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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ukraine-Russia Relations
Letter 3


Flaming seldom creates fireproof arguments. I did not intend to make you feel insecure. I did not mean to patronize you. And I'm not afraid to put in an extra effort to keep this debate professional and forward-looking. Could we keep it that way?

Back to the substance, I think the "blockade" decision, which involves the Ukrainians on the other side, does have its rough edges. Speaking in Cold War terms, I would say that Ukraine has made a tough call in order to contain the Kremlin’s “divide-and-conquer” policy.

Whenever the Kremlin fuels kingsize separatist ambitions, the price is always paid by common folks. In fact, as you know, Moldova (former Moldavia) had become a fully-fledged Soviet republic overnight — with a stroke of Stalin’s pen. Ukraine never had a quarrel with Moldova, except for a minor border fracas in 2004. Moldova’s major quarrel came from within, but the Kremlin did pull a few strings.

That’s why managing potentially disastrous ambitions — to prevent a repeat of the 1992 bloodbath — is worth the effort. When your backyard becomes a hotbed of geopolitical activity, fence-sitting doesn’t always work. However, great care and flexibility should be exercised in resolving this crisis.

Finally, no liberals posed as firestarters in the 1992 episode. And I do remember a refugee girl who came to our class when the Cold War had already ended and a hot war began there.

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