By Sophie des Beauvais
On September 24, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk spoke in New York about the state of Ukrainian foreign relations, including the recent cease-fire with Russia and the upcoming parliamentary elections. If Ukraine cannot fight alone against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to restore the former Soviet Union, it can overcome the current global security crisis together with the help of the United States and European Union.
According to Yatsenyuk, the crisis in Ukraine reveals Russia’s opposition to freedom and liberties. Indeed, it is a crystallization of longer-term and larger problems. Moscow sees European security in different conceptual terms than that of the West—still fragmented and dominated by bloc mentalities. The ultimate goal of Putin, who is furious about European favoritism toward Ukraine, is to have another frozen conflict in Europe and to restore the former Soviet Union in one form or another.
To achieve this, the Russians did not hesitate, violating international law and committing an international crime by annexing the autonomous Republic of Crimea, sparking a security crisis in Eastern Europe. The only solution to overcome this crisis and begin a viable peace process is for the Russians to leave Ukrainian territory.
But this is no simple task considering that the Russians had planned to create divisions not only between European member states but also between the United States and the EU. Moscow believes that the current Euro-Atlantic structure is particularly inefficient, as well as counter-effective. So far, Russia has failed in its efforts to divide. In fact, the U.S. and EU remain more united than ever, imposing three rounds of sanctions on the Russians this year. In short, Putin has been surprised by this unity. He expected that Ukraine, as well as much of the EU, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, would hesitate to punish his nation.
To phase out gas dependence, Ukraine has already started to substitute Russian gas for alternative gas sources. Although this is an excellent first step, much work is left to be done and the United States appears critical in preserving Ukrainian independence. As such, Ukraine has called for more support from the U.S., asking for a number of joint business projects and military guidance. Furthermore, Kiev considers the U.S. a flagship country on the issue of sanctions, mainly because the decision-making process is shorter and less bureaucratic than in Europe
On October 26, Ukraine will host mid-term elections that will determine democratic and domestic policy. In order to effectively implement new policies, a strong pro-European coalition would be necessary. So far, Ukraine has failed to effectively pass much legislation, given what Yatsenyuk describes as “one revolution, one war, and two elections just in six months.”
While Russia’s foreign policy is critically affecting peace and stability in Europe, it is important for Putin to feign an interest in the peacemaking process in Ukraine. Yatsenyuk’s message could not be more clear or more strong, as he concludes by saying, “My message to the Russian Federation is: Get out of Ukrainian land, please. And this is the best recipe and the best solution to fix this dramatic crisis in Europe and to save my country and to stop the Russian aggression.”
Yatsenyuk convinced his New York audience of will to save Ukraine from Russia’s claws. He clarified that Ukraine is currently facing political, economic, military, and financial challenges. The current cease-fire is fragile and while it is impossible to predict the outcome of the crisis, Ukraine calls upon its allies to help in the fight against the Russian Federation’s imperialism.
Sophie des Beauvais is an Editorial Assistant at World Policy Journal
[Photos courtesy of Wikipedia ]