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15 April, 2013 11:00   ▪  

James Lyons: allowing Moscow to drag Ukraine into a revived quasi-USSR relationship is not in U.S. interests

“Instead of focusing on Moscow’s efforts to reabsorb Ukraine the U.S. State Department has given priority to pressuring Kiev on issues relating to democracy, human rights and the rule of law areas,” James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, writes in his opinion for The Washington Times.

“In short, Moscow is taking every opportunity to strong-arm Ukraine back into its geopolitical and economic camp. The Black Sea maneuvers and economic pressures on Kiev are from the same playbook. Rest assured, this is not a result of any provocation or unfriendliness from Ukraine, which has gone out of its way to accommodate its larger neighbor,” states Lyons.

“Predictably, the Obama administration’s response to Moscow’s strategic initiative has been one of passivity. With President Obama’s recent cancellation of ballistic-missile defenses for NATO Europe, could this be another indication of the “flexibility” he promised to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the fall of 2012?

Instead of focusing on Moscow’s efforts to reabsorb Ukraine in fact, if not in name, the U.S. State Department has given priority to pressuring Kiev on issues relating to democracy, human rights and the rule of law areas in which problems exist, but where Ukraine still stands head and shoulders over Mr. Putin’s Russia. Top among these is the demand that Kiev release former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for negotiating the disadvantageous gas deal with the Russians in the first place,” Lyons claims.

“Ukraine’s domestic shortcomings are valid concerns. In the face of Moscow’s continuing provocations, however, the Obama administration would do well to reorder its priorities. Allowing Moscow to drag Ukraine into a revived quasi-USSR relationship is not in U.S. interests,” highlights Lyons. 

READ ALSO: Steven Pifer: The West now views Ukraine as a country that has gone off the democratic track


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