Saturday, April 24, 2010

The end of the "Orange revolution" and is the tide turning?

Viktor Yanukovych's, agreement with Moscow which allows the Russian fleet to extend its stay in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol for another 25 years after the present lease expires in 2017, might be viewed by some as compromising the Ukraine's sovereignty. Most certainly, it does steer the Ukraine back into Russia's orbit. Nevertheless, because of the benefits that it brings to both parties surely this is a natural development. In return Yanukovych has been given massive discounts for natural gas. Natural gas which, of course, also flows in pipes through the Ukraine to Western Europe. Indeed, this can be a win-win situation for both parties concerned.

Moreover, while Washington might be motivating the former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, to take a stance against this supposedly further erosion of Ukrainian sovereignty, the reality is that the developments since the 14th february, when the Ukraine's electoral commission declared Victor Yanukovych the winner of the presidential run-off signal the death knell for the much touted "Orange revolution". More importantly, however, coming after Moscow's swift and crushing reaction to Mikail Saakashvili's adventurism in South Ossetia in August 2008, it represents a very real challenge to Washington's plans for full spectrum dominance. Most certainly, the events in the Ukraine, South Ossetia and Kyrgyzstan are all indicative of Moscow, after years of NATO encirclement and encroachment, not only saying "no more" but also reasserting its own influence in the area.

Furthermore, while there are those who will see this as an attempt by the Russian bear to undermine the sovereignty of its neighbours, we might argue that it is natural for Moscow to develop close ties with those countries, which don't only border it but indeed are strategically crucial if it is to act independently at all in the geopolitical "great game", which is being played out. Naturally, we might also argue that this de facto implies hegemony by Russia in a region where there is a natural antipathy towards domination from Moscow. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to undermine the common interests that exist in the region as a whole and it just might be that agreements such as those made by the Ukraine and Russia could be used to redifine the nature of cooperation in the region. Despite those suspicions, which are bound to exist, this can, as has been stated in the first paragraph, be a win-win situation for all the parties concerned. Furthermore, while the planners and Washington might not like it, the foreign body in Central Asia is not Russia and it might just be that the developments in the Ukraine and elsewhere are indicative of at least a tacit acceptance of that.

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