BRAMA, August 27, 2010, 9:00 AM ET|
Independent Ukraine 2010
By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire,” wrote Polish-born Zbignew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, over sixteen years ago in Foreign Affairs. This observation was as accurate then as it is in August 2010 when Ukraine celebrates nineteen years of independence from Muscovy.
Sadly, the West still does not understand the nuances, complexities, and cultural-psychological dynamics between Ukraine and Russia. George W. Bush didn’t, nor does Barrack Obama. There are three areas that merit greater attention by the West for its own security, as Brzezinski identified, as well as its duty to affirm support for a free people.
First, an independent media in Ukraine is no longer a guarantee. It now valiantly struggles to maintain its independence and intellectual freedom. No democracy can survive without a free press to report on the successes and failures of a democratically elected government.
If pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych successfully implements a policy that betters Ukraine then the media has a duty to objectively report it. If he is engaged in activities or pushing policies that are corrupt, unethical, or compromises Ukraine politically, culturally, or spiritually then it too needs to be reported.
Second, Russia increasingly and successfully inserts itself in Ukraine’s economy making it incrementally more dependent and submissive to Muscovy. American foreign policy is now nuanced in Asia, in part, because Communist China holds billions of dollars in American debt bonds. The United States is a long way off from buckling under Communist China’s investments, but its foreign policy now has another factor to calculate in its geo-strategic approach to Asia.
Ukraine is in a different and increasingly dangerous place. The more Russia is allowed to negotiate favorable economic deals with the current Ukrainian government then the greater influence Muscovy will have over it.
Third, Ukraine’s culture is at risk for renewed efforts at Russification. This is especially apparent in Ukraine’s current pro-Russian government’s attitude toward the Ukrainian Byzantine-Catholic, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox, and Ukrainian Orthodox Kyiv-Patriarchate churches. Ukraine now has a president who speaks Ukrainian poorly, prefers to use Russian, has publicly dismissed Ukrainian as “gibberish,” and has showed a disregard for an Orthodox Church independent of Russia. The Russian Orthodox patriarch gave the blessing at Yanukovych’s presidential inaugural while Ukrainian religious leaders were virtually ignored.
The soul of a nation is defined through its artists, writers, culture, musicians, and language. Muscovy may try to control Ukraine through economics, but so long as there is free religion, an independent press, and a culture that is Ukrainian, then Russia can not in the long-term succeed.
What can be done?
Ask the U.S. Congress and parliaments in the West to press the Yanukovych Government to respect free press. Democracy cannot exist without it. Viktor Yanukovych is clearly irritated by it and would prefer to see it controlled and regulated.
Western businesses must be encouraged to increase their investments in Ukraine. It will counterbalance Russia’s economic influence. Western investment brings with it a different political and economic culture that can strengthen a fledgling democracy.
Finally, organizations in Ukraine that further the country’s cultural revival in music, history, religion, and literature should be financially supported. This especially includes programs that foster the Ukrainian language. Something as simple, though not necessarily easy, as getting Ukrainian newspapers printed and written from a Diaspora perspective into the reading rooms of libraries may help to preserve and further the Ukrainian national identity.
Russia’s political hubris can be countered by pragmatic, peaceful nation-building rooted in a growing tradition and societal infrastructure of free press, free religion, and an economy diverse enough to prohibit any one source from being master over it.
Bishop Paul Peter Jesep is a New York lawyer and the designated spokesperson in the United States for His Beatitude Metropolitan Myfodii of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine. His views are personal. He may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter(a)aol.com.
Note: Ukraine's Independence Day is observed on August 24. It declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
* * * * *
Apr 22 12 - Op-ed: Aiding and Abetting the Moscow Patriarchate
Mar 23 12 - Friends of Ukraine Take Action
Feb 24 12 - Will Ukraine have Its First Modern Political Martyr?
Jan 23 12 - Holocaust Remembrance Day
Dec 30 11 - Ukrainian World Praise for Major Archbishop Shevchuk
Dec 21 11 - Lessons from Muscovy
Aug 10 11 - Russian Truth
Apr 14 11 - President Yanukovych's Chance to Show Leadership
Mar 14 11 - An Open Letter to Viktor Yanukovych
Aug 27 10 - Independent Ukraine 2010
Jan 31 10 - Remembering Ukraine's Jews
Jan 15 10 - Orange Forever!
Aug 27 09 - UAOC Mourns the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy
Jan 14 08 - UAOC Bishop Condemns United Fatherland and Union of Orthodox Citizens
Oct 25 07 - Bishop calls for Annual Holocaust Memorial Day
May 28 07 - Priests try to end anti-Semitism
Feb 12 07 - Statement on Anti-Semitism
Feb 5 07 - Kyiv Patriarchate Appoints U.S. Director of Public Affairs
Nov 23 05 - Archbishop Husar's Orange Revolution of Faith
Sep 12 05 - Yushchenko showed leadership
Sep 7 05 - Metropolitan Mefodiy of Kyiv to visit America
Sep 2 05 - UAOC issues strong condemnation of anti-semitism
Apr 28 05 - Yushchenko at the Kennedy Library
Apr 1 05 - Diaspora rebirth begins in dialogue
Mar 11 05 - The Politics of Orthodoxy
Feb 11 05 - The Diaspora's Future
Jan 21 05 - Ukraine, Orthodoxy, and the Greek Prelate
Dec 22 04 - Has the Diaspora failed? Can more be done?
Dec 22 04 - Russia will not leave Ukraine alone
Dec 14 04 - God, Faith and the Orange Revolution
Dec 8 04 - Ukraine must run the extra mile
Dec 1 04 - Cage the Russian Circus Bear
Nov 24 04 - Support liberty - Practical things you can do
Nov 22 04 - Ukraine's Election - NOW WHAT?
Oct 11 04 - Catholic Patriarchate in Kyiv
Sep 29 04 - Kuchma and the American presidential election
Aug 13 04 - Op-ed: Foreign churches cannot dictate a unilateral non-Ukrainian spirituality in Ukraine (Patriarch Filaret and Ukrainian Spirituality)
Jul 26 04 - Op-ed: Viktor Yushchenko and Ukraine's future (Ukraine needs a patriot as its next leader)
Mar 18 04 - Ukrainian influence in the 2004 American presidential election
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