Yanukovych Plays Pro-Russia Hand Early in Campaign

2009/9/27 18:09:03
YALTA , Sept 27 (UBO) -- Viktor Yanukovych seemed to go out of his way to lay down a pro-Russia tone while speaking at the sixth annual Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference in Crimea. Yanukovych w
s quoted by Ukrainian News as saying, “When people speak about threats to Ukraine's territorial integrity, it is primarily a lack of respect to the countries that are our strategic partners. I am primarily speaking about Russia.” Yanukovych’s remarks appeared directed toward President Viktor Yushchenko, but also served as a reminder of Russia’s pervasive involvement in Yanukovych’s previous presidential bid. This included an unprecedented Ukrainian television appearance that featured Yanukovych sitting along side then-Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was clearly an effort to sway pro-Russian voters. At Yalta, Party of the Regions leader Yanukovych also said that statements claiming Russian territorial claims in Ukraine damage bilateral political and economic relations between the two countries. Yanukovych said that the statements of Russian territorial claims resulted in the situation in January when Ukraine and Russia held long negotiations on supply of natural gas when there had not been such serious problems in the past. Yanukovych added that Ukraine should develop relations with other countries on the basis of pragmatism and its own interests while also taking account of the interests of its partners. As if to soften his obvious pro-Russia leanings, Yanukovych added that Ukraine should develop strategic partnership not only with Russia, but also with other countries, particularly member-countries of the European Union. Some political observers at the conference noted that Yanukovych’s remarks appeared to take an anti-American tone. The more Western-oriented Ukrainian People's Party (UPP) called on the Security Council of the United Nations in mid-September to analyze whether Russian President Dmitry Medvedev draft law on the procedures for using the Russian armed forces outside the borders of Russia violated the principles of international law. The UPP claims adoption of this draft law would pose a threat to the security system that was created after the Second World War and threaten the return of military aggression. The UPP also demanded confirmation of the guarantee of Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Medvedev submitted the draft law, entitled “On Amendments to the Federal Law on Defense,” to the Russian State Duma on August 11, which approved its first reading on September 9. The draft law allows operational use of the Russian Armed Forces outside Russia in accordance with the generally accepted principles and international law with the aim of protecting the interests of Russia and its citizens and preserving international peace and security. Most prominent in anti-Ukrainian efforts in Russia are Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and Deputy Chairman of the State Duma. Luzhkov in particular has long used Moscow media to agitate for the return of Crimea as a part of Russian territory. [This UBO article contains some factual material from Ukrainian News. However, all commentary is the responsibility of Ukraine Business Online.]
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