The news is grim. Despite a diplomatic agreement cobbled together to help calm the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, tensions mount. Pro-Russian activists continue to take and hold turf in eastern Ukraine—from administrative buildings to police stations—flouting cash-strapped Kyiv’s inability to muster a robust military response.
The United States and Europe watch anxiously, mindful of the sizable force Russia has marshaled at the border—and the potential for its conniving brand of psy war to become a model Moscow uses in Moldova, Georgia, and elsewhere. Domestic and other corporate pressures limit the ability of the United States and Europe to challenge Moscow’s hegemony more swiftly.
It is easy to forget, amid the headlines, the spirit of the Maidan that triggered these events. Average Ukrainians rose up in peaceful protest, and drove out a leader who was corrupted in the extreme. And it is that grassroots push for self-determination that Russia threatens now.
Certainly, Ukraine’s “glorious revolution” was not cost-free: the fringes of it continue to express unsavory (if not always unwelcome) nationalist appeals, and there are ethnic Russian concerns in Eastern Ukraine that are not unwarranted. Nonetheless, Moscow is seeking to destabilize Ukraine ahead of presidential elections in late May. It is more important than ever to support an independent Ukraine—one empowered to decide its own future.
The citizens who answered history’s call, and braved President Yanukovych’s bloody crackdown, stood for a principle. It took a toll. At this point solidarity with Ukraine’s Maidan from Russia and beyond is fundamental. The whole world is watching—and standing by.