The 2006 return of Viktor Yanukovych to the post of Ukrainian prime minister has again raised questions about the direction of Ukraine’s foreign policy. Will Ukraine continue along the path of Euro-Atlantic integration which the Orange Revolution articulated, or will it oscillate between two competing centers of gravity, Russia and the West, as was the case before 2004?
Many believe that Ukraine can do nothing else but fluctuate between Russia and the West. Economic and sociological facts seem to support this conclusion. In 2005, the European Union accounted for nearly 30 percent of Ukraine’s foreign trade; it replaced Russia as Ukraine’s top export market several years ago. At the same time, Russia lagged behind the EU in trade with Ukraine in 2005 by only one percentage point, and it remains an extremely important partner for Ukraine economically. As for foreign policy preferences, time and again approximately an identical number of Ukrainian survey respondents – 35 to 40 percent – name either Russia or the EU as Ukraine’s most important partner. [...]