Thursday, September 14, 2006

Big Brother Bear

Ukraine has told NATO it is shelving its aspirations to join the Western defense alliance because of widespread public opposition and to preserve the former Soviet republic's relations with Russia. "We have explained that because of the political situation in Ukraine, we will have to take a pause, but the time will come when a decision will be made," new Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich told a joint news conference Thursday and reported on CNN, after talks with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and NATO ambassadors. Russia fiercely opposed the previous pro-Western Ukrainian government's intention to join NATO's Membership Action Plan, a path towards eventual entry into the U.S.-led military pact. Yanukovich, regarded as closer to Moscow than reformist President Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power in an Orange Revolution after defeating Yanukovich in a flawed 2004 election, said he did not want to complicate Ukraine-Russia relations. On Wednesday, Ukraine won the promise of negotiations early next year on broader ties with the European Union that could include a free trade deal.

All this means is that what Moscow (Putin) and allies in the Kremlin wanted to accomplish but were blocked in 2004 now have been successful in completing. This is very unfortunate indeed. For central and eastern European neighbors, particularly Poland, this is a possible confirmation of their worst fears. A Ukraine that is once again a puppet to a regime in Moscow, for the West it is equally disappointing. Mr. Yanukovich adding to remarks with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that Ukraine had to convince society. Such a move only convinces those who were skeptical of Ukraine worthiness to join NATO like France that they were right, while confirming what critics view as cow-towing to Russian demands. Society was convinced by Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004 now we are just confused.

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