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Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in self-imposed exile in Russia, insisted Tuesday that he is still the leader of Ukraine. Acting President Oleksandr V. Turchynov disagrees, arguing in Wednesday's New York Times that when the Russia-backed Yanukovych "crossed the line and unleashed gunfire against his own people... he lost his legitimacy as the president."
But besides denouncing Yanukovych as "a dictator who had been groomed for the role of a puppet ruler" controlled by Russia's Vladimir Putin, and darkly warning that further military incursion will create a bloody crisis and "put an end to the global security system," Turchynov makes a bolder claim: Putin has already lost Ukraine, and with it his last hope to "prevent the final demise of the Soviet empire." He continues:
We choose Western standards and reject this neo-Soviet imperialism. We will no longer play the game of "older and younger brothers." Moscow must understand what we discovered at the Maidan in Kiev: The use of force will backfire and, more often than not, yield the opposite of what was intended. Ukraine and Russia are two sovereign states, and the Ukrainian people will determine their path independently. [The New York Times]