Tymoshenko Appointment Won’t Alter Russia-Ukraine Interdependencies

Tymoshenko Appointment Won’t Alter Russia-Ukraine Interdependencies

In her first major comments on relations with Russia, Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's new Prime Minister, last month insisted that she had no intentions of worsening relations with Russia: "I will strive to establish a relationship of equal partnership," she said.

Although Ukraine held its most recent round of legislative elections on Sept. 30, 2007, it was only on Dec. 18, that the so-called "Orange bloc" parties aligned with President Viktor Yushchenko consolidated their narrow victory by securing the appointment of Tymoshenko, currently the country's most influential and popular politician, as prime minister. Yushchenko had actually appointed Tymoshenko as prime minister of the first post-Orange Revolution government in February 2005, only to dismiss her in September following months of debilitating infighting among coalition members over economic reform and other issues.

The protracted infighting that delayed formation of the new government, as well as its slim two-vote majority, casts doubt on the new governing coalition's durability. The intense maneuvering among faction leaders makes clear they are already seeking to position themselves for the 2009 presidential elections, in which Tymoshenko and Yushchenko could both run as competing reform candidates against former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, whose party again received the single largest number of vote and legislative seats in the national elections.

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