Some 1500 Ukrainian communists demonstrated against the pro-Western policies of President Viktor Yushchenko – including his desire to join NATO – in the Russian-speaking, Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk today. Russian media reported that demonstrators installed a collection box in front of regional administration buildings to gather money “to send the president and his family to America,” next to a mock airplane with a slogan reading “Yushchenko, pack your bags for America!”
“We must not be afraid of repression, as the starving and ailing nation has nothing to be afraid of already,” said Mykola Kravchenko, the leader of the Communist Party’s Donetsk branch.
Although Ukraine’s bid to join NATO was derailed last year, the issue has become a focal point for how American foreign policy should engage with Russia. While many analysts condone NATO’s expansion as a countermeasure against Russian aggression, a growing number of voices of all political inclinations seem to think just the opposite.
Writing last week in The Washington Post, Anton Fedysashin suggested:
“As long as Mr. Yushchenko tried to square Ukraine’s geopolitical circleby ‘bringing the country into the West’ via NATO–instead of via afunctional and solvent economy–the gas problem persisted. Russia iswilling to cooperate with a Ukraine integrated into European politicaland economic structures, but not with a government disdainful of itsbenefactor’s geopolitical interests. By suspending its unequivocalsupport for Ukrainian (and Georgian) membership in NATO, the Obamaadministration will gain a more cooperative Russian ally.”
And today, American professor Gordon Hahn lashes out against NATO expansion in Russia Profile:
“The most disconcerting are the problems that remain fromthe unlearnedlessons. Russia’s ‘re-authoritarianization’ is a direct consequence ofNATO expansion. Ukrainian corruption persists because the West needs todeny it in order to justify NATO expansion. NATO expansion artificiallycreates Russian-Ukrainian tension, portrayed in the West as a one waystreet of Russian aggression. Finally, the ‘Russian threat’ inspires a’need’ for NATO expansion; a self-fulfilling prophecy emerges with theWest’s re-creation of the very Russian bear it feared.”