Ukraine: The Next Crisis?

The Russian invasion of Georgia has sent shock waves throughout the West and the former Soviet space - especially Ukraine. Indeed, Ukraine could be the next potential crisis.

Georgia's increasingly pro-Western course, including growing ties to NATO, has been a thorn in Moscow's side. But it did not pose a serious threat to Russian security. Georgia's army is small, ill-equipped and no match for Russia's, as was amply demonstrated this month.

Ukraine's integration into NATO, by contrast, would have far-reaching strategic consequences, ending any residual Russian hopes of forming a ampquot;Slavic Unionampquot; composed of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine - a dream that still beats in the breast of many Russians. It would also have important implications for the Russian defense industry, notably air defense and missile production.

In short, the real source of Moscow's anxiety and strategic angst is Ukraine's future political and security orientation. Georgia has largely been a side show.