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Ukraine at crossroads after 25 years

August 24, 1991 marks the date of Ukraine’s independence from the former Soviet Union. Ukraine’s path toward independence and statehood has been long and tedious, the country recognizes itself as a responsible member within the international community. During the 25 years of its independence Ukraine has participated in international humanitarian operations under the auspices of the United Nations. Since 1991 Ukraine has been instrumental portraying itself as a democratic state by existing in a benign geopolitical environment, it is a nation that has inherited a rich history and distinct cultural heritage.

Ukraine has been trying to solve boundary issues by striving to maintain an indirect relationship with Russia, resisting direct intervention. During the years of Viktor Yanukovych 2010-2014, there was misrule; a failure to reconstruct the nation or set it on a path that would ensure the development of Ukraine’s enormous potential. Yanukovych shelved a landmark agreement not signing with the European Union. This agreement would have tapped into Europe’s multiple economic resources, set conditions for freer trade activities and create better self-government. The focus would have been based on the needs of the Ukrainian citizens. Also during that time, Ukraine surrendered its sovereignty in the Black Sea area by allowing Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to be stationed at Sevastopol until 2042.

In March of 2014 Crimea was illegally annexed from Ukraine, the downing of Malaysia Airline on July 2014 by pro-Russian rebels, then in April of 2015 Russian separatists invaded eastern Ukraine, now Russia is becoming restless, probably planning to boost security within the regions that it presently holds and create instability in the Baltic States. For Ukraine it is not only their future at stake, but also that of the European Union. The loss of Ukraine would be an enormous blow. There must be a follow-through to hold stability and deter a further Russian invasion.

Ukraine stands at a significant crossroad and in order to celebrate the 25 years of independence, it cannot become a piece of real estate to be plundered. The country must be strong to respect its native heritage and must choose between democratic values and not be pressured by Russia’s medieval, autocratic imperialist abyss. Ukraine must grow and reform itself economically being indispensable to political and national survival. The Ukrainian government is interested in ending the violence in eastern Ukraine. There is a need to restore confidence and bring the country back into one sovereign nation. A withdraw of pro-Russians from Ukraine and an international monitoring force in place to ensure the sides observe the Minsk agreement would be the ideal solution. There must be continued western aid so that Ukraine can recover and become an active member of NATO and the European Union.

Presently Ukraine is totally devastated and has been isolated from any foreign involvement in order to achieve peace and a place in the world. After 25 years Ukraine has the opportunity to break out of Russia’s orbit and to transform itself into a genuinely self-reliant, democratic, and prosperous state. The western world must introduce a secure and stabilized far-sighted strategy in order to prevent further catastrophic consequences to Ukraine. It would be a tragedy if after 25 years of independence, Ukraine sacrificed its statehood, nationhood, and prosperity on the altar of some imagined sacred territorial unity and returned to Russia’s imperial fold. There is much to be done by Ukraine on a substantive basis to have a place on the international stage and to continue the road of independence.

About The Author

Peter J. Manastyrsky is an active member of the Ukrainian community in Winnipeg

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