Asia-Pacific

Ukraine

Kuchma¡'s New Term

With Leonid Kuchma beginning his second five-year term as president of Ukraine, a battle is raging in his administration between "romantic Westernizers and  [pro-Russian] realistic pragmatists," as Viktor Timoshenko refers to them in Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Kiev, mired in a deep economic depression, has problems with both the West and Russia.

While the Ukrainians are developing ties with NATO---they are discussing the joint use of a military proving ground in Ukraine---Timoshenko asserts that "no one in the West is waiting for Ukraine."

A Ukrainian deputy prime minister reported that out of 200 business projects proposed by Ukrainian entrepreneurs, Western investors have endorsed no more than 10-15 percent of them.

However Kiev's relations develop with the West, Ukraine will continue to be under the shadow of its giant neighbor. The Ukrainians already owe Moscow billions of dollars for oil and gas imports, and in mid-December Russia cut off the supply---ostensibly because the Ukrainians have been stealing and reexporting some of the supplies to Eastern Europe, reports Timoshenko. But he adds that the cutoff is also "a gentle reminder to Kiev that Ukraine's overt pro-Western orientation...will lead to problems in Russian-Ukrainian relations."

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