Ukraine's New President The Highlight Of Obama's Nuclear Summit

WASHINGTON, DC -- Viktor Yanukovych emerged Monday as an unlikely star among the four dozen foreign leaders President Obama gathered in Washington for his nuclear security summit.

Police barricades and military vehicles filled the streets of Washington as President Obama's two-day-long Nuclear Security Summit began Monday. The US capital welcomed leaders of 46 nations who will discuss how to keep sensitive nuclear materials away from terrorists.

The hulking Ukrainian president, who won election only two months ago, has long been perceived as the leader of Ukraine’s anti-Western camp: In 2004, it was his announced victory in a fraud-ridden presidential election that prompted his country’s pro-democracy Orange Revolution.

But Yanukovych has come a long way since then. His victory in the February presidential election was clean, and he proved deft in the following months as he overturned the crumbling Orange coalition in parliament and installed his own prime minister.

His announcement of an agreement with President Obama under which Ukraine would give up the highly enriched uranium that it now uses in three research reactors gave Obama one of the most tangible results of the summit.

It also signaled Yanukovych’s ambition to position Ukraine between Russia and the NATO powers -- outside the Western alliance, but also not part of a Russian sphere of influence.

Yanukovych outlined that strategy in an interview Monday afternoon with me and The Post’s Mary Beth Sheridan. “The policy of the new administration of Ukraine is to strike the right balance in our relations with Russia and the European Union,” he said. “We want to be a reliable bridge between Europe and Russia.”

The means, in part, an end to the previous government’s policy of seeking full membership in NATO -- a cause that the alliance endorsed in principle at the urging of the Bush administration, but then put on a back burner.

“The relations between Ukraine and NATO are not going to change,” Yanukovych said. “They will stay on the same level and with the previous attention. The only thing that has changed is that Ukraine as a non-bloc member is not stating that it wants to accede to NATO” -- because the majority of Ukrainians oppose full membership. “We will keep developing partnership interests,” he added. “We will keep improving that.”

At the same time the Ukraine leader made clear that he did not intend to go along with Moscow’s wish that his government join a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, instead of seeking a free trade agreement with the European Union.

“At this stage the accession of Ukraine to the customs union isn’t possible,” he said -- but he hopes to finish a trade agreement with the European Union by the end of the year.

Yanukovych also pledged to patch Ukraine’s fractured relationship with the International Monetary Fund by implementing austerity measures the previous government balked at. An IMF deal could win the government fresh financing from the World Bank and send a positive signal to Western foreign investors, he noted.

Thanks in part to its loss of Western confidence, Ukraine has suffered more than most countries in Europe during the great recession, with a drop of over 15 percent in its gross domestic product.

The Obama administration has been accused of neglecting Ukraine as it drifted back toward Russia’s orbit. But Obama was one of the first foreign leaders to call Yanukovych in February following his electoral victory, according to aides.

The United States and Ukraine had been negotiating for years about a deal under which the United States would help replace highly-enriched uranium in the country’s research reactors with fuel that could not be used for weapons if it were stolen or diverted.

Yanukovych said Obama proposed that they complete the deal, and invited the new president to Washington for this week’s summit.

By quickly accepting, Yanukovych built a link to the White House to balance his long-standing connection to the Kremlin -- and managed to stand out among the dozens of leaders jamming the luxury hotels of downtown Washington Monday.

“We’ve had this idea for quite some time,” he said. “But it was only realized when Barrack Obama raised it to a much higher level.”

Source: The Washington Post


wesley rodgers said…

I believe it is very good that Ukraine President Victor Yanukovich had the opportunity to attend this summit and get some well deserved worldwide recognition, not but for himself but for the country of Ukraine!

However,I am well aware that the summit is somewhat of a public relations campaign to boost U.S. President Obama as his rating and knowledge on foreign affairs is very poor.
And as for his knowledge of east European and Ukraine affairs is almost terrible.

Where was he prior to the recent Ukraine election Turkey or some other countries who do not fight in the war on terror or try and deter worldwide nuclear problems.....UKRAINE does and avery good job!!
Obama must prove his allegience by
actions!!..Not words!!!

I respect President Yanukovich for taking a very proactiuve stance and making a good showing and I am happy for him and Ukraine.

However, if I were President Yanukovich I would not be too willing to accomodate President Obama until Obama shows his true and sincere intentions in kind.

It seems in years past many times Ukraine does good things for the U.S. which is my native country and Ukraine has helped others only to have their good actions quickly forgotten especially by some of the jealous E.U. members.

Sorry but that is the TRUTH and the record bears me out..Germany and France are two of the worst and Ukraine to be honest I am glad they are working closer with Russia but not joining the Russian Federation.
Now I know why Vladimir Putin has been so accomplished.

He is firm but makes common sense and he is a leader not just for Russia but in defense and the war on terror he is Europes' protectorate.

Medvedev is a mild,liberal, businessman who many other tough guys in Europe will not take seriously when the going gets tough.

Like it or not if you are the leader of RUSSIA you have to be strong and his return to the presidenccy is dearly needed.
Approximately nine out of ten interviewed in RUSSIA said that if Putin could have run in the last election for president they woulod have voted form him even though they think Medvedev is a nice guy and good intentions.

Problem here--Nice guys who are presidsents of Russia do not accomplish ,much....

..And when the START TREATY needs to get ratified it is almost certain that the DUMA in Russia and possibly the U.S Senate will do the same.
The treaty may need to be rewritten as manay years and tehcdnology have passed.

CONGRATULATION YANUKOVICVH...he is making a good balanced between east and west and yet maintaining Ukraine integrity.

Respectfully..Wes Rodgers American-Ukraine journalist