Ukraine: Fear of Being Russia’s Next Target
KIEV, Ukraine — For 17 years now, several former satellites and republics of the Soviet Union have cherished their democracies, all made possible by the simple premise that the days of Russian dominance were over.
The events in Georgia over the past week have made them rethink that idea. Poland announced Thursday that it had reached a deal with Washington to base American missile interceptors on its territory, after months of talks. But then a Russian general went so far as to say that Poland might draw Russian nuclear retaliation, sending new shudders through the region.
The sense of alarm may be greatest here in Ukraine. Since the Orange Revolution began in 2004, bringing the pro-Western Viktor A. Yushchenko to power after widespread protests, Ukraine has been a thorn in Moscow’s side, though perhaps not as sharp as the outspoken Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili.
“We’re next,” said Tanya Mydruk, 22, an office assistant who lives in Kiev, the capital. “Sooner or later our president is going to say or do something that goes too far, and then it will start.”
Ukraine has done little to win Russia’s favor since the crisis in the Caucasus began. On Wednesday, Ukraine announced that it would restrict the movements of Russia’s Black Sea fleet into Sevastopol, on the Crimean peninsula. On Friday, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it was prepared to give Western countries access to its missile-warning systems.
“What happened here in the last week certainly came as a shock, not only to Georgia but to a lot of others as well,” said Peter Semneby, the European Union’s special representative for the South Caucasus. “A lot of people will, as a result of this, want to build a closer relationship with their Western partners as quickly as possible.”