Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

In Ukraine, Fear of Being a Resurgent Russia’s Next Target

...The sense of alarm may be greatest here in Ukraine. Since the Orange Revolution began in 2004, bringing the pro-Western Viktor A. 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.”

Ukraine has done little to win Russia’s favor since the crisis in the Caucasus began. On Wednesday, Ukraine announced that it would restrict the movements of Russia’s Black Sea fleet into Sevastopol, on the Crimean peninsula. On Friday, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it was prepared to give Western countries access to its missile-warning systems...

...At Shevchenko Park (ed note: Hey, that's our park!) in the heart of Kiev, card games have gotten pretty heated since the fighting between Georgia and Russia began.

“Smart Russians keep silent and they still think about their fate in Ukraine,” said Vasyl Marsiuk, 70. He sat at one of the granite tables where older men also play dominos or checkers, in the shade of chestnut trees.

In his eyes, the Russians are the clear aggressors in the Caucasus conflict, and they are by no means finished with their ambitions for the region. “Ukraine is under the same threat, the same kind of Damocles sword,” he said.

Mr. Marsiuk spoke Ukrainian, but a man overhearing him launched into a defense of Russia, in Russian. “It was Georgia that started the conflict,” said the man, Pyotr Lyuty, 53, who said he had served in military intelligence in Soviet times...


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