Russian President Vladimir Putin is shifting tactics toward Ukraine. Following the "gas attack" designed to produce regime change in Ukraine at the upcoming parliamentary elections, Putin is now apparently moving to reach an understanding with the severely weakened President Viktor Yushchenko. The January 4 signing of the gas agreement presaged this tactical shift, and the two presidents' meeting on January 11 brings it into the open.
In essence, Putin now offers to rescue a crisis-plagued Yushchenko presidency, on the apparent calculation that the president can be induced to countenance a return to a dual-vector orientation of Ukraine in the post-election period. Apparently, Moscow anticipates an uneasy coexistence of weak pro-presidential groups and relatively strong Russia-oriented forces in
Ukraine's post-election government.
I don't know what a "dual-vector orientation" would look like, but, if true, this would be a reversal of policy by the Kremlin. They want to shore up Yuschenko now? Why? They might get a Yanukovych in March. He talks about being the one to bring Ukraine back to Russia. Why wouldn't the Kremlin want to make sure he is the man in power here?
One thing is certain, though, the meetings between Putin and Yuschenko would have the results the article suggests. The very odd thing about Russian approaches to Ukraine after the Orange Revolution is that Russian businesses benefit from reform here and that reform has come from Yuschenko. And it is more likely to continue with Yuschenko than it is with the crony capitalism of Yankovych and Akhmetov. Maybe the Kremlin and Putin have finally recognized this.
Could it be that some sense has crept into the Kremlin? Considering what has gone on to date in Russia's dealings with Ukraine, if it has, it must have come in unawares.