West needs a broader view on Ukraine

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From; Michael Meadowcroft, Former Liberal MP, Waterloo Lane, Leeds.

IN my time in Parliament, Sir Malcolm Rifkind tended to be a voice of sanity as a Conservative Foreign Secretary. I am disappointed to see that he has now become a cold warrior (The Yorkshire Post, March 20).

I am no supporter of President Putin and his militaristic Russian regime, nor indeed of nationalism generally, but your readers need to look at the background to the current serious difficulties in Crimea and in Ukraine generally. The need to view international disputes as the other “side” sees them is crucial and rarely realised. My 50-odd missions to emerging democracies around the world since the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1989 have been an extremely steep learning curve in how the West is seen from overseas.

We need a much broader perception of sovereignty and of borders, with a view to resolving problems by assisting acceptable constitutional solutions. Sanctions have little value, particularly when one realises that around one third of our gas comes from Russia.

From: Coun Frank McManus, Labour, Todmorden Town Council, Longfield Road, Todmorden.

I HOLD no brief for Vladimir Putin, but the same applies to Messrs Cameron and Obama and to the ‘EU leaders’ as they meet to consider responding to the aftermath of the illegal referendum in Crimea.

Similar ones were held two decades ago to “justify” the break-up of Yugoslavia into smaller states. As for the targeting of Putin’s individual supporters by asset freezing, why have no culpable bankers been brought to book for the 2008 crisis? The rioters got short shrift, as did Mr Biggs!

Surely it is for the United Nations to deal with deviant states?

From: Paul Iwanyckyj, Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

I WAS born in Yorkshire, to a Ukrainian father, and have visited Ukraine many times. I have always been struck by the over-riding sense of commonality I feel with a well-educated, hard-working and good humoured nation. It is one that places high values on the family and morality, and that has had to develop practicality and pragmatism to a high degree in order to overcome the various challenges presented by decades, if not centuries, of occupation.

This is the overwhelming, everyday majority one finds at the heart of most civilised populations, and Ukraine is no exception.

As a result, it breaks my heart to see Russia treating Ukraine, and effectively Europe, as its playground in which to do as it wishes. My only hope is that the US and EU stop these woolly threats that are water off a bear’s back, and come up with some tangible actions, that will really mean something for the people of Ukraine.

From: Mr D Birch, Smithy Lane, Cookridge, Leeds.

I SEE that Crimea has voted over 90 per cent to opt out of the Ukraine in favour of Russia. According to Foreign Secretary William Hague, the EU and the rest of the democracies all over the world wouldn’t tolerate the view of the people of Crimea and that the vote must have been rigged or the Russians had forced them to vote.

He went on to say that steps would now be taken to veto certain things. That is very unlikely to happen. Why? Ukraine is not a member of the EU, not now and by the look of things will never be, as Mr Hague and the rest of these brilliant politicians know just what is in Mr Putin’s mind.

It strikes me they have all been led up the garden path in the main by the USA, who were in a Cold War status with Russia long before the Ukrainian government was overturned by Ukrainians because of their government’s corruption.

From: Gordon Lawrence, Stumperlowe View, Sheffield.

MANY observers, including your letter writer John Fortune, (The Yorkshire Post, March 22), are attempting to excuse or even justify Vladimir Putin’s land-grab of the Crimea by charging Britain and the West of employing double standards in supporting democracy in their own backyards but denigrating Putin for applying it in the Ukraine.

Unfortunately, for their contention, logic does not support their claim. In Gibraltar and the Falklands, the examples that constitute their main source of argument, the populace has voted in valid polls with a more than 90 per cent majority to stay with the status quo under British rule.

We are both implementing democracy and observing international law. Putin is brazenly violating international law and on the basis of a very questionable, and quite illicit poll has exploited the ideology of democracy and the bogus protection of his own kinsfolk to achieve his annexation of the Crimea.

If Argentina invaded the Falklands, both those salient issues, international law and democracy would be violated; only a debatable geo-political argument would remain. Or if the Falklanders had voted for Argentine citizenship, Britain would indisputably have acted upon the decision. Where are the double standards?

A widespread adoption of the Russian leader’s policy, ignoring extant national boundaries, would create international havoc.

With a weak and incohesive Western response, Putin’s aggression could be re-enacted in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine where a large majority of the population is of Russian ethnicity; the noises coming from that area are already beginning to resemble the cataclysmic sounds of the Sudetenland in 1938.