Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time to Extend a Hand to Ukraine

Writing in the New Atlanticist policy and analysis blog, Alexander Motyl argues that it's in Europe's interests for Ukraine to join the European Union "both if and when it meets all the membership criteria". Excerpt:

If Brussels really believed in European values, soft power, and the like, it should be able to state, unflinchingly and immediately, that “Ukraine is European and, once rich and fully democratic, deserves to be within the EU.”

Of course, if Brussels—or, more specifically, such states as Italy, Germany, and France—don’t really believe in democracy, then indifference to Ukraine’s European aspirations makes more sense. But just a tad. After all, if old Europe’s ruling elites are primarily interested in hard power and geopolitics, then they should be even more interested in getting Ukraine on their side. As Zbigniew Brzezinski has often pointed out, an independent Ukraine is the best guarantee of Russia’s non-emergence as an
empire and, I might add, of the Cold War’s non-revival. That admonition may have seemed like a bit of hypothetical reasoning in the past, but the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 has surely demonstrated that Putin’s Russia is ready to reassert itself in the former Soviet imperial space and, thus, to threaten Europe’s geopolitical interests.

The good news is that the global economic crisis and the fall-out from the Georgian invasion have refocused Moscow’s attention on Russia’s domestic problems. That gives Ukraine time to get its house in order and accelerate its efforts to join Euroatlantic structures. That also gives Europe time to come to its senses and extend a hand to Ukraine. The bad news is that Ukraine’s squabbling political elites—and Yushchenko, alas, belongs to them—seem ill-equipped to do anything but squabble. And old Europe seems ill-prepared to do anything but kowtow to an authoritarian Russia. Not coincidentally, perhaps, the Munich Agreement that made appeasement so
notorious a concept took place exactly 70 years ago, in September 1938.

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