Ukraine crisis is not a game
March 11th, 2014
03:11 PM ET

Ukraine crisis is not a game

By Ilya Lozovsky, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Program Officer for Eurasia on Freedom House's Emergency Assistance Program. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

During a complex, fast-moving crisis such as the one now unfolding in Ukraine, it is tempting for some commentators to advocate taking the “long view.” This school of thought, which carries more than a whiff of Cold War nostalgia, reduces the struggle for Ukraine to a geopolitical game in which the various competing actors – the United States, the European Union and Russia – become featureless billiard balls ricocheting off each other. Ukraine becomes Russia’s “historical backyard,” or even worse, a subordinate part of its “legitimate sphere of influence” which we are urged to respect. Approaching the unfolding Ukrainian crisis in this way has the advantage of appearing sober, practical, and dispassionate. It is also dead wrong.

It is wrong because it treats Putin’s Russia, the European Union, and the United States as equivalent actors on the world stage – opposites, but equally legitimate – when in actual fact, these countries’ systems of government are profoundly different.  Russia is undemocratic, authoritarian, and endemically corrupt, its natural resources and immense human capital plundered by Putin and his regime.

The European Union, for all its considerable flaws, is a collection of open, liberal, democratic states, respectful of human rights and beholden to the rule of law. A worldview that equates these actors and condemns Ukraine as fated to be split between them in a kind of Solomonic compromise is deeply cynical. Moreover, it is precisely the worldview of Vladimir Putin. And that is not a worldview that we can afford to adopt.

More from CNN: How U.S. should respond to Russia

The protesters on Kiev’s Maidan and across Ukraine’s towns and cities did not brave the cold, the truncheons and the snipers because they have any great love for Brussels, or because they yearn to be in Europe’s “sphere of influence.” They did so because the abrogated association agreement represented an aspiration to turn away from Soviet systems of governance and develop Ukraine’s democratic institutions: an impartial, independent judiciary, a police force that protects its citizens, and an accountable government in which corrupt officials are exposed and punished, rather than allowed rob their people blind.

To Putin, similarly, Ukraine is not so much part of a historic sphere of influence as it is a bulwark against those transformations. Viktor Yanukovych’s inglorious departure exposed to the world how a corrupt leader can amass impossible riches in a bankrupt country where over a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. The images of his opulence – a gaudy, palatial estate featuring a golf course, a classic car collection and a private zoo – are only a superficial embarrassment compared to what Ukrainian journalists digging through reams of previously secret documents will likely uncover. This is why the protesters came to the Maidan – both from Ukraine’s west and from its “pro-Russian” east. The word for “corruption” in both Ukrainian and Russian, as it turns out, is almost the same.

More from CNN: 5 myths about Ukraine crisis

Naturally, no such public revelations will unfold in Russia while Putin remains in the Kremlin, just as none were possible while the Yanukovych regime was in power. Putin, we know, was watching, and the thought of independent journalists poring through his documents and gawking at his palace in the North Caucasus must be a sobering one. His regime – founded on misinformation, corruption, and naked power – is only a larger and more frightening version of Yanukovych’s. And if it ends, he fears, it will end in the same way.

Both Russia and Ukraine inherited the pathologies of the Soviet Union, which made such grand corruption possible. Only the development of modern democratic institutions can address this, the most fundamental grievance of the post-Soviet world. The struggle to develop these institutions and to make them sustainable is long and difficult – almost impossibly so. Ukraine’s previous pro-Western government, swept into power by the Orange Revolution, failed this challenge. Crucial reforms went unimplemented. Corruption remained endemic. The economy stagnated. And soon enough, this government, too, was swept out of power.

Is Ukraine’s new pro-Western government ready to succeed where its previous one failed? Putin’s goal is almost certainly to ensure that it fails, leaving the country what it was: a small, pathetic clone of his kleptocracy.  To do this, he has sent in Russian troops under laughable pretexts and provocateurs to stir up ethnic nationalism; he has unleashed the full might of his propaganda machine and raised the specter of fascism; he has lauded people waving the Russian tricolor in Ukraine while bundling anti-war protesters waving the same flag in Moscow into police vans. Bringing the Russian police state to Ukraine is not a legitimate exercise of Russia’s influence. It is an aggressive attempt to ensure that the new Ukraine repeats the mistakes of the old.

Yet if Ukraine’s new pro-Western government is ready to succeed, it is incumbent on the West to stand with them, not cower behind a more comfortable and historically palatable pretext. The focus must be not on placating Putin, but on helping Ukraine build institutions that will ensure respect for human rights, a fair market economy, and compliance with international norms. It is not by accommodating the most odious regimes, but by strengthening the most promising, that global liberal democratic norms will be advanced. So that one day, freedom will come not just to Kiev, Donetsk, or Sevastopol – but to Moscow.

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Topics: Russia • Ukraine

soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Sotir Ilievski

    When I was born they gave me clothing, food and a name. Next they told me who I was. No-one ever thought that I was a human being who just wanted to be myself. Nationality, like clothing that we put on comes to define us. Put on a banker suit and you are a president, a police uniform or a firefighter's uniform and you become that. Take of the uniform and you are back being just you. One day we will loose the body just as easily as we gained it and we will no longer need any of this material world. So whatever you are doing, ask yourself, is this the reason I came to earth, to be shaped and molded by people and events to become this? Were we just a blank slate upon our birth? Russians and Ukrainians are brothers. It pains me to see this quarrel. Also it is hard to understand how a violent action in toppling a dully elected government is OK. for one side, but the same actions in Crimea are illegitimate. I am glad no-one has been killed so far. I hope it stays that way. I agree with those who say the US and Europe should stay out of this, but they can't because America caused this. If Ukraine and Russia were left alone, this problem could be solved easily. Yanukovich was corrupt, that is a fact, but so was Julia Timoshenko. I believe that the agreement that Yanukovich had with Russia was much better for Ukraine that what is coming their way now. There is no freedom in the EU and US. Corruption there is even worse than in Russia and Ukraine. Forced vaccinations, forced GMO foods because they are not labeled. Constant poisoning of the skies with aluminum, barium and other heavy metals dispersed in the atmosphere by military aircraft. Do Ukrainians think Americans, Canadians, Australians or Europeans ever had a choice in breathing these toxic substances in every breath they take? These substances are causing cancers and other upper respiratory ailments. Do Ukrainians ever wonder what kind of democracy this is? They will find out, because this kind of democracy is coming their way, and I know one thing for certain, they will not like it. The best choice for Ukraine is to sit down with Russian negotiators and iron out a deal with Russia. We, Ukraine will remain neutral, working with both east and west in friendship and good neighborly relations. Russia can have use of Crimea for ever and Crimea will remain part of Ukraine. We will guarantee all people in Ukraine equal rights.

    March 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm |
    • MadMatt

      Sure, because this time it's different, see?

      March 12, 2014 at 10:05 pm |
    • ✠RZ✠

      Sounds good Sotir, and it's beyond a shame. But the window of opportunity now appears to be shut and will likely remain that way until the next great collapse or revolution comes about. Which just might be sooner than most think.

      March 13, 2014 at 2:25 am |
    • Tony

      I would have to agree, tha tthe best thing for Ukraine is to work something out with Russia. That window of opportunity is closing, but is not yet closed. Why is the Ukranian military standing by and doing nothing when armed terrorists have taken control of their country. These muslim extremists will try to install sharia law if they can and the people will be crying for revolt soon enough - but it may not be soon enough if the goal is to keep Ukrain one and not split. If the Ukrain military does not put an end to the armed terrorists who now call themselves the 'government' then the question is not if the Ukraine will split, but in where the divide will come. After the divide, for the part without Russia support – god help them – more chaos and rioting coming as the 'government' procedes with their 'reforms.' It would have been better if the Ukraine would have waited for elections for 'regime change' but then the US would not have had as much control over who got control. The people of Ukraine will remember this, and it will not look bad on Russia - but bad on the US for supporting the terrorists that history will show are no good for the Ukranian people. The only possible reason I can see that the Ukranian military has for not putting down the power grab by armed terrorists is they must have been 'bullied' by US military personel threatening them not to 'intervene' when that is really what is necessary to protect the future of Ukraine.

      March 13, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
      • Burstbubble

        NOt sure where you obtained your knowledge from, however; If you haven't heard Russian soldiers are occupying Ukrainian bases. This includes reports that the occupiers have confiscated ammunition and weapons. Not sure what the Ukrainians would do to fend off the Russians? Bigger guns with bigger military...

        March 14, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
    • V.Y.

      Sotir, if there are problems in the countries of the West (Europe and the US), there are problems that need to be dealt with and solved on the base of democracy and freedom. There is no democracy and freedom in Russia, and it is trying to impose its failing governance model (state-sponsored corruption, backed up by oil and gas resources) on Ukraine and beyond. Do you think the air in Moscow is cleaner than in Paris? If you are old enough you should remember that vaccinations were mandatory in the old Soviet Union, and I am pretty sure they are still mandatory in Russia. America is not behind the uprising in Ukraine against Yanukovich. He himself provoked the uprising with his corruption and incompetence.

      March 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
      • Tim

        And I which country do you have this dream that real democracy exists. The only power-holders are the lobbyists. Clean your glasses.

        March 16, 2014 at 10:37 pm |
    • Jack

      Could work provided that no part of the Ukraine became a member of NATO.

      March 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
    • Mari Knudsen

      Putin needs to sit down and negotiate. Putin invaded the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Putin placed Russian military in Ukraine. Putin is the aggressor. Putin (Stalin admirer) needs to be accountable by whatever means there are from anywhere. How dare you lie about the USA, Europe, Canada, the world. We did not start the "revolution", the Ukrainian people have a right to human rights, rule of law, democracy, standard of living, corrupt free government and Russia"s direct interference . Putin is wrong. His actions clearly demonstrate his lack of humanity. No more disinformation, lies, falsifying history. You know Russia is 400 years younger than Ukraine. It was part of Kyiv-Rus. Russians left during the Mongol invasion to Moscow where they stole their name, changed the Ukrainian language, stole Ukrainian culture. If anything they are the bratty, spoiled, consciousless younger cousins.

      March 15, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • Christopher Bodemer

      Sir, the US is not responsible in this current crisis.The players are the EU and Russia.

      March 16, 2014 at 12:44 am |
      • F..k the EU

        neoconservative Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told the National Press Club in Washington on December 13, 2013, that the US has “invested” $5 billion in agitation in Ukraine.

        March 16, 2014 at 3:57 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Thank you for posting the above, F..K the EU. Your screen name says what I feel. No wonder we're the most hated country in the world today! The EU sorely needs to be dissolved and the sooner the better!

        March 16, 2014 at 11:32 am |
    • Lieh

      Satir is not doubt that, in Russia and post soviets, regular human are just black spot and anybody who has the power can wipe out them, just like spot on the table... Chinovnicks never used to ask people, they never will be... without change... i am Georgian and i remember before Saakashvili my country... Just airport staff used to be criminals, they used to steal and make people blame, like they was wrong and even rest them, after Saakashvili reforms, you can't believe how much is changed... i stopped by Ukrainian airport couple times and they are still 20th century Russia, human is steal just black spot...( if you start talking Russian and they feel you don't belong 1st world)... Russians propaganda brainwashes people that 1st world is bad??? it is just funny...they just power freak... "velikaia derjava" is dead... soon or latter even Russians gonna clean their brains, and Putler and his brainwashing system,gonna "kaput"

      March 18, 2014 at 10:05 am |
      • Lieh

        by the way i believe you know Russian watch this... I wonder what happened to this couple, dependently they never can live in Russia!!! Putin will kill anybody for truth...

        March 18, 2014 at 10:25 am |
    • Tim

      I would trust this text if was not watching Kiev's TV.

      March 18, 2014 at 11:33 am |
  2. Mike

    I think you have a deep misunderstanding of the crisis, lack of historic knowledge, desire to paint things either black or white. Putin is no villain, despite what you are portraying him to be, this is not some Hollywood movie. Everyone wants to live in prosperity and peace, you somehow assume that Russians don't, and the rest of the 'free' world do. I am Russian and I am free. There is no more propaganda in the Russian media than in the West (in fact, I see more in the West). Why are you not mentioning Neo-nazi elements currently in top government positions in Ukraine? Putin made a bold move, perhaps questionable in terms of international law but today's Ukraine is defiantly much less democratic that it was just a month ago (don't forget they ousted their leader by force not through proper legal procedures available to them). The first law introduced was to ban Russian language, 2nd to get rid of Supreme Court, 3rd to allow for denial of Nazi crimes, 4th to ban Russian TV networks. I can go on; your view of the world is limited and does not represent reality.

    March 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
    • Lilly

      Mike, you have been lied to... the United States wants you people to form your own government. We want you guys to have you're freedom, you're own government. As an American I would wish for you to have all freedoms, whatever government you want. You Russians deserve freedom, democracy and to have a life where you can make money, support yourselves and just live....... Putin lies to you. I am an American and I wish this for all Russians. Putin holds his people back, doesn't want them to succeed.. I am and have always been wanting to go to Russia, to give people rights and show them freedom and how to obtain money.

      March 15, 2014 at 1:03 am |
      • O'ote

        How arrogant can you be? You who live in a police state wants to grant freedom to others. First remove the timber in your eyes

        March 15, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
      • Moonshine

        Lilly, there was a revolution in Kyrgyzstan in2010, very similar to Ukrainian one, but it was very fast , just one day, why that time did not US government support kyrgyz people, instead it had been having an affair with bloody ex president's clan dictatorship, ignoring completely opposition warning rising criminalism and human rights issues, and when finally people ousted president at a price of 88 souls taken by snipers why was nobody rushing to accept interim government as legitimate , why did nobody offer15 billion of financial help to country in a crisis, why we're not ousted president's family bank accounts abroad frozen, why has been son of ousted president residing happily ever after in London in a house worth of 8m usd trading successfully on stock markets stolen money using insider information for what he should have been put in jail for 40 years according to US law, but he is not, why?

        You have a big problem in your head caused by US propaganda

        March 16, 2014 at 3:04 am |
      • Tim

        You are completely out of touch.
        Please don't endeavor to pollute the world (it's big) with what you think is right.
        Putin is great leader and the people admire him.

        March 16, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
    • Mari Knudsen

      Free, no internet, no media beside Russian Government state owned and financed, agree with Putin and his regime or be beaten, imprisoned, murdered. Yes that is a very strange definition of being free. Rewriting history, falsifying reports, distortion of truth, instigating hate propaganda. This is your idea of freedom? Remember the genocide of Stalin 1932-1933, in Ukraine, the exile of Tartars from the Crimea by Stalin to Central Asia, where half died on their way due to starvation. Yes you are so free?

      March 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
      • Moonshine

        Mari, just keep in mind names like Edward Snowden and Jullian Assange vs freedom, Iraq, Grenada, Cuba, Vietnam, Serbia etc vs intervention, African Americans vs racism, native Americans vs genocide, Texas of Mexico vs annexation and many other things before you speak about others

        March 16, 2014 at 3:38 am |
    • Christopher Bodemer

      Mike, what happened in Kiev was a revolt,very brave one I should add,against a corrupt goverment .This goverment was led by Putin's man,Yanikovich.The Ukrainan people ,those that cared about their future ,took to the streets to demand an explanation of why their president suddenly decided to go with Moscow.Well we know the reason why,because the premier minister stated that Russian sanctions against Ukrainian imports were so damaging to the industries in the East that they had to give in.So much for the claim that Russia was not interfering in the affairs of Ukraine.The demonstrations were peaceful until Yanikovich passed a law forbiding all public protests.They than became violent.Then the president of Ukraine being a strong person, defected to Russia.

      Mike what we have here is a failure to communicate.You being an American should know and appreciate "freedom".It is a Urainian revolution ,not a Russian- speakers revolution.If you left it up to them ,the Ukraine would remain a protectorate of Russia to the end of time.The Ukraine is nobody's region of influnce.It is a soverign country!If you like Russia so much ,than go and live there.

      Please no more lectures or comments about Nazis in the goverment.The Soviet Union signed a treaty with Nazi Germany,remember?Carved up Poland with the Nazis and then annexed the Baltic states.No done yet ,they then invaded Finland.NONE of these countries would have had anythng to do with Nazis ,if they were not already invaded by the Russians.It was a choice between 2 evils.

      March 15, 2014 at 11:49 pm |
      • Moonshine

        Christopher, once there was a revolt in Kyrgyzstan against corrupt family of ex president. The bloody family was supported by US In exchange of extended stay NATO base in Kyrgyzstan! So much for the claim that US advocates freedom and democracy in the world.

        Stop lecturing about bloody freedom and double standard democracy

        March 16, 2014 at 5:27 am |
  3. ambrosialmedia

    "Russia is undemocratic, authoritarian, and endemically corrupt, its natural resources and immense human capital plundered by Putin and his regime." ... "The European Union, for all its considerable flaws, is a collection of open, liberal, democratic states, respectful of human rights and beholden to the rule of law." I love that you fail to summarize the US even though you mention it in the same breath as the other two. Here I'll do it for you. "The US is a nakedly aggressive imperial power, the largest purveyor of war and violence across the globe, nominally existing under the guise of democracy but a de facto oligarchy ruled by two political parties which share a common agenda of global domination and answer only to the corporate elite." - you're welcome.

    March 13, 2014 at 12:19 am |
    • newnereview

      Just a bit over-the-top with the description of the USA...

      March 13, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
    • Christopher Bodemer

      Ambro, you right for the most part.However, without the USA you would have been in chains long ago.You may not like that,but it is truth.I see alot of citizens from the EU living here in good old USA.ALot of Russians too living here.How do you explain that one?The problem with the EU is that you won't stand and fight for anything.Laws are only as good as the MEN who enforce them.You are welcome!

      March 16, 2014 at 12:08 am |
  4. John

    They could have edited the article a little so it didn't seem like grossly obvious propaganda.

    March 13, 2014 at 12:56 am |
  5. chucky

    Zio CNN dogs trash propaganda.

    March 13, 2014 at 2:03 am |
  6. nuissancefactor

    Wow, I want to get paid (by CNN & the CIA) to write garbage like this. Oh yeah, I couldn't, I have a conscience.

    March 13, 2014 at 3:58 am |
  7. NotBuyinIT

    You have got to be kidding right? I'm not going to sit here and defend the regime of Putin. But I cannot sit idly buy and read such a blatantly hypocritical whitewash of the American regimes faux democracy. Russia has ALOT to learn about liberty and they are trying. But to suggest that America is superior to Russia In It's practice of what it calls democracy is ludicrous. Anyone with half their head out of their behind know that the USA is every bit the plutocracy Russia is. Perhaps more. Furthermore, your feeble attempt at propaganda tries to demonize Vladimir Putin, when his actions contradict your every assertion. You paint the Crimean intervention as some kind of invasion; again ludicrous. Everybody knows how America invades.

    March 13, 2014 at 4:04 am |
    • newnereview


      March 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
    • Felix Unger

      Thank you, NotBuyinIT. How true that is! Yes, here in America democracy is fast becoming a thing of the past as the increasingly powerful M.I.C. has now bought off both the White House along with the majority in Congress!

      March 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
  8. Ferdi

    I read the first two paragraph and I was disgusted by the article. I just stopped reading.

    March 13, 2014 at 7:43 am |
  9. Observer

    You must have the Russians upset; their hounds are barking all over the comments section. Something similar happens whenever someone posts an article critcal of China.

    March 13, 2014 at 8:24 am |
    • alex

      HAHAHA Most people who have answered here are not russians lol but keep laying to your self. The world is a lot smarter than it was in the 90's when CNN pushed its propaganda to attack yugoslavia because the big bad serbs were killing thousands of people and throwing them in these mass graves.... where are the graves we are all still waiting??? This artical is an example of US democracy and your so called freadom of speach. Personaly I think all these revolutenaries and "terrorists" should focus on reporters just like in the bosnian war get paid for every one you take out.

      March 13, 2014 at 10:28 am |
      • Observer

        I thought this article was about Ukraine, not Serbia? Sounds like you have a bone to pick; let's see how you feel when the Russians decide some group in Serbia needs to be "protected."

        Anyhow, it is obvious from the poor English skills of most of these posters that they are not even from Western Europe, let alone America or another English-speaking country. Hence the remark about the Russian dogs barking (and yes, I have been to Russia and understand why most Ukrainians don't want to be dominated by it once again).

        March 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
    • Moonshine

      Observer, was reading your posts, seems you have not got rid of your racist mentality ....

      March 16, 2014 at 6:12 am |
      • Observer

        Talk with a black man who has spent any time in Russia if you want to hear about racism. Fail.

        March 16, 2014 at 6:54 am |
      • Christopher Bodemer

        Moonshine,been to the Russian Federation and seen the discrimination/racisim there.

        March 17, 2014 at 5:57 am |
    • Moonshine

      Go to library and read world history to know that among democracies America and English speaking countries as you call them have the longest history of slavery, genocide and racism... End of conversation with you

      March 16, 2014 at 10:54 am |
      • Observer

        Indeed; you must be busy today protecting Crimea from those terrible fascists.

        Since you bring up 19th. century American history, let's talk about something a bit more recent, like the twenty million Russians killed by Stalin. And Putin misses the Soviet Union....

        March 16, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
      • Christopher Bodemer

        Or better yet,how about the 3 million Ukrainians killed by Uncle Joe Stalin in the 30's.It was forced starvation.That has got to rank up there with the Nazis war crimes.Look it up , it is in Russian too.

        March 17, 2014 at 6:07 am |
  10. James

    This is by far one of the worst pieces ever published on the subject. Truly disgusting propaganda against Russia. Thankfully, we got the Internet to get our info from alternative sources and see what's really going on. If we relied on "credible" stories like this one, we would be apes dancing to the drums of war.

    March 13, 2014 at 9:44 am |
    • Mari Knudsen

      You don't have the internet. It's down so, you must be who? Where are you writing from. Certainly not the Russian Republic.

      March 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
    • kurt

      Russia has sent troops into another nation. They are about to annex the land the control with their troops.

      Those are the facts. Their justifications for doing so are just that... justifications. They are acting the part of conquerors. It doesn't matter how much the conquered are happy about it. Austria was happy when Germany conquered them. The Sudetenland was as well.

      It's still EVIL.

      One would have thought the world learned their lesson from this sort of thing after WW2 and the cold war... but I guess not. Russia better hope China doesn't decide to "protect" the million ethnic chinese living along the Russo/Chinese border. I'm sure China would love to have Vladivostok be Chinese again... I mean it's only been Russian for 150 years.

      March 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
  11. Simonzee1

    Look at Bosnia and the corruption and frustration with the E.U. Look at the recent reports by the U.N on Libyan weapons turning up all over the middle eaat. Reflect on the E.U stage managed coup with groups organised to protect buildings. It looked wierd...a clear indication of stage management.

     The trouble is that this organisation is just an embarrasing display of stage managed hope fof the future after a coup without due political progress but a certain future of a bitter civil war not from Crimea but West vs East Ukraine.

    Surely this is not the grand plan........" 

    "On that methodological basis this article argues that a global monopoly on the legitimate use of organized violence — a world state — is inevitable. At the micro-levelworld state formation is driven by the struggle of individuals and groups for recognition of their subjectivity. At the macro-level this struggle is channeled toward a world state by the logic of anarchy, which generates a tendency for military technology and war to become increasingly destructive. The process moves through five stages, each responding to the instabilities of the one before — a system of states, a society of states, world society, collective security, and the world state. Why a World State is Inevitable " (ALEXANDER WENDT University of Chicago.)

    This certainly sounds like the E.U with the big problem being "organised." Protestantism and protestant nations are conducive to being organised and Catholic countries which were active in social welfare now on an austerity drive; but the East is a different ballgame as are tribal countries like Libya and others.

    So much naivety.

    Interesting parts in the article...."He cannot turn back,” Mr. Rahr said of Mr. Putin and “she is not helping him out of the situation.”...."In a strong indication of how worried even conservatives are about losing good contact with Russia, former Chancellor Helmut Kohl on Wednesday gave a statement to Bild, the country’s biggest-circulation newspaper, saying that “great omissions” had been made in policy toward Ukraine. “The mood of revolt in Ukraine was not intelligently followed. Equally there was a lack of sensitivity in the dealings with our Russian neighbor, especially President Putin,” he said.“We cannot forget: War is not policy,”

    March 13, 2014 at 10:14 am |
  12. m.

    And when Obama has us in a war with Russia, just remember two things:

    (1) It's all Bush's fault.

    (2) You're all racists.

    March 13, 2014 at 10:36 am |
    • hp

      And anti-Semites which transcends mere mundane racism.

      March 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
    • Lilly

      we're not at war with Russia, dummy......

      March 15, 2014 at 1:09 am |
  13. hp

    This is how far the US has sunk. Especially the so-called school systems where kids graduate from high school and college never having heard of MAD, much less what it means. (look it up)
    It's beaten into their collective heads the the USA is the #1 invincible nation. How wrong is this?

    March 13, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
    • Jr

      You are right our people are having a hard time keeping their home and sending their children to collage and here we are giving 1 billion of our taxes, hard earn money to corrupt mismanaged Ukrainians. Way to go secretary of defense and Mr. president.

      March 14, 2014 at 7:30 am |
    • Christopher Bodemer

      There are one million legal immigrants a year to the USA.Need I say more?

      March 16, 2014 at 12:17 am |
  14. No, not a game

    Russia with Putin is great business alliance with European Union, and Russian natural resources are needed in EU.

    China is undemocratic, authoritarian, and endemically corrupt, plundered by Ki Ban Moon and Communist Party. Chinese stole Hong Kong from Great Britain and murdered many English businessmen.

    March 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
  15. HM

    Typical CNN warmongering hogwash. News editors and journalists from the German side were hung for complicity at the Nuremberg trials. Remember to mete out the same treatment to these psychopaths when the inevitable day of reckoning comes... This article is so malicious and this mentality is costing so many innocent lives.

    March 13, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
    • Felix Unger

      How right you are, HM! This article is so right-wing in taking up for both the U.S. and the EU, one would think that Josef Goebbels himself wrote it! Furthermore, this country has no legitimate business in Ukraine, never has and never will!

      March 13, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
    • Eileen Kuch

      Wow! How right you are, HM. You just hit the nail squarely on the head on this one. CNN is nothing more than a mouthpiece of pure propaganda. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao would have been absolutely proud. Yes, news editors and journalists from the German side in WWII were hanged for "complicity" at the Nuremberg trials, which themselves, were a travesty. The good that did come out from them should be applied to today's psychopaths in Washington, Brussels, and Tel Aviv when the inevitable day of reckoning comes; and, it will come. CNN and its fellow propaganda pieces have outdone both Der Sturmer and Isvestia by a very, very long shot.

      March 14, 2014 at 1:40 am |
  16. JK

    While Ukraine crisis may not be a game, this article does not give any logical argument to support this viewpoint that Russia has no claim on Crimea. When you get rid of the rhetoric and fancy words, the argument presented is that Russia has no claim on Crimea because Russia is corrupt. Considering that Crimea was once a part of Russia, this is similar to saying that you have no relation to your child because you stole $500.
    The real downside I see to the Ukraine situation is that it will tell the nuclear aspirant countries to not give up their weapons like Ukraine did. But we do not have the right to demand that the nuclear aspirant nations give up their weapons unless we ourselves are prepared to do so.
    In my opinion, after 13 years of war, we are much better off staying off this matter. Russia no longer matters. It is China that does and it is that trade war that we need to win first.

    March 14, 2014 at 3:04 am |
    • minnie mouse

      Russians initiated a signed agreement with Ukraine decades ago in which Russia signed away Crimea, in exchange for assorted advantages which included, among other things, shipping and port rights. Now Putin has decided that ",Ooops Gimme Back" I changed my mind – and unilaterally broke the Russians own agreement.

      March 18, 2014 at 10:21 pm |
  17. LV

    Riots in Donetsk:.

    March 14, 2014 at 4:07 am |
  18. Alex Kherson

    Russian bots full with propaganda money- Ukraine and russia will not find a solution as russia invades on its own mind covering "bla bla bla"- russian propaganda made russians loyal to putin actions but not ukrainiana, you cant find any other opinion in russian media- full dictatorship, no respect for ukrainians- calling us fascists for talking in russian and singing russian songs too? look at thr stayle of putin trolls her- long bla bla bla accusingUS- killed people by Putin friends in Donetsk just for an anthem singing- this is russia's methods, FEAR- that is russian small and miserable putin. Who from russians cameand check anything- no they are ready to live on others expense- dont forget that 1 million in Kyiv on 1 st of december- against brutal government- that is freedom fighting. And even if west-sponsored activists were in front at the beginning- who wants theft to be a president. who wants to see billionaire sons of president in 1 year to think this is a Law that rules. Putin is a theft too. And now he has to move his money from west and us if they are foing not talking- and you'll see 100-s of billions movement of russian mafia's money- thats now aCrimean crisis. And to stop this money hunting they have to prove at least low legtimate in Ukraine. And again if west started help protesters before- russia's government and corruption are much mor worse with all their lye. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Heroes!

    March 14, 2014 at 5:35 am |
    • Jr

      You sound like you never been outside of the U.S. You are very opinionated without a clue what you are saying. I can almost predict you are in welfare with no desire to work and happy with hand-outs. I doubt you've pay a single dime on taxes and would much rather see the world be supported by other peoples hard earn money. You must think 1 billion to help mismanaged Ukrainians comes from thin air.

      March 14, 2014 at 7:22 am |
  19. Jr

    We have bigger problems than Russia. Why is it that every time a country is in a financial crises we need to hand-out our hard earn dollars to people that can't manage there own money. Why can't these people be glad Russia wants to take control of these incompetent people. Why is it that our answer is always to give our tax money to these countries? I rather see my pay check get bigger than pay these people my taxes. These people Ukraine can't manage themselves let someone closer to them do it. Could it be that the U.N. and the U.S. is looking for oil and other natural resources to fatten their wallets? No one is coming to our boarders if Texas or any other State decide to become another country, we would not allow it. Why is it that we are the ones to decide what is best for them and the rest of the world? We decided in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Panama, etc… When do we stop? Why don't we allow other people live their own cultures and if they miss it up let them deal with their own mess. I don't see the U.S. helping African or South American countries with with 1Billion dollars. Could it be because there natural resources are not enough to satisfy our pockets? Obama is no better than all the other republicans that like war. They are all in the same boat and they all think the same way. A fat pocket is number 1.

    March 14, 2014 at 6:46 am |
    • Lilly

      jr. you ask and said there are bigger problems than Russia... you are totally wrong. President Putin kills you even if you look at him the wrong way. Putin has killed so many on his own people. And that's why he's been compared to Hitler. Jr. what Planet are you from, apparently you are not aware of what Putin does. Putin should be tried for war crimes.... mainly for killing his own people.

      March 15, 2014 at 1:28 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Good grief Lilly, the above is yet the dumbest post I've read here yet. Barack Obama comes far closer to being like Adolf Hitler than Vladimir Putin does. You seem to be ignorant over the simple fact that Obama is having people butchered day after day in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen with those ungodly drones of ours. I strongly suggest that you finish grade school before you post!

        March 15, 2014 at 9:20 am |
  20. V.Y.

    Excellent article. I agree with every word of it. There should be no equal sign between the US and Russia, because Putin's Russia represents state-sponsored corruption, repression, and stagnation (only sustainable because of sizable natural resources). It is trying to stabilize itself not only by suppressing inner dissent, but making sure people of Russia won't see the examples of prosperous, free, and democratic states across their border (e.g. Ukraine, Belarus etc.). Reasoning along the lines: "US is holding Guantanamo, therefore there is nothing wrong with Putin occupying Crimea" discounts profound differences between 'post-Soviet model' and real democracy, and therefore plays into the hands of thugs and plutocrats.

    March 14, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
    • Felix Unger

      If I were you V.Y., I'd be ashamed to display my ignorance on this web page! Judging by what you keep on posting, it would appear that you never never got past the 4th grade in school. Besides, there is every bit as much corruption going on here in Washington D.C. as in Moscow, if not more so! Get real, will you?

      March 14, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
  21. the oneeyedonkey

    “The flourishing of Jerusalem will mark the desertion of Yathrib (Madinah). The desertion of Yathrib will mark the start of Al-Malhamah [the great war that will start between ar-Rum and the Muslim forces before Muslims conquer Constantinople for the second time]. The start of Al-Malhamah will mark the conquering of Constantinople. The conquering of Constantionple will mark the appearance of Dajjal.”

    March 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
  22. V.Y.

    Excellent article. Well said!

    March 14, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Was it really, V.Y.? The person who wrote this article loves the way ignoramuses like you respond. You sound like another uneducated hillbilly Tea Partier from the South. Are you?

      March 15, 2014 at 9:31 am |
  23. stoplyingtome

    from new CNN dictionary:
    democracy – grabbing a power by people from street. that government is legitimate;
    referendum – act of violation. result is not legitimate;
    Khrushchev – the great leader of the world. his decisions should never be revised;
    Putin – evil, never acting right;
    to be continued...

    March 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
    • Observer

      It would be interesting to see how a similar referendum would go in Chechnya....

      March 15, 2014 at 10:21 pm |
  24. Doug from Boston

    You are all tragically underread on 19th and 20th century history. Russia, US, UK had an agreement signed in 1994 which said, "hands off" in Russia's back yard, Ukraine. Any political changes needed "face to face" negotiations. O'bama and the House are being used and have secretly supported and encouraged the "fascist" movement through the EU. This information war has been going on against Putin for a while. His group of advisers have convinced him the next US/NATO move is land and sea. US ships are in the Black Sea. Kerry trying to negotiate with temp PM. NG

    March 16, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Well said, Doug. I'm sick and tired of reading all this anti-Russian manure here both from the author of this stupid post and the idiots here who keep making their senseless rants against Vladimir Putin. Those who rant the most against Russia are those who know the least about it and their ignorance is truly sickening!

      March 17, 2014 at 9:53 am |
    • kurt

      Any time I read a post calling the new Ukrainian government "fascist", I can't help but thing it's some Russian person posting.

      No offense, but Fascism is defined as radical authorian nationalism. This is EXACTLY what is in place when a country claims that sending troops into another country is justified in order to protect those of the same ethnicity that are living in the foriegn country. It's what Hitler did as an excuse to invade other nations. And it's what Putin did when invading Crimea.

      The protests against Yanokovic were NOT nationalistic. They were economic and political. It wasn't about Ukranian nationalism but rather about wanting the Ukraine to be alligned with the west both politically and economically.

      YOu can say that's "bad" if you like... but it's not nationalistic which means by definition it's not Fascist. The only fascist in the room is Putin.

      March 17, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
  25. oscar

    Honestly, I doubt the credibility of information we often read from cnn. infact, almost all are propaganda and polluted. putin may have little questionable governmental malpractices just like obama, and other wester heads of states, but when we look deep into the problem in ukraine, we will understand that EU ans USA are just but a selfish, blood suckers and the worst undemocraticed states. which country has the EU adopted that sees the light of development and pure democracy instead they will be strucked with bondage in the name of bailout. greece, Cyprus, spain, portugal, slovenia, latvia, slovekia,
    Today, USA and EU have started again just the same way the mounted fustration, indirrect rulling and undemocratised govt(choas) in Egypt, Afghanistan, irak, libya, Syria, etc 4 god sake, how long will people of ukraine reason well? how long will they understand that the EU and the US has only come to enslaved them? I studied in ukraine and I think the best option for ukraine is to seat back and anchor on russia. if your home can not grant you peace and democracy, outsiders can not do it....EU and USA are mere goal oriented. if EU has a sole objective of planting true democracy and unification of European states why don't they accept industrialized Turkey

    March 17, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
    • kurt

      Simply put, Ukranians should have the choice to pick their poison (the east or the west) or find some alternative.

      They shouldn't have troops enter their country and tear pieces off.

      It's hard to say the country that invades is somehow a better choice then the one that coerces financially. Not that either one has the Ukraines best interest at heart... they don't. But the one invading has taken their choice away.

      March 17, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
      • oscar

        With all indications on ground, EU and US has never done any minority country better other than satisfying their selfish interest. They always put anarchy in any country they go. Over the years, US, France and UK have invaded many countries with the latest being Mali. They have given more supports to millitant groups in order to breakdown a rulling govt just for their selfish interest and they will be decieving other less privilaged countries that they want to plant democracy which they do not have either,,, examples are libya, cyria, Egypt, ukraine etc...Now, why are they potraying Putin and His cabinets as the only culprit when they are the one who planted this chaos in ukrain? is only ukraine a country that needs pure democracy? what have they done in Somalia or are they not away of the long lasting chaos?

        March 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
  26. Ricky Lee

    All I have seen in the comments are uneducated guesses as to the state of the world. We are at the pinnacle of our existence and " we " as humans must make the decision to either live together peacefully or see the end of the world as we know it. We have the technology to destroy "everything" in one decision , that will ensure there will be no world for humans in the future. We must understand, we are all humans. we are all the same. Where we are born or live means nothing. We only have "ONE" world.

    March 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
    • andermatt

      The world will end one day. When Eva lied to Adam, the beginning of the end started. Only a question of time. Please read the Bible, it is all there for us to read. The hunger and greed for money will kill us all in teh end.

      March 18, 2014 at 5:38 am |
  27. kurt

    Putin sent troops into another country.

    He's taken control of their land and is now annexing it into their own country.

    There is no excuse for that. I know the US has gotten involved in many military issues where we shouldn't... but we haven't annexed any land since before 1900.

    I had thought the world had learned the lesson of world war 2... that expansionism through conquest (even welcomed conquest like the Sudetenland or Austria-Hungary being taken over by Germany) is not an acceptable practice. Apparently Russia didn't learn that lesson.

    Russia better hope that China doesn't decide to "protect" the 1 million ethnic chinese living along the Russia/China borders. China might like for the rest of the world to start calling Vladivostok by it's Chinese name... Hǎishēnwǎi.

    March 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
  28. Laurence D Aument

    I think that Russia is using the reasons as Hitler. The more we give the more Russia will take.

    March 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Such is to be expected from someone like you with your fifth grade education, Laurence. Judging by your post above, it appears that way. You didn't mention our heinous invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, we never even gave the people in these a right to choose whether to be American or not. So quit mouthing off over Russia!

      March 17, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
      • Observer

        Strange, I wasn't aware that the USA had annexed Iraq or Afghanistan.

        March 19, 2014 at 8:05 am |
  29. J. Foster Dulles

    Talk about fascists here, there is none bigger than this idiot Ilya Lozovsky who wrote this stupid article! Unfortunately, there are a lot of ignorant people here who never finished grade school that will buy into this anti-Russian stupidity. Enough of this right-wing propaganda already. There is far too much hate here in America as it is!

    March 17, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
    • Zach

      You nailed it good, J. Foster. Thank you.

      March 18, 2014 at 9:30 am |
    • Tim

      Thanks, J. Foster Dulles. CNN reminds me USSR time "Pravda" news. No facts – propaganda only. No words about multiple political arrest in Ukraine for past few weeks, nazys with SS symbols marshing in Kiev.
      CNN cares about human rights only before US start bombing next country.

      March 18, 2014 at 11:39 am |
  30. andermatt

    Putin gives a rats ass about the USA and the EU. He considers both to be like a Muppet SHow. lots of talk and no action.

    March 18, 2014 at 5:33 am |
    • kurt

      On that account he's short-sighted. Iran didn't care about the US and EU either. Then the sanctions started. Iran laughed at first. Then they increased. And increased again. And again.

      Now Iran cares.

      Russia doesn't care right now. But the Russian economy is largely based on the energy market (in particular natural gas). That's been the major hold over the EU. But guess who's natural gas production is skyrocketting at the moment and just passed Russia as the #1 natural gas producer in the world?

      The USA.

      So with a more palatable alternative source for Europe, the sanctions on energy will be coming if Russia doesn't back off. And the impact to the EU will be mitigated because the US is ramping their production so much (and the EU has created huge stockpiles just in case Russia got stupid).

      Then Russia will care.

      March 18, 2014 at 10:24 am |
    • minnie mouse

      NICE TRY – NO SALE. This is just Putin's "Ooops Gimme Back" code-of-conduct regarding Crimea and the Russians violating their own agreement with Ukraine from decades ago. Putin was raised under the "What We Steal is We Can Keep" code that underpinned all the past actions of the Soviet Union that made the lives of Eastern Europe countries such domination-driven HELL.

      March 18, 2014 at 10:14 pm |
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