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A Small Power’s Strategy: Poland and the Ukrainian Crisis of 2004

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Wiatr, Jerzy J.

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Abstract Political scientists discussed the role of the smaller states in several studies published in the 1960s and 70s. They focused on policy choices a small power faced when joining multinational alliances and within them. Recently, attention has focused on how many a small powers can influence political developments both within the alliances they belong to and outside them. Poland’s involvement in the negotiated solution of the Ukrainian political crisis of 2004 shows that a smaller power can use its assets to influence events. When the political scene in Ukraine polarized between two camps (respectively represented by Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych and the opposition leader Victor Yushchenko) Russia tried to influence the outcome by giving support to Yanukovych. The United States and the European Union remained neutral in the crisis, mostly due to their unwillingness to damage their relations with Russia. When the run-off election had been rigged and Yushchenko’s supporters began street protests, Polish public opinion solidly sided with the Ukrainian opposition. Poland’s President Aleksander Kwasniewski, in a series of visits to Kiev, helped both sides of the Ukrainian crisis to reach a negotiated compromise. The run-off results were declared void by the Supreme Court and in the repeated vote Yushchenko won the presidency. Poland was able to help her neighbour to chose a democratic solution to the crisis and continues to support Ukraine’s efforts to join the European Union. In the long run such policy serves Poland’s interests but its immediate consequence has been a deterioration in Polish-Russian relations.
Keywords Ukraine
Classification International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy
Free Keywords small powers; international strategy; presidential election; orange revolution; Poland; Russia; European Union
Document language English
Publication Year 2005
Page/Pages p. 93-103
Journal Politics in Central Europe (2005) 1
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications