The phrase, spoken by President Viktor Yanukovych following the initial protester-police violence on Dec. 1, has subsequently been used on occasion by both sides in relation to the long-simmering conflict over the future direction of Ukraine that has escalated sharply over the past 11 weeks.
Ukraine’s internal division between those who want the country to go west to Europe and those who hope to restore a historical union with Russia has reached a breaking point that could lead to a Syrian-like scenario of tens of thousands of deaths, the destruction of one of Europe’s finest capital cities, and a massive outflow of refugees into the EU. With so much riding on a peaceful resolution to the standoff, it is unhelpful to try to paper over this fundamental difference in world-view with broad-brush platitudes such as “We are all Ukrainians” or “The EuroMaidan is not about an East-West choice, it’s about changing the system.”
No less of an authority than former US President Bill Clinton recently tweeted out his support for the aspirations of the EuroMaidan protesters and “a united Ukraine”. While Clinton’s statement was obviously well-intentioned, Ukrainians in the opposing pro-EU and pro-Russian camps are currently looking about as united as Israelis and Palestinians.