The attempts by Russia to influence Ukrainian politics are gradually growing in 2009 as the presidential elections in Europe’s second largest country. The latest disinformation campaign orchestrated by Moscow involves the poisoning of President Yushchenko in 2004. The leader of the pro-Russian Party of the Region, Viktor Yanukovych has long claimed that the poisoning of the president was concocted and that the United States played an important role in the “hoax”. This time has been resurrected in 2009.

With the new bill on the use of Russian Armed Forces outside Russia it seems clear that the Kremlin does not rule out the possibility of using force when it comes to Ukraine. Also President Medvedev of Russia has stated (on August 11, 2009) that Moscow will cooperate only with the kind of Ukrainian government that will show a loyal attitude to the Kremlin.

As a result of growing pressures leading Ukrainian personalities in the Ukrainian sphere have written an open letter to the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum on December 5, 2004, to give a signal to Ukrainian society that dangers to the country are growing.

Recently the Ukrainian daily The Day in an article (“Foreign Challenges, Domestic Risks”, September 22, 2009) published statements by one of the initiators of the letter mentioned above, Taras Stetskiv:

“December 5 will mark the 15th anniversary of the Budapest Memorandum. It was signed in 1994 by five countries – the US, UK, Russia, and later, China and France. In return for Ukraine’s nuclear free status, the signatories undertook to guarantee its national security. This date, December 5, is a certain landmark when we stop and think what the Budapest Memorandum is worth 15 years after it was signed. Does this instrument provide any substantial guarantee of Ukraine’s independence? The key message contained in the letter to the guarantor countries was the proposal to convene an international conference and discuss the alternatives to the Budapest Memorandum, since its ineffectiveness is clearly apparent.

Regarding our expectations, the message in question was sent to the guarantor countries through their embassies. A separate message will be forwarded to the European Commission, the Visegrad Group, and Sweden, which now hold presidency in the European Commission. This is a call for discussion and we count on launching a dialog aimed at holding this international conference.”

One can only hope that Sweden uses its influence as holder of the presidency of the EU to support an international conference to offer Ukraine security guarantees.

Ukraine clearly needs a formulated strategy for protecting its national interest in view of the growing anti-Ukrainian measures by the Kremlin. Russia obviously believes that the present situation in Ukraine offers an opportunity to bring it back into its imperial sphere. One must also remember the earlier statement of Prime Minister Putin that Ukraine is not a state but some kind of artificial entity.

Mr. Stetskiv, rightly, also called for an information campaign in Ukraine by the next president of the country informing the general public on NATO and the EU as a viable alternative to for instance Ukrainian neutrality. This is greatly needed to counter the Soviet era propaganda cliché used by Russia to portray NATO as an aggressor.

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