Have you been following the position of the United States on Ukraine? Probably not since it has not been carried in most mainstream newspapers. Last Friday “US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has warned about serious consequences that the use of force against the participants in the rally in support for Ukraine’s European integration in Kyiv could have for Ukraine’s bilateral relations with the US.”
Shortly after receiving this warning from the U.S. the Ukraine government sent Swat-type police into Maidan Nezalezhnost (Independence Square) at 4:00 am to clear it of demonstrators (click on video) who were camped out in tents by beating many severely. The alleged reason given was they needed to put up a Christmas tree The sign shown in the picture above is a response to those in power. It says: “Choke on your Christmas Tree.”
There are over 45 million people in Ukraine. Its population is similar to that of Spain, making it the 5th or 6th largest country in Europe. It is important to the peace of Europe that it be kept in the west camp rather than slipping into the orbit of the newly aggressive Russia. The EU has recently been rebutted by Ukraine in its attempt to form an alliance caused by the enormous pressure that Russian has been putting on Ukraine The youth of Ukraine are upset.
There is a big tug of war in that country which recently extricated itself from decades of Russian control, sort of similar to the struggle the Irish had under the rule of the Britain. Among the events hidden from the people in the U.S. was the Holodomor when Stalin’s forces in 1932-33 requisitioned food stores, deported peasants or forbade them from leaving the land, carried out mass executions and put people in prison. This was accomplished in conjunction with the New York Times foreign correspondent in the Soviet Union, Walter Durante. A description of Durante is here. He won the Pulitzer Prize for praising Stalin and pretending the starvation of up to 10 million Ukrainians didn’t occur.
Like in the 1930s, the U.S. seems at a loss what to do about Ukraine. Russia wants to gobble it up; the U.S. is making no overt efforts to stop this or to woo it into the embrace of the West. It is because Obama can’t make up his mind when it comes to Vladimir Putin the old KGB hand. Like the Chinese, the Russians have taken the measure of Obama. I talked about Putin’s slipping one by Obama during the Syrian crisis. This time I’ve been told it is different.
I’ve heard it said that Obama made a deal with Putin: if Putin got Iran to come to an agreement then Obama would let Russian swallow Ukraine. Right now it is said Putin is behind the crack down on the Ukrainian protestors; however, unlike in Russia where he has intimidated the population the Ukrainians are resisting.
Putin’s not taking it lying down. He has said during a visit in Italy,“I ask our friends in Brussels, my personal good friends in the European Commission, to hold back on the sharp words.” Note he didn’t have to remonstrate with Obama who is already ignoring Putin’s grab.
If Putin’s attains his goal through taking advantage of the deal with Obama or because of Obama’s pusillanimity one person noted: “But Ukraine would nonetheless become the jewel in Putin’s neo-imperial crown, the indispensable province restoring the proud Soviet patrimony he recalls nostalgically from his days as a patriot schoolboy when the world stood in awe and fear of the mighty Soviet Union.”
That person also noted: “With Ukraine, Russia is an empire; without it, it cannot be one.” With Obama in power our policy toward Ukraine has been muddled and fickle. Now with the government brutally suppressing the rights of free speech American newspapers are beginning to a mention of it.
When we warn the Ukrainian government not to do something and they go ahead and do it and we don’t do anything we’re sending out the message of impotence; the same message sent out during the Clinton years when people like Osama bin Laden thought we were a toothless tiger and mistakenly thought he could attack us without any consequences. The price of looking away in the face of brutal aggression can be very high.
On Sunday young Ukrainian students and others anxious to see their country move closer to the values of the West were out on the streets of Kiev peacefully protesting the government’s brutality. This happened previously in Iran when the Green Revolution was occurring. Obama made a speech about the Iran uprising but did little else. With Ukraine he has not uttered a word.
Unless he acts soon, Obama’s legacy will be the subversion of Ukraine and the empowerment of a hostile Russia.