Mr. Cohen provided an interesting piece, but there are several points that require clarification, as they are sufficiently important to alter the perception of the crisis.
First, ethnic Russians do not make up the majority of the population of eastern Ukraine. The average is about 40 percent, though in some provinces it is in excess of 50 percent.
Second, the ethnic Russians are not monolithic advocates of a return to Mother Russia. Quite the contrary, a significant percentage, especially among the young, look to the EU and the West for a better life with more high-paying jobs. And while almost all the ethnic Russians do want to preserve their language, culture and religion, they consider themselves to be Ukrainians with no desire for the stagnation of being part of Russia. So Russian occupation would be widely viewed as a conquest, not a liberation.
Third, Yanukovych and the Party of Regions ran in 2010 on a platform including a plank promising to ‘seal the deal’ with the EU. This should not be downplayed. Thus, his ‘about face’ was condemned across the country as a betrayal of the national will; more so in western Ukraine, where he was loathed for his corrupt effort to steal the 2004 election which led to the Orange Revolution, and where he was regarded as Putin’s creature, which turned out to be quite correct.
Fourth, Russia is and will continue to be Ukraine’s largest trading partner. Ukraine is almost totally dependent upon Russia for gas and petroleum products. If the country survives Putin’s imperialism, it will be years before its own resources are developed. Thus, peaceful relations with Russia are required for national survival.
And fifth, the West must prove that it has learned something from history, especially 1938-9. And Ukraine/Crimea is the place to start. If the West is not willing to protect a relatively new democracy that looks to the EU and USA for support and protection, then tyranny is on the march, again. A far better analysis would be the cost of doing to little now versus what we must pay later.
Kent R Crawford, PhD
Apr 2 2014 - 1:34pm