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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Responsibility of "The West" for Ukraine

There are a million ways for major powers to be involved in the internal affairs of states, without relying on armies.

No reasonable observer can say the EU and the US are not "involved" in Ukraine. How could they be uninvolved, in an intensely interconnected world-economy? And in the middle of a minutely negotiated geopolitical order in the middle of the vast northern part of the Europe-Asia continuum? In a space whose geopolitical history features nothing but land-based, contiguous empires, spreading like ink on a map, progressing and retreating at each other's expense throughout much of written history?

More concretely, and focusing on the present, we know that it was the bait of the duplicitous EU neighborhood agreement that precipitated the Kyiv protests in the first place. We also know that west European capital interests are already present in Ukraine (i.e., the Ernst and Young Investment Report of 2011, quoted here, shows that, except for third-ranked Russia, all of the top ten investors in Ukraine are "western" (i.e., the US or EU-member states). This is likely true vice versa (although evidence on Ukrainian investment in the EU and the US is more anecdotal). Invoking a neoliberal talking point, the EU is Ukraine's largest trade partner. We know, at least since the Nuland scandal of last week, that the State Dept is directly involved with the Ukrainian opposition, and this is hardly surprising, if for no other reason, because of the involvement of Russia.

The real question now is what "The West" does, for what purpose. And, to quote Madeleine Albright's memorable thought (referring to the possibility of hundreds of thousands of children dying as a result of a particular sanctions regime), what price, paid in human lives in Kyiv, is "worth it" for "The West." And, perhaps the even bigger question, what is the "it?"

The ball is in the court of the EU and the US. They are involved. They need to have a just, fair, equitable and peaceful solution to offer, and have the means and the will to create it. And, given the geopolitical realities in Ukraine, I suspect that will have to involve Russia.


  1. True and the EU is happy to cooperate with anybody, including anti-Russian Ukrainian hard line nationalists to achieve the above described goals. These groups are not mentioned in the Western press and they have to be calmed down also in case they want to talk to the Russians.


cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta