Wednesday, February 19th 2014
The most underreported crisis in the world may finally be getting the attention it deserves.
Ukraine has had a rough path since independence, especially when measured against the hopes that were raised there after the collapse of the Soviet Union. For the last two decades, the country has been plagued by corruption and economic hardship as competing factions have struggled for control. Now the ideological division between those who see the best prospects for Ukraine’s future in the West, and those who prefer the view toward Moscow, has erupted into violence. Anti-government rallies that began as largely peaceful demonstrations several months ago, after President Viktor Yanukovych chose an economic bailout offer from Russia over an economic integration pact from the European Union, were attacked yesterday by police, turning Kiev’s Independence Square into a blazing battleground.
What would hearten Ukraine’s pro-democracy demonstrators the most right now would be a message of support for their fight for freedom and the rule of law, from the countries that they would like Ukraine to emulate. Instead, what they have heard so far have been balanced calls by the United States and Europe for calm, and a condemnation by the U.S. National Security Council of the “street violence and excessive use of force on either side.” (One U.S. official who has spoken out publicly for Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence has been Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. Russian intelligence is believed to have struck back by secretly taping and leaking some private and undiplomatic remarks she made to a colleague criticizing the EU.)
Obviously Ukraine’s future should be determined by Ukrainians. But since many people around the world see the U.S. as the leading advocate of freedom and democracy, we need to show support for those who want to share our values, and that support must be clear and firm not only in our private but also in our public diplomacy.Read More