Adrian Karatnycky’s analysis of Ukraine’s presidential run-off election ends on a positive note. He concludes:
"…the signals emanating from Mr. Yanukovych’s closest aides, as well as key leaders from the Our Ukraine coalition with whom I met last week in Kyiv, suggest the new president and the government he will try to bring into office will likely represent a broad-based mix of longtime Regions party officials, and competent financial and economic technocrats and market reformers-including some from the former Yushchenko team. … The odds of a broad-based coalition are reinforced by the modesty of Mr. Yanukovych’s victory, clear-cut though it was. All this means that, should the political coalition under discussion take root, Ukraine will at last achieve an interval of political stability and economic policy consensus."
At present, Ukraine’s dreams of joining the Euro-Atlantic community as a full and integrated member are remote at best. This has nothing to do with any machinations of the Kremlin (although Moscow surely is not displeased at the outcome). With the economic crisis in Greece the latest reminder that all is not well in the European Union, there is little appetite for bringing in yet another eastern European state that would be a net recipient of increasingly scarce Union economic aid, rather than being a contributor of euros into the common coffer. A NATO alliance which is already being stressed over the mission in Afghanistan is in no position to contemplate taking on additional security liabilities. As both Yuliya Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovych have recognized, there is no cavalry riding in from the West to secure Ukraine.
Nor is it to the benefit of the Ukrainian people to hear from Western pundits about their country’s "choice" in the last elections to "turn its back" on Europe and the West. Joining the West was not on offer, and Ukraine was not well served by those who advised it to take a more confrontational stand with Russia.
Ukraine needs a period of peace and quiet where its economy can recover and grow. The only chance Kyiv has for making the case that its future lies in Europe is to show that Ukraine would not be a net consumer of increasingly scare economic and security resources. It is not just a matter of breaking through the German-Russian partnership to convince a skeptical leadership in Berlin, it is also convincing states like Spain, Portugal, and Italy that further expansion to the east benefits the countries that comprise the southern tier of Europe. For this to happen, "Ukraine" and "crisis" have to become words increasingly separated in the minds of existing EU and NATO member states. A Yanukovych pause might just be what Ukraine’s European future needs.
Nikolas K. Gvosdev [email], an Atlantic Council contributing editor, is on the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect those of the Navy or the U.S. government.
Ukraine Presidential Election 2010 Blog Series:
- Ukraine Elections: Let’s Not Get Carried Away – Nikolas Gvosdev
- Re-Introducing Viktor Yanukovych – Adrian Karatnycky
- EU Energy Security May Depend on Ukraine Election Runoff – Alexandros Petersen
- Ukraine Election: A Yushchenko Post-Mortem – Adrian Karatnycky
- Ukraine Presidential Results: Calling it Right – Adrian Karatnycky
- Yanukovych Comes Out On Top, But Tymoshenko Has Momentum – Damon Wilson
- Ukraine Election Day: First Thoughts – Adrian Karatnycky
- A Glass Half Full: Contemplating a Yanukovych Presidency – Nikolas Gvosdev
- Ukraine’s Anti-Orange Election – Alexander J. Motyl
- Ukraine Election Backgrounder – Adrian Karatnycky