Ukrainian strategic policy decisions have a direct impact on US policy in Eastern Europe. Ukraine is often at the forefront of political tensions between the US, EU and Russia. The gas crisis of 2009 resulted in the cutoff of natural gas supplies to Europe for nearly two weeks highlighting the importance of Ukrainian-Russian relations to Europe and the West. The Ukrainian government is still struggling with the democratic process and a weak ecomy. Ecomic demands are the driving component of Ukrainian strategic policy decisions. Ukraine's requirements for western ecomic aid and attempts to gain NATO membership have raised tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Russia has been perceived as increasingly assertive in its foreign policy actions in the region, particularly after the invasion of Georgia. Using energy policy and an increasing use of soft power, Russia has attempted to influence Ukrainian strategic policy. The current government of Ukraine has set a course balancing their needs from the west while placating some of Russia's issues such as the Black Sea Fleet, NATO and energy issues. The challenges that Ukraine faces and how they develop strategic policy will have important implications on United States foreign policy in the region.