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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.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Springtime in Kiev, or Just Another Winter Storm? -- By Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest


With a revolution on, the chances that events in Ukraine could provoke a dangerous confrontation between Russia and the West may be increasing.


For the third time in a generation, there is revolution in Ukraine. For the second time in a decade, Viktor Yanukovych has been overthrown in Kiev. It is impossible not to rejoice that the goons and thugs who sought to tie Ukraine to Putin’s imperial project by massacring their fellow citizens in the streets of Kiev were defeated. But it is much too soon to conclude that the next Ukrainian government, whatever it may be, will be any more successful than its predecessors.

Worse, if anything the chances that events in Ukraine could provoke a dangerous confrontation between Russia and the West may be increasing.

None of the core facts in Ukraine changed last night. Ukraine is a divided country with a weak state and ineffective institutions. The oligarchs who clawed their way to the top when communism collapsed still hold their ill-gotten gains, still manage their business affairs in the Wild East ways of the post-Soviet days, still dominate politics and economic development and have yet to be brought under any kind of effective legal control. Ukraine’s abject energy dependence on Russia creates a sea of political and economic problems which no Ukrainian government since independence has been able to manage. The political leadership of virtually every major party or movement in Ukrainian life is sketchy at best; many are corrupt tools of business interests, some are inexperienced hotheads with ties to dubious forms of ultra-nationalist ideology. The country is still close to insolvent, with no way to pay large debts coming due. Russia, a predatory neighbor with dreams of subverting Ukraine’s independence, still enjoys the support, purchased or sincere, of a significant network inside Ukraine’s establishment. The EU remains divided over the prospect of Ukrainian membership; the EU also faces tight fiscal constraints as it struggles in the toils of its ongoing euro catastrophe.

These problems have led to the failure of every Ukrainian government since independence; unless something changes they will likely also doom whatever government emerges from the current turmoil as well.

 The problem for the outsiders interested in Ukraine’s fate is a simple one, and it is shared by both Russia and the West. There are lots of intelligent, hard working people in Ukraine, but the country’s deep divisions and weak institutions make it impossible for any government to carry out the kinds of policy changes that could attach the country firmly either to Brussels or Moscow. The ‘westerners’ in Ukrainian politics cannot comply with EU demands to cleanse the state and political institutions from the shady influence of corrupt oligarchs; the ‘easterners’ cannot suppress or control the violent revulsion against the Kremlin and its methods that dominates the politics and culture of half the country.
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