Saturday, 3 July 2010

Financial Times: Clinton treads lightly during Ukraine visit

Roman Olearchyk writes: On the first day of a tour into Russia’s back yard, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, moved carefully to reaffirm American support for Ukraine, while cautiously expressing concern over an alleged “Kremlin-styled” roll-back in liberties.

The Friday visit, which is to be followed in coming days with stopovers in Poland, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, comes amidst concerns that Russia was seeking to boost influence over its neighbours in the wake of President Barack Obama’s ‘reset’ policy. The tour is seen as attempt to reaffirm US support for struggling democracies and economies in the region.

The tone delivered by Ms Clinton’s speech in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, was one of mixed praise and light criticism, seemingly gentle enough so as not to push the nation further toward Moscow. It was closely watched amidst rising complaints that democratic and press freedoms have suffered – and that the country may have tilted too far toward Russia four months into the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych.

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