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Ukraine’s burning.

February 20, 2014 7:15 PM
By J George Smid
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Ukraine's burning. Barack Obama urges restraint and calls on Moscow to stop Ukrainian president using force. Putin accuses the West of enflaming and organising the demonstrations. And for good measure Sergey Lavrov declares that 'Russia will never allow Ukraine to fall under the Western sphere of influence' just to reinforce the cold war 'real politic'.

Bill Newton Dunn and George Smid

George in Brussels with Bill Newton Dunn MEP

And the déjà vu of the cold war 'one-up-manship' continues: Moscow's drops the price of Ukrainian gas by one third and promises 15 billion dollars. Arsenij Jacenuk, the opposition leader, asks EU for 15 billion dollars help and Jose Barroso promises to 'look into it'. Three European Union foreign ministers meet opposition leaders and President Viktor Yanukovych. The truce is declared and broken in less than 12 hours. 26 people are dead. EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss possible sanctions, while the White House expresses "outrage" at security forces' actions. Moscow blames 'the West' from inciting terrorism.

There are number of reasons for the current crises - history of a 'floating state' between East and West, geography of Dnepr river dividing Ukraine in half, populations split in west leaning Ukrainians and East leaning Russians, the Crimean peninsula, given to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev as a present for 300 year anniversary of 'Ukraine joining Russia', the bodged 2004 'orange revolution' … But whatever the reasons of the past, current crises in Ukraine shows the importance for countries working together says Euro candidate George Smid.

The Ukrainian dilemma - East or West, EU or CIS is a very current dilemma faced by any country which is not aligned and is 'isolated' in its standing. The trading 'superblocks' vie for influence, some with the cruel pressure of turning off the gas, some with more the democratic process of agreeing a common platform. Ukraine further demonstrates that 'going it alone' is not an option.

There are lessons for the UK and lessons for the Liberal Democrats, says Euro candidate George Smid. Firstly UK must assume a leading role within the EU and actively push for engagement with Ukraine. Our specifically 'down to earth' British approach with more emphases on trade, liberalisation and industry is what Ukraine needs - after all industrial Donetsk (the eastern Ukraine) was built by Welsh engineers and entrepreneurs! Ukraine is not and will not be ready to join EU for some time and all the emphasis on 'EU accession' was misplaced and not honest. That is why the EU dithered and finally withered in negotiation - so Ukraine turned to the east which caused the current catastrophe.

For the Liberals the lesson is - to be liberal. Giving aid is not the solution - the disappointment with the EU was caused exactly because the EU was seen as 'competing' with Russia in the amount of financial help. EU made this mistake in other 'peripheral countries' where history proved aid on its own does not work. We should fight for the solution which would secure open and liberal society: fair, knowledgeable and integrated. We should open trade, we should help to weed out corruption, we should set up the rules which will open the door to the EU. We should be there - now. Political declarations are meaningless when you have soldiers on the street says George. I know it, I was there in 1968 with Russian tanks rolling in and the West declaring outrage.

Please help George to fight for the Liberal Democrat approach and for Bill Newton Dunn, the Liberal MEP, to win in May. We can lead Europe, we can help Ukraine.

You can contact George at


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