World » Former USSR
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Former USSR states aimed to diminish Russia's role as peacekeeper

Russia will have to tackle quite a few problems if Ukraine means to turn GUAM into an instrument for pursuing its foreign policy

Second inter-parliamentary assembly of GUAM, a group comprising Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldavia, was held in the city of Yalta last Saturday. The members of the group made fresh statements about their intentions to join NATO. They also agreed to step up their cooperation with the EU, OSCE, and NATO. The GUAM members are planning to join forces for “settling conflicts and fighting against separatism and extremism.” The implementation of the plans can diminish the role of Russia as a main peacekeeper in the former Soviet Union.

Addressing the participants of the assembly, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said he was confident that GUAM would play a big role in the “prosperity of democracy in the Caspian and Black Sea region.” Lately GUAM has been in “a state of anabiosis”, but its activity levels are going to rise dramatically from now on, according to the Speaker of Ukraine's parliament Vladimir Litvin. Mr. Litvin promised to create “an area of democracy, sustainable development and security within the bounds of a unified Europe.”

He pointed out that Ukraine was not going to turn its back on Ukraine's friends in the East and South after setting course for the integration into the European Union. According to him, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Armenia, and other countries located around the Black Sea, Caspian and the Baltic Sea may as well join the GUAM project “that looks promising.” Russia and other key players of the region will be also involved because in a world of economic globalization “you should be a part of the game, otherwise decisions will be taken for you by somebody else.”

Russia will have to tackle quite a few problems if Ukraine means to turn GUAM into an instrument for pursuing its foreign policy. Ukraine was unusually persistent in recent talks with Russia for the demarcation of the Azov-Kerch water area and the Black Sea.

Russia objects to demarcation of the Kerch Strait on the basis of Soviet-era administrative boundaries. Russia would lose control over two thirds of the Kerch Strait in this case. Consequently, Russia would have to pay political and financial costs. Kiev accused Moscow of applying double standards to the issue. Ukraine reminded Russia that the latter requested to acknowledge the former internal Soviet boundary as a state border between Russia and Estonia in the Gulf of Narva and the Gulf of Finland. Ukraine has been pressing for the demarcation of the Kerch Strait in a similar way “in line with the international law.”

“An algorithm of the Ukrainian foreign policy has not yet shaped up,” said Victor Nebozhenko, a Ukrainian political analyst. Ukraine is unlikely to become a top player in the anti-Russian game because of the high percentage of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine, according to Mr. Nebozhenko. Speaking to Vremya Novostei, Mr. Nebozhenko said that Ukraine was putting pressure on Russia in the talks on the Kerch Strait demarcation in an attempt to resolve the issues relating to the Transdniestre region, an huge area rife with murky business deals and smuggling going on in close proximity to the Ukrainian borders. “Ukraine is extremely interested in getting Russia's help for resolving the Transdniestre issue,” said Mr. Nebozhenko.