Ukraine, U.S. Reset Relations

KIEV, Ukraine -- Analysts here believe Washington and Kiev are trying to carefully reset their bilateral ties in view of the changes in domestic and international political landscape.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (1st L) welcomes visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Kiev July 2, 2010. Clinton said Friday that the door to NATO remains open to Ukraine but the country is under no obligation to join.

Vadim Karasev, a well-known Ukrainian political analyst, said in a commentary carried by "Segodnya" newspaper that the United States still does not know what to do with Ukraine.

"Not to criticize is impossible, to criticize is dangerous" because it can push Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych into the arms of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said Karasev.

At a joint press conference with Ukraine's President Yanukovych, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country approves Ukraine's multivector foreign policy and welcomes Ukrainian desire to balance relations with the United States, the European Union and Russia.

Clinton, who was here on a two-day official visit that ended on Saturday, stressed Ukraine should not choose with whom to be -- with Russia or the West.

"We are sure this is a false choice," she said, adding that one foreign policy vector, Eastern or Western, is an incorrect geostrategic approach for Ukraine.

Later in an interview with Ukraine's ICTV channel, Clinton said Washington wants to hear the concrete guarantees from the Ukrainian authorities regarding compliance with freedom of speech.

This topic was raised during a meeting with representatives of the opposition, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, she said.

However, the U.S. secretary of state avoided harsh criticism, noting that the Ukraine's new administration has already shown its adherence to the principles of democracy.

This is proved by recent elections that were up to all standards and were "honest, transparent, open and fair," she added.

"That's why everything Hillary Clinton could demonstrate is that America does not leave Ukraine. But America prefers to participate in the Ukrainian project together with Russia, rather than fight with it for Ukraine," said Karasev, the Ukrainian political analyst.

"That's why Hillary Clinton had to be very careful in Kiev. Everything she allowed herself was a meeting with Tymoshenko," he said.

At the joint press conference with Hillary Clinton, Yanukovych urged the United States to support Ukraine in European integration.

He said Ukraine and the EU plan to sign of an association agreement in the near future, which should set up a free trade zone as well as the process of granting visa- free regime to Ukraine.

On Ukraine-Russia relations, Yanukovych said a strategic partnership with Russia was another very important priority in Ukraine's foreign policy.

"We appreciate the constructive position of the United States on the Ukrainian-Russian relations. It is very important for us," Yanukovych said.

Karasev said the situation proved to be an advantage for Yanukovych. "America is afraid to push him into the arms of Russia, but Russia can not press too much to make the Ukrainian pendulum swing towards America."

It's possible for Ukraine to make gains by wooing both sides. But this game cannot be carried too far for both partners may turn away from Ukraine, he added.

Source: Xinhua