Friday 23 February 2018

Both the EU and America have been outgunned by Russia on Ukraine – now all the likely outcomes are bad

An anti-government protester mans a barricade in central Kiev. Reuters
An anti-government protester mans a barricade in central Kiev. Reuters
A man holds the hand of his dead son during the transfer of over a dozen of corpses from a hotel lobby to a local hospital following clashes with riot police at Independence Square in Kiev February 20, 2014.

Edward Lucas

As Kiev burns, Western policymakers are eating ashes. Our efforts to help Ukraine towards Europe, democracy and the rule of the law have failed spectacularly. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is celebrating not just sporting triumph in Sochi, but geopolitical victory in the affairs of his most important neighbour.

It is easy to over-complicate the Ukraine story with historical, ethnic and geographical details. The country is often said to be split between east and west, between Russian- and Ukrainian-speakers, between those nostalgic for Soviet certainties and those who want a Western-style future. Ukraine's business elite is divided, too, between the cronies of President Viktor Yanukovych and those who resent his predatory ways. But the real picture is much simpler.

Most Ukrainians want their country to be part of Europe. Russia, the former imperial master, forbids this. It wants Ukraine to be part of its new Eurasian Economic Union – a counterweight to the European Union, run by crooks and spooks in Moscow, rather than eurocrats in Brussels.

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