A 2-minute summary

14 03 2014

People have sometimes been asking me, “So, what do you think about Ukraine?” as if I can summarize that in 30 seconds or less. Readers of this blog know that such a summary is impossible, and that any attempt will be laughably partial, biased, and rapidly outdated by developing events.

But, for what it’s worth, here is the 2-minute version of my current response:

The Maidan was a popular revolt that turned into a revolution. It successfully overthrew an unpopular, elected but increasingly authoritarian president, who fled the capital when he saw the opposition was too strong and his supporters were abandoning him.

The core of Maidan aims for a democratic transformation of a politically corrupt, oligarchic order. While the opposition included Ukrainians from the entire country and from all across the political spectrum, it was more strongly supported in western and central Ukraine, and the nationalist right wing took advantage of it to gain prominence and legitimacy. The interim government, whose main role is to stabilize the country and lead the way to presidential and parliamentary elections, is diverse, credible, professional, and constitutionally legitimate; but it over-represents the nationalist (and in a handful of cases ultra-nationalist) right wing.

Once the new government was in place, Russia acted swiftly to enter Crimea and consolidate control over it (legitimizing its moves by reference to those same ultra-nationalists). Putin’s goals in this were (1) to destabilize Ukraine and provoke counter-reactions within the country, (2) to demonstrate Russia’s interest in maintaining influence over at least part of Ukraine’s territory, and (3) to consolidate his support base around the idea of a Russian-led Eurasian geopolitical counterforce to the West.

Given Russia’s authoritarianism and its violation of international norms in Crimea, Ukrainian efforts to preserve the country’s territorial integrity should be unreservedly and strongly supported. Given Ukraine’s precarious economy, Ukraine should also be given substantial financial aid without pressure to derail its already fragmented social safety net.



3 responses

24 01 2018
Julianne Webre

Very powerful content

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