Ukraine declared its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and since then has been a member of the CIS. But it would be wrong to say Ukraine is truly independent. In fact, Ukraine is very dependent on Russia, especially when it comes to energy needs. Most of its exports are sent to Russia, and Russia happens to be the one country that meets the majority of Ukraine’s credit needs. Just like many other European nations, Ukraine also purchases its natural gas from Russia, and it has launched new projects to purchase even more.
The Kiev administration has been looking for ways to find some relief from the financial crisis: It is reported that Ukraine has only three months worth of currency reserves left and it needs to solve this problem urgently to prevent a default.
So, to solve the conundrum, Russia and Ukraine need to preserve their friendly ties and continue with their cooperation, while Ukraine should go on to sign the Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union to move closer to Europe.
However, it is of paramount importance that Kiev offers guarantees to Moscow that relations with Russia and other CIS countries will not face negative consequences as a result.
Ukraine should aim not only at integrating with Europe, but become one of those nations with a broader policy that will further assist east-west integration.
Turkey is the perfect example of successful East-West integration. The country accepted the Copenhagen Criteria for accession to the EU and subsequently passed a draft of transition laws; however, this has not prevented Turkey from developing friendly ties and economic, cultural and social relations with other countries.
In other words, close ties with Europe are no reason to shy away from East-West integration. There is no fundamental reason why Ukraine should not follow the same path.
It is long overdue and it is high time to discard the bipolar worldview of the past.
Countries should unite and adopt policies that are based on love and peace; the bipolar worldview is an outdated relic of the 20th century, based on spurious notions of “the East” and “the West.”
Ukraine needs to follow unifying policies and avoid falling victim to the destructive by-products of division. Mistrust and suspicion is not the way forward; understanding and common cooperation is the only way ahead.