Tymoshenko on Russia

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has spoken out about her country’s involvement with Russia in an exclusive interview with The Times.  Specifically, she focuses on President Viktor Yanukovych’s raft of new energy deals with Russia, saying that the deals will reduce Ukrainian independence, and expressed concern that President Dmitry Medvedev is making investment plans in Crimea:

She said that there were rising tensions over the Crimea region after Mr Yanukovych approved a controversial deal to allow Russia’s Black Sea fleet to remain in Sevastopol for up to 30 years after its present lease expires in 2017. In exchange, Russia agreed to reduce gas prices for Ukraine by 30 per cent. Mrs Tymoshenko, 49, who lost narrowly to Mr Yanukovych in the presidential election, said that the new treaty was opposed by half of Ukraine’s people. “There is a serious threat of instability if such a substantial group is dissatisfied,” she said. “I think Yanukovych is intentionally destabilising the situation in the country but I don’t know why. The situation in Crimea is quite seriously destabilised now. People have begun to collect signatures in favour of unity between Crimea and Russia. An activation of anti-Ukrainian movements is taking place in Crimea.”

Meanwhile, Businessweek looks at the situation from an angle that has appeared numerous times in the press over the last month, saying that Russia is capitalizing on ‘U.S. and European inattention‘ to take its chance to reassert its former strong influence in the region (full article here).