SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Since the outbreak of civil unrest in Ukraine, already tenuous relations between the United States and Russia have worsened. Russia deployed troops and undertook annexation proceedings in Crimea while the United States and its allies decried the aggressive overtures, calling instead for freedom. The violence and bloodshed have shown no signs of abating, with many fearing the inevitability of outright civil war. Most recently, during the May 9 holiday, another 20 unarmed protesters were gunned down in the streets. On Monday, however, Eastern Ukrainians turned out in droves to support independence and self-rule in a referendum. Curiously, the vote for freedom unleashed waves of outrage from the United States and the U.S.-backed government in Kiev. State Department officials explained that Ukrainians “clearly misunderstood our definition of freedom -- which was that they were free to join the EU, not become completely sovereign or merge with Russia.”
The Euromaiden protests, which ultimately led to the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, began in November 2013 when President Viktor Yanukovych retreated from an association agreement being formalized with leaders of the European Union. He chose instead to solidify ties with Russia, causing public demonstrations and civil unrest. As the government collapsed in February, complicated by the ouster of President Yanukovych, a succession crisis arose.
Prior to these events, Western governments such as the United States spent a great deal of time and money creating power vacuums that Russian President Vladimir Putin has found ways of exploiting to his country’s benefit. The push for independence in Ukraine was financed and supported by the United States, NATO and the European Union. But during the first experiment with freedom, 95-percent of voters in Crimea elected to join Russia.
Flummoxed U.S. leaders, backed by their EU and NATO counterparts, called the decision “illegitimate and illegal.” Tough sanctions against Russia were threatened. And again on Monday, after Ukrainian separatists exercised their democratic freedoms at the ballot box and proclaimed the birth of two independent republics following a victory in the polls, the same Western powers erupted in anger and refused to recognize the results of the referendum.
The majority of votes favored self-determination. Leaders in Donetsk opted for a union with Russia and immediately requested that their region be absorbed. Their neighbors in Luhansk appeared to be leaning in the same direction.
Last week, U.S. officials demanded that Putin stop the vote for autonomy, and the Russian president obliged with an executive order. But the people of Donetsk and Luhansk ignored the mandate and held the referendum as scheduled.
“This is a complete miscarriage of justice and a preposterous misunderstanding of democracy,” a senior State Department representative declared. “Freedom doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want with your land, and there’s a big difference between independent thought and political independence. These are hard lessons we must teach Ukraine. When we urged Kiev to support freedom, we of course meant the freedom to throw off the yoke of Russia, to join the free nations of the EU. But now there’s all this talk of states rights and secession and civil war with the federal powers. Not to mention rumblings of a revolutionary war. No nation turns its back on the country supporting it, makes up its own constitution, drafts some declaration of independence and then marches off to a bloody battle for freedom. These are ridiculous, primitive tantrums that always end in failure. You wouldn’t encounter this kind of neanderthal behavior from a truly free nation like the United States. Leaders in the Ukraine would do well to follow our historic examples, not to mention our directives.”
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