An alarming story appeared in today's Kyiv Post.
It talks about an open letter by Ukraine's intellectuals, politicians and civic activists expressing fears that Russia could use military force against Ukraine. The authors appeal to parliaments, governments and peoples of the world to hold an international conference to provide guarantees for Ukraine’s security.
It was made public on September 10 and the full text was published in the Kyiv Post (here). It is now being widely circulated in the Ukrainian diaspora via email.
The signatories include former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, writer Yuriy Andrukhovych and honorary dean of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Vyacheslav Brukhovetsky.
Another is Mykola Riabchuk, writer, publicist and political commentator who recently visited Canada and spoke to Nash Holos listeners last year. (This audio clip is the first of Mykola's commentaries on NH. The remainder of the series is archived here.)
Lest anyone be inclined to dismiss this fear by Ukrainian citizens, State Russian Duma Vice Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky recently advocated an air assault on Ukraine to "protect" Russian-speakers in Ukraine. One Russian-speaker in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv recently shared his perspective (in English) on the prospect of such "protection" of his Russian language rights on his blog (here).
This sabre-rattling is hardly the first instance. It's just the most recent, one of the most blatant, and Ukrainians are sick and tired of it ... and the apathy of fair-weather supporters.that call themselves democracies.
Imagine if the United States threatened an air assault on Canada to "protect" English speakers in Quebec. Imagine if the president of the United States said that Canada wasn't a "real country." Imagine if the United States government accused the Canadian government of tampering with oil and gas flow through commercial pipelines between our two companies.
Such actions would be in total violation of international law, not to mention respect for the sovereignty of nations. And I can just imagine the hue and cry from democracies around the world were such things to occur in North America. So where's the hue and cry when it happens in Eastern Europe?
It's about time western democracies started to show some backbone ... and genuine support for democracy in Ukraine, at the very least as much as the rest of Eastern Europe currently enjoys. Because if lip service for democracy is all we're willing to give, that's all we're going to end up with.
Here's the text of the letter:
The foundation of the Ukrainian independent state in 1991 was one of the important results and, at the same time, one of the guarantees of the end of the global conflict between the “East” and the “West”, the twofold division of Europe, and the spread of the ideals of freedom and democracy in the world. Ukraine made its considerable contribution to the world’s and European security by renouncing its nuclear weapons. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994 was then confirmed by the respective guarantees of the state–members of the UN Security Council. At the time, this resolution, along with the concurrent expansion of the EU and the Euro-Atlantic system of collective security played an important role in the strengthening European security.
Today, however, one cannot fail to notice the inefficiency of these guarantees. The Russian government intentionally took on a political course towards the destruction of the existing system of security. One of the key aspects of this policy is the attempt to force Ukraine to serve the needs of Russia’s geopolitical interests. This strategy resulted in the sharp escalation of tensions in the relationships between the two states. Russia’s informational war against Ukraine took on unprecedented forms. The Russian public is presented with the image of Ukrainians as an enemy and a major destabilizing factor in the relationships between the EU and Russia.
The Russian side does not even allow for the view that the Ukrainian foreign policy towards Ukraine’s accession to the NATO is an sovereign right of our state; that Ukraine’s pro-Western foreign policy cannot be considered as an action against Russia but that it rather serves as a reflection of Ukraine’s national interests. Ukraine voluntarily renounced its nuclear weapons. Ukraine can only resist its contemporary foreign challenges and threats within the system of collective security.
The address of the President of Russia on August 11, 2009 became one of the steps in the realization of Kremlin's foreign policy that outwardly ignores Ukrainian sovereignty, reveals Russia’s intrusion into the internal affairs of Ukraine, and contradicts the generally accepted norms of international law. The Ukrainian people respect the democratic choice of the Russian people and demand the reciprocal respect for its own choice as well. The decision of the Russian President to postpone the appointment of an ambassador to Ukraine in anticipation of the potential arrival of a new authority in our country that, as President Medvedev hopes, would lead a different (apparently more friendly towards Russia) policy, can be only assessed as an outward pressure of the neighboring country on the electoral choices of Ukrainian citizens.
We regret that the Russian government consistently ignores the lessons of history. We hope that the new elites of our neighboring country would be primarily preoccupied with the liberties, rights, and well-being of the peoples of their own Federation. We do not doubt that the existing tensions provoked by the Russian authoritative leadership are superficial and temporary. The depth and the profundity of the interpersonal relationships between representatives of the two peoples – Ukrainians and Russians – will eventually restore the friendly relationships between our countries.
At the same time, we believe that the recent address of Russian President, Vladimir Medvedev, to Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko, marks a substantially new phase in the attitudes of the Russian authoritative leadership towards Ukraine. For the first time in many years, indications have emerged that Kremlin does not exclude the use of force as its means of geopolitical influence in Ukraine.
There are other indications of this geopolitical strategy. Among them are President Medvedev’s proposal to the Russia’s State Duma of a draft law that allows the use of Russian armed forces outside of the territory of the Russian Federation and the launching of a respective propagandist campaign. We consider the following -- Russia’s President’s disrespectful neglect of V. Yushchenko's written response, the unfounded accusations of Ukrainian soldiers being involved in last year's war in Georgia on the side of Georgia by the Russian Prosecutor's Office; the Russian President’s treatment of the necessary actions of Ukrainian policemen in Crimea as an adverse attempt to impinge on the activity of Russia’s Black Sea fleet -- as the direct propagandist justification of a possible military intervention into Ukraine’s internal affairs with the aim of smothering Ukraine’s sovereignty and freedom, and transforming Ukraine into a territory of Russia’s immediate influence and control. Russia’s rhetoric towards Ukraine brings home the horrible historical examples of the 1930s.
We realize the transparent nature of the Ukrainian political system, the detrimental impact of the existing antagonism within Ukraine's leadership, all serious factors that reduce the efficiency of Ukraine’s foreign policy and hinder its economic growth. Ukraine is nevertheless a large and free country with huge democratic potential that is heading on the road towards the implementation of the European system of law. This is a country that during its eighteenth years of independence achieved respect and became an important subject of European policy. The subordination of Ukraine to Russia’s strategy threatens to return the division of Europe. It could cause direct threats to the international and national security of the EU member-states, lead to a decrease in general trust and security in Europe and the escalation of tensions and antagonism in international relationships in general.
We appeal to the governments of the USA, Great Britain, France and China with the proposal to organize an international conference of the guarantor-states regarding § 6 of the Budapest Memorandum with the aim to provide real guarantees of security to Ukraine, declared in the Memorandum.
We also appeal to the governing institutions of the EU to take a clear and non-ambivalent position regarding the sovereignty of Ukraine; to warn Russian against any attempts of intruding into Ukraine’s internal affairs.
We appeal separately to the state-members of the Visegrad Group (which always favored Ukraine and its Euro-Atlantic endeavors) with the request to design their common or separate positions regarding the agravation of Ukraine-Russia’s relationships.
Yurij Andukhovych, writer
Viacheslav Briukhovetskyi, Hero of Ukraine, Doctor of Philology, the honorary Rector of the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.”
Bohdan Havrylyshyn, foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ph.D., head of the Supervisory Council of the International Institute of Management.
Semen Gluzman, civil rights defender, the acting secretary of the Association of Ukraine’s Psychiatrists, director of the American-Ukrainian Council of the Defense of Human Rights.
Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ph.D. in History, professor, head of the Institute of Historical Research of Ivan Franko Lviv National University of Ukraine.
Mykola Zulyns’kyi, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ph.D. in Philology, head of Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Oxana Zabuzhko, writer.
Serhii Komisarenko, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, Doctor of Sciences (biology); head of O.V. Palladin Institute of Biochemistry of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Leonid Kravchuk, Hero of Ukraine, the first President of Ukraine.
Vasyl Kremin’, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ph.D. in Philology, president of the Pedagogical Academy of Ukraine.
Yurii Laniuk, composer.
Levko Lukianenko, Hero of Ukraine.
Myroslav Marynovych, first vice-president of the Ukrainian Catholic University, president of the Institute of the History of Religion and Society of the Ukrainian Catholic University.
Myroslav Popovych, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ph.D. in Philology, head of Hryhorii Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Serhii Rakhmanin, journalist, editor of the politics section of the weekly “Dzerkalo Tyzhnia.”
Mykola Riabchuk, writer, publicist.
Konstiantyn Sytnyk, professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Doctor of Sciences, biology, honorary head of M. Holodnyi Institute of Botanic of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Volodymyr Sirenko, national actor of Ukraine, leading conductor and art director of the National Academic Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine.
Taras Stets’kiv, deputy of the Ukrainian parliament.
Volodymyr Filenko, deputy of the Ukrainian parliament.
Ihor Yukhnovs’kyi, Hero of Ukraine, Doctor of Sciences (Physics and Mathematics), head of the Ukrainian Committee of Sciences and Culture of the National Academy of Ukraine.
Taras Vozniak, philosopher, political observer, editor-in-chief of the independent magazine “Ї.”
Oleksii Volovych, head of the Odessa branch of the National Institute of Strategic Research by the Office of the President of Ukraine.
Rustem Zhanzhoga, political observer, leading researcher of the Institute of World’s Economy and International Relationships of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, member of PEN-club.
Oleksander Filts, MdS, professor, president of the Ukrainian Psychiatrist Association.
Ihor Markov, political observer, head of the section of the ethno-social research of the Institute of Ethnology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Oleksandr Ivankiv, first vice-president of the Institute of Ukrainian National Memory.
Ihor Koliushko, head of the Center of Political and Judicial Reforms.
Ilko Kucheriv, Director of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation.