Is Ukraine Next? Georgian War Exacerbates Russia-Ukraine Relations

Is Ukraine Next? Georgian War Exacerbates Russia-Ukraine Relations

The War in Georgia has seriously exacerbated relations between Russia and Ukraine's pro-Western government. On Aug. 12, Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko joined the leaders of four other former Soviet states in Tbilisi to show solidarity with Georgia and its embattled president, Mikheil Saakashvili. Yushchenko told the crowd that had assembled in Tbilisi's central square: "You will never be left alone! . . . We have come to reaffirm your sovereignty, your independence, your territorial integrity. These are our values. Independent Georgia is and independent Georgia will always be!"

The following day, President Yushchenko boldly imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Russian military units in Ukraine. Specifically, he directed that Russian warships, warplanes, or other military units give 72 hours' notice before moving within Ukrainian territory. The order also applies to ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet seeking to reenter their home base at Sevastopol. The Russian Foreign Ministry attacked the measures as a "serious, new anti-Russian step."

Ukrainian officials claimed that the restrictions were not a direct result of the Russian military intervention in Georgia. Instead, they maintain that they had long sought to regulate more effectively Russian operations at the Sevastopol base, but that Moscow had repeatedly delayed commencing talks on the issue by arguing that it had no plan to employ the Black Sea Fleet in foreign military operations.

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