MOSCOW, August 20 - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's "grin and bear it" attitude will not help deteriorating bilateral relations with Russia, a respected Russian political analyst told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
In an open letter to his Ukrainian counterpart on August 11, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev blamed Kiev for the deterioration in relations between the two former Soviet republics, strained in recent years by gas disputes, Ukraine's desire to join NATO, and interpretations of the Soviet-era famine in Ukraine.
Two days after Medvedev's letter, Yushchenko said he was disappointed by the Russian president's position. Sergei Mikheyev, vice-president of the Center for Political Technologies in Russia, said that Yushchenko has assumed a "grin and bear it" attitude toward Russia's concerns in bilateral ties and "is acting like he has no idea what is wrong."
"To be frank, I am very disappointed by [the letter's] unfriendly nature," Yushchenko replied. "I agree that relations between our countries face major problems, but I find it strange that you totally rule out any responsibility for them on Russia's side."
According to Mikheyev, Yushchenko's approach to the problem and pretending that everything is fine in Russian-Ukrainian relations has irritated the Kremlin even more. That kind of response, according to Mikheyev, is "like lying to someone in the face."
"Yushchenko is obviously trying to use Medvedev's message in Ukraine as an instrument to spin an anti-Russian policy that he can use in his upcoming presidential campaign," Mikheyev said. "Most Ukrainian media is either under the control of or loyal to Yushchenko and has interpreted Medvedev's message to be an insult to the Ukrainian people, that [the message] is an infringement on Ukraine's internal policies, and that it presumes preparations for a military offensive."
According to Mikheyev, Yushchenko has most likely chosen this course to show domestically that Ukraine is "doing everything it can for good relations with Russia, but Russia isn't listening and doesn't care to listen." He added that Yushchenko has never been invited to Moscow for bilateral talks and this has probably irked him. Moscow has delayed the arrival of its new ambassador's arrival to Ukraine to protest Kiev's policies, a move criticized by Yushchenko as unhelpful.
The Ukrainian president last week also dismissed Russian complaints over arms supplies to Georgia, with which Russia fought a brief war last August, and urged Moscow to respect Ukraine's right to join NATO. Yushchenko's entreaties could fall on deaf ears, however, as Medvedev signaled last week that Russia was waiting for new leadership in Ukraine, where Yushchenko is polling in the single digits ahead of presidential elections scheduled for January 17.
"I hope that a new Ukrainian leadership will have significantly more opportunities to improve relations. Russia wants this, and it is a top priority for our foreign policy," Medvedev said.
According to Mikheyev, Yushchenko came to power through "illegitimate elections as a result of an unclear third runoff that the Constitution does not recognize and now [Yushchenko] is heading for reelection with a support rating of 4%," adding: "I think he has a complex since Russia doesn't want to talk with him on equal terms and I think he's already missed his chance."
Source: Ria Novosti
August 20, 2009