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Kiev Must Show Compassion to Eastern Ukraine

Published: August 20, 2014 (Issue # 1825)


Its acliche topoint out that objectivity andcommon sense are among thefirst casualties ofarmed conflict but its important tonote that compassion often follows suit as well.

Today, thelack ofcompassion exemplified byresidents ofboth Moscow andKiev over theconflict ineastern Ukraine andthe future ofUkraine as awhole ought togive us serious pause.

Far beyond abstract politics, theissue ofvery real, very serious hatred between two brotherly nations should concern everyone today, particularly those who dont want tosee further instability onEuropean soil.

InMoscow, Ive grown tired ofexplaining that just because Im critical ofcurrent Russian policy onUkraine doesnt mean Im into Nazism. Ive similarly grown tired ofpointing out that backing separatists inUkraine whether unofficially or officially may backfire onRussia inthe worst possible way, as regional destabilization triggers greater destabilization over time.

But ina similar vein, pointing out thehorror ofcivilian casualties ineastern Ukraine toKiev residents often results inderision anddownright hostility. Maybe these people should have thought about theconsequences before siding with Russian-backed terrorists, is arefrain one hears too often inKiev these days.

Tobe certain, it makes sense forKievans tobe angry. While theWest andRussia continue their stand off over Ukraine, thecountry itself faces anincreasingly uncertain future.

Thestate ofthe economy is dire. Ukraines already unstable social andpolitical environment may worsen when thearmys battle with theseparatists is over andthe boys come home fromwar. It certainly doesnt help that thefar-right volunteer battalions fighting ineastern Ukraine may want toplay apart inpostwar politics.

Meanwhile, awar still rages ineastern Ukraine.Among Maidan supporters inKiev, plenty have friends who are now inthe armed forces deployed ineastern Ukraine. Some talk about friends they have lost inbattle. It makes sense tobe angry when some 19-year-old kid you knew will never come home again.

It equally makes sense tobe angry that, inaddition toviolence inKiev last winter, locals had todeal with everything fromthe humiliating loss ofCrimea toincreasingly desperate-seeming brawls inthe parliament.

Tobe fair, theparliament did manage topass animportant lustration bill inits first reading last week, although one has towonder whether theeventual law will be properly enforced.

Yet despite thepain ofKievs residents, civilians ineastern Ukraine have emerged as themost vulnerable parties inthe entire horrid mess that is theUkraine crisis so far.

It is sad andtelling that thenew Ukrainian government was said tohave put together anaid convoy forthe Donbass region only after theRussians had done thesame. It makes Kievs move seem like aPR stunt andbrings home thefact that civilians ineastern Ukraine have apparently been largely off-the-radar as far as theauthorities are concerned.

Thebickering over theconvoy drives home thepoint, though, that what were seeing inUkraine right now is not just alocal conflict involving some international players. It is also avicious cycle being simultaneously experienced bytwo societies both Russian andUkrainian that are growing inured tothe idea ofdestruction anddeath ontheir doorstep.

Andthe less sympathy andsupport that eastern residents get fromKiev, theless they are going tocare about thewhole notion ofa sovereign Ukraine.

Natalia Antonova is anAmerican playwright andjournalist.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain. The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their Industrial St. Petersburg Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the Business With China forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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