Books on Ukraine
Update No: 362 -
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.