News / Europe

    Roundup: Opinions from American and Foreign Media on Ukraine

    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.

    "Is Crimea the Next Yugoslavia?" Op-ed by Jochen Bittner, political editor for German news-weekly Die Zeit, published by the New York Times.

    "Just like when Yugoslavia fell apart, the people of Crimea today are being forced to choose national allegiances. Although it was clear from the start that the so-called referendum on Sunday could only lead to a union with Russia, the passion with which pro-Russians and pro-Ukrainians have been arguing for their positions has surprised both sides.
     

    "The referendum has been a catalyst for disintegration. Different cultural and ethnic identities that used to coexist peacefully already appear to be mutual threats. In the eyes of many of the 60 percent of the Crimeans who identify as Russians, it’s the Ukrainian-speaking Crimeans (roughly 40 percent of the population) who keep messing up their lives

    "The pro-Ukrainians hit back, saying people who demean the Kiev protesters as fascists reveal their Communism-tainted authoritarian mind-set.
     

    "Completing the Balkan parallel is a group that fears that Russian control may usher in outright oppression, just as the Bosnians feared Serb rule. In Crimea it is the Tatars, a Muslim ethnic group that suffered deportation and mass murder under Stalin.

    "They, too, like Bratislav the Chetnik, claim they want to maintain peace. But can they guarantee it? What about false friends from the realm of jihad, who might view defending their brother’s Crimean homeland a worthy cause?"

     


    "Ukraine's Threat From Within" Commentary by Robert English, director of USC School of International Relations, published in the Los Angeles Times.

    "It's become popular to dismiss Russian President Vladimir Putin as paranoid and out of touch with reality. But his denunciation of "neofascist extremists" within the movement that toppled the old Ukrainian government, and in the ranks of the new one, is worth heeding.

    "The empowerment of extreme Ukrainian nationalists is no less a menace to the country's future than Putin's maneuvers in Crimea. These are odious people with a repugnant ideology.

    "Take the Svoboda party, which gained five key positions in the new Ukrainian government, including deputy prime minister, minister of defense and prosecutor general.

    "Svoboda's call to abolish the autonomy that protects Crimea's Russian heritage, and its push for a parliamentary vote that downgraded the status of the Russian language, are flagrantly provocative to Ukraine's millions of ethnic Russians and incredibly stupid as the first steps of a new government in a divided country.
     

    "These moves, more than Russian propaganda, prompted broad Crimean unease. Recall that this crisis began when Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovich retreated on a deal toward European integration.

    "Are the Europe-aspiring Ukrainians who now vote to restrict Russians' cultural-language rights even dimly aware that, as part of the European Union, such minority rights would have to be expanded, not curtailed?"



    "We'll Have to Fire Shots If Someone Tries to Occupy Us" Comments from an extended interview with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, aired on LRT (Lithuanian National Radio & Television.)
     

    "One can never fear the aggressor as this is what aggressors wants. No matter what the country is, what is the size of it, we have to know that we cannot make the historic mistake for the second time, i.e., we will have to show resistance and fire shots, if someone tries to occupy us.

    "What is happening in Ukraine, especially in Crimea, has shown that the response, international instruments are too-civilized. I don’t want in no way say that they should be different.

    "But we are dealing with a different civilization or an attitude to civilization. If the West are in the XXI century, so I would attribute the behaviour we see now to, at best, the middle of the last century.

    "The clash is very painful. Everybody will suffer in such a situation. I mean Ukraine, the US, Europe, everyone as, most probably, we’ll have to get to some sanctions, not only diplomatic, not only political but also, most probably, economic, and everyone gets hurt in such a situation.

    "Somebody was still trying to say that we cannot put a lot of pressure on Russia as we might need to let it save face and give it an “exit strategy.” I said very clearly that Europe needs to save face and not Russia as the latter has no plan to save face.

    "It lost it long time ago, it’s only Putin’s face. Europe still doesn’t realize what is happening and still doesn’t realize that it’s the time for Europe to make up its mind and save face."



    "NATO's Warmongers" Commentary by Brian Cloughly, published in Pakistan's The International Times.

    "The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has deployed reconnaissance aircraft to Poland and Romania “to monitor the Ukrainian crisis” in order to 'intensify our ongoing assessment of the implications of this crisis for Alliance security.'
     
    "But there is no threat whatsoever to any member of NATO. There is no crisis affecting that redundant military grouping. The current dispute between Russia and Ukraine has nothing to do with any NATO country.

    "But their bilateral problem has resulted in deployment of squadrons of US F-15 attack aircraft to Lithuania and F-16s to Poland.

     
    "Nobody (except Russia) knows what other jiggery-pokery the US and its NATO puppets are up to in the way of sending ships, spooks and planes to threaten Russia, although it is obvious that tension is being deliberately ramped up.

    "But is anyone going to order NATO to go to war because the people of Crimea had a democratic referendum and voted to join Russia? That’s what the people of Crimea want.

    "And what right has NATO or anyone else to dictate to them otherwise? What is all this fuss about?

     
    "Quite simply, it is about trying to stop Russia from prospering and spreading its interests, which has been US’ objective for a very long time."

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    Comments
         
    by: Art Haddow from: Mesa, Arizona, USA
    March 17, 2014 1:12 PM
    They say that history repeats itself when people forget or they are not educated. As we see in the Crimean Peninsula the vote supposedly being 97 percent for becoming part of Russia. What Russia does not say is that they did not allow any time or access for the opposition to tell their side of the story which is typical of Putin and his KGB methods that he retains.

    Freedom is crucial to the western way of life. The people of Ukraine wish for that freedom. I would bet that if truly given the option of being truly free with a freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, the Crimean people would choose that. When I hear people say why does America have to intervene I say this. "Freedom is a natural right for all people in the world. If America does not defend freedom, who will? If not now, when?" Again, anyone who defends Russia in this illegal act does not understand what FREEDOM is.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 20, 2014 1:00 PM
    You claim you're from Crimea. Your thing says AZ. Why don't you just worry about keeping the gang bangers from crossing into our border from Mexico. Uhm kay?

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