VK+JW: political remark #18: on the situation in Ukraine
1. In its present form, Ukraine is – to a large extent – an artificially created entity that has only become an independent country thanks to the dissolution of the USSR two decades ago.
2. On one side, the country includes territories in the West that have never belonged to the Russian Empire (Subcarpathian Rus, Galicia, and others) and which were only annexed by Russia after the Second World War, territories influenced by the struggle for Ukraine's independence (including fighting on the Nazi side), and on the other side, there are territories whose character has been purely Russian since the 18th century (Crimea, Odessa, the East of the country) for which the independence of Ukraine meant the extraction from their original national entity.
3. A certain artificiality of this state entity and non-uniform visions of its inhabitants about the future and desirable evolution have paralyzed the political life of this country since the very beginning. We could see it very well even from Prague. The situation was also negatively contributed to by the badly done transformation of the country, the burden of its heritage of communism, as well as the economic and political chaos of the last 20 years.
4. Ukraine has remained and it couldn't have "not remained" a country that is deeply economically rooted in the post-Soviet realm, one that is connected to and in many respects dependent on Russia. It's natural and there exists no simple way to change it.
5. For Russia, Ukraine is more than another neighbor, more than e.g. Estonia, Tajikistan, or Azerbaijan. It is the historical cradle of its statehood and its culture as well as the home of tens of millions of Russians.
6. In this situation, the vision held by some people in Europe, apparently including many leaders of the EU, current representatives of the Czech Republic, and especially political activists that it is possible to allow for a contest about the future evolution of Ukraine and to wage a war about its convergence with the West or the East, is overlooking reality. Such pressures would or will lead the country into an unsolvable conflict that may only result in a tragedy.
7. To preserve Ukraine in its objectively existing geopolitical situation as an independent yet functioning and prospering country requires both its politicians as well as the international partners to display a high degree of restraint and political mastery for a very long time. Unfortunately, we are witnessing just the opposite on all sides.
8. It is highly irresponsible for the West to feed the ambitions and illusions of the radicals from the West of Ukraine that there really exists a choice between the West and the East and that the EU and the U.S. are capable of supporting Ukraine as a whole in its convergence with the West as well as providing guarantees to it in the long run. Such a clear and solid interest and the willingness to sacrifice something to this interest is actually absent in the West. The West has helped to ignite a crisis that it doesn't really long for and whose implications it is not willing to accept.
9. To offer the choice to Ukraine – the East or the West – means to break the country. That's unfortunately what is happening.
10. It also seems to be the case that a majority of the participants is beginning to realize this fact. A question is whether it is not already too late. An illusion is especially the idea that the problem may be solved by a new election.
Ex-president Prof Václav Klaus, ex-chancellor Jiří Weigl, February 21st, 2014
Update: an official translation to English was released on February 25th, 4 days after the original (and my translation above)