13 March, 2014

David Remnick: Will Ukraine Be Putin’s Undoing? : The New Yorker

David Remnick: Will Ukraine Be Putin’s Undoing? : The New Yorker:

Putin’s aggression took Western leaders—especially Barack
Obama and Angela Merkel—too much by surprise, but they have acted since
with clarity and prudence. The decision to forgo martial threats and to
concentrate on strong economic sanctions and diplomatic exertions is, in
a world of radically limited options, wise. But not all those most
directly involved in this crisis evince an understanding of the
complicated politics of Ukraine. It is worth remembering that, in the
back-and-forth of Ukrainian governments since 1991, both the pro-Russian
leaders, like Viktor Yanukovych, and the pro-Europeans, like Yulia
Tymoshenko, have been brazen thieves, enriching themselves at
fantastical rates. Both sides have played one half of the country
against the other. And the fact that the protests in Kiev were not, as
Moscow claims, dominated by fascists and ultra-nationalists does not
mean that such elements are absent from the scene. Ukraine has yet to
develop the politicians that its fragile condition and its dire economy
demand. In December, when John McCain spoke to demonstrators in Kiev’s
Independence Square, he stood side by side with Oleh Tyahnybok, who was
once expelled from his parliamentary faction after demanding battle with
“the Muscovite-Jewish mafia.”