeting of minds between Kiev and the Kremlin now, such as Churchill forged with Roosevelt in the darkest days of the Second World War. The Russians and Ukrainians bonded anew during the course of that mighty event - and how!

Russians never forget that Kiev was the original capital of Rus, just as London is the original capital of the Anglophone world. Ukraine next door is even warmer to the hearts of the Russians than distant England is to the Americans, most of whom, like their president, are not of British stock.

Europe ahoy!
Ukraine is for Russia the vital conduit to Western Europe. But so it is for the latter, increasingly the European Union (EU) states, to Russia.

This raises the momentous question of potential EU membership for Ukraine, which, of course, would deeply affect Russia.

Such membership is a long way off. There are innumerable problems to confront concerning agriculture and other matters. But eventual EU membership is a feasible proposition for Ukraine, which it hardly is for Russia.

Yet it could bring about a new 'special relationship' that could transform world politics, one between the EU and Russia.

Ukraine is the key to this, a fact well known in EU quarters. Hence the attention paid to events in Kiev.

What is the Middle East ahead?
Europe is fine. But the Middle East is a more immediate problem.

Kiev has decided to form a new 'special relationship' - with of all people Turkey.

The Turks are looking northwards as well as southwards. There they see more hopeful, less fraught, opportunities. The Ukrainians are looking southwards as far as Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan travelled to Ukraine on an official trip on January 24 and 25. He met with President Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. Erdogan and Yanukovych signed a Joint Declaration for the establishment of a High Level Strategic Council between the two countries.

Prime Minister Erdogan also participated in a meeting of the Turkish-Ukrainian Business Council in Kiev on January 25. Just gestures, but deeds will follow.





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