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Europe's Failure in Ukraine

Published: January 23, 2014 (Issue # 1794)


The protests in Ukraine have been a powerful inspiration for European politicians, many of whom have flown to Kiev to address the jubilant crowds. The demonstrations quickly turned into an attempt to stage another "color revolution" and overthrow Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The protests have come to symbolize Europe's political weakness, not its strength. After all, the European Union lost control of its strongly anti-Russian Eastern Partnership program when it handed the reigns over to irresponsible politicians from the Baltic states.

Second, the Euromaidan protests demonstrated the EU's economic weakness. The EU was unable to make its Association Agreement attractive enough for Ukraine, and when Kiev requested financial compensation to make up for the billions of losses the agreement would have entailed, Brussels could not come up with the necessary funds.

Also by the same author: How Russia and EU Can Build a Greater Europe

Third, Ukraine's political turmoil has definitively exposed the moral weakness of Europe. For many years, the EU held influence over Eastern Europe and Eurasian states by virtue of its use of "soft power" and its moral authority. Just the word "European" signified a high level of development and responsibility thanks to its rule of law, democratic institutions, excellent education and developed social welfare system. All of that remains, but the EU's policy toward Ukraine has cast doubt on its claim of moral leadership.

The problem started with the EU making protracted arguments as to how the Association Agreement was beneficial to Ukraine. And when Yanukovych refused to sign it, Europe, along with the U.S., became hysterical, making countless allegations that Russia was exerting undue pressure on Ukraine when, in fact, Moscow behaved with the utmost restraint.

In reality, it was the EU that blatantly interfered in Ukraine's internal affairs. Politicians from EU member countries threatened Kiev with sanctions for not signing the agreement, although it is the sovereign right of the Ukrainian president to make that decision. What's more, EU and U.S. politicians took part in the anti-government rallies, lending support to angry crowds from the stage. This was outrageous behavior and a gross violation of established diplomatic protocol.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

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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