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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Anyone Care About Ukraine’s Implosion? Cold War Shivers -- By Michael Auslin, National Review

While the rest of the world fixates on either Iran’s move to undercut its way to a North Korean–style victory in the just-signed P5+1 nuclear agreement or China’s attempts to establish a zone of control in the East China Sea, the implosion of Ukraine is getting barely any attention by geopolitical strategists. As Eastern Europe’s second-largest country, after Russia, its population of 47 million nearly the size of Spain’s, Ukraine’s fitful post–Cold War history has always been of crucial importance for the future of Europe as a whole. The struggle over whether Ukraine would embrace the liberal West or stay within the shadow of an increasingly authoritarian Russia was seen in part as a referendum on democracy in the former Soviet Bloc. Nearly a decade ago, the massive demonstrations known as the Orange Revolution denied current president Victor Yanukovich a fraud-tainted victory in his first run for office. When he took power after a second run in 2010, many worried that Yanukovich was too accommodating to Moscow.

Those fears may be proved right, after all. The often-overlooked struggle between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Europe’s liberal states for influence in Central and Eastern Europe has now resulted in the most serious Ukrainian crisis since the 2004 Orange Revolution. Buckling under to Putin’s relentless pressure, Yanukovich last week scrapped a free-trade negotiation with the European Union that was considered a central piece of the country’s larger turn toward the West. Over a week of protests in response have erupted, but the capital is currently besieged by hundreds of thousands of protesters, who are facing increasingly violent riot police. The very latest news says that Yanukovich is now reconsidering the trade pact, after all. This makes the situation even more volatile, yet moving in the right direction.

At least three quick observations come to mind while the clash plays out:

1. Ukrainians clearly want a more liberal society and ties to the rest of Europe. Yanukovich campaigned on closer ties to Europe, despite concerns over his weakness vis-á-vis Moscow, and his about-face is what has outraged protesters. This is a good sign, but it cannot be simply appreciated by the West. European governments need to do more to show solidarity with democratically-inclined Ukrainians and make this a defining issue for the future of liberalism in Europe.

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