December 01, 2004

Who Won Ukraine?

Some new angles on Ukraine. (By the by, "Ukraine," and not "The Ukraine." Hmph.) Fistful of Euros complicates the situation as only a Euro-watcher can, noting that: 1) Ukraine's economy has been so integrated with Russia's that some splash of Russian influence will persist for some time. 2) Insofar as it needs tangible goods like money and security, Russia wants to be part of the West. Insofar as it needs intangible goods like "National Pride," Russia wants to distance itself from the West. 3) Ukraine will not join the EU anytime soon. Oh no. But, the EU could learn to accept "privileged partners" that build bridges to peripheral states like the Ukraine. However, Slate pops in to add 4) Apparently Leonid Kuchma tried for years to cozy up to the West, and was rebuffed. 5) Even if Yuschenko does get elected, he'll spend so much time compromising with nationalist elements, that he won't get very much in the way of reform done.

Now add them all up. "Democracy," vaguely defined, isn't any sort of solution for Ukraine, since any democratic leader would get dragged into this rather taut tug-of-war. What's clearly needed is some way to slacken the tug-of-war, to harmonize (somewhat) the interests of Russia and the West, so neither feels the need to meddle. All this is rather banal and obvious -- Tom Friedman banal and obvious -- but it's part of the whole "democracy abroad" deal. And, as I keep promising to spell out, UN-type international institutions are a better way of reaching that harmony, as opposed to relying on cordial understandings between leaders (in this case Bush and Putin).
-- Brad Plumer 12:13 AM || ||