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Top 5 Myths About U.S. Meddling in Ukraine

Published: May 17, 2014 (Issue # 1810)




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Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left many people scratching their heads when, during a Moscow news conference last month, he insisted that Russia is not meddling in Ukraine in any way. Meanwhile, Russian leaders and the state-controlled media have repeatedly criticized the U.S. for meddling in Ukraine and destabilizing the country.

Here are the top five Russian myths about U.S. meddling in Ukraine and why they hold no water:

1. The U.S. has no legitimate national interests in Ukraine.

First, the U.S. was a co-signer, along with Russia and Britain, of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which guaranteed Ukraines territorial integrity in exchange for its giving up nuclear weapons. This alone provides Washington a legal, if not moral, imperative to support Kiev after its territorial integrity was violated during the Russian invasion of Crimea.

Russian troops had the legal right to be located at the Sevastopol naval base it rented from Ukraine, but they had no right to leave the base, tear off their insignias and assist the pro-Russian local self-defense groups across the entire Crimean peninsula when they seized government and military installations and installed a Kremlin-loyal prime minister.

Any referendum held in what was essentially a territory occupied by foreign troops is considered illegal and illegitimate by all international norms. This would be like U.S. troops leaving their base in Guantanamo Bay, seizing an adjacent Cuban province of 2 million people, taking over Cuban government buildings, installing a pro-U.S. leader there, and holding a referendum allowing the U.S. to annex the Cuban province. Any attempt to justify this annexation as returning Cuban territory to the U.S. that was rightfully gained in the Spanish-American war in 1898 would be dismissed as an absurd throwback to 19th-century colonialism.

Second, Ukraine is the sixth-largest European country by population and borders four NATO allies. The U.S. has a legitimate security obligation to help its NATO allies maintain stability in its own backyard. Any military conflict in Ukraine would have direct security implications for these four neighboring countries and other NATO allies as well. The Baltic states, which were forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, and Poland, which has a long history of being a vassal of Moscow, have a particularly compelling interest in obtaining U.S. security guarantees if Russia further violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Romania, another NATO ally, will also look for U.S. support if the Ukrainian conflict spreads to the self-proclaimed Transdnestr republic.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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