Books on Ukraine
Update No: 326 - (28/02/08)
East or West?
At the beginning of this decade Ukraine faced a stark choice. Was it to become
Western or stay Eastern?
Well, the Orange Revolution of October 2004 seemed to resolve that. Actually not
quite. The advocate of the Eastern path, Viktor Yanukovich, leader of the Party
of the Regions, from the mainly Russian-speaking population in the east, very
nearly made a electoral comeback last year in the autumn elections to
parliament. But he failed. Julia Timoshenko of the Julia Timoshenko Bloc
narrowly prevailed, and is now prime minister, leading a basically
The president since the Orange Revolution has been Viktor Yushchenko,
undoubtedly a man of the West. He won with the Orange coalition (with Julia
Timoshenko), the election against Yanukovich with massive public support in
overturning what was clearly an earlier rigged election. The whole episode was a
turning point in Ukrainian history.
It might seem that, with the president and premier being of like mind in policy,
everything should be harmonious and sweetness and light chez the regime in Kiev.
This is not quite so, however.
Julia against the victor
Churchill, who had perhaps the longest and ultimately the most successful career
in parliamentary politics of all time, said that there are no friends among the
top people thereof. The six at the topmost stair are always at daggers drawn.
He was thinking no doubt of his own relationship with Lloyd George, who had
rescued him from political oblivion by making him minister of munitions in 1917,
a fatal year for the world for more reasons than one. He never forgave him this
act of generosity. Indeed, he dubbed him the potential Petain of the UK had the
Germans won, the more wounding for being possibly true.
In the case of Yushchenko and Timoshenko there is no love lost between them at
all. Or shall say that there is a sort of obligatory lovey-doveyness on the
basis of their common pro-Western ideology and focus. It is rather a matter, as
William Blake put it, of:-
“There is a smile of love; and there is a smile of deceit.
And there is a smile of smiles in which these two smiles meet.”
Timoshenko in Russia
Of course relations with Russia are vital. Timoshenko went to Moscow in late
February to negotiate crucial matters.
According to her, Russia is beginning at last to treat Ukraine as a sovereign
power. It is a complex feeling, she said, adding that she could not even say
what were the indications of this. “It is like ozone in the air after rain,”
Timoshenko believes the deleterious interstate relations of late were a result
of "the adventuristic" policy of the Party of Regions. The time of
"frivolous irresponsibility" displayed by the former ruling party in
relations between Russia and Ukraine has passed, she noted.
It has led to the understanding that Russia and Ukraine will feel stable if they
realise that Ukraine is a sovereign country and that relations with it must be
built on a reliable foundation of understanding of mutual national interests.
Timoshenko said that as the Ukrainian government head she would seek to build
such a foundation.