I remember presidential candidate Obama saying “the Ukraine” —
with the definite article — which defines my country as a territory, not as a country.
I also remember Obama referring to the Poles and the Czechs as “fledgling democracies.”
But this quote knocked me off my feet:
Russia needs to understand our unflagging commitment to the independence and security of countries like a Poland or a Czech Republic. On the other hand, we have areas of common concern.
Call me a nitpicker, but I had never heard the indefinite article applied to Poland or the Czech Republic in a context like this. Never had I imagined it being applied by a U.S. president, much less by a former chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on European Affairs.
Now, I’m not a native speaker of English and I'm not a stranger to different schools of thought. But I just wonder how countries “like a Canada or an Israel” would feel?
Because I’m a smalltime Ukrainian who lives in a smalltime country that gave up the world's third-largest nuclear arsenal for chicken feed, I view Obama's remarks as a Bittergate.
I just had a light bulb moment!
I do remember a case of Ukraine and Georgia being used as countable nouns — in a geopolitical context, by a senior official/politician!
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Vice Speaker of the Russian State Duma: Your country and economy will collapse. And what will NATO do? Georgia: Immediately there will be war with Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia. That's why NATO will never accept you, Ukraine and Georgia. And then there's a more important scenario. Suppose everything is fine in Ukraine and Georgia. But we here think that it doesn't benefit us. And never will NATO trade Russia for one hundred Ukraines and two hundred Georgias.
I guess perestroika must be about to start in America, just Zhirinovsky expected.