Article by: Olena Matusova
It was said in the Kremlin even before the elections to the Verkhovna Rada that they would acknowledge the results of the vote. Though they did talk about “numerous violations which occurred at the preparatory stage of the voting.” Russian political experts have varying opinions as to whether it would be expedient to await change in the bilateral relations after the end of the campaign. Political expert Stanislav Belkovsky says that the Kremlin had been prepared for such election results, and it is unlikely they will change their policies on Ukraine. As one person decides everything in Russia at the beginning of the 21st century. According to Belkovsky, Putin’s interests remained the same and the Ukrainian parliamentary elections did nothing to influence them.
“In my opinion, the results of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine will have no significant influence on the format and contents of the Ukraine-Russia relations. First, the Kremlin prepared itself for the fact that the current government would remain in some form or other after the elections. Second, Vladimir Putin’s strategy on Ukraine does not depend on the Ukrainian government. Naturally, if some personal friends of business partners of Vladimir Putin’s, such as Viktor Medvedchuk, had come to power in Ukraine, it would change something in essence and quality. However, it was clear this would not happen. The majority of the Ukrainian Parliament will be pro-European, and no pro-Russia. All the tasks Vladimir Putin posed to himself, such as the creation of the destabilization in Ukraine though Donetsk and Luhansk, rendering Ukraine’s NATO membership impossible and slowing down Ukraine’s advance to the European Union, remain on Putin’s agenda and whatever the Ukrainian government may be, Putin will do this by means of, first, pressure on Ukraine, second, cunning talks with the Ukrainian President and Prime Minister.
“The attitude towards Ukraine can probably not get any worse in Russia”
Belkovsky’s colleague, another Russian politics expert Dmitry Oreshkin expressed cautious optimism in regard to the future bilateral relations. His opinion is based on the thesis that currently these relations are at the ‘can’t get any worse.’ And therefore the countries should join efforts to overcome the crisis.
“Relations between Russia and Ukraine are transitioning into a new, let us say, more pragmatic phase. The thing is that Moscow is just as dependent on Ukraine as Ukraine is dependent on Moscow. Gas transport to Europe through Ukraine is technically impossible to organize under the current conditions. So it is one thing to argue in the press, and a totally different one to ensure gas transit. As Russia is very interested in the European gas market, naturally, it will try to agree with Ukraine.”
“This Parliament which is being formed now shows that the Ukrainian public is quite consolidated with the thought of orienting itself towards the European value system. And as the attitude towards Ukraine can probably not get any worse in Russia thanks to the influence of the media, I expect an improvement of the relations. With harsh rhetoric, there will be a pragmatic need to search for compromise. It is clear that the Rada will have a definite pro-European majority. And this is good, because Poroshenko will no longer have to prove that he is European. And this is where clearly economical agreements surface. There is no need for drama. They can sit down and clearly talk through the conditions of gas transit and gas supplies to Ukraine, which is now the main problem in light of the winter. So I think that in both Moscow and Kyiv, a calmer, more pragmatic approach will take over. Nobody in Moscow is hoping to return Ukraine under their wing anymore. It’s over. We’re through. This is my moderately optimistic opinion in regard to the election results.”
The State Duma has already stated that they respect the choice of the Ukrainian people who participated in the vote.