Ukraine, off the Reservation
What we are witnessing these days in Ukraine is truly one of the most astounding developments in the modern history of the region.
When Victor Yanukovich was elected president of Ukraine in February 2010 over rival Yulia Tymoshenko, many Russophiles may have thought it was a big win for Russia. But recent events indicate it may become one of Russia’s biggest nightmares.
On the surface, Yanukovich’s sensational arrest and prosecution of Tymoshenko following his election may have seemed like an aggressive move to silence a tough critic of the Moscow Kremlin. Looking deeper, however, it’s anything but that.
That’s because Tymoshenko has been accused of rigging a gas deal with Russia in 2009 to harm Ukrainian interests (no evidence or charges of personal corruption whatsoever have been leveled against her). And the key words here are with Russia. That means that, in effect, Yanukovich has indicted Russia. And the Kremlin understands this. That’s why the Russian foreign ministry has publicly condemned the trial, announcing that the 2009 deal was completely legal and warning that Tymoshenko’s rights were being violated.
Moreover, as we reported last month, the Yanukovich regime is pressing forward aggressively on a free trade deal with Europe, exactly the same policy that was being embraced by his predecessor Victor Yushchenko, who was reviled by Russia. Yanukovich has also told Russia to bugger off in regad to its invitation to join the Customs Union that binds Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. It is, in effect, choosing Europe over Russia.
Russians seem genetically unable to perceive the impression they make on other countries. While complaining about American high-handedness, Russians come off exactly that way when they deal with smaller countries like Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia. Their hypocrisy is truly breathtaking. They complain about American unilateralism when dealing with the much larger and more powerful United States, but when Russia stands in that position it behaves in precisely the same manner.
The result is that Russia stands alone. Not one major nation of the world can truly be considered Russia’s friend or ally, and Russia is hardly strong enough to go it in the world alone. Even when it seems that some foreign country is moving towards Russia, this ultimately proves to be an illusion because there is no nation stupid enough to be fooled by Russia now. The entire world can see that Russians are not interested in the welfare of any other nation, that they only want to exploit and abuse their neighbors for their own gain.
Even Ukraine can see it. Even a supposed Russophile like Yanukovich is panicked by Russia’s naked greed and aggression, and therefore hedges his bets against Russia to protect his nation’s future.