This link takes you to a New York Times feed on the situation in eastern Europe. It is interminable and not many of you will want to watch all of it, but please watch the first 4-5 minutes which show Ukrainians being allowed for the first time to pad through Viktor Yanukovich’s opulent estate — including a private zoo! — just outside Kyiv. What a thug that man is! The footage puts the lie to Putin’s assertion that the events in the Ukrainian capital are the result of western agitation — nonsense, Ukrainians have been reacting to the venality of their Russian supported leadership.
If you persist a little further in the Times feed you’ll come across many scenes of activity in Independence Square, Kyiv, fresh-faced young Ukrainians celebrating their new found spirit, cohesivenes, power, etc. — and I am reduced literally to tears. They may have forced the thug Yanukovich to flee, but now they’re up against the no. 1 thug. Putin has made it clear in the last few days that Ukrainians can have territorial integrity, or closer ties with Europe, but not both. All those enthusiastic idealists are faced with a stark choice: watch their country be dismembered (losing Crimea, probably the eastern areas around Kharkiv, and perhaps even the south around Odesa) and become part of the EU, or remain one country under Russia’s thumb.
The choice becomes even more tragic when one realizes that no western country will lift a finger to help, even though the US, UK and France (along with Russia) guaranteed Ukrainian territorial integrity in return for that country dismantling its nuclear arsenal after the collapse of the Soviet Union (few people realize the Ukraine was briefly the 3rd most potent nuclear nation on earth). Another complication, the Tatars – fiercely anti-Russian inhabitants on the Crimea and adjoining areas – at least had some protection under Ukrainian rule, under the Russians their future is bleak, and there are other ethnic minorities in similar circumstances. I could go on.
I fervently hope that a new leader will arise from the ashes of Independence Square, someone strong enough to stand up to Putin but wise enough to recognize that Ukraine cannot ignore its giant Russian neighbour — it would be like Canada thumbing its nose at the US and inviting China to set up naval and nuclear bases in the St. Lawrence valley. A middle ground must be sought and found, and the west has to find non-military tools to coerce the Russians into playing the game. But boy, do I ache for those fresh faced kids!
PS: Tymoshenko can’t fill the bill, her history is tainted and her health is failing.