Policy Memos

Is a Junior Partner Really a Partner? Making Sense of Ukrainian Foreign Policy

Policy Memo:


Publication Date:



There is a widely held belief among observers regarding the extent of change that has been implemented by Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and his team, particularly in the field of foreign policy. Indeed, Yanukovych has moved swiftly and decisively in the first months of his presidency. While agreeing on the scale of the new team’s initiatives, however, analysts often disagree about everything else. Some observers say his new foreign policy is a kind of revolution altering much of what has been done by previous presidents and dramatically shifting the priorities of Ukraine. Others believe that the president is merely returning to the politics of the time before ex-president Viktor Yushchenko, rather than inventing an entirely new agenda. Some think that Yanukovych’s policies are tactical, while others characterize them as strategic. Some believe that what the new team is doing is mostly caused by domestic political calculations; others hint about external pressures. All in all, there are numerous routes of explanation, none conclusive, and so Yanukovych’s actions must be closely examined.

About the author

Associate Professor, Department of International Relations
Mechnikov National University, Odessa