Subjects: Europe news
Ukraine won 27 medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, good for 10th place overall. It’s the same size as France and has a population of 46 million. It shares a long border with Russia. Pipelines coursing through the country ferry natural gas from Russia to Western Europe.
Like the Republic of Georgia, Ukraine gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and like the Republic of Georgia, Ukraine features a pro-Western government.
But unlike what went down in Georgia last month, Russia may soon gain influence in Ukraine without having to squeeze off a single round. Ukraine’s two-party coalition government has become unstable. Leaders of the two parties are having a cat fight as they position themselves for presidential elections in 2010.
The dispute prompted one of them, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to split with the other, President Viktor Yushchenko and cozy up to Ukraine’s third major party which is, you guessed it, tight with Russia. Tymoshenko is threatening to call for early elections and there is a real chance the coalition will collapse.
The kafuffle couldn’t come at a worse time for Western strategic interests-Yushchenko is supposed to meet next week with European Union officials to start a process that could possibly result in Ukraine’s joining the EU. These plans, and others to join NATO, are on life support right now.