"On February 7, 2010, Viktor Yanukovych defeated Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko to win Ukraine's presidency. International monitors praised the conduct of the election, although Tymoshenko charged that the election had been fraudulent. Yanukovych was able to quickly to form a new parliamentary majority in the current parliament by inducing dozens of supporters of the previous government to change sides. The global economic crisis hit Ukraine hard. Ukraine's real Gross Domestic Product fell by an estimated 15% in 2009. The economy began to recover in 2010, due in part to a surge in demand for Ukrainian steel exports. However, living standards for many Ukrainians remain low, leading to a rapid drop in Yanukovych's popularity when compared to the period soon after his inauguration. [...] The Obama Administration has worked to 'reset' relations with Russia, but has warned that it will not accept any country's assertion of a sphere of influence, a reminder of U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty. The Administration has not publicly expressed concern about what some observers view as the increasing pro-Russian tilt of Ukraine's foreign policy under Yanukovych. The Administration has focused on practical issues, such as helping Ukraine rid itself of its supplies of highly enriched uranium, and diversifying Ukraine's sources of energy, including advice on unconventional natural gas development. Administration officials have expressed concerns about regression in Ukraine's democratic development since Yanukovych took power, including in such areas as media freedoms, election laws and the conduct of elections, and perceived selective prosecution of the government's political opponents."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33460