Ukrainians will head to the polls ahead of schedule:
President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine signed an order on Thursday to dissolve Parliament and hold snap elections, raising new uncertainties about Ukraine’s tilt toward the West at a moment when the country has become a focal point of rising tensions with Russia.
The move resulted from a worsening rift between Ukraine’s two top leaders, Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, one-time allies who have become bitter rivals with differing visions of how Ukraine should handle relations with Russia and West.
The vote, scheduled for Dec. 7, will test Yushchenko’s drive to solidify ties with the United States and Europe and steer Ukraine, part of the former Soviet Union, toward membership in NATO, a step that would be likely to antagonize Russia.
This looks like a smart move for westward-leaning Yushchenko. Putin’s punitive imperium has got Eastern Europe rattled to its core. Within days of last summer’s Georgia War, Poland and Czech Republic both ended years of waffling and agreed to host US BMD bases. In fact, if Yushchenko has made a mistake here, it was not calling for his snap election in September, when his people were still really very seriously nervously riled up. That said, we can still probably trust Ukraine to do the right thing.
I wish American voters were that farsighted this year, but what is to be done?