News / Europe

    Roundup: Opinions on Ukraine from American and Foreign Media

    People walk under a poster that reads, "Together with Russia. March 16 - referendum", in the centre of Simferopol, March 12, 2014.
    People walk under a poster that reads, "Together with Russia. March 16 - referendum", in the centre of Simferopol, March 12, 2014.
    The crisis in Ukraine has captured global attention and is generating a wide spectrum of opinion on its causes and solutions. Newspapers, blogs and other media are publishing a variety of commentaries and editorials on what’s to be done and who’s to blame.

    Each day, VOA will curate a selection of these editorial opinions, highlight selections, and offer them for our readers’ consideration.

    The opinions expressed below are, of course, those of the authors, not the Voice of America.


    "Kiev's Message to Moscow" Op-ed by Oleksandr Turchynov, acting Ukrainian president, published in the New York Times.

    "An escalation of conflict would be catastrophic for the whole of Western Europe. It would put an end to the global security system, breaching its very foundation. These are very real risks. Yet Russia’s reckless actions would be unbecoming of Somali pirates.

     

    "Today, the people of Ukraine are united as never before in the idea of collective security and European values. We choose Western standards and reject this neo-Soviet imperialism. We will no longer play the game of 'older and younger brothers.'

     

    "Moscow must understand what we discovered at the Maidan in Kiev: the use of force will backfire and, more often than not, yield the opposite of what was intended. Ukraine and Russia are two sovereign states, and the Ukrainian people will determine their path independently. The refusal to accept this fact will lead, at the very least, to a new Cold War.

     

    "Ukraine is open to any constructive dialogue with the Russian Federation that is rooted in partnership. We wish to develop fair and mutually beneficial relations. Russia must choose how it will respond."
     


    "Is Vladimir Putin Insane? Hardly." Op-ed by Masha Gessen, Russian-American author of "Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin", published in the Los Angeles Times.

    "The political culture Putin has created in Russia is based on the assumption that the world is rotten to the core.

     

    "This was first evident in the way Putin talked about corruption. In his official autobiography, published in 2000, Putin told a joke in which President Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev compare notes:

    "Both are embezzling, but Brezhnev embezzles twice as much, blatantly. This is the line Putin's officials have taken in response to all accusations of graft over the last 14 years: Corruption is endemic to all governments; Russian corruption is just less hypocritical.
     

    "This belief that everyone, without exception, acts solely out of base self-interest is what has led Putin to ratchet up the aggression, meanness and vulgarity of both his public statements and political actions over the years.

    "When he threatens to castrate a journalist, when he invades other countries, Putin is showing the world that he has the courage of his convictions

     

    "For American culture, which relies heavily on a belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity, this is an impossible world view to absorb. It is another world indeed. But that does not make it crazy."
     


    "Falling Into Putin's Trap" Commentary by Lilia Shevtsova, senior Fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, published by The American Interest.

    "We need to keep in mind that, even if a new imperialism and a hunger for land are behind Russia’s recent actions, they do not fully account for the brashness of the invasion, nor for Moscow’s open rejection of all accepted norms and principles of international order.

    "The invasion and destabilization of Ukraine are Moscow’s means of pursuing not just the geopolitical goal of guaranteeing influence, but a civilizational goal as well: eliminating the very idea of the Maidan as an alternative to the Russian Matrix (namely, the Russian personalized power system and the individual’s subjugation by the state.)

    "In the Kremlin’s view, the Maidan is the Absolute Evil, which must be erased permanently and utterly, with the utmost cruelty. The Kremlin’s Ukrainian campaign is thus a preemptive strategy with the ultimate goals of reproducing and preventing any threats to the personalized power system in Russia and the post-Soviet space.

    "I also think that the flagrant and aggressive beating to which Putin has subjected Ukraine has certain psychological underpinnings.

    "We might surmise that they also come from a desire to humiliate the Ukrainian state and nation, to both punish and terrify—pour encourager les autres, including Russians.

    "In fact, Putin is demonstrating the judo style his coach once described: 'You have to hit first and whack down the opponent to scare the hell out of him, forcing him to accept your domination!'"


    "The US Must Continue To Take Strong Steps Against Russia's Agression" Editorial published by the Washington Post.

    "It is simply not true, as some defeatists suggest, that the West does not have the potential to force a Russian change of course. The real question is whether Western leaders are prepared to accept the damage to their own citizens and economies that would be the side effect.

    "Russia would probably freeze Western investments on its territory; it might cut off gas exports to Ukraine, through which supplies to several E.U. countries flow. Seventy percent of Russian exports are oil and gas, most of which go to Europe.

    "With elections approaching in both the European Union and the United States, it will be easy to shrink from measures that would command Mr. Putin’s attention.

    "Clearly he is counting on such a reaction. But the price of failing to take robust steps now will, in the end, be higher.

    "If Mr. Putin is not stopped in Crimea, he will set his sights on other parts of Ukraine and maybe other former Soviet bloc states with Russian minorities. That could lead not just to economic disruption but also to war."

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