Ukraine as a ‘Bridge’ Between Russia and European Union

For my essay I’ve chosen the topic: ‘Ukraine as a ‘bridge’ between Russia and EU’. I found it really interesting, especially in current situation, after the Presidential elections. And, of course, the topic is very important to me, as I’m Ukrainian and studying in the country, which belongs to EU.

In this paper it would be considered: reasons of forming of current situation in Ukraine; relationships and perspective of development of them with Russia; relationships and perspective of development of them with EU; current situation after Presidential elections and outcomes of influences it could have on further position of Ukraine on the international arena. From times of Kyiv Russ Ukrainian land was separated on two parts: eastern and western. Of course, boarders were changing all the time, because of wars that were forming nowadays political map. Eastern part belonged to Moscow State (Russia) and Western to Rzeczpospolita (Poland).

Therefore, traditions of Ukrainians were forming under different conditions. We can say that this is a base for nowadays situation and will have a great impact on further development of the country. Consequently, one of the most important features of Ukraine, that became a fundamental is heterogeneity of each region, which appeared in cultural entity, its traditions and has a high influence on relationships between those regions, so main division in country could be highlighted for ‘East’ and ‘West’. Those two parts are almost equal in their sizes and power.

Main distinction consists in different degrees of Russification and dissimilar points of view on future of Ukraine in economical, political and religious directions. When Ukraine was a part of Soviet Union, there was a totalitarian control, which didn’t allow those differences to appear, but the formation of an independent Ukraine in 1991 made it possible. Conclusion of these points could be seen: Western part is for national development and moving in direction to EU (in other words pro-European) and Eastern part will remain the same – moving in direction of Russia (or in other words pro-Russian).

1 Ukraine and Russia After achieving independency in 1991 Ukraine stepped on its own way. So first of all changes in political life should have been appeared. Leonid Kravchuk was the first President, mainly elected by ‘East’, the nationalistic part ‘West’ was voting for other candidate, but appeared in minority. However, with further development of political carrier Kravchuk reoriented on west, so he became pro-European. Although Ukraine got independency, it was still ‘looking’ in the direction of Russia and situation with nationalism was remaining the same.

On the next elections it happened, that representative of eastern ideology won again, it was Leonid Kuchma. He succeeded to stay the President for the second time, as made slight changes in his political views to satisfy people from western part. However he still was considered pro-Russian. In 2004 Kuchma failed to transfer his power to his successor Victor Yanukovich (again strongly pro-Russian candidate). The reason of that was famous ‘Orange revolution’. On the first tour of President Elections Victor Yanukovich defeated his main opponent Victor Jushenko (pro-European candidate).

But people of Ukraine found these results unjustifiable and were trying to insist on reelections. The problem was that in passive way things couldn’t be done, so people went on the streets, trying to fight for their rights, for democracy (and again it was a fight pro-European vs. pro-Russian). ‘Orange revolution’ was peaceful, but influential, ‘West’ got what it wanted – reelections of president with winning of Victor Jushenko as a result. Nevertheless, it didn’t bring stable development of Ukraine, as Jushenko was a good economist, but not a good manager of a country.

He wasn’t able to bring all his ideas to life to make a strong and independent Ukraine, independent not only on paper, but in full meaning of the word. His democracy appeared to be too weak to fight with corruption and other factors which were destabilizing situation in Ukraine. He also failed in choosing right internal and external politic. Also, the victory of ‘Orange revolution’ didn’t change anything and all separations between regions left, so we can say that Ukrainian people didn’t get what they wanted.

Sooner or later, Ukraine will have to switch to the model of single leader, as it happens in other democratic countries. We should forget about dividing ourselves on two parts, but this could come only with time, step by step. When talking about Russia and Ukraine, few main conflicts in these relationships could be seen, among them: withdrawal of Chernomor Fleet, Gas problem, and integration of Ukraine to EU and NATO. First of all, as a consequence of collapse of Soviet Union, Ukraine appeared to be not in convenient situation, as it was dependent on Russia’s gas and main pipes were going trough Ukraine.

Of course, firstly it was very convenient, as deals with Russia were not that expensive and Ukrainian economy wasn’t that separate from Russia’s. But first conflicts were appearing in few years already, like a trial to change agreement. ‘Orange revolution’ changed everything upside down. For Russia it was a threat, because Ukraine was trying to act on its own with opening hand to Europe. And for Russia it was losing something that it owned and that mentally belonged to it. First conflict took place in 2005-2006, after negotiations conflict was resolved, however the problem didn’t disappear.

Second conflict took place in end of 2008 beginning 2009, when Ukraine got a debt more than 2 billions of dollars and was able to pay only 1 billion and from January supply of gas to Ukraine stopped. This event influenced Europe; the pressure of the gas in pipes became lower. This conflict showed dependency of EU countries of Russian gas, so new projects of providing gas channels are now being rewieved. 2 The deal made on 2009 by Russian and Ukrainian Premiers was really important one, and gave a chance to reduce the conflict and highlight main points of further development of trading relationships.

Therefore, in future two countries are going to reduce any possibility for appearing the next one. It should work, as Russia doesn’t want to become an unreliable supplier for EU, especially in the middle of economic crisis. When it gas supply was cut, there aroused doubts about real reasons of such an event, so further ‘gas wars’ can bring more disagreements in international relations. ‘The EU is currently importing Russian gas through pipelines of about 120 bcm a year, covering about 25 % of its total gas consumption of 480 bcm and it represents about 80 % of total Russian gas exports.

Of these exports about 80% is moving through the Ukraine. The Ukrainian market is with an annual consumption of about 65 bcm one of the largest “European” gas markets and due to its falling domestic production (19 bcm in 2007) increasingly dependent on imports from or via Russia. ’ 3 For EU the only answer for this could be looking for other suppliers, what they are trying to do; also renegotiations with Russia are done. Second problem and a big issue is withdrawal of Chernomor Fleet from Ukraine.

As it is stated in Ukrainian Constitution, not other military forces apart from Ukrainian could be present on the territory of Ukraine. Before the Presidential elections this year, there was a question to make it before 2017, however right now situation has changed. Victor Yanukovich, our elected President, signed an agreement that let the Chernomor fleet stay in Ukraine till 2042. I can say that such an event has the only meaning: it will never be withdrawn. Moreover, in Ukrainian political games it is always about being better in ‘pulling ropes’.

It wouldn’t be that important, if there had been no question about integration to NATO, as the main condition to step in is having only own military forces in country. Therefore, I can say that Russia is more than happy with the direction Ukraine now is taking. Ukraine and European Union One of the most important topics discussed in Ukraine is the integration to EU, willingness of both sides and possibilities to do it. After tenth summit ‘Ukraine-EU’ which took place on October27, 2006 in Helsinki, there appeared directions of possible formation of further negotiations.

The European Union and Ukraine agreed on the crucial importance of political and economic reforms in Ukraine and about the need to complete the process of Ukraine’s accession to the WTO, which would ensure the development and strengthening trade and economic relations with the EU. The parties agreed on a common comprehensive and broad approach to the new enhanced agreement between EU and Ukraine, including an extensive free trade zone as an important element of this agreement. Both sides expect the launch of formal negotiations in early 2007.

Parties also welcomed progress made in reforms in all areas covered by the Action Plan EU-Ukraine, and agreed that the need to continue implementing the Action Plan. ’ 4 However, on the next summit, that took place in December 2009 in Kiev, main representative of EU Katrin Ashton haven’t appeared. She was too busy to discuss a question of readiness of Ukraine to step in EU. It was obvious that the attitude to Ukraine was not overcowered with expectations. It also showed the unwillingness of EU to cooperate.

However, now the issues have changed. After the Presedential elections the discussion has been renewed and relationship between Ukraine and EU is stabilizing. Main problem is readiness of Ukrainian economy to merge with EU’s. Our country is still not ready to respect to all requirements needed to integrate to EU. Therefore, question stays open, as far as Ukraine will be able to prove its preparedness, it will get a chance. Additionally, Ukraine has renegotiated with IMF and will work on brining the economy to a ‘working condition’.

When talking about integration to NATO, there could appear even more confusions. First of all, this will mean that NATO and Russian forces would not have boarders. Ukraine showed unwillingness to join NATO by previous decision with Chernomor fleet, so it is hard to predict how these relations will develop in future. Main goal will remain the same: joining the EU, however, without joining NATO, as Ukrainian politicians claim, that military control is not the main basics required for stepping in European Union and hat there are some examples that can prove it.

5 ‘It is expected that on 26 January during a meeting of the Military Committee of Ukraine – NATO and the NATO Military Committee in the format of Euro-Atlantic Partnership will discuss the main approaches and measures to guide MAT on implementing the State program of development for 2006 – 2011 taking into account the impact of the economic situation in the country, and the question of training and certification of certain capabilities of the APU in order to attract them to the NATO Response Force. ’ 6 Nevertheless, question with acceptance of Ukraine in NATO haven’t dealt yet.

The committee is divided on 3 parts: one is for integration of Ukraine, one stays neutral, and one is strongly against (as they want to save peaceful relations with Russia). So alternatives are being searched. ‘NATO invited Ukraine to participate in the new format of the alliance. By 2015, Kiev will join the NATO Response Force. In an alliance made it clear that Ukraine will become the first country – not a NATO member participating in this unit. ’ 7 Still, I believe that Ukraine should find ways of self-development and not only be dependent on bigger alliances.

Current situation On the 17 of December 2010 new Presidential in Ukraine took place. After the second tour Victor Yanukovich became the 4th President of Ukraine. From this point Ukraine started moving in the direction with his political views. The first thing for Victor Yanukovich to do was going to Brussels on conference about Ukraine-EU relationships. Both parties are very optimistic about further negotiations and work together. Our President made a statement that economically powerful Ukraine is useful for both: EU and Russia.

Therefore, we can say that Ukraine will become not a ‘barrier’ between EU and Russia, but ‘bridge’. Overly, the country is going to fight the outcomes of the crisis and make a strong and competitive economy in democratic environment. There is also a high possibility of appearing of non-visas regulation between Ukraine and European Union, although this question is still under discussion and will depend on readiness of two parties to cooperate. On the political scene Victor Yanukovich plays a role of the President that will go in both directions at the same time.

On the other hand, Ukrainian businesses are having really hard times. Almost all companies beginning from big (like Gasprom) to smaller ones are being bought by Russian oligarchs for low prices. Moreover, government is fulfilling the budget from ‘the pockets’ of those businesses, it is made through the ‘free-will’. There is a possibility that Ukrainian economy could recover soon, but with such methods the unemployment and collapse of small businesses will go to the highest rate; and then the other question will appear: for whom all the improvements were done.

To sum up, I can say that today both EU and Russia are happy with the direction which in Ukraine goes. I think that if Yanukovich would bring to reality his main ideas: joining the EU, and fix the relationships with Russia; Ukraine will have a big chance to become a stronger country. However, there is still a big threat about his inside politics; therefore right now it is difficult to say what will happen with our so ‘young’ and ‘immature’ country in the nearest future. References: 1. Catherine Furman, ‘Split in Ukrainian: attack or a benefit?

’, “Untouchable reserve” 2007, № 6 (56), Designing modern, visited on 10 May 2010 http://magazines. russ. ru/nz/2007/6/fu14-pr. html 2. ‘Chronicles of gas wars. First Round’, CARTOON OF THE DAY, 21. 04. 06/17:40 http://www. newsukraine. com. ua/news/2906/ 3. ‘Russian and the EU: a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea? ’ January 23rd, 2009 by Jacques de Jong, Clingendael International Energy Programme, http://www. energypolicyblog. com/2009/01/23/russian-and-the-eu-a-choice-between-the-devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea/ 4. ‘EU-Ukraine’, Helsinki, 27 October 2006 http://soderkoping.

org. ua/page10929. html 5. ‘Yanukovich has a course on West’, 02. 03. 2010 07:55 http://news. liga. net/articles/NA100079. html 6. ‘Chief of Staff Armed Forces of Ukraine will take part in meetings of the Military Committee of Ukraine – NATO 26-27 January 2010’, RBC-Ukraine, 25. 01. 2010, Kiev, 10:01 http://www. rbc. ua/rus/newsline/show/nachalnik_genshtaba_vsu_primet_uchastie_v _zasedaniyah_voenno go_komiteta_ukraina_nato_26_27_yanvarya_2010_g_25012010 7. Xenia Solyanskaya, ‘Ukraine and NATO to react’ 20. 01. 10 21:35 http://www. gazeta.

ru/politics/2010/01/20_a_3314117. shtml 8. ‘The EU had underestimated the extent of the gas conflict’, German press, 17/01/2009 http://www. dw-world. de/dw/article/0,,3952975,00. html 9. ‘Ukraine wants to join EU without joining NATO’ 14:37 21/05/2010 http://www. rian. ru/world/20100521/236916670. html 10. ‘Ukraine-EU’, visited on 23 May, 2010 http://www. day. kiev. ua/289255 11. ‘Catherine Ashton: Ukraine Association Agreement with the EU could be signed this year’, Korrespondent on-line magazine, 15 May, 2010 http://korrespondent. net/ukraine/politics/1076438