But one analyst close to Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime says that Yushchenko's decision to back his former rival represents a small victory for Russia.
"I feel satisfaction, because it seems that Yushchenko has finally admitted the people's will and has not dared throw the country into another crisis," Sergei Markov, a prominent political analyst known for his pro-Kremlin-views, told RFE/RL. "The ideology that Yushchenko proposed, calling it an ideology of national harmony, is in fact an ideology of national division. The majority of Ukrainian citizens firmly support the idea of Ukraine developing together with Russia. But Viktor Yushchenko is against this."
Yanukovych On The Rise
Many Ukraine observers see the president's decision as a reversal of the Orange Revolution that ushered the Western-leaning Yushchenko into power.
Yanukovych, who lost against his rival Yushchenko in December 2004 after huge street protests contested his initial election victory in November, is making an unexpected comeback.
But Markov says this is just a small victory for Russia.
"It seems that some kind of compromise has been reached," Markov said. "Obviously, a clause on the common economic zone [Single Economic Space] will be added to the agenda, and not only NATO. Russia is the one that should be [Ukraine's] strategic partner. Of course, this victory is not enough for pro-Russian forces. Ukraine is under the influence of external forces, most of all of the United States. Unfortunately, Russia's influence is absolutely minimal."
By nominating Yanukovych, Yushchenko avoided dissolving parliament and the calling of new elections.
New Coalition On The Way
Yanukovych is now expected to lead a coalition government backed by his Party of Regions and Yushchenko's Our Ukraine, and possibly the Socialist Party.
The Communist Party, which had been a member of the "anti-crisis" coalition with the Socialist Party and the Party of Regions, is likely to be left out of the new formation.
Ukraine: Kremlin Insider Hails Developments