On Ukraine & Yanukovych


As I’ve watched the events in Ukraine unfold, I’ve kept silent. If you weren’t aware, last time I wrote about the country it didn’t work out so well for me. Apparently I have a wheelhouse and foreign policy isn’t part of it; so I’ve been told anyway. It isn’t in my nature, however, to watch suffering and say nothing. And due to my history of writing about Ukraine, I feel a moral obligation to offer comment.

Last I left the subject of Ukraine, the country had just held what I thought was a successful election. By many accounts, President Yanukovych was leading the country towards the European Union.  As Matthew Lina noted prior to my writings:

“Our path to the EU has no alternatives,” he told Parliament. “I count on lawmakers’ serious and productive legislative work to support the process of our integration.”

Furthermore, he called for a decreased regulatory hand on business development, and chose very particular language in doing so. The President of Ukraine declared that “obsolete Soviet-era repressive rules of law governing the state-citizen and state-business relations must be finally cancelled.”

That’s right. The President of Ukraine said that, after committing himself to closer ties with the European Union.

BBC News, in their profile of the now ousted Yanukovych also confirms, “During his presidency, Mr Yanukovych steered Ukraine towards a closer relationship with the EU.”

Whether Yanukovych meant what he said or was simply lying the whole time is beyond me. It was understood that Russia was putting pressure on Ukraine throughout the process to force them to abandon their hopes of EU membership. Did Yanukovych succumb to Russia squeezing the country? I’m not sure we’ll get the answer to the question of what exactly Yanukovych was thinking when he inexplicably backed out of the EU pact.  What we do know now is the result: potential war in the region with Yanukovych in Russia as they threaten his country.

I don’t imagine what I have to say affects foreign policy. But if in some small way my previous writings contributed to helping the man that has led Ukraine to so much suffering, I am so very sorry. I was truly excited at the idea that Ukraine may get to experience the freedom we hold so dear here. It has pained me to see the images coming from the country.

I take solace that the EU is still committed to the people of Ukraine. And I am inspired by them as they fight for the independence from Russia that they greatly deserve. Should Russia continue to bear down on Ukraine, I hope the United States will stand by it’s word to protect them. They gave up their own protection in exchange for ours. I can only hope we don’t turn our backs on them in the wake of their own president turning his.