Crimea crisis: The best we can do for Ukraine is help it prosper

 

Share

In his speech on Monday justifying Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, President Putin gave voice to the hurt and bafflement Russians felt as the Soviet Union fell apart. “The USSR broke up so fast,” he said, “that hardly anyone understood the nature of those events.” The implication was that the break-up was caused by the old imperial powers, whose mischief persists today in Ukraine. “The policies that prevailed in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries,” as he put it, “are still continuing.” This time, though, the bold Mr Putin has called their bluff.

This is a grotesque rewriting of history, as the Russian president is doubtless aware. The Soviet Union did not break up because Nato brought it to its knees but because it was politically and economically bankrupt, and millions of people within its subject states – possessed of the same courage as the crowds confronting Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev’s Maidan Square these past months – seized the opportunity to radically refashion their destinies.

Tragically, Russia has maintained the Soviet Union’s disastrous trajectory, its population shrinking, its best brains fleeing abroad and its political system sinking ever deeper into corruption and gangsterism. What has changed is that the nation’s youth have no personal memory of the communist system’s miseries, while too many of their parents have drugged themselves with false, saccharine nostalgia for those bad old days.

Western analysts this week have been wringing their hands over the West’s failure to stand up to Putin’s revanchism and demanding a bold Nato response to deter him from taking similar action elsewhere. But these hawks need to be forcefully reminded that it was not Western gunboats at Sevastopol that ended the Cold War but the prosperity and freedoms of the West that contrasted so starkly with conditions in the East. Of course Europe must make diplomatic representations and impose sanctions. But ultimately, its most useful response to the crisis in Crimea is to do everything in Europe’s considerable power to help Ukraine become what the martyrs of the Maidan died for it to become: a beacon of freedom and prosperity.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas