The long-simmering feud between Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko has, again, reached its breaking point. Tymoshenko, the current premier, has a month to engineer a new coalition, which would have to be with parties from outside the Orange bloc. So she would have to team up with Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, or other, less mainstream parties. I’ll bet on new elections.
Russia has a lot of levers to pull, especially on a winter-time election, and I can’t see Medvedev or Putin having too much need for restraint. Prices on natural gas, export and import restrictions, pipeline transit fees, and much more will probably all be on the menu of blandishments. The Georgian example will also be very much on everyone’s mind.
Eastern policy has not been one of France’s priorities within the EU, so it is ironic that the country’s once-every-two-decades tenure in the EU presidency will likely be bracketed by eastern questions: Georgia at the start and Ukraine at the end. Without strong friends in Europe’s west, Ukraine’s medium-term future looks less like candidacy and more like Finlandization. Maybe Yulia just figured this out faster than the rest of us.
(On the other hand, if the Russian consulate in the Crimea starts handing out passports willy-nilly, something other than Finlandization could be in the cards.)