In case there were any lingering doubts about where Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko stands on relations with Russia, here the Canadian Press cites her “firmest statements to date” made in a last minute pitch to chip away at Viktor Yanukovich’s lead:
“I don’t want to see criticism or empty phrases and aggression that is meant simply to boost ratings. I want both sides to clearly understand each other’s positions … and build mutually beneficial relations,” Tymoshenko said.
“As the president, I see the most peaceful and constructive, but also firm and pragmatic, relations with Russia and other countries that are fundamentally tied to the national interests of Ukraine,” she said.
There we have it folks, what had been clear for some months. While many are mourning (or celebrating in bad taste) the end of the Orange Revolution, I question whether or not antagonistic relations with Russia were necessarily always a core element of its definition. I just thought that political sovereignty, opening up to Europe, and the holding of regular, competitive and fair elections were the central pillars. Though repairing relations with Russia certainly threatens the first two principles, we will have yet to see if Ukraine really wants to stand out in the neighborhood in the pursuit of democratic practices. I don’t believe that such swings and sways in a given country’s political trends are ever permanent.
Then again, Tymoshenko is wily and slippery, so who knows what her Russia policy would be in office or when circumstances change. It is as though Europe needs to be reminded of what it was like to have the East straining under the control of Russia so that next time there is a democratic uprising, it might not be met with such a cold shoulder.