Glen Ruffle

How the mighty have fallen. From bouncer to President, and now fugitive on the run, Victor Yanukovich must be regretting letting his and his country’s future slip from the strong position he held. Having set a new foreign policy and positioned Ukraine in an intriguing middle-way position between Europe and Russia, failure to deal with his own cronyism and corruption is likely to lead to serious long-term instability for the country.

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The global financial mess, despite headlines, is still very much with us. Quantitative Easing (QE) has bought the West time, but the long-term effects of this deliberate devaluation of the currencies of America and Europe will ripple across the world; already the mere tapering of QE has caused emerging market jitters.

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Recent remarks from the top of the European Commission have added more evidence to the mound of facts on the real intentions of Brussels. Viviane Reding, Vice President of the Commission, stated as clearly as she could that “We need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a ‘Senate’ of Member States”.

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President Victor Yanukovych of Ukraine has caused shock and embarrassment in Brussels by shunning the EU’s association agreement and instead choosing to pursue a middle-way relationship placing Kyiv at the heart of two blocks: Russia in the East and the EU in the West. This was exactly the course argued for on these pages on 10 September.

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The modern world is characterised today by anarchy. Only twenty years ago, there was clear hegemony, providing structure and order. Now, as that fades, so new forces are emerging, and we live in the dangerous ‘in-between’ time. The European Union does nothing to mitigate this risk.

International Relations theory has tended to look down on state-centric ‘realist’ views of the world, in which states compete, seeking their own self-interest. The alternative liberal model sees states cooperating, building institutions to govern their behaviour, and integrating for safety. The increasing complexity of their ties, and the increasing sharing of their powers, leads to peace and security.

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Ukraine’s journey either to
the East or the West is heading nowhere. This enormous country is still one
undergoing transition: when Victor Yushenko swept
to power as President of Ukraine in 2004, many in the West hoped for an opening
of markets and a compliant new ally. History, however, does not just let go.
With over a thousand years of close connections with Russia, Ukraine found
itself in an identity crisis. Those in the West of the country,
with the least connections with Moscow, wanted more Europe; those in the East opted to
maintain their historical legacy. Yushenko and his Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko,
nevertheless moved the country towards the EU.

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