Why Ukraine is a dangerous and unworthy ally



The Atlantic Council, the de facto seat of the pro-Ukraine lobby in the United States, has made a surprisingly insistent effort to refute criticism of Ukraine. He seems to deny Kiev’s growing authoritarian tendencies. After all, Ukraine is a strategic trap, not a strategic asset, for the United States.

Doug Klain, program assistant at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, launched the first salvo a week later on this website. A suite, longer and meaner editorial was published on June 19 by Andreas Umland, researcher at the Stockholm Center for Eastern European Studies at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. The editorial was featured in Ukraine Alert on the Atlantic Council website.

Klain’s case consists of a rather thin porridge. He argues that “Ukraine is a strategic asset for any nation interested in the kind of rules-based international order that Moscow seeks to erode.” However, the “rules-based international order” is little more than a selfish cliché. The United States and its allies having violated this so-called standard whenever it suits. Washington’s actions in overthrowing governments he didn’t like. It did so through CIA coups in Iran, Guatemala, Congo, Chile, and other places. In addition, Washington has also waged regime change wars in Iraq and Libya.

And since Ukraine is a valuable asset to any nation interested in the (fictitious) rules-based order, Klain overlooks the important role that Svoboda, Right Sector and other ultranationalist and neo-Nazi factions pures played during the 2014 Maidan Revolution. He also says little about the continued ugly manifestation of these values, although he reluctantly concedes that anti-Semitism is “a real problem”. Klain says even less about the censorship laws and other restrictive measures that have become the norm for Ukrainian administrations since the Maidan revolution.

It’s never a good sign of how strong your argument is when your last paragraph opens with the sentence: “[President] Zelenskyy and his team have made major missteps since March 2020, but all hope is not lost. Pro-Ukrainian lobbyists don’t have much to work with, so Klain has to settle for such an anemic comment.

At least Klain didn’t resort to ad hominem attacks, but the same can’t be said of Umland. Instead, drive-through smears happen early and often. Even the title of Umland’s editorial, “The Dangers of Echoing Russian Disinformation on Ukraine,” sounds like a mockery. One of his earliest assertions ventured further down the path of guilt by association. “Since the Russian aggression against Ukraine began in early 2014, the undeclared war between the two countries has unfolded alongside an avalanche of deliberate disinformation,” Umland noted. “Most of this information came from Russian state media or the Kremlin itself, but an ideologically diverse array of Western sources also echoed many of Moscow’s more outlandish claims. ”

Umland has littered his editorial with innuendos about “the Russian tool” and is attacking one of my editorials that was published in May. “Carpenter employs a selection of half-truths, misinterpretations and hand-picked facts to paint a grim picture of the rise of authoritarianism and nationalism in Ukraine today,” he says. he in his editorial. “His talking points would be immediately recognizable to Russian viewers, who have faced similar disinformation almost daily for the past seven years. One can only guess at Carpenter’s motives.

The late Senator Joseph McCarthy may well endorse such debate tactics, but professionals in the foreign policy community should not. My only consolation is that Umland’s vitriol isn’t just for me. “Since 2014, left and right commentators of Western discourse have joined the chorus of skeptics who repeat Russian claims designed to poison public opinion against Ukraine and shine the tale of the country’s democratic transformation.

In fact, Kiev’s behavior, including widespread corruption and efforts to quell internal criticism, has done much more to “shine” this narrative. And those offensive actions have been criticized by prominent Russian disinformation spokespersons such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other independent observers. The argument that perceptions of growing Ukrainian authoritarianism are simply the result of Russian disinformation campaigns is an attempt at historical revisionism at its peak.

When Umland deigns to address substantive issues, the results are unimpressive. He must admit that “today’s Ukraine is not yet a model of liberal democracy. In Freedom House’s latest global survey ranking countries by civil and political rights, Ukraine received 60 out of a possible 100 points, leaving it far behind models such as Norway, Finland and Sweden.

However, the memo not only put Ukraine behind such democratic models, it put the country in awe. “partially freeCategory. Others in this group include Bangladesh, Bosnia, Guatemala, Hungary, Lebanon and Serbia of Victor Orban. Indeed, Ukraine only ranks four points above Rodrigo’s Philippines. Duterte.

Even the trend for Ukraine is not encouraging. Four years ago, the country’s overall rating for Freedom House was sixty-one points. The deterioration was evident in the category of civil liberties. In the 2017 report, Kiev received thirty-six points; by 2021, the figure had fallen to thirty-four points.

Umland points out that other countries from the former Soviet Union are noticeably more autocratic than Ukraine, noting that Russia received a score of twenty points and Belarus received eleven points. He could have added that Kazakhstan was in the same dismal category with twenty-three points. But no one expects the United States to militarily defend these countries or praise them as vibrant democracies. Umland, Klain and other Kiev fans expect Washington to do both.

Despite the growth of pro-Ukrainian propaganda, the country does not justify its inclusion as an important ally of the United States, either on the basis of strategic advantages or moral credentials. Strategically, Ukraine is a trap that could play the same role for the United States that Serbia did for Czarist Russia in 1914. From a moral point of view, Kiev’s democratic image is completely tarnished, and no amount of polish that passionate Ukraine lobbyists in the West try to apply can alter that reality. Ukraine is both a dangerous and unworthy ally of the United States.

Ted Galen Carpenter, senior researcher in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief at the National interest, is the author of twelve books and over nine hundred articles on international affairs.

Image: Reuters


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