Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Plot Thickens

BBC NEWS | Europe reports that "Ukrainian cabinet in gas crisis"
Ukraine's parliament has voted in favour of sacking the government over its recent gas deal with Russia.

A no-confidence vote was backed by 250 of the assembly's 450 deputies.

But President Viktor Yushchenko has questioned its legitimacy. He plans to challenge it in the Constitutional Court, his spokeswoman says.

Ukraine agreed to double its payments to Russia for gas after Moscow switched off its supplies for three days on 1 January demanding a four-fold hike.

President Yushchenko has described the deal as a victory for the country as it still avoids the Russian demand, and the government has pledged consumer gas prices will stay stable.

But initial relief has given way to growing concern that the accord does not safeguard jobs and industry, reports the BBC's Helen Fawkes in Kiev.
No sooner has the Ukraine played chicken with Russia and won than the parliment sacks the government. Apparently, the deal President Yushchenko worked out with Moscow wasn't good enough. Or was it?

If the current government remains fallen, then Russia could work behind the scenes to manuever a pro-Russian government into power. That would mean an entirely new gas deal--completely beneficial to the Kremlin--would then be passed. Russian President Vladimer Putin saves face and gains influence over the border country that has made overtures to the West.

He also resumes control over the pipelines that ship 20% of Europe's natural gas supply. That places the ailing EU in a precarious position. After all, they're finally considering a serious consideration of action against Iran for developing nuclear weapons. If Russia clears its throat, Europe may have to back down or risk sudden supply woes.

The current theatrics should end. President Yushchenko has made Russia blink and secured as competitive a deal as the Ukraine was going to get. The pro-Russian faction should be isolated and rendered irrelevent. The Ukraine won its independence from the former communist Empire. It's time Russia realized that her time has passed.

Don't hold you breath waiting for it, though!