Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 125

An equally critical message ensued from former foreign minister Hennady Udovenko, a key figure in setting Kyiv’s policy on a pro-Western course, currently a presidential aspirant and leader of one of the two wings of the national-democratic Rukh. Addressing an international conference in Berlin, organized by the German Society for Foreign Policy and the governing Social-Democrat Party, on “Ukraine in a contested space between East and West,” Udovenko remarked that Western–especially West European–“neglect of Ukraine results in strengthening the positions of Ukrainian leftist forces.” Cautioning against the “blunder of cold-shouldering Ukraine,” Udovenko concluded that now is the time for Western governments to make up their mind whether they want Europe to extend to the Ukrainian-Russian border or merely to the Polish-Ukrainian border (DPA, UNIAN, June 24-25).

The approaching presidential election in Ukraine evidently lent added urgency to Udovenko’s plea. His German Social-Democratic hosts were a particularly appropriate audience. The previous week in the Bundestag, the governing coalition of Social-Democrats and Greens–outvoting the Christian-Democrats–banned German financial assistance for the completion of two nuclear reactors in Ukraine that would have compensated for the closure of Chornobyl. The vote was partly the result of Green ideological pressure on the Social-Democrats; it probably drove another nail into the coffin of the unrequited 1995 Ottawa pledges (see item above), and may ultimately serve to promote Ukraine’s risky dependence on Russian gas, since the Bundestag resolution opened the possibility of German financial assistance to the construction gas-fired generators in Ukraine. The Bundestag decision also illustrates the way in which short-term internal political calculations–in this case, bargaining among the parties of the German coalition government–can prevail over strategic calculations in Western policy toward such a key country as Ukraine.–VS