What’s at stake in the streets of Kiev is the future of the European continent — and American prosperity and security. An inward-looking America is averting its attention from its own most important interests and highest ideals.
It would be easy to laugh this off as typical hawkish overreaction, but the assumption that something extremely important is at stake for the U.S. and the world in Ukraine’s protests is one that seems to be all too widely-held. It’s simply not true. First, Ukrainian political independence is not imperiled, and European security certainly isn’t. It should go without saying that American prosperity and security are not involved, but it has to be said. Ukraine’s economic dependence on Russia would not have been ended by the EU’s association agreement, and it was this dependence that ultimately made it impossible for Ukraine to finalize the agreement over Russian opposition. More to the point, as Mark Adomanis points out, “the idea that Ukraine is the secret to some geopolitical great game is anachronistic nonsense.” The only thing at stake in this dispute is whether Ukraine opted for a closer relationship with the EU at very high short-term cost or accepted something very much like the status quo for the foreseeable future. It’s just not that dramatic or significant for any countries except Ukraine and perhaps its immediate neighbors. The “future of the European continent” definitely does not hang in the balance.
For a much more balanced and reasonable interpretation, I recommend Julia Gray’s commentary. She explains why Ukraine is currently caught in limbo between the EU and Russia, and why it is likely to stay there in the near future:
When Ukrainians took to the streets almost a decade ago, they probably thought they were choosing a future that put them more firmly in line with Western Europe. But the current government probably sees that it’s gotten as far as it can feasibly go down that road [bold mine-DL]. EU enlargement is not likely to materialize any time soon, and Russia is happy to make life worse for Ukraine in any way it can.