Ukraine's new govt needs to seek balance: experts

Updated: 2014-02-24 03:29

By Li Xiaokun and Ren Qi (China Daily)

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The West has won the first round in the fight with Russia over Ukraine, but Moscow still has cards to play and Kiev's new government will have to seek balance among the powers, observers said.

"Ukraine's domestic crisis is not only about politics. It is also driven by economic pressure such as its serious debt problem," said Yang Cheng, deputy director of the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University in Shanghai.

In December, Russia decided to invest $15 billion in Ukraine's government bonds to keep the cash-strapped country in Moscow's orbit. Yang said Ukraine's pro-West forces will not abandon the huge investment if they come to power.

"Besides, much of Ukraine's lifeline is controlled by Russia. If Russia suddenly cuts off natural gas supplies, life for the whole country will get difficult.

"We can foresee that if the pro-West faction wins, at first the new government will release policies in favor of the West, but finally it will get more practical and seek balance among the powers."

Although Russia and Ukraine have been closely linked throughout history, Moscow is now at a disadvantage, compared with the economic strength and other merits of the West.

"Russia's chance (to change the situation) lies in whether Europe and the United States are willing to spend as much money on Ukraine as Russia has."

Wu Xuelan, a commentator for China's Central Television, said on Sunday that the West's victory is only temporary.

"Ukraine means too much to Russia. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a very strong leader, who will not just leave the situation in Ukraine like that."

Wu said the failure of the country's pro-Russia and pro-West forces to reach consensus in the past two decades is due to the fact that "Ukraine has not found the right path to develop".

"So regardless of whether a pro-West president or a pro-Russia leader comes to power, there are always people opposing them," Wu said, adding that the unrest has greatly hurt the country's economy.

Zhang Hong, a researcher on Eastern European studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Moscow's setback "reflects its declining national power".

Zhang is pessimistic over Russia's future impact on Ukraine, and said if the pro-West faction gets the presidency, relations between the two neighbors will become strained.

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