At the start of the year, their nations were engaged in a bitter spat over gas. But today Viktor Yushchenko and Vladimir Putin shook hands in a signal the row is over. In their first face-to-face meeting since the crisis, the pair held talks in Kazakhstan, where they were attending an inauguration ceremony for President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The deal that settled the row between Ukraine and Russia is however causing domestic chaos for the man propelled to power by the 2004 Orange Revolution. It yesterday prompted the Kiev parliament to sack his government, in a move slammed as “unconstitutional” by Yushchenko. The vote was yet another blow for the president who has struggled to hang onto the euphoria that marked his dramatic rise to power. The rebellion was largely led by Yulia Timoshenko, Yushchenko’s ally in the revolution and now fierce opponent after he sacked her as prime minister last September.
With one eye on elections in March, deputies backed the no-confidence motion against the government to express their anger over the accord in which Kiev agreed to pay nearly twice as much as it previously did for imported Russian gas. The deal was struck after Moscow cut off supplies on New Year’s Day.