Although the European Union has always considered Ukraine as a partner based on its principle of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), many western countries currently support the establishment of closer ties with Ukraine going beyond co-operation to gradual political and economic corporation and eventual integration of Ukraine into both the European Union and the NATO umbrella (Umland, 2011, 36).
On the other hand, the Russia has always opposed the idea of Ukraine joining the European Union arguing that such moves would be incompatible with the Russia’s national interests as well as the good relations between Russia and Ukraine as former members of the Soviet Union. This is particularly in view of the fact that the Ukrainian population is made up of more than 20% ethnic Russians and Russia is fears losing this population in the event that Ukraine joins EU. This paper critically analyzes the current issue of Ukraine joining the European Union with particular focus to the background of the issue, current developments, different viewpoints and the major obstacles that have prevented the integration.
Ukraine became an independent state in 1991 following the collapse and dissolution of the Soviet Union. The newly independent state was premised on three important goals namely, self determination, free market economy and democracy. However, the Ukraine together with Belarus and Russia soon formed a regional economic integration block that was named the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The organization particularly sought to improve the economy of the former members of the Soviet Union by ensuring common trade policies and customs between the member states (Oudenaren, 2004, 277).
Prior to the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Ukraine had a stronger economy in comparison to most regions of the Soviet Union. However, the country experiences serious economic problems between 1991 and 1999, resulting in the loss of up to