Feature

Ukraine: Going back under the Russian thumb

The decision to allow Russia to extend the lease on a Crimean naval base for another 25 years “is a ticking time bomb,” said Jerzy Haszczynski in Rzeczpospolita.

Jerzy HaszczynskiRzeczpospolita (Poland)

The decision to allow Russia to keep a naval base in Ukraine “is a ticking time bomb,” said Jerzy Haszczynski. When the Ukrainian parliament voted last week to extend the lease on a Crimean base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet for another 25 years, the legislative session turned into a brawl, with opponents actually throwing eggs, smoke bombs, and even their fists.

The passion of the opposition was a testament to just how high the stakes were: In effect, the deal “could spell the end of Ukrainian sovereignty.” In exchange for the base, Ukraine’s new, pro-Russian government is getting a deep discount on Russian natural gas—which means Ukraine will be more dependent on Russia than ever.

Europe can’t afford to simply shrug its shoulders and allow the former Soviet republic to slip back into the Russian sphere of influence. The European Union must lose no time in reaching out to Ukraine, wooing it with trade, cooperation, and a path to EU membership. “Ukraine has put a rope around its own neck—but it isn’t dead yet.”

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