6 April 2010

Choice of Ukraine - Shemsey Vodinov

Party of Regions which known with its close relations with Russia, had won the elections and finished up the era that shake Soviets and called as Orange Revolutions Era. Question in the agenda is on Ukraine’s choice on new strategic issues especially on energy. New energy chart seems to change the parameters of the region while an alliance with Russia is predictable. Victor Yanukovich who is the leader of Donetsk centered Part of Regions, is a former welder worker. Yanukovich went into politics in 90s and he was supported by Russia President Vladimir Putin in the beginning of 2000s. After the Yanukovich’s confession of their graft in the elections he lost his power in Ukraine and country surrendered to Western supported Orange Revolution. Country’s progress in five years which was expected to lead country to NATO membership was written to history as a period of increasing discontent. President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko who turned their back to Russia, caused natural gas crisis every winter period which harmed Ukraine because 1/5 of the natural gas passes through Ukraine which is sold to Europe by Russia. Russians punished the Kiev Government with accessions to natural gas and deduction of natural gas because of Kiev’s policy of getting closer to the West. Military issues were another source of crisis. Center point of Russian Navy Forces, Sevastopol in Crimea was the centre of this crisis. In spite of the Yuşçenko administration’s approach which defends removal of Russia forces from Sevastopol in 2017 according to the agreement, Yanukovich defended Russian existence in Crimea. Yanukovich told that Russia could stay in Crimea and Ukraine will not be a member of NATO by himself to Russian President Dimitry Medvedev while his visit to Moscow after the elections. Yanukovich tried to convince Medvedey for not bypassing Ukraine with alternative north and south energy lines.

Energy Balance in the Eastern and Western Dnieper

Yanukovich not only tried to solve the energy problem with those guarantees he also offered assigning 1/3 of Ukraine’s administration of natural gas transmission system to Russia (Kommersant Newspaper). Man of the day Yanukovich, did not forget to visit Brussels and gave natural gas guarantees while he was visiting Moscow. In this way, he gave concrete guarantees both to Russia and EU. Question on the agenda is nowadays is if Russia will make a discount on natural gas prices which Ukraine demands from Russia. Also Russia may abandon the southern stream program but Russia cannot abandon the northern stream which is guaranteed to Germany and France. At this point, Medvedev cannot make the discount which Ukraine demands but Russia can aid Ukraine by giving cheap credits and economic support to not to disappoint Yanukovich.

Dnieper River which was witnessed 2 million peoples’ death while the Soviet Red Army and German Nazi Army battle, is now separating Ukraine’s political geography. Today, Russian friendly politics in the east of this river has the power. This situation affects the conditions in the west of Dnieper which NATO come to its borders after Hitler’s march to those borders after 60 years. Political consolidation of Ukraine in the future is not certain but it is absolute that Yanukovich will have a strong effort on this issue. Ukraine is divided by two on the axis of Dnieper is defined as Russia’s territory by Moscow, gains a meaning only by being united.

Europe admits that Ukraine is a part of Russia strategically but Germany and France did not welcomed Ukraine’s membership to NATO and EU in their recent statements. EU’s priority is its natural gas demand. 1/4 of this demand is met by Russia. Energy issue is stabile in the region so Brussels does not care about how this region builds its stability. After this political picture in Ukraine, Europe speeded up the investments which cost billion dollars. A secret or open agreement between Continental Europe and Russia can be predicted. Main problem is US’s future movements. Soros supported Orange Revolution Wave finished by 2009. Main aim of US is to determine and control the energy lines in Central Asia and Caucasia. Apparently, energy alliance between EU and Russia weakens the US role in Eastern Europe and in Western Eurasia. Serbia was welcomed by EU with staying close to Russia, this can be a signal for Ukraine to follow the same strategy. As like Yanukovich’s priority, Ukraine may get economical aid from EU although Ukraine does not become an EU member.

Ukraine – Turkey – Russia Relations

Turkey recognized Ukraine as a country in 1991, 16th of December. These two countries are working together within the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization since 1992. In June 1997, an agreement signed for building the a pipeline between Baku and Ceyhan for transportation of crude oil in Ankara. Turkey is the second biggest trade partner of Ukraine after Russia. Turkey is importing iron and steel products, lard, herbal oil and mineral fuels from Ukraine and exports plastic, electronic machines, cleaning products and sub-industry products to Ukraine.

Turkish Embassy of Ukraine was opened in 1993. Ukraine also has a Consulate General in Istanbul, Honorary Consulates in İzmir and Çanakkale. Turkey Embassy of Ukraine is in Kiev and there is a Turkish Consulate General in Odessa.

Turkey does not have an interest on the government in Ukraine. Both international public and Ankara agree that election results of Ukraine will not effect Turkey’s role of being a transit country in recent years. Natural gas experts warn that an eventual Kiev-Moscow partnership would weaken the Ankara on an energy bargain. Ankara expected to play the stability card against this issue.

The positive course on Kiev and Moscow relations which was started with Yanukovich’s election victory is not expected to dismiss Turkey from the energy transportation game.

An energy expert from Turkey, Necdet Pamir interprets the situation as:

Election victory of Yanukovich will enables the transportation option of Ukraine for Russia. This result also strengthens the Russia’s hand at negotiations with Turkey. However Turkey is an important option for Russia and it is impossible for Russia to by pass Turkey. Negotiations which are made by Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldızlı is a package negotiation. Russia’s increasing advantage on the negotiations would affect other parts of this package. Negotiations continue on giving nuclear energy to Russia without a bid by a intergovernmental agreement. Strengthening of Russia’s hand on natural gas will make Russia advantageous in nuclear energy negotiations because negotiations are held as a whole. (Akşam Newspaper, Interview with Ezgi Akın)

Eurasia is Rising

Europe and Turkey will have to assess new positions against the pressure caused by regional dynamics. North Atlantic relations will constrain Ankara and Brussels at this point. One of the most determining element of strategy is energy issue so economics will face processes which will determine next 10 years’ world. Increasing advantage of Russia is not the only issue but reel politics’ increasing importance. EU and Russia are associating on a more realist survey. Turkey is joining this process naturally. NABUCCO and similar projects which will planned for the benefit of US and extracting Russia, will be reconstructed on a realist survey too. In spite of general view or view of western analysts statement that Russia’s impact on Ukraine will not harm the stability, it is a natural result of geopolitics. This is a turning point of new cooperation period in Eurasia. Future is not expected to bring Dnieper wars and conflicts which are remnants of Second World War, future will be a partnership period around the axis of energy in the Eurasia. This era will start to show itself by economic and political means, rising of Asia will occur as rising of Eurasia.

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