Kiev's relationship with Moscow has been as prone to tension as its relationship with the West has been prone to indecision. In 2005, 2007, and 2009, Russia either threatened to or did stop oil and natural gas from flowing to Ukraine. More recently, President Viktor Yanukovych was pressured to extend Russia's lease of a naval base at the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol for another 25 years in exchange for preferential pricing of Russian energy deliveries to Ukraine. The Kremlin continues to press Ukraine to join a "common economic space" with Russia, while gradually stripping Ukraine of direct control over its major industrial assets through mergers and takeovers by Russian firms. With America in decline, Europe would be less willing and able to reach out and incorporate Ukraine into an expanding Western community, leaving Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian designs.
At stake: The renewal of Russian imperial ambitions.
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