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.

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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