© Kyiv Post
The dirty fingerprints of Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to be all over the tension and violence gripping the Crimean peninsula.
Early on Feb. 27, armed gunmen took over two governmental buildings and hoisted a Russian flag on top of the buildings. The autonomous republic’s parliament met in an emergency session to approve a May 25 referendum to give the peninsula – a majority of whose residents are ethnic Russians – a chance for greater autonomy from Ukraine’s central government.
The separatism card must be stopped. We find it hard to believe that a majority of Crimean residents want to create their own nation or join Russia.
Putin continues to play a destructive role in all that’s happening, first by conducting military exercises on Ukraine’s borders and then by remaining silent on Feb. 27 during the violent takeovers amid reports that he is harboring the fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovych in his midst. During the entire EuroMaidan Revolution, his propaganda machine was condescending and dismissive.
Ukraine’s new government has enough challenges without having to contend with a neighbor who is only starting fires. New Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk revealed a bare treasury and heavy debts.
Foreign lenders, whether from the West or Russia, would have to think hard before lending money to a nation whose leaders wallowed in such large-scale corruption during the four years of Yanukovych’s administration.
Ukraine not only would not have needed any foreign money, it would be much richer today, if not for the scale of the financial corruption that Yatseniuk alleges – some $70 billion in the last three years.
It’s troubling that Yanukovych’s cronies went along with this thievery, and would continue doing so but not for the EuroMaidan revolution. As for Putin, his actions in stoking Ukraine’s crisis and exploiting its weaknesses shows that the faster that Ukraine’s government can strike a deal with the European Union and the United States, the better.