Foreign Policy: The end of Ukraine’s balancing act

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Feb. 7, 2013, 7:40 p.m. | Op-ed — by Askold Krushelnycky

According to Askold Krushelnycky, Viktor Yanukovych's performance has been increasingly wobbly since his election in 2010, and this year could well see the acrobatics end with a painful plunge.

Askold Krushelnycky

Askold Krushelnycky has spent most of his adult life in journalism, mainly as a staff journalist for British newspapers since 1978. During the 1990s, he spent much time in Europe reporting on the fall of communism, political transformations and conflicts including the Balkans. From 1997 to 2011, he was based in Moscow, but also served as chief editor of the Kyiv Post in 1998. He then went to Prague. He was assistant foreign editor at The (United Kingdom) Sunday Times and became that newspaper's South Asia correspondent based in New Delhi to cover India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. He worked frequently in the Middle East. In 2006, his book “An Orange Revolution – A Personal Journey Through Ukrainian History” was published by Random House/Harvill Secker. In 2005, he became interested in the field of business intelligence and has a company, AK Information Network (AKIN Corp), that focuses on Central & Eastern Europe. He was born in London. His parents were World War II refugees from Ukraine. He received a bachelor's degree in industrial chemistry. In 2011, he and his wife moved to Washington D.C.

Ukraine has trod a precarious political tightrope since it emerged as an independent country from the rubble of the collapsed USSR in 1991. Balancing between Western Europe and Russia, successive Ukrainian presidents have conducted their high-wire act with varying degrees of political acumen and cynicism, playing off the European Union's desire for a closer relationship against Moscow's efforts to bind the country into some form of Russian-led bloc. Current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's performance has been increasingly wobbly since his election in 2010, and this year could well see the acrobatics end with a painful plunge. But the West cannot look on with passive bemusement. Ukraine, which boasts a population of 47 million, is Europe's largest country by territory, and its eventual choice will determine Europe's geopolitical complexion for decades hence. (The image above shows a man clad in a Yanukovych mask protesting the customs union.)  

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