News / Europe

Q&A with Paula Dobriansky: Ukraine Crisis Upends International Order

Paula Dobriansky (L) and VOA's Carol Castiel (R) in VOA's Washington headquarters.
Paula Dobriansky (L) and VOA's Carol Castiel (R) in VOA's Washington headquarters.
VOA News
The escalating situation in Ukraine has strained Russia’s relations with the United States and provoked what some have called the greatest challenge to Europe in a generation.
 
Ambassador Paula Dobriansky served as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs from 2001 to 2009, the longest-serving run in history.
She is currently a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dobriansky discussed the crisis in Ukraine, including the nexus between energy policy and national security, with VOA’s Carol Castiel.

Castiel: Do you agree that the battle over Ukraine and Russia’s aggressive posture pose what NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called the greatest challenge to Europe in a generation? How do you assess what is at stake?
 
Dobriansky: There’s a great deal at stake here. It’s not only Russia’s illegal invasion and unlawful annexation of Ukraine, but that country’s destabilization and attempts to weaken [the government in Kyiv] as it strives to become associated with Europe and put in place political and economic reforms. There are also other ramifications that affect the [entire global community]. International law, legal norms as we know them, the entire international order is at stake…but also, [the continued viability of] nuclear non-proliferation. In 1994, the US, UK and Russia signed the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons – the third largest arsenal in the world at the time – in return for respect for its territorial integrity and its sovereignty. So, [Russia’s recent moves in Ukraine] send a very bad message that undercuts non-proliferation efforts. Other countries in Asia and the Middle East are all watching these steps closely.
 
Castiel: The United States and Europe have imposed sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian individuals involved fomenting violence – but Germany, in particular, is reluctant to push too hard given business interests and fact that the EU depends on Russia for one-third of its gas needs. What more should the United States do – what tools do we have at our disposal to deter Russia from further aggression?
 
Dobriansky: First, I think it’s very important for the West to stand united on this issue and make it clear that we cannot recognize this unlawful aggression in Crimea as we go forward. And if Russia takes further steps that violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, I think we should hold firm in being politically united. Secondly, you’ve mentioned targeted economic sanctions…. But there are other measures the West should look at, such as shutting down credit and other financial markets to Russians seeking loans, etc. Then, you have the military arena. [In] the Baltic states, Latvia’s population is 27 percent ethnic Russian, 26 percent in Estonia. [These governments] want to see a forward deployment of NATO troops on their borders to deter any further aggressive actions by Russia. Ukraine has also asked for military support. Finally, there’s the energy option. Russia relies heavily on its energy exports – particularly oil and gas. Europe relies heavily on Russia [in this area], but could begin to look to the U.S. for imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
 
Castiel: What do you think Russian President Vladimir Putin wants in Ukraine? What is he looking to do?

Dobriansky: Putin – and he himself has said this – is seeking to establish a Eurasian Union that would bring together countries that he would like to have embracing values that are not the values of the West. He is seeking to force a situation on Ukraine that did not exist. Ukraine has been a united country. There have no secessionist movements there since independence, and Ukrainians – including Russian-speaking Ukrainians - have been living peaceably together. The recent incidents have been provocations. Ukrainians [who demonstrated in Kyiv and other cities] want an association with the EU and the end of corruption… I think the people of Ukraine should be able to put together their own program in a way that unites the country.

Castiel: Do you think Putin is creating a pretext for additional military action by covertly fueling unrest in eastern Ukraine, and when the U.S. warns of consequences, “a high price to pay,” what does that mean?

Dobriansky: I think one has to be gravely concerned when you have troops massed at the border. And then you have provocations taking place internally. Plus, you have regional countries who are worried. This demands a strong, united response. Poland, the Baltics, have put a concrete appeal forward to NATO for an on-the-ground deterrent. I know some actions have been taken, but more, critically, needs to be done. Also, a weak Ukraine is trying to shore itself up in the face of targeted actions. So that’s another area where the U.S. and Europe must be vigilant to provide the kinds of assistance that’s being solicited here.

Castiel: Some analysts are talking about echoes of a Cold War again despite the lack of an ideological dimension and the fact that no nuclear weapons are trained between the U.S. and Russia. How do you see this analogy?

Dobriansky:  We clearly are witnessing a serious kind of tension. I think that if Russia opts to pursue these aggressive goals further, experts will conclude that this is a revival of the Cold War. But let me also add something:  Putin is redefining the international order. This is of grave concern. It sends messages to others around the globe that there isn’t a respect for international law. All kinds of disputes are playing out around the world. So, what the United States does here matters greatly, not only for this region, but others as well.

Castiel: What about your work on unconventional energy sources, particularly the boom in shale gas here in the United States, which is set to surpass Saudi Arabia in the production of oil and gas, perhaps in the next 5-10 years? This has tremendous implications for energy security and national security, particularly vis-à-vis Russia. Is the long-term strategy to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe a viable option?

Dobriansky: It’s a very viable option and one that should be pursued. Why does it matter? We need a diversified approach. LNG exports to Europe benefit the U.S. economically and also benefit Europe – decreasing its dependence on Russia. I think it’s [a policy whose] time has certainly come. The time is now to diversify our energy portfolio.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: shafat from: kashmir
April 12, 2014 2:03 AM
This guy is a hypocrite , this discussion is one sided . USA has no authority to tell others about human rights and destabilizing theories ..just tell me , isnt USA responsible for destablization of iraq , if usa might have not invaded , no grave sectrain violence would have been there , u guys destablized Syria by promising them something about freedom and having them in middle of road , than uh destablized libya , and now ur funding social media to destablize cuba ..OFFCOURSE U GUYS HAVE PROPANGANDA MACHINERY , but learned people know , what uh actually want in ukarine ..fools often underestimate others

by: John Q Dallas from: Dallas, TX USA
April 11, 2014 1:12 PM
Just tell us who needs to approve Anastasia Sokolova coming to the USA. All the rest is BS.

by: ODU from: EU
April 11, 2014 4:38 AM
Can she tell us which international law was upheld when Iraq was invaded and bombed to the stone age, what about Kosovo. every body is an expert here when the narrative fit into the agenda. The US has violate more international law in recent memory than all the other countries combined. So don't lecture anybody on international law. More than a million people died in Iraq . What does the saying "What's good for the goose is good for the gander. i think Russia has been more prudent and shown restrain so far.

by: Not Again from: Canada
April 10, 2014 8:40 PM
Very good points of view by Ms. Dobriansky. It is too bad that she no longer works at the US administration. She has stated some very fundamental issues, and points, that should have been in place at the very moment when the crisis was initiated by Putin's forced entry into the Crimea. The administration should read these points, and keep them in an aide memoire for when the next crisis arises. A copy should be sent to the German Chancelor= UNITY OF RESPONSE/UNITY OF PURPOSE.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs