There is an interesting piece about Ukraine in the International Herald-Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times. In it, Nicholas Kulish and Sara Rhodin report from Kiev on a growing sense of fear that Ukraine will be the next target of the new Russian Empire.
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 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.”
Let’s not forget that the “our president” of whom Mydruk speaks is Viktor Yuschenko, who in 2004 was poisoned with dioxin following dinner with the head of Ukranian intelligence, who has ties to the FSB, the successor of the KGB. From Wikipedia:
Many have linked Yushchenko’s poisoning to a dinner with a group of senior Ukrainian officials, including the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Ihor Smeshko, and the Deputy Head Volodymyr Satsiuk, on the evening before Yushchenko fell ill. In connection to that, theories of links to the Russian FSB arose. Victor Medvechuk, President Kuchma’s Chief of Staff during the time of the poisoning, and Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a close ally of Kuchma’s close friend Oleksandr Volkov, Yulia Timoshenko and David Zhvaniya, were also named as possible co-conspirators in the case. Currently, Satsiuk and two others present at the dinner have fled to Russia where they remain in hiding from Ukraine authorities. It is rumored they have received Russian citizenship.
This snapshot, from the Flickr stream of someone who apparently served with the Peace Corps in Ukraine, clearly shows the pockmarks on Yuschenko’s skin as a result of the dioxin poisoning.