America, Russia and the Ukraine Election
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The drama now accompanying the presidential election in Ukraine could portend a turning point in post-Cold War Europe's history, and not for the better ("Ukrainian parliament opposes vote," Page 1 Sunday).
That Russia appears to have abetted the election fraud there is troubling, as civil strife within the country has intensified and civil war is possible. Rightly concerned, the Bush administration has joined in the criticisms of how the voting was conducted.
Certainly, the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people warrant American endorsement on both moral and political grounds. As the election directly affects Europe's interests, however, it is best that the European Union, or some other coalition of European states, take the initiative to help Ukraine to resolve its internal difficulties.
While American diplomacy must encourage such efforts, its focus must be on Russia itself. That country's meddling in Ukraine is but the latest indication that it is seeking to re-establish its former influence, if not its pre-eminence, in Eurasia.
Coupled with the Putin government's increasing authoritarianism at home and abroad, this development is disturbing. A re-emergence of Russian hegemony would bode ill for the rest of the world, especially the United States.
President Vladimir Putin must be made aware that notwithstanding Russia's strategic, economic, and cultural interests in Ukraine or its cooperation in the war on terror, any backsliding into imperialism would trigger negative consequences, including diplomatic and economic isolation. His country must learn that a democratic Ukraine threatens neither its position in the world nor its prestige.
Ultimately, America must help foster genuine democracy in Russia. That policy is without doubt ambitious. Nevertheless, Russia's embrace of freedom would not only be best for its people, but also for the international community. Moreover, such a transformation might render the issue of Ukraine moot, and thus preclude any future catastrophe.
CHARLES H. RIEPER
The electoral fraud in Ukraine by the pro-Russian Kuchma-Yanukovych regime is part of a massive campaign of Russian interference in Ukraine. …