Who is to blame for Russia gas row? The view from Kiev

January 3, 2009

For Ukrainians on the streets of Kiev, the row with Russia over gas supplies is just the latest example of ineptitude among their own feuding political elite.

People in this ex-Soviet state of 47 million have lost the exuberance and hope sparked four years ago by the “Orange Revolution” which swept President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to power and incensed Moscow.

“In Italy, they call it the mafia, in America, Cosa Nostra, in Ukraine, the Verhovna Rada (the parliament)” said Oleg Karlichyk, a plumber in his mid-30s. “This is just bandits sitting in the Kremlin arguing, deciding, talking to bandits sitting in Grushevska street,” he said referring to the seats of power in the two countries.

Maybe surprisingly, there is little animosity towards Russia – accused by some in the West of bullying its neighbours.

“This is Russia’s fault but also our fault. Russia is a very powerful neighbour so you have to deal with it very carefully. Russia dictates. You have to listen,” said one man, who did not want to give his name.

Few think anything will change after the presidential election in 12 months time, even though Yushchenko is expected to lose — his popularity ratings have sunk below 10 percent.

What does the future hold for Ukraine – its economy shattered, its politicians constantly bickering and at loggerheads with its neighbour in recent months over gas, Russia’s Black Sea fleet and Ukraine’s determination to join NATO?

One comment

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While certainly a sticky situation for Ukraine, this could not be anything new to them. When has Ukraine really managed to have a solid period of even a little bit of stability since 1991?

It seems obvious to me that nearly every former Soviet republic (excluding the Baltic republics) has experienced similar problems since breaking away from the Union. Despite gaining independence and greater social freedoms, these freedoms have come at a cost through economic burden since most of these republics are still dependent on Russia for resources.

Until they can find some way to flourish on their own without the aid of Russia like the Baltics have, it may help them to grit their teeth and play nice with Russia. You don’t bite the hand that has been feeding you for many years.

Posted by Nico | Report as abusive