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President Putin and the Ukrainian people

28 March 2014


From Mr Roland Smith

Sir, - Paul Vallely ("Putin and his loss-averse psychology", Comment, 21 March) may have a good understanding of the psychology of President Putin, but he shows remarkably little willingness for the people of Ukraine to have any say. He writes of "Western attempts to woo Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence - the West's using a trade deal with the EU and the prospect of the former Soviet satellite joining NATO".

But in fact it was a majority of Ukrainians - including, for a long time, former President Yanukovich - who wanted an EU Association Agreement, and it was when Yanukovich, under pressure from President Putin, decided not, after all, to sign that Agreement that large numbers of Ukrainians began their demonstrations on the Maidan, defying the cold and Yanukovich's thugs.

Mr Vallely appears to think that neither those people nor any other Ukrainians have any right to want EU Association, because Ukraine's proper place is in "the Russian sphere of influence" - whatever that means. He wants East and West to "reach a mutually beneficial deal over the rest of Ukraine" (i.e. excluding Crimea), maintaining it as "a buffer state between Russia and Europe", apparently without regard to what Ukraine's 45 or so million people might want. Indeed, he does not even mention the possibility of Ukraine's having a seat at the table at which "East and West" should sit down.

Surely a more Christian attitude would be to allow the people of Ukraine the right to determine their own future.

(British Ambassador to Ukraine 1999-2002)
74 Alfriston Road
London SW11 6NW

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