Russia Digs Deep In Battle For Ukraine Supremacy

MOSCOW, Russia -- It was, admitted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, an exorbitant sum – $40 billion to keep a Russian naval base in Ukraine until almost the middle of the century.

Vladimir Putin has plenty to smile about when it comes to his influence over Ukraine.

“But for us, this is not just a question of money,” Putin said.

For Moscow, the bitterly-contested deal with Ukraine to keep the Russian Black Sea Fleet base in Crimea until at least 2042 goes beyond money and to the heart of Moscow’s struggle to regain a historic influence in its neighbor.

The rancor was underlined Tuesday when pro-Western opposition Ukrainian lawmakers staged an unprecedented protest against the deal, letting off smoke bombs and hurling a broadside of eggs at the speaker of Parliament.

“Any kind of practical foreign policy is always expensive,” Mikhail Margelov, head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russia’s Parliament, wrote in the Kommersant daily.

“Especially if Moscow has the intention of being the leader in the post-Soviet region.” Russia controlled the majority of present-day Ukraine under the Tsars and maintained its hegemony as the territory was ruled from Moscow in the Soviet Union.

Ukrainian independence in 1991 amid the implosion of the Soviet Union marked a break in centuries of Russian-led control over Ukraine, a land wedged between East and West, poor in energy resources but rich in fertile soil.

After over a decade of carefully keeping an intimate relationship with Moscow, Ukraine’s government swung dramatically to the West with the 2004 Orange Revolution that ousted the old pro-Russian elite.

The uprising is still regarded by many as Putin’s most stinging defeat in his decade-long domination of post-Soviet politics.

But the pendulum swung back with the victory of pro-Kremlin candidate Viktor Yanukovych in this year’s presidential elections, an opportunity Russia has now moved with stunning speed to exploit.

"The Russian idea is to bind Ukraine in the long term in the Russian orbit and keep it out of the influence of Western institutions and also of the EU,” said Nico Lange, director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Kiev.

“Russia is trying to close a whole number of long-term deals with Ukraine in a very short amount of time. It is astonishing how fast developments are moving.” Yanukovych, battling an economic crisis and trying to convince the IMF to disburse a much-needed loan tranche, grabbed eagerly at the Black Sea deal, which guarantees Ukraine a 30 percent discount on Russian gas imports.

“Five years ago, Ukraine had a dream – Europe. But now the most pragmatic course from the authorities’ point of view is to get closer to Russia,” said Andrei Ryabov, an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center.

“Ukraine gets cheap fuel, employment and delays the need to reform the economy. This is Ukraine’s vision for the next five years, trying to avoid social and economic aggravation.” According to Putin, the cost of the discount to Russia over 10 years will be at least $40 billion, possibly even $45 billion, funds that will hit the budget for years to come.

Less than a week after Yanukovych and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the lease-for-gas deal on April 21, Putin jetted into Kiev to show that this was only the start of a new era of Russian-Ukrainian cooperation.

In an unprecedented move, Putin offered Ukraine the chance to bundle its nuclear power businesses in a vast new joint holding company with Russia’s atomic interests.

Acknowledging the implications of his proposal, he said it could be implemented gradually if the Ukrainian side found it too “revolutionary.”

Meanwhile, reports have indicated that Russia is eying taking a 50-percent stake in Ukrainian aircraft maker Antonov, legendary for its gigantic cargo planes. Another project mooted is a road bridge over the Strait of Kerch between Ukraine and Russia which would symbolize the newfound unity between the two states.

Source: Agence France Presse


wesley rodgers said…

More Tension To Come In Ukraine

The Tuesday political brawl at the Verkhovna Rada in KYIV I honestly believe was one of the
best events that has happened in Ukraine parliament in a long time.!!
Because it revealed to the Ukraine people and world there are indeed major differences in Ukraine parliament but the emotyions reflected much of the frustration and feelings of
Ukraine people.
Some are prepared to take major stand for Ukraine people--very healthy.

There was real emotion rather than political rhetoric for a change and it was evident that many were ready to "duke it out" and take it too the streets.!!

All to often all politicians holding office do is keep on talking and try to be POLITICALLY
CORRECT and I believe that Ukraine people have a strong spirit and
it was exemplified in this rare lost words, just letting their feelings and emotions out because this is perceived by Ukraine people that at least someone cares and are willing to fight.

Having spent much time walking the streets of Kyiv and Odessa as an American journalist I talked to and got a very good pulse beat of the Ukraine spirit and I respect it.
UKRANIANS are for real, very nice but if pushed to far and for good reason they hold their ground
and take a stand.

Meantime back here in the U.S. in recent years most elected politicians in Washington are like overdone melba toast and try so hard to be POLITICALLY CORRECT which is solving NO problems here or in the world.
Just a lot of talk but no result and it is starting to make many,many Americans upset.
It is important to have these Ukraine parliamentarians take a stand.

Here is where the problem is for Ukraine right now.!!

Yanukovich is trying hard to make major decisions to show Ukraine people and other countries that he is in charge and make major decisions.
He said he would work more with Ukraine neighbor Russia and
parliament and Yanukovich told NATO basically to get lost.

The problem is that Yanukovich is new to his office and like it or not there are other countries nearby and in eastern Europe who are not that friendly with Russia
for good reasons.
Extending the lease for Russian
7TH Fleet until 2042 or 43 is a bit overdone as Ukraine does not really know what can happen even in the near future as it has before.
Who knows by 2042 gas may just be an alternative fuel and drop in value so I hope the basic price is stabilized.
The deal is too far out and for
what reason.??
Russia wants to control the region again and using a more economic approach.
Classic game of RUSSIA CHESS!!

The gas deal and Sevastapol naval base could have been done in a more diplomatic way so as to not send a signal to other countries that Yanukovich is really taking sides big time with Russia.
Yanukovich should possibly slow down these changes as many are not ready for such quick change and Ukraine people and some neighbors are now upset with changes that did not take place.!!

Ukraine has a tremendous media which Ukraine people have come to accept and be proud of but if it is curbed there will be a major backlash.

President Yanukovich administration disbanded the freedom of speach and information committee which definitely will have negative ramifictions on Ukraine government by domestic and foreign media.
A free and creative media and freedom of expression is the heart and soul of any free society and democracy.
Yanukovich should think about how his decisions are perceived these quick decisions which impact their Ukraine lifestyle
Bring on Vitali Klitchko, he can fight and wants to be in politics.!!
STAND BY for round two.
Dobry Den for now from U.S. but coming back to Ukraine1
Wes Rodgers newsman007!!