And for a time a real shift in Ukraine's geopolitical orientation eastwards did appear to be under way.
Yanukovych extended the Crimean lease for the Russian Black Sea fleet to 2042 and heavily promoted the Russian language in Ukraine.
However, over the past year or so it has become clear that the government in Kiev is taking the first credible steps to undermine the principal Russian lever on the Ukrainian economy, gas dependency.
The reason for decisive action from Kiev is Russia's repeated attempts to weaken Ukraine's energy security severely.
Russia's Gazprom and its allies have already built Nordstream 1 and 2, which will permit the movement of 55 billion cubic metres (bcm), via the Baltic Sea, circumventing Ukraine.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has now announced his intention to build Nordstream 3 and 4, which would increase Baltic Sea transit capacity to 110 bcm by 2018.
Gazprom also looks like it may well go ahead with Southstream, which would provide a further 63 bcm of capacity.
The danger for Ukraine is that Russia will send no gas via Ukraine, depriving Ukraine of revenue – and also of leverage in negotiations with Moscow over gas prices.
Ukraine is already being squeezed by Gazprom's pricing strategy.
In 2012, Ukraine consumed approximately 25 bcm of Russian gas at a price $430 per thousand cubic metres (mcm).
By contrast, much richer Germany paid only $379 mcm.
And if $430 mcm was the sort of deal Kiev could get from Moscow when it had some transit leverage, what would the price to be paid when transit leverage disappeared?
The threat posed to the Ukrainian economy – and, indeed, to national independence – appears to have galvanised Kiev into developing a credible energy-security strategy.
The initial stage of this plan is to take advantage of falling EU gas demand and Union rules on energy liberalisation and interconnection to seek reverse-flow gas supplies.
Ukraine approached gas companies from Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania for supplies.
Their gas comes principally from Russia, at contract prices below the price that Ukraine pays Russia.
By this May, Ukraine had already received 5 bcm of re-directed Russian gas.
Next year, it plans to increase reverse-flow supplies to between 8 bcm and 10 bcm.
A second stage of the plan is to switch to coal from gas.
The government hopes by 2015 to have reduced demand for gas by 3 bcm.
The third stage is a major energy-efficiency drive.
This is focusing on the large-scale failures within the national infrastructure.
For instance, the pumping stations that move the gas around the Ukrainian network had a leakage rate of 37% in 2012.
A key part of the plan is to diversify supply by adding liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the supply mix.
The first step is for Ukraine to rent a floating re-gasification station off the coast of Odessa.
LNG tankers would dock at the station and, once transformed from liquid back to gas, it is pumped ashore.
Ukraine has entered an agreement with Excelerate Energy to rent a re-gasification station for a reported $60 million per year.
The station should be ready to receive 5 bcm per year by 2014.
This first stage would be followed by the construction of a fixed terminal, which should be in place around 2018.
This would provide a further 5 bcm of capacity.
These four steps – reverse-flow deals, the switch from gas to coal, greater energy efficiency, and LNG supplies – have the potential to transform Ukraine's energy security and perceptions of Ukrainian independence.
It is ironic that Russian attempts to undermine Ukrainian independence by increasing the country's gas dependence could actually turn out to have had the opposite effect.
Source: European Voice