In the early years of independence, Ukraine’s crucial accomplishment was the establishment a degree of sovereignty and independence that few thought possible. Since that time, Ukrainian foreign policy has largely stagnated. Despite attempts of various internal leaders to adopt decisive policies, and despite significant external pressure, Ukraine has done very little. This paper reviews the first 20 years of Ukrainian foreign policy and accounts for the inertia that has developed. Ukraine’s foreign policy passivity results from three uneasy balances: an external balance between the pulls of Russia and the West; an internal balance between Ukraine’s regions, and an internal balance between forces of democracy and authoritarianism. These balances mean that while few are happy with Ukraine’s policy, no one has been able to decisively change it. While Ukraine’s domestic regional division is unlikely to change, change in the balance between domestic political forces or that between international forces could reduce the inertia in Ukrainian foreign politics, most likely leading to a drift toward Russia.

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