From the Jamestown Foundation: Support for closer relations with NATO has become an internal political liability in Ukraine. Among the potential candidates in the January 2010 presidential election, Yushchenko -with a popularity rating in the low single-digits- no longer has anything to lose; Tymoshenko has everything at stake; Yanukovych and his party are on record against a NATO membership track; and Yatseniuk has been removed from the parliament’s chair, in part for having co-signed last year with Yushchenko and Tymoshenko the application letter for a Ukrainian Membership Action Plan (MAP) with NATO.
Shortly before Biden’s visit, the United States and more than a dozen NATO member countries had to cancel the U.S.-led Sea Breeze-2009 exercise in Ukraine. The Verkhovna Rada declined to grant the necessary authorization for the participating troops’ entry to Ukrainian territory (EDM, June 23). Awaiting the presidential election, and with a defense ministry lacking a minister and other top officials, there seems to be no movement on Ukraine’s Annual National Plan, the substitute for MAP. Any real progress in Ukraine-NATO relations will be contingent on the presidential election’s outcome. Unlike the previous election in 2004, Russia and the United States do not seem to support any particular candidates in the upcoming election.