Henry Meyer
Bloomberg
August 13, 2008

Now that Russia has humiliated Georgia with a punishing military offensive, it may shift its attention to reining in pro-Western Ukraine, another American ally in the former Soviet Union.

Moving to counter any threat, Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko today restricted the movement of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, based in the port of Sevastopol, citing national security.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s first order of business in confronting Ukraine likely will be to try to thwart its bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“The Moscow authorities will use this opportunity to remind Ukraine of the damages of allying itself with NATO,” said Geoffrey Smith at Renaissance Capital investment bank in Kiev.

The U.S. has long seen Georgia and Ukraine as counterweights to Russia’s influence in the region. Opposition leaders in the two countries came to power after U.S.-backed popular protests in 2003 and 2004. Their ascension advanced an American strategy of expanding NATO to include both countries and securing energy routes from the Caspian Sea that bypass Russia. The BP Plc-led Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to Turkey runs through Georgia.

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