Ukraine. According to
Countryaah reports, Ukraine was back in gas conflict with Russia in
the midst of a cold winter, when Russian state Gazprom
threatened to halt deliveries unless Ukraine paid its large
debts. The crisis seemed to be resolved as Ukrainian
President Viktor Yushchenko traveled to Moscow and settled
with President Vladimir Putin. But when the Russian and
Ukrainian gas companies were to negotiate the details, it
reappeared, and Gazprom cut gas deliveries a short period
before an agreement was concluded in March.
Putin took advantage of the gas crisis to warn
West-friendly Yushchenko of realizing its goal of bringing
Ukraine into NATO. If NATO bases were placed in Ukraine,
Russia could be forced to point its robots at the
neighboring country, Putin explained. Yushchenko said that
Ukraine was ready to legislate on a ban on NATO bases to
calm Russia. One sensitive issue was the bases of the
Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukrainian Sevastopol on the
Crimean Peninsula. Moscow saw its presence in Sevastopol
threatened by a Ukrainian NATO membership, and President
Yushchenko said that the contract might not be renewed in
In early April, US President George W. Bush visited Kiev
and expressed his support for Ukraine's desire to join NATO.
But at the next NATO summit in Romania, Bush did not join
the alliance in an invitation to Ukraine and Georgia.
However, it was promised membership but without a timetable.
According to Moscow, too, it was a major strategic mistake
that would have serious consequences for European security.
Yushchenko explained that NATO membership was a priority for
Ukraine, but the population was divided and studies showed
that over half were negative to NATO.
The political rivalry between President Yushchenko and
Prime Minister Tymoshenko increased in the spring, and in
June Tymoshenko's coalition lost its crazy majority in
The power struggle intensified when Tymoshenko merged
with the Prorussian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych and
voted through laws limiting the president's power. The
coalition collapsed. Political analysts believed that Russia
probably contributed to the crisis. A weakened Ukraine was
considered to favor Moscow, and political turmoil would make
it more difficult for Ukraine to enter NATO. In addition,
Russia was adopted to invest in the increasingly popular
Tymoshenko as a partner rather than opposition leader
Yanukovych who was about to lose opinion support in Ukraine.
The worst support was President Yushchenko.
When Tymoshenko visited her Russian colleague Vladimir
Putin in Moscow in October, she was met by a threatening
tone, in which Putin outraged, referring to press
information that Georgia should have used Ukrainian weapons
and Ukrainian military experts in the war against Russia.
Assessors considered that Putin's accusations were not
really directed against Tymoshenko but against Yushchenko.
In October, President Yushchenko announced a new election
for December. However, the rapidly deteriorating economy
forced him to postpone the elections somewhat in order for
Parliament to consider a financial rescue package. Falling
steel prices hit Ukraine's major exports, and the global
financial crisis hit the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia,
and the country's banks. The government was forced to turn
to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and in November was
granted a loan of $ 16.4 billion to stabilize the economy.
When NATO's foreign ministers met in Brussels in early
December, there was no formal invitation to NATO membership
for Ukraine and Georgia. It was repeated that the countries
could eventually become NATO members but no date was
In December, Yushchenko and Tymoshenko's parties agreed
to recreate the collapsed government coalition, and the new
election did not end. A smaller party would also be part of
the new coalition, which thus gained a majority in
parliament. Tymoshenko continued as prime minister.
At the end of December, country grief was announced,
after at least 27 people were killed in a gas explosion in
the resort town of Jevpatoria on the Black Sea. The
political rivals Yushchenko and Tymoshenko visited the
accident site together.
Before the New Year, a new gas crisis threatened, when
Russian Gazprom and Ukrainian Naftogaz ended up in conflict
over the size of the Ukrainian debt, and when Gazprom for
2009 demanded a sharp increase at market prices.