This week, the crisis in Ukraine has crossed a dangerous line. What was expected to be a revolution is morphing into a civil war. Should this happen, Ukraine will turn into another Yugoslavia: a terrifying prospect. It should also be sobering. So far, the West and Russia have been trading accusations about their respective meddling in Ukraine. True, neither side has been impartial, and each has its preferences and its clients. Yet, both are likely to lose heavily in case Ukraine becomes Europe’s newest battlefield. There are several things the leaders in Brussels and Berlin, Washington and Moscow need to keep in mind, and several things they need to do jointly and in parallel.

Dmitri Trenin
Trenin was director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. He had been with the center since its inception. He also chaired the research council and the Foreign and Security Policy Program.
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Outsiders need to realize that Ukraine’s crisis, essentially, is not primarily about Kiev’s international orientation. It is above all about high-level corruption and poor governance; it is about rivalries among largely irresponsible oligarchical clans; and it is about the cultural divide between the country’s west and east, which has not been eased after Ukraine, received its independence in 1991. These issues can only be tackled and hopefully resolved by the Ukrainians themselves. In the foreseeable future, Ukraine will not move either east or west; it might, however, go south.

The European Union needs to be aware of the high social cost of Ukraine’s accession to the Deep Free Trade Area with the European Union. It also needs to be aware of the high expectations in Ukrainian society of Europe’s assistance in the process of Ukrainian modernization. The Russian Federation should be able to see not only the similarities between Ukraine and Russia, but also the glaring dissimilarities: Ukraine is not Little Russia. The Russians should also appreciate most Ukrainians’ strong desire for national independence, which means that there can be no serious pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. ...

Read the full text of this article in the National Interest.