If anyone ever dreamed that Yanukovych or Russian supporters in Ukraine (of which there are many more than one would ever imagine), would ever encourage Ukraine's accession to the WTO, then they are as gullible as those who believe that bilateral treaties between Russia and Ukraine will ever benefit Ukraine.

There is no doubt in my mind that Russia will continue to pressure Ukraine to return to its sphere of influence and will use any and all means to ensure that this happens.

As much as we in the Diaspora would like to think otherwise, recent mistakes by President Yushchenko, and the political mess created by the internal infighting within Ukraine's government,
have provided the necessary impetus for Russia to achieve this goal. Forgive the pessimism, but this feeling is tempered by experience and historical precedents.

Unfortunately the West is both unable and unwilling to provide Ukraine the necessary energy independence, the reciprocal trade, and the investments that Ukraine needs to break the bonds that tie it to Russia.

This is evidenced in The US by the pettiness of the attempts in Congress to repeal the Jackson-Vanick amendment, as well as the recent EU statement by European Commission President
Jose Manuel Barroso, that Ukraine needs to do less talking and show more concrete steps to achieve a market economy.

This is the classic case of putting the cart before the horse. Without "concrete" support from the West, Ukraine has no alternative but to be re-engulfed by Russia's dominance. What has the EU done to assist Ukraine in increasing its trade with Europe or to take those concrete steps of which Barroso speaks? What can the US doto ensure that Ukraine becomes energy independent when the US itself cannot achieve this goal?

I have to respectfully disagree with at least one of Dr. Taras Kuzio's assessments in his article "Russia still gets it wrong on Ukraine" published in the Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol 2, No. 185,
concerning Ukraine's reorientation toward Russia rather than Europe.

As much as we would like to believe otherwise, this is already happening and no amount of wishful thinking will change these facts. Europe, the US, and much of the industrialized world continue to give Ukraine the proper amount of "lip service" (the very same thing they accuse Ukraine of doing), and then they turn their backs on Ukraine's efforts to become a part of their economic order.

In the meanwhile, Russia sits patiently and watches Ukraine making mistake after mistake and then continues to strengthen its grip on Ukraine's dependence on it for energy, trade and investments.

Whether Yekhanurov, Kinach or even Yushchenko make their courtships toward Russia out of desire or necessity, the sad truth is that they have no other alternatives at this point. As long as the West continues to admire Ukraine's democratic aspirations but fails to provide concrete assistance, then Ukraine's hopes to become a true European nation will continue to be only a dream.

As for Ukraine's WTO aspirations, they now seem further away from reality than ever before. It's quite obvious that Russia does not want Ukraine to become a WTO member before it does. Thus Ukraine's only hope for the nominal image face-lift that a WTO membership can provide seems to be further away from achievement than ever before.

Yushchenko's new political partner, Yanukovych, and his Russian-influenced power peddlers will not allow this to happen. The other sad truth is that Ukraine is now paralyzed before the Parliamentary
elections and nothing much will happen before April or May 2006.

This period of uncertainty will continue to strengthen Russia's hand and it may even preclude the democratic elements of Ukraine's political machine to ensure a gainful pro-West win in these elections.

True, Ukraine, has made its share of mistakes and serious political errors in recent months. These have certainly not endeared them to the West and some were even seen as rashly executed and poorly analyzed.

But Ukraine is still young and the new government is still younger. They are entitled to make such mistakes. The one thing that they should learn to do, however, is to cooperate and work together if they are to achieve their goals. But this is the horse of another color and probably would require volumes just to analyze.

So what can the West do other than wring its hands or sigh with exasperation at the current situation in Ukraine? First, and despite all the previously cited problems, it "must" ensure that Ukraine gains WTO accession at any cost. Leaving "influence peddling" to Russia alone will not enable this to happen. The West must take a pro-active role in this process. Europe must also practice and participate in economic assistance to Ukraine.

Their efforts so far have been laughable and completely inadequate. The EU probably invests more in office supplies than it does in a country that can eventually be a meaningful economic partner. The EU should not fear that Ukraine can become a burden on its economy. Ukraine, like Turkey, can be economically self sufficient if they are property assisted and funded.

The EU and especially the US should seek to strengthen Ukraine's alliances with Poland, the Baltic States, the Balkans, but especially the energy rich countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Meanwhile the US should realize that Ukraine can be a great partner and a tremendous asset in that part of the world. Let this be at least one bright star on the clouded sky of US's foreign policy.
COMMENTARY: by Walter Prochorenko, PhD.
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR)

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