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8 Fundamental Questions on Ukraine

Published: March 21, 2014 (Issue # 1802)


Events in and concerning Crimea have raised to fever pitch the cacophony in the West over Ukraine. For one observer, there are some fundamental questions that seem to apply from the very beginning of the crisis and which seem important in understanding the broader context.

1. Why did the U.S. and the West cry "unconstitutional foul" on the vote in the Crimean parliament to reunite with Russia, while endorsing and abetting the overthrow of an elected president in Kiev. This was clearly an unconstitutional act since President Viktor Yanukovych, although venal, incompetent and corrupt, was just that a democratically elected president?

2. What is the West's moral high ground in preaching democracy, rule of law and good governance to Russia and to the rest of the world while supporting a coup? Are these ethical imperatives placed on hold in the case of a regime that the West disapproves of?

3. Why do similar double standards prevail in our approach to self-determination? Kosovo was historically linked to Serbia, yet we invoked the secessionist right of the Albanian majority. Crimea is historically Russian a 200-year history dating back to Catherine the Great, which was artificially rewritten in 1954 in the form of an internal transfer to Ukraine within the then-Soviet Union. Do we conclude that the rules of the self-determination game change when the irredentist impulses involve those who would unite with Russia South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Crimea?

4. How can we possibly welcome the interim government in Kiev as a unifying force when its leaders have exploited the east-west divide in the country by sending loyal governors from the western regions of the country to Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, thus inflaming the pro-Russia majority? Or by appointing just two eastern figures in the 19 new ministries? Or by including in the government six representatives of ultra-right forces, including the Svoboda movement, denounced in a 2012 European parliament resolution as "xenophobic, racist and anti-Semitic"?

5. Why does the West not understand that threats do not work with Putin's Russia? Reports from Moscow suggest that there is a widespread conviction even among those opposed to Putin that the U.S. and the European Union have gone too far in meddling in the Ukraine crisis. It is certainly true to say that among Russians, Putin has been strengthened by the standoff with the West. This is reinforced by a sense of lese-majeste on the part of the U.S.-led West toward Russia in the post-Soviet era. As one scholar put it, the two decades after the end of the Cold War have offered Russia a deal "closer to Versailles than Bretton Woods" or certainly the Marshall Plan.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although thesand sculptures at the Peter and Paul Fortress are more centrally located and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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