Troubles in Ukraine
Pres. Viktor Yanukovych is moving his country closer to Russia, both strategically and in terms of political culture.


George Weigel

As Father Gudziak noted in a memorandum on this affair:

Signing a document such as the letter that was presented for signature to me is tantamount to agreeing to cooperate (collaborate) with the SBU. . . . In KGB practice getting a signature on a document that was drafted and kept by the KGB was a primary method of recruiting secret collaborators. Such methods have no known (to me) precedent in independent Ukraine in the experience of UCU and of the Lviv National University whose longtime rector (and former Minister of Education, 2008–2010), Ivan Vakarchuk, I consulted immediately after the meeting. These methods were known in the Soviet times.

Edward Lucas, the longtime Eastern Europe correspondent for The Economist, posted excerpts from Gudziak’s memorandum on his magazine’s “Eastern Approaches” blog and added this telling comment on this attempted intimidation of an independent institution of higher learning: “It is a good thought experiment to ask oneself in which European countries this sort of thing would be inconceivable, in which it would be possible but outrageous, and in which it would be all too likely.”

All of this, it seems, has received a warm welcome in the Kremlin. During a recent visit to Kiev, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev praised Yanukovych’s government for being guided by “the strategic interests of [Ukraine’s] development.” Russia, Medvedev said, has “finally got a viable Ukrainian partner,” making a clear reference to the independent-minded Yushchenko, who had pushed for NATO membership for Ukraine.

Russia’s new “partner” was then invited by Medvedev to join the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, which now includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The CSTO, Medvedev said, “is not the Warsaw Pact.” The real question, though, is whether it is another building block in Vladimir Putin’s program of reclaiming the Russian “near abroad.”

And that is precisely the question that should concern the West.

Henry Kissinger once observed that he had “never met a Russian who regarded Ukraine as a foreign country.” That is undoubtedly true of certain Russians, including the alumni of the KGB who now control Russia’s politics – a phenomenon ably analyzed by the aforementioned Edward Lucas in his book, The New Cold War. And it is likely true of certain men and women, primarily Russian-speaking, who now find themselves citizens of an independent Ukraine. Yet there are millions of Ukrainians who believe themselves the heirs of a distinctive history and a unique culture: one which, in its modern national aspirations, has not been torn between Westernizers and Slavophiles, as has long been the case in Russia.


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