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Ukraine heads back into the arms of Mother Russia

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Though there's little chance President-elect Yanukovich will be a Russian puppet, as some of his detractors claim, he will quickly put the kibosh on some of the quixotic anti-Moscow policies pursued by his predecessor, 2004 Orange Revolution hero Viktor Yushchenko, which included selling arms to Georgia, and recently naming Ukrainian anti-Soviet World War II guerrilla leader Stepan Bandera as a "Hero of Ukraine" -- which provoked a storm of outrage in Russia.

More seriously, Yanukovich might permanently shelve Ukraine's application to join NATO, slow down Mr. Yushchenko's plans to deepen economic cooperation with the European Union, and forget about the demands of Ukrainian nationalists to evict the Russian Navy from its historic Black Sea headquarters in Crimea.

"Geopolitical reality has shifted very markedly in favor of Russia, and Yanukovich's comeback reflects that," says Vadim Karasyov, director of the independent Institute of Global Strategies in Kiev. "There's going to be a very different tone in Kiev, and Russia will be much happier with us."

Tilting toward Moscow

Even Yulia Tymoshenko, who is still refusing to acknowledge Yanukovich's electoral victory, would have adopted a more Kremlin-friendly posture if she became president.

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