-By Warner Todd Huston
The situation in Ukraine is certainly complicated, not just in the normal way politics is complicated, but by the push and pull between western and Russian influence being visited on the fledgling country. One thing is certain, the U.S. needs to make sure that it wins this tug-o-war for Ukraine’s friendship.
Ukraine has become a leading western-leaning nation in Eastern Europe and it is one we need to strengthen ties with. Unfortunately, the Senate recently passed a resolution threatening sanctions against Ukraine over its political environment.
But it is a mistake to imagine that Ukraine is simply a chip off the Russian block in some resurgent security state harkening back to the days of the Old Soviet Union. The Senate needs to have a more nuanced understanding of the situation in Ukraine than just a simplistic assumption that Ukraine is devolving into another Russian clone.
And this is exactly the point. The U.S. needs to become a more vital partner with Ukraine as it marches toward the west and we need to be there to help make sure Ukraine doesn’t slide back toward Russian influence.
It should be remembered that a past Prime Minister unilaterally signed a long-term gas deal with Russia that binds Ukraine to buy Russian natural gas at above market prices. Even President Viktor Yushchenko, the man famed for ushering in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, was wholly against this bad deal.
Putin has been making a bid to keep Ukraine in its shadow and that is something that the U.S. should try its best to prevent. Putin has, for instance, been pushing for Ukraine to join his Customs Union, an organization designed to rival the EU Association Agreement that Ukraine has committed itself to pursuing.
Still, even with all this Russian intrigue, Ukraine has committed to joining the E.U. — which is a distancing from the Russian sphere — and is undertaking an effort to transform its economy into a more market economy emulating European standards. These economic reforms that have helped grow its economy by 5.2 percent last year and has edged closer to the west instead of Putin.
Ukraine is also an important oil and natural gas corridor between the Caspian Basin and the rest of Europe. It is important to keep this avenue free of Russian control.
Ukraine is barely 20-years into its journey toward western-styled democracy. The U.S. should take the time to better understand what is going on in this fledgling state. Those that claim we need to employ “nuance” in our foreign policy should remember that charge when crafting foreign relations with Ukraine.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, RightPundits.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.
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