Nine years after the so-called Orange Revolution against electoral fraud, opponents of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich hope to stage a repeat. But the issue today, whether Kiev aligns economically with Europe or Russia, doesn’t much concern the U.S.
In 2004 the Orange Revolution helped deliver the presidency to Western-favorite Viktor Yushchenko, a disastrous incompetent. Yanukovich narrowly won the 2009 race.
He has been negotiating over an Association Agreement with the European Union. However, Brussels demanded political concessions, most importantly the freeing of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who had been prosecuted by Yanukovich’s government, and refused to offer cash assistance.
At the same time Vladimir Putin pushed Kiev to forswear the EU and join the Moscow-led Customs Union. And Moscow brought cash to the table. To the consternation of Brussels, last month the Yanukovich government signed an accord with Russia—though without joining the CU.
Brussels and Washington were shocked, shocked. New German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said “It is utterly scandalous how Russia used Ukraine’s economic plight for its own ends.”
Sen. John McCain visited Kiev, where he complained that “President Putin has pulled out all the stops to coerce, intimidate and threaten Ukraine away from Europe.” Former Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky demanded “a broad range of measures, including WTO sanctions, Russian expulsion from the Group of Eight and even a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics by political leaders, unless Moscow abandons its strong-arm tactics toward Kiev.”
The hypocrisy is breathtaking.