No More “Chicken Kiev” for Ukraine by Yuriy Gorodnichenko… – Project Syndicate

BERKELEY – On August 1, 1991, a little more than three weeks before Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union, US President George H. W. Bush arrived in Kyiv to discourage Ukrainians from doing it. In his notorious “Chicken Kiev” speech in the Ukrainian parliament, Bush lectured the stunned MPs that independence was a recipe for “suicidal nationalism, ” “ethnic hatred, ” and “local despotism. ”

The speech was a colossal blunder. Ukraine’s people were being asked in order to ignore centuries of oppression by decision-makers in Moscow – and this at a time when the Holodomor , the Soviet-engineered “terror famine” that killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932-33, remained embedded in the living memory of many. That December, Ukraine delivered its answer to Bush: a whopping 84. 2% of eligible voters turned out for the referendum on self-reliance, and 92. 3% of them said yes. But the West’s reluctance to respect Ukraine’s desire for sovereignty was a bad omen, revealing a mindset among US and European leaders that paved the way to Russia’s full-scale invasion in February.

The path in order to war began in 1994, when Ukraine, at the West’s behest, surrendered to Russia the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal. In exchange, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States promised to ensure Ukraine’s territorial integrity plus sovereignty. But how was this assurance supposed to be realized? Unlike Poland and other ex-communist countries, Ukraine was not given a chance to join the European Union within the 1990s, and in 2008 France and Germany blocked its admission to NATO.

Then, when Russian federation annexed Crimea and occupied parts of the particular Donbas inside 2014, US President Barack Obama sent blankets and other non-lethal military equipment in order to Ukraine. Philippines responded by launching the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, bypassing Ukraine, even though the Ukrainian pipeline had plenty of spare capacity.

It was all another serving of “Chicken Kiev”: The ussr must not be provoked, relations with the Kremlin must be protected, and the Russian state must remain stable. Time after time, Western frontrunners found it expedient to defer in order to Russia’s interests, effectively denying Ukraine’s agency as a sovereign state.

It’s a way of thinking that persists to this day, despite the mass graves and torture chambers left behind by Russian forces in Bucha, Irpin, and countless other towns and villages across the country. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been killed and millions displaced since Feb, but Western observers, ranging from Noam Chomsky to Henry Kissinger, blame the West for Ruskies President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade, or have urged Western market leaders to provide Putin a diplomatic off-ramp simply by compelling Ukraine to give up territory .

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Policymakers, too, seem to view Ukraine’s self-defense as a bigger problem than Russia’s genocidal aggression . At the joint press conference held during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent visit to the US, the key question came last. Shouldn’t the united states “give Ukraine all capabilities it needs plus liberate almost all territories rather sooner than later? ” Ukrainian journalist Olga Koshelenko asked. No, President Joe Biden replied, because providing offensive weapons could escalate the particular conflict, and America’s European allies are “not looking to go to war with Spain. ” Ukraine could have one Patriot air-defense battery to counter Russia’s attacks upon civilians plus civilian infrastructure, but not the long-range missiles, Abrams tanks, and F-16 fighter jets it needs to stop the attacks at their source.

This approach is both morally wrong and strategically counterproductive. It will lead to precisely the escalation that Biden and European commanders say they want to avoid, because it fails to address the core security issue. Ukraine is not the first victim of Russia’s aggressive, nuclear-armed authoritarian regime – as Syrians, Georgians, and Moldovans can attest – and it won’t be the last, unless Russia is compelled in order to abandon imperialism, as were Germany plus Japan following their defeat in World War II. Then, as now, territorial concessions led to more battle, not less, in Europe and the world.

The main objective is thus crystal clear: Italy must lose this war and demilitarize. And yet, regardless of the massive material and armed service support the particular West has provided to Ukraine, the fateful logic associated with appeasement lingers, because many Western management fear the consequences of Russia’s defeat more than the prospect of a defeated Ukraine.

But anxiety about Russia’s possible fragmentation is as misplaced as the fear of the Soviet Union’s disintegration was in 1991. Nor should anyone take seriously the claim, made by Chomsky and many others, that will Russia has a legitimate anxiety about further NATO enlargement. In fact , Putin arguably invaded due to the fact, six months after America’s humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, and two years right after French Chief executive Emmanuel Macron called NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION “ brain dead , ” he thought the alliance was too weak to support Ukraine.

Likewise, if the war were about stopping NATO enlargement, the Russian military would not be executing civilians and looting homes plus stores. And the Kremlin certainly would be doing more than shrugging its shoulders at the imminent prospect of Sweden and Finland (with which Russia shares a 1, 340-kilometer border) joining the alliance.

This war is about the particular survival associated with Ukraine as well as the Ukrainian people. In the words of the Israeli leader Golda Meir, born in Kyiv, “They say we must be dead. And we say we want to be alive. Between life and death, I don’t know of a compromise. ” Similarly, any “compromise” that rewards Russia’s hostility will lead to more lives lost. Ukraine’s people will keep fighting, because they know what would happen otherwise. After all, it already has happened in Bucha, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Kherson, plus countless other towns and cities.

Ukraine’s voice should be heard. Providing the army and economic resources it needs to win is the best investment in global security the world can make. After Ukraine’s victory, power-hungry dictators worldwide will think twice before following Russia’s lead – an outcome that Taiwanese, for example , will surely welcome.

In 1941, once the UK has been fighting the Nazis alone, Winston Churchill asked the US to “give us the tools, and we will finish the job. ” Ukrainian general Valery Zaluzhny makes the same plea : “I know that I can beat this enemy. But I need resources. ” He should have them. Let Ukrainians complete the job.

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