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article imageOp-Ed: Ukraine heading for trouble amid Western-Russian rivalry

By Abdul Kuddus     Dec 21, 2013 in World
Kiev - Diplomatic wrangles, massive protests in Ukraine, prospects of a European-Union alliance amid threats and inducement by Moscow have turned Ukraine into a political hot potato in the post cold-war era.
Ukraine, which won independence after the collapse of the Soviet in 1991, is the region’s most populous and influential country with close ties to Russia. It is for obvious reasons Russia seeks Ukraine’s support to fortify its economic and security interests.
At the same time, the West is also bickering to tilt Ukraine’s economy by reorienting it toward the European Union, which promises a flourishing economy and more personal freedom for Ukrainians.
Meanwhile the offer of financial support and gas subsidies to a cash-strapped Ukraine highlighted Moscow’s strategic policy moves to re-establish Russia’s influence against Western dominance of world affairs.
On the other hand, the ongoing demonstrations in Ukrainian cities by pro-Europe protesters apparently boosts Europe’s credibility, showing that a large section of Ukrainians support a closer relationship with the EU.
Despite Ukraine’s decision not the sign the deal, the EU is still hopeful that it will succeed in weaning the former Soviet republic to its side, according to reports.
According to political scientist Leonid Peisakhin, the massive protests in Ukrainian cities “can hardly be interpreted as evidence of overwhelming support for European integration,” he wrote in the Washington Post.
“On average, the pro-European direction is a little more popular. What is especially striking is that there are very large regional differences in pro-European and pro-Russian support,” Peisakhin added.
Peisakhin considers the Ukrainian situation “at best an inadequate caricature of political dynamics, and at worst a dangerous misconception that can only harm Ukraine in the long term by delaying a much-needed national dialogue about Ukraine’s political, economic and cultural aspirations.”
Amid the tussle between greater powers of the East and the West, Ukraine continues to grapple with acute financial crisis. To add to the dilemma, Ukraine’s President Yanukovich seems diffident to shed ties with Russia and declare a unilateral allegiance to the European Union.
While the recent economic freebies Russia temporarily ease some of the Ukraine’s financial woes, experts believe that the rescue plan carries long-term economic and political risks.
According to the New York Times, “Experts say that unless Ukraine carries out overhauls, including increases in household utility rates, limits on government spending and pension increases, and improvements in the business climate, the country’s economic problems will continue, raising the likelihood that the aid will be wasted.”
For now, Ukraine is bitterly divided on a host of issues including foreign policy preferences and ways to manage the national economy.
Further the prevailing domestic protests amid Western-Russian rivalry are ominous signs for Ukraine. Is Ukraine heading toward a violent confrontation? Anything can happen.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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