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Post-Soviet Russia, Belarus and Ukraine: challenging or embracing the West

Moscow, Dec 6 (EFE).- Thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and Belarus have chosen to take on the West, unlike Ukraine, the third signatory of the USSR dissolution, which has gone down the Euro-Atlantic route, away from its authoritarian neighbors.

Russia’s challenges to the West include deploying troops near Ukraine, border tensions with NATO, the annexation of the Crimean peninsula and supporting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region.

Troops amassing near Ukraine, the tensions with NATO on its borders, the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Moscow’s support of pro-Russian separatists in the eastern region of Donbas, the persecution of political opponents, the alleged poisoning of enemies, and the use of gas as a tool to pressure are just some of the challenges that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is posing to the West.

Belarus, meanwhile, has provoked Europe with the fraudulent election of president Aleksandr Lukashenko, the brutal repression of peaceful protests and by sending undocumented migrants to the borders of the European Union.

Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, on the other hand, has had a different approach.

The former comedian, who was only 13 years old when the USSR hell apart, in August celebrated his country’s “restoration of independence” from the Soviet Union.

His priority is to get Ukraine to join the EU and, above all, NATO, as promised by the alliance in 2008, in order to better counter the Russian threat.

Some 62 percent of Ukrainians would endorse joining the EU and 58% joining the Atlantic Alliance, compared to 51.1% who considered relations with Russia a priority in 2008, according to the Razumkov Center and the Rating sociological group.

The 2004 Orange Revolution and the coming to power of Viktor Yushchenko as president (2005-2010) and Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister proved to be the turning point in Ukraine’s relations with the West.

Under president Viktor Yanukovych (2010-2014), the focus shifted to Moscow until the Maidan revolution broke out in the winter of 2013-2014 due to the refusal of his government to sign the Association Agreement with the EU.

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