Saturday, January 08, 2005

Liberalization or retrenchment?

A Georgia Messenger article (no link yet) makes the following point:

The failure of the pro-Russian Ukrainian presidential candidate Yanukovich and his forces has dealt a serious blow to Russia and its position in post Soviet space. Several analysts now predict that the Ukrainian example could prove significant for neighboring Moldova and Belarus. The leaders of the Central Asian republics are also seriously concerned. The Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote that "the events in Georgia and especially Ukraine have caused the leadership of these countries to lose their fearful respect of Moscow. It makes no difference to these countries why Russia lost - due to a lack of wise strategy or to poor political
technologies."

I had thought relations between Russia and these countries were based more on economic interests rather than on power politics. But if this is right and it has been based more on a fear of the Russian bear, the question then becomes what this means. If it has lost influence or even power over these regions, does it mean that there will be further retrenchment by the Kremlin because of their hysteria and paranoia?

I think that is what it means.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that the relationship bet. Ukr and Rus has been based on power politics - unequal basis with Russia in the lead. The big effect of the Orange Rev. for me, is that the est. power dynamic is being jeopardized, with the scale moving towards a more even basis - closer to equals/partners. I don't believe that situation in Ukraine is analogous to the one in Georgia.

And yes, I do believe that there will be further retrenchment by Kremlin. “I really hope that once the election process in Ukraine is completed, the place of campaign rhetoric will be occupied by pragmatic views in the interests of economic development and improvement of the people’s living standards,” Putin said. Putin's first comments after meeting with Lytvyn. No congrats, no approval, but what sounds to me, as an insult to Yush in calling his speeches "campaign rhetoric".

Dave in L.A. said...

Let the Kremlin deal with their own paranoia. Ukraine, Georgia and the other "near abroad" states have ample reasons to establish strong relationships with Russia, to the extent they're based on mutual advantage. When I read through the hype, I don't see Yushchenko as being anti-Russian (although Putin has given him a few good reasons if he were so inclined).

Putin's commercial hold on your country and others is through the oligarchs, and their mutual back-scratching. He's proven he intends to control the Russian crowd, and would have used the Yukos situation to consolidate the energy sector under his control no matter who won the election in Ukraine. Russia's leadership finds dealing with democracies unnecessarily messy, but some things aren't supposed to be easy.

If Yushchenko intends to break the backs of your own kleptocracy, it will mean that Ukraine's relationship with Russia can move forward to serve both of your national interests. Let's hope he's a bigger man than Putin has turned out to be.