The Blue Counterrevolution: The First Year of President Viktor Yanukovych

By Yevgen Sautin
Cornell International Affairs Review
2010, Vol. 4 No. 1 | pg. 2/2 |

Relations with the West: Onwards to a Bright Future!46

Despite Viktor Yanukovych’s pro- Russian stance, prospects for cooperation between the E.U. the United States and Ukraine has not significantly deteriorated from the Yushchenko administration. With the prominent exception of NATO membership, which will almost certainly not occur in the foreseeable future, much of the rhetoric of the Yushchenko administration has carried over to the new administration. Simply put, Ukraine needs the west. Ukrainian energy infrastructure, including natural gas pipelines, is in dire need of modernization and repairs. Since any assistance from Moscow would come under the condition of greater control of the Ukrainian energy sector, the Ukrainian government has publicly called for western investment in the natural gas infrastructure.47 The prospect of E.U. involvement in energy infrastructure modernization greatly angers Moscow, which wishes to further its control over the transit system.48 Cooperation on this matter will serve as a check on Russian influence while simultaneously allowing the E.U. to prod Yanukovych on domestic matters if it so chooses.

Yanukovych has said that, “Ukraine’s future is in Europe,” and officially E.U. membership remains the ultimate goal for Ukraine.49 The Ukrainian foreign ministry has lobbied hard albeit with little success, for an abolishment of visa regulations with the E.U. or at the very least an ease in the regulations. 50 Ukraine is also actively seeking an Associate Member status within the E.U.51 For all the talk of integrating Ukraine with Europe, Viktor Yushchenko had actually done fairly little to that end. Ukraine has recently signed a free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and was eager to accept the latest IMF loan to avoid approaching the Russians for financial assistance.

While Yanukovych himself may have little interest or incentive in joining the E.U., he understands that the vast majority of his people have an inexorable yearning to become a member state.52 Ukrainians believe E.U. membership would improve the economy, reduce corruption, reintegrate Ukraine with Europe, and improve its security and prestige.53 Hence, Yanukovych has to at least pay lip service to those sentiments and continue to be seen as supportive of integration.

In an obvious effort to reach out, Yanukovych gave up the remaining Ukrainian highly enriched uranium during his visit to the United States54 and has allowed military exercises to be held with NATO. The later move was sharply criticized in the Russian press and is evidence that Yanukovych intends to keep his options open.55 The Yanukovych administration has shown willingness to challenge E.U. member states on policy differences as can be seen by their efforts to halt Romanian economic encroachment along the Danube delta.56 Under the previous administration, the Ukrainian government had an obsequious policy of not challenging E.U. member states on anything.57 While the Yanukovych administration may not share liberal democratic values, it is nevertheless willing to work with the west in order to balance out Russia.

Conclusions:

Viktor Yanukovych has made a remarkable comeback since his defeat in 2004. Helped in part by the global financial crisis and the endless gridlock (a gridlock that he often engineered) that had come to define Ukrainian politics after 2004, Yanukovych was able to rebrand himself as a strong leader who knew how to effectively manage the Ukrainian economy while respecting a balance between the west and Russia. Yanukovych has so far spent little time improving the economy and has moved Ukraine much closer to Russia than anticipated.


Endnotes

  1. “Victory for the Blue Camp,” The Economist, February 11, 2010. http://www.economist.com/node/15501625
  2. “Ukraine court boosts powers of President Yanukovych,” BBC, October 1, 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11451447
  3. a wordplay on one of the most common Soviet slogans: Слава КПСС!, [Glory to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union!]
  4. “Rule change seeks swift Ukraine coalition government,” Reuters, March 4, 2010. http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE6232EA20100304
  5. “Наблюдатели: Выборы в Украине не соответствовали стандартам Совета Европы,” [Observers: Elections in Ukraine do not meet the standards of the Council of Europe], Korrespondent, November 2, 2010. http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/1133615-nablyudateli-vybory-v-ukraine-ne-sootvetstvovali-standartam-sovetaevropy
  6. Otar Dovzhenko, “Тотальная стабилизация медиа,” [Total media control], Zerkalo Nedeli, April 16, 2010. http://www.zn.ua/1000/1550/69122/
  7. Yuri Butusov, “Служба безопасности кое-кого от кое-чего,” [Security service for some against something], Zerkalo Nedeli, September 24, 2010. http://www. zn.ua/1000/1550/70437/
  8. Butusov, “Служба безопасности кое-кого от кое-чего,” [Security service for some against something], http://www.zn.ua/1000/1550/70437/
  9. “Radio France Internationale: Украина 2010. Виктор Янукович, или оговорки по Бушу,” [Radio France Internationale: Ukraine 2010. Victor Yanukovych, Bush style gaffes], Korrespondent, February 6, 2010. http://korrespondent.net/worldabus/1044022-radio-france-internationale-ukraina-2010-viktor-yanukovich-ili-ogovorki-po-bushu
  10. “Radio France Internationale: Украина 2010. Виктор Янукович, или оговорки по Бушу,” [Radio France Internationale: Ukraine 2010. Victor Yanukovych, Bush style gaffes], http://korrespondent.net/worldabus/1044022-radio-france-internationale-ukraina-2010-viktor-yanukovich-ili-ogovorki-po-bushu
  11. Kubicek, Paul. 2007. “Ukraine and the European Neighborhood Policy: Can the EU Help the Orange Revolution Bear Fruit?.” East European Quarterly 41, no. 1: 1-23.
  12. “Беспорядки в Раде: прокуратура возбудила дело по факту хулиганства депутатов,” [Chaos in the Rada: the prosecutor’s office is investigating alleged hooliganism by deputies], Korrespondent, April 29, 2010.http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/1071992-besporyadki-v-rade-prokuratura-vozbudila-delo-po-faktu-huliganstvadeputatov
  13. “Rule change seeks swift Ukraine coalition government,” http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE6232EA20100304
  14. “Ukraine handed Euro 2012 deadline,” BBC Sport, May 13, 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/internationals/8047594.stm.
  15. “Germany and Hungary could replace Ukraine as Euro 2012 host,” Sport Business, May 11, 2010. http://www.sportbusiness.com/news/176318/germany-and-hungarycould- replace-ukraine-as-euro-2012-host.
  16. “Янукович: Украина вошла в график по строительству инфраструктуры к Евро-2012,” [Yanukovych: Ukraine is on schedule with infrastructure building for Euro 2012], Korrespondent, November 3, 2010, http://korrespondent.net/euro/1134184-yanukovich-ukraina-voshla-v-grafik-po-stroitelstvu-infrastruktury-k-evro-2012
  17. “Радянський комплекс: Українське телебачення привітало Януковича хвалебним фільмом,” [Soviet conscious: Ukrainian TV greets Yanukovych with a praiseful film], Deutsche Welle, July 11, 2010, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5782914,00.html
  18. Taras Kuzio, “Ukraine’s Foreign and Security Policy Controlled by Russia,” European Dialogue, http://www.eurodialogue.org/Ukraines-Foreign-and-Security-Policy- Controlled-by-Russia
  19. “Khoroshkovsky has his say on conflicts,” Kyivpost, June 17, 2010, http://www.kyivpost.com/news/politics/detail/70071/
  20. “Договір Януковича і Медведєва про базування флоту до 2042 року. Текст документу,” [Agreement between Yanukovych and Medvedev regarding the basing of the fleet until 2042, treaty text], Ukrainian Pravda ,April 22, 2010, http://www.pravda.com.ua/articles/2010/04/22/4956018/
  21. “Ukraine to renegotiate ‘unfair’ gas deal with Russia,” EurActiv, October 18. 2010, http://www.euractiv.com/en/energy/ukraine-renegotiate-unfair-gas-deal-with-russianews- 498807
  22. Nazar Kholod, “100 Days at the Office: President Yanukovych’s Economic Policy,” presented at the Kennan Institute, Washington D.C., June 14, 2010.
  23. Stéphane Roudet, “IMF Approves $15.1 Billion Loan for Ukraine,” International Monetary Fund, August 11, 2010, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2010/ car081110a.htm
  24. During Soviet times, the Slavic peoples of the USSR were believed to have an especially strong ‘eternal’ ‘brotherly union’ which was frequently evoked in propaganda.
  25. “Договір Януковича і Медведєва про базування флоту до 2042 року. Текст документу,” [Agreement between Yanukovych and Medvedev regarding the basing of the fleet until 2042, treaty text], http://www.pravda.com.ua/articles/2010/04/22/4956018/
  26. “Беспорядки в Раде: прокуратура возбудила дело по факту хулиганства депутатов,” [Chaos in the Rada: the prosecutor’s office is investigating alleged hooliganism by deputies], http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/1071992-besporyadki-v-rade-prokuratura-vozbudila-delo-po-faktu-huliganstva-deputatov
  27. “Ukrainian-Russian cooperation to boost Ukrainian aviation industry,” RIA Novosty, April 25, 2010, http://en.rian.ru/exsoviet/20100425/158741326.html
  28. “СМИ: Россия намерена приобрести шесть украинских судостроительных заводов,” [Media: Russia plans on acquiring six Ukrainian shipyards], Korrespondent, July 19, 2009, http://korrespondent.net/business/economics/1097769-smi-rossiya-namerena-priobresti-shest-ukrainskih-sudostroitelnyh-zavodov
  29. Anna Shiryaevskaya,”Putin Proposes Russia, Ukraine Nuclear Energy Merger (Update2),” Bloomberg Businessweek, April 27, 2010, http://www.businessweek.com/ news/2010-04-27/russia-proposes-merging-nuclear-energy-with-ukraine-update1-.html
  30. “ Би-би-си: Напишут ли Москва и Киев общий учебник истории?” [BBC: Will Moscow and Kiev write a common history textbook], Korrespondent, October 31, 2010, http://korrespondent.net/worldabus/1132335-bi-bi-si-napishut-li-moskva-i-kiev-obshchij-uchebnik-istorii
  31. Alexa Chopivksy, “Prayer and Politics: Russia’s pincer movement in Ukraine,” Open Democracy, August 4, 2010, http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/alexa-chopivsky/ prayer-and-politics-russias-pincer-movement-in-ukraine
  32. “ Версия: Россия отдала Приднестровье Украине,” [Versiya: Russia handed over Transdniestria to Ukraine], Korrespondent, May 26, 2010 http://korrespondent.net/ worldabus/1079768-versiya-rossiya-otdala-pridnestrove-ukraine
  33. “Депутаты от коалиции зарегистрировали в Раде законопроект о языках” [coalition deputies register a language bill in the Rada], Korrespondent, September 7 2010, http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/1113929-deputaty-ot-koalicii-zaregistrirovali-v-rade-zakonoproekt-o-yazykah
  34. Alla Eremenko, “Визит с незапланированным результатом?,” [visit with unplanned results?], Zerkalo Nedeli 820, n.40, http://www.zn.ua/2000/2229/70694/
  35. Gregory Fiefer, “For Yanukovych, A Fleet-Footed Dash To Repair Russia Divide,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, April 29, 2010, http://www.rferl.org/content/For_ Yanukovych_A_Fleet_Footed_Dash_To_Repair_Russia_Divide/2028075.html
  36. “Yanukovych deflated Putin offer of gas merger,” Russianow, May 12, 2010, http://russianow.washingtonpost.com/2010/05/yanukovych-deflates-putin-offer-of-gasmerger.php
  37. Alla Eremenko, “Визит с незапланированным результатом?,” [visit with unplanned results?], http://www.zn.ua/2000/2229/70694/
  38. Olga Kosharnoya, “Путин. Атомные итоги,” [Putin atomic conclusions], Zerkalo Nedeli 820, n.40, http://www.zn.ua/2000/2229/70687/
  39. Olga Kosharnoya, “Путин. Атомные итоги,” [Putin atomic conclusions], http://www.zn.ua/2000/2229/70687/
  40. “НГ: Киев продолжит поставки оружия в Грузию,” [NG: Kiev will continue arms shipments to Georgia], Korrespondent, October 19, 2010, http://korrespondent.net/ worldabus/1127865-ng-kiev-prodolzhit-postavki-oruzhiya-v-gruziyu
  41. Vladimir Kravchenko, “Если с Уго мы друзья…,” [If we are friends with Ugo..], Zerkalo Nedeli 819, n.39, http://www.zn.ua/1000/1600/70637/
  42. “Ukraine refuses to recognize Abkhazia, South Ossetia,” RIA Novosti, May 14, 2010, http://en.rian.ru/exsoviet/20100514/159015981.html
  43. Jorge Benitez, “Ukraine Will Not Join CSTO,” Atlantic Council, May 28, 2010, http://www.acus.org/natosource/ukraine-will-not-join-csto
  44. Vyacheslav Pikhovshek, “Germany’s role in Ukrainian-Russian gas relation,” KyivPost, September 1, 2010, http://www.kyivpost.com/news/opinion/op_ed/detail/80709/
  45. Alla Eremenko, “Визит с незапланированным результатом?,” [visit with unplanned results?], http://www.zn.ua/2000/2229/70694/
  46. a reference to an all too common Soviet rallying cry of the just-around the corner “bright future”
  47. Kostis Geropoulos, “Now or Never for Ukraine’s Gas Transit Pipelines,” New Europe, September 5, 2010. http://www.neurope.eu/articles/Now-or-Never-for-Ukraines-Gas- Transit-Pipelines/102393.php
  48. “Russia Raps Ukraine Over EU Gas Investment Pitch,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, March 24, 2009. http://www.rferl.org/content/Russia_Says_Postpones_Talks_With_ Ukraine_Over_Gas/1515820.html
  49. “Янукович в Париже: Мы никогда не откажемся от амбиций стать членом Евросоюза,” [Yanukovych in Paris: We will never turn away from our goal of European Union membership], Korrespondent, October 8, 2010, http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/1124478-yanukovich-v-parizhe-my-nikogda-ne-otkazhemsya-ot-ambicij-statchlenom- evrosoyuza
  50. “Янукович в Париже: Мы никогда не откажемся от амбиций стать членом Евросоюза,” [Yanukovych in Paris: We will never turn away from our goal of European Union membership], http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/1124478-yanukovich-v-parizhe-my-nikogda-ne-otkazhemsya-ot-ambicij-stat-chlenom-evrosoyuza
  51. Kubicek, Paul. 2007. “Ukraine and the European Neighborhood Policy: Can the EU Help the Orange Revolution Bear Fruit?.” East European Quarterly 41, no. 1: 1-23.
  52. Serhy Yekelchyk, Ukraine : Birth of a Modern Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 147
  53. Yekelchyk, 148.
  54. Martin Matishak, “Ukraine Agrees to Eliminate Highly Enriched
  55. «ЗН: Медведев поручил отслеживать контакты Украины с НАТО,” [ZN: Medvedev has ordered to keep tabs on Ukrainian contacts with NATO], Korrespondent, September 3, 2010, http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/1112911-zn-medvedev-poruchil-otslezhivat-kontakty-ukrainy-s-nato
  56. “МИД Украины: Мы хотим, чтобы в Бухаресте поняли, что существующие границы никогда не будут изменены,” [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine: We want Bucharest to understand, that existing borders will never change], Korrespondent, August 19, 2010, http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/1108820-mid-ukrainy-myhotim- chtoby-v-buhareste-ponyali-chto-sushchestvuyushchie-granicy-nikogda-ne-budut-izmeneny
  57. “МИД Украины: Мы хотим, чтобы в Бухаресте поняли, что существующие границы никогда не будут изменены,” [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine: We want Bucharest to understand, that existing borders will never change], http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/1108820-mid-ukrainy-my-hotim-chtoby-v-buharesteponyali- chto-sushchestvuyushchie-granicy-nikogda-ne-budut-izmeneny
  58. Uranium Stock by 2012,” Global Security Newswire, April 13, 2010. http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100413_3511.php

Photos Courtesy of:

  • “Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yanukovych in 2006.jpg.” Wikimedia Commons. Web. 14 Nov. 2010.
  • “Yanukovich.jpg.” Wikimedia Commons. Web. 14 Nov. 2010.

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