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Roundup: Opinions on Ukraine From American and Western Media

Military personnel, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard on a military vehicle outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol.
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.

Op-ed in the Washington Post by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century.

Not surprisingly, its leaders have not learned the art of compromise, even less of historical perspective.

The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrate that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other.

That is the essence of the conflict between Viktor Yanu­kovych and his principal political rival, Yulia Tymo­shenko.

They represent the two wings of Ukraine and have not been willing to share power. A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.

Op-ed by Gary Schmitt, AEI Resident Scholar, writing in the Los Angeles Times

No doubt in the days ahead there will be proposals to revoke Russian visas, freeze assets, recall ambassadors, cancel the Group of 8 meeting in Sochi and, generally, isolate Putin diplomatically.

And there will be calls to provide economic and military assistance to Ukraine so that it can halt the salami slicing of its territory. All steps that should be taken.

Over the longer term, those measures will be insufficient if the larger lessons of the past are not understood and made to underpin the strategies the U.S. adopts toward Ukraine and Russia.

There will be no peace for Ukraine until and unless Putin sees the cost for his behavior as being greater than the rewards, and there will be no permanent stability in Eastern Europe absent NATO expansion.

Michael Kennedy & Floyd Kennedy, Jr., writing in Britain’s The Guardian

Certain kinds of military action are also appropriate, those that display NATO unity and resolve without upping the ante and guaranteeing war.

Such measures could include establishing NATO AWACS orbits over eastern Poland to monitor Ukrainian airspace, and/or conducting a no-warning air defense exercise in Poland involving rapid deployments of non-Polish NATO air defense capability to Polish skies, including the best fighter in the U.S. inventory, the F-22.

By thus upping the ante, military risks for Russia would be dramatically increased and thus enter their calculations.

Finally, and absolutely, all actors must work hard to distinguish between Putin's criminal regime and the Russian people.

The demonstrations protesting this war in Russia on Sunday were not overwhelming, but they were incredibly brave, facing repression by Russia's own police. More and more Russians are standing up to Putin to say this ruins Russia.

Editorial from The Economist

Crimea seems inclined to turn eastward instead; and if its people voted for an orderly secession, it might well get the backing of the outside world.

But the referendum that has been announced for March 16th is being held at the point of a Kalashnikov.

Moreover, the justification Mr. Putin claims for sending in troops is not Crimea’s unique history, but the principle that the Kremlin has a duty to protect Russians and Russian-speakers wherever they may be—the logic that Hitler used when he seized parts of Europe in the 1930s.

If the West implicitly accepts this line, Mr. Putin will have a pretext for intervening to protect Russians scattered across the former Soviet Union, from Central Asia to the Baltic.