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by Jā n is K reilis ( ’ 11) Jānis comes from Riga, Latvia and is studying International Relations in the College of Arts and Sciences, with emphases on Political Economy and languages.

UKRAINE:

A Chess Table for Geopolitics T he root krai in the Slavic languages

and, while Timoshenko and her party have

means end, edge or border. Ukraine,

decided

as traditional theory goes, means the

of the election in the court, institutions

land on the border. However, geopolitical

which monitored the elections, such as the

realities suggest that Ukraine has, in fact,

Organization for Cooperation and Security in

most often been on two borders at the same

Europe, have deemed the election fair, and

time, always being the rope in a large-scale

world leaders, including President Obama,

tug-of-war between the major powers in

have already congratulated Yanukovich on

Eastern Europe. In the early 17th century, the

his victory.

on

contesting

the

legitimacy

largest part of modern-day Ukraine formed

The election and its outcome signify that

The US missile interceptors

the outer regions of the Polish-Lithuanian

Ukraine has changed internally since 2004.

will now be more focused on

Commonwealth, yet a century and a half

The latest election was a laudable example

the threat from Iran.

later, the power balance had shifted; Russia

of democratic process. The power shift is

had gained the upper hand, and its direct

also likely to be peaceful, as Timoshenko

rule over Ukraine essentially lasted until the

has promised not to take her supporters to

dissolution of the USSR in 1991. But only

the streets, which is an achievement in itself,

for less than a decade or so, along with the

considering Ukraine’s turbulent politics in

traditional East-West divisions on the lines of

recent years.

language (Russian vs. Ukrainian) and religion

political career has come to a definite end,

(Russian

40

S PRIN G 2 0 1 0

And, although Yushchenko’s

internal

this does not necessarily entail that the ideals

politics have created another schism among

of the Orange Revolution have been forgotten

the people of Ukraine.

entirely; Ukrainians still remain very positive

vs.

Greek

Orthodox),

The political upheaval which started with

about the European Union, with the strong

the Orange Revolution in 2004 (when the

economy of Poland—a current EU member

pro-Western coalition of Viktor Yushchenko

with the same communist past—serving as an

and Yulia Timoshenko began shifting the

illuminating example as opposed to Ukraine,

country closer to the West, but eventually

weakened considerably by the recent crisis;

came to fundamental disagreements between

The Economist estimates a 15% fall in the

themselves) seems to have come to an end.

GDP in 2009, compared to the previous year,

The largely pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich

the unemployment has tripled since 2008,

beat Timoshenko on February 7 by 3.5% in the

reaching 9%, and the hryvnia has fallen by

second round of the presidential elections,

almost 40% to the US dollar since mid-2008.

International Business Review - Spring 2010  

The Spring 2010 edition of the IBR.

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