Archive for August 25th, 2010

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American policy towards Ukraine

August 25, 2010

Well dear readers, normally I remain quite diplomatic and rarely comment upon the foreign policies pursued by nations other than mine…..those being equally Ukraine and the UK.

However, I came across this little gem from The Center For American Progress.  Have a read of the link……

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/08/reimagining_ukraine.html

What a truly narrow minded, secular, insulated and micro-analysis this article is.

Nowhere in the entire article does it mention the EU and Europe, the continent in which Ukraine sits and the only organisation successive Ukrainian governments of different political colour and persuasion have jointly expressed a desire to move towards and eventually join.

In fact it is the only organisation successive governments have actually worked towards joining and continue to do so.

The USA has to face some very simple facts. 

The top four trading partners with Ukraine are the EU, Russia, China and Turkey making up almost all of its trade.

Culturally, western Ukraine has close ties with many EU neighbouring states.   Eastern and southern Ukraine have close cultural ties with Russia and EurAsia.

Politically, there is a collective will of the major parties (in power and opposition) to get closer to (and maybe join) the EU.  Work towards the European Eastern Partnership, Free Trade Agreement and Visa free travel continues at pace.  Ukraine will recieve and official visa-free travel roadmap from the EU in October and if history is any guideline with other FSU nations, will achieve it within 3 years as they did.

The Free Trade Agreement will be signed sealed and delivered by March 2011 at the latest.

Historically there is no connection with the USA, economically the USA is a bit part player at best in Ukraine, politically it has no real relevance either, with Europe the desired goal (and not NATO) whilst maintaining cordial and effective business relations with all other large trading partners such as China, Russia and Turkey.

Why is it this article reads like the “same old, same old” rhetoric that Moscow and Washington hold the keys to Ukraine?

It maybe that Washington is (for once) more in tune with reality here than the authors of this article.  For 6 months (last year into this), the US didn’t even have an Ambassador to Ukraine and the man they have now sent is exceptionally low key compared to the last, coming here from Georgia.

Ukraine is commodity rich when it comes to raw materials, be it coal, ore, uranium and untapped oil and gas (both on and off-shore), cement etc, but it already has trading partners with money and technical expertise able to not only invest in, but also buy what is extracted, processed and produced.

The Ukrainian President is back in Berlin at the end of the month lobbying Germany for closer ties once again.

Geographically, politically, economically and culturally, the USA has nothing much to offer Ukraine that it cannot get or does not already have from exisiting long established partners.  Nobody’s tanks are going to be rolling down Ukrainian streets unless invited to take part in a parade or ceremony from East or West.

Is it not time for the authors of the article to accept that the US does not have much of a presence in Ukraine because there is nothing to be gained by either side by them having one and that any Ukrainian/US deals will be few and far between, strictly in the best interests of Ukraine….which will probably not make them in the best interests of the USA.

The best policy for the USA in Ukraine right now is the one they are following, bilateral deals as and when to suit both sides, particularly considering the recent mess Westinghouse has made here (as I have posted previously) and leave Ukraine to strike it’s deals with Germany, Italy, Russia, France et al with whom it actively wants to improve relations with, rather than an overly forced friendship neither administration seems keen on.

Surely it is in the US interests to pursue active foreign policy in nations wanting US attention or acting in such a manner that it draws US attention than to employ time, effort and money in a relationship which is not strained, not damaging to anyone (US enemy and ally alike) and in no way a State likely to fail causing regional strife?

Is it not time to face the reality that Ukraine is not a foe but it is not going to be a major partner of the US either?  Is it not time to accept the fact that the only common political objective shared by all political forces in Ukraine is European and not Trans-Atlantic facing? 

 The complete lack of mentioning Europe (and Ukraine’s consistant desire to move towards it) in the article seems to suggest that there are still many “academics/commentators” in the US who see Ukraine as a Kremlin/Washington plaything and remain completely oblivious to the direction Ukraine wants to go.

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