Voices from Russia

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Each Ukrainian leader is playing their own Russia card

Filed under: politics,Russian,the Ukraine,Viktor Yushchenko,Vladimir Putin — 01varvara @ 00.00

Yuliya Timoshenko (1960- ), Ukrainian politician and prime minister

The president and prime minister of the Ukraine are promoting competitive energy strategies to develop their country. Viktor Yushchenko suggested a gas transport OPEC to deal with the transportation of energy bypassing Russia. Yuliya Timoshenko, on the other hand, plans to settle the gas dispute with Russia by promising Moscow to extend the agreement over the base for the Black Sea Fleet and stalling Ukraine’s NATO membership. As the Ukrainian president developed the idea, the Ukraine’s role in a gas transport OPEC working in the EU’s interest will make his country closer to the EU and improve Kiev’s standing in gas conflicts with Moscow. So, he argues, the president could pose as the author of a strategy guaranteeing a European future for Ukraine, and score points in the fight against Yuliya Timoshenko, who is also seeking to become the new head of state in 2009.

The “orange princess” is planning a counter-game in which the theme of Russian gas is the key. On Friday, while Yushchenko talked about a gas transportation OPEC at a summit in Kiev, the prime minister went to a CIS head of government meeting in Minsk and held talks with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, during which the sides agreed to drop intermediaries from their gas relationship and conclude contracts directly between Naftogaz and Gazprom. In Minsk, however, the Russian and Ukrainian heads of government discussed a wider range of issues. A source close to the Ukrainian prime minister reported that Ms Timoshenko promised not to expedite the country’s NATO membership, extend the deal on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet beyond 2017, and allow Gazprom to run Ukrainian gas transport assets. In exchange, she asked Russia to support her candidacy in a 2009 presidential election, and keep gas prices for Ukraine relatively low. A source said the sides had agreed to “move in that direction”.

It is not, however, a fact that the Kremlin is prepared to bet on the “orange princess”. “To trust Yuliya Timoshenko is the last thing that we should be doing”, said a source in the Russian presidential administration. Vasili Kiselyov, a deputy of Ukraine’s Supreme Rada (parliament), agreed. “Yuliya Timoshenko could offer Russia anything, including political preferences. It is a different matter that Timoshenko has ample experience of pulling out of such unorthodox situations. At the right time, she will find a way not to honour her promises while at the same time keeping low gas prices for a time”.

26 May 2008


As quoted in RIA-Novosti



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