Vienna, February 22 – Moscow has demanded that incoming Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich among other things end Kyiv’s contacts with the CIA and allow the FSB to return to Crimea, part of a more general effort by Russia to exploit the election outcome in Ukraine and an indication of what will be at stake there in the coming months.
In an article in today’s issue of “Vlast’,” journalist Vladimir Solovyev, drawing on both Russian and Ukrainian diplomatic sources, describes Moscow’s pleasure at the election of Yanukovich and its expectations that he will reverse many of the “orange” policies of his predecessor Viktor Yushchenko (www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1323691).
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Solovyev notes, has not been able to hide his delight that Yushchenko will soon be out of office and that the “orange” revolution which brought him to office in 2005 will now be overcome, bringing Ukraine back into Moscow’s orbit.
Last week, when Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Moscow, Putin said that he well “remembers 2005 and those quasi-revolutionary events which took place in Ukraine. Then, the leaders of this ‘color revolution’ used the dissatisfaction of people and their expectations for change.” Now, however, Ukrainians have recognized that they were “deceived.”
An anonymous Russian foreign ministry source told the “Vlast’” journalist that Moscow was pleased “not so much by the victory of Yanukovich than by the defeat of Yushchenko” and by the ways in which this change represented a defeat of the American policy of “promoting ‘orange revolutions’ and democratic ideals.”
“For us,” a Kremlin source said, “the main thing is that Yushchenko will no longer be ruling in Ukraine.” But unlike his foreign ministry counterpart, the Kremlin source indicated that Moscow was prepared to work with Timoshenko but feels that “it will be easier to resolve certain questions, such as the presence of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea” with Yanukovich.
For Moscow, “Vlast’” continues, “the five year administration of Yushchenko is recalled in Moscow as a terrible dream,” and the paper says that “Russian diplomats are joking that February 7th (the date of the second round of elections in Ukraine) should be made a red letter day like May 9th.”
That is because, one Russian diplomat told the paper, “the last five years became a test. We struggled in order not to allow Ukraine to enter NATO and to preserve our fleet there. [And] not without difficulty, we saved the canonical unity of the Orthodox Church,” by means of a complex “special operation.”
Last week, Solovyev continues, “Putin outlined Moscow’s expectations from the new Ukrainian powers that be: ‘We would like to hope that the difficult period in the life of the fraternal to all of us Ukrainian people is behind and that it will be possible to develop normal inter-government relations, to build plans in economics and strengthen social cooperation.”
Moscow has already delivered its list of what it expects from Ukraine, the “Vlast’” journalist says. On February 13, Sergey Naryshkin, the head of the Russian Presidential Administration, spent “about six hours together with Yanukovich” during which the Kremlin official outlined Moscow’s requirements for better relations.
According to a Ukrainian diplomatic source, Solovyev continues, Moscow has prepared “a whole list of concrete steps which the new powers that be in Kyiv could undertake as a sign of the renewal of the former friendship between the fraternal peoples.” Moscow “would like,” the source continued, to see Ukraine’s security services drop its relations with the American CIA.
In addition, Moscow would like to “renew the work of the Russian FSB office in the Black Sea Fleet, the officers of which [Yushchenko] had required to quit Crimea at the end of last year.” And it has indicated that Moscow “expects” Yanukovich to “end any military cooperation with Georgia, a link that had flourished under his predecessor.
“All these questions in principle are in the competence of the president,” the Ukrainian source said, and consequently positive actions on them can become “gestures of good will by the new powers that be of Ukraine on the path to the full restoration of relations” between Kyiv and Moscow.
Naryshkin’s visit is the first sign Russia wants to restore high-level ties. And some in Kyiv expect President Dmitry Medvedev to come to Yanukovich’s inauguration on February 25th to show that relations have resumed in that way. And he noted that some will remember that Medvedev was responsible for Ukrainian affairs at the time of “the orange revolution.”
Meanwhile in another Moscow comment on the shift in Ukraine, Avtandil Tsuladze in today’s “Yezhednevny zhurnal” writes that “even for people who are not professionally interested in politics, it is obvious that the US had surrendered Ukraine to Putin’s Russia in order to solve more immediate tasks – “sanctions against Iran and help for NATO in the Afghan war.”
But Tsuladze says, it is clear that the Americans are not going to get what they want either on those issues because “Russian ‘hawks’ consider the US to be their chief enemy,” and “their logic is simple: the worse things are for the United States, the better it will be for them (www.ej.ru/?a=note&id=9900).
Meanwhile, in another indication of the reordering of the Eurasian geopolitical space, the Russian state statistics committee has now shifted Georgia from the “near abroad” category to the “far abroad,” putting it outside of the area that Moscow has made clear it considers to be its immediate sphere of influence (www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1326396).