Ukraine's political infighting and tensions with Russia threaten its path to stability and integration with the West, warns a new report issued today by the Council on Foreign Relations.
"A more divided Ukraine would be less able to formulate a coherent foreign policy course with which the U.S. government could engage; it could even be driven to reorient itself on a more Moscow-focused course," says report author Steven Pifer, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center on the United States and Europe and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
On the crucial NATO question, the report, Averting Crisis in Ukraine, urges the United States to support continued Ukrainian integration with NATO. But it also recommends waiting to back concrete steps toward membership until the nation is more stable.
Pifer cites the Ukraine's fractious politics, a deeply divided public opinion and economic recession. He also examines Russia's increasingly assertive foreign policy—including issues related to the continued presence and eventual withdrawal of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Ukrainian and European dependence on Russia's energy.
"The Kremlin believes that an unstable Ukraine is in its interest. Such instability makes Ukraine an unattractive political model for Russians as well as an unattractive candidate for NATO or the European Union," says Pifer.
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