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Ukraine: Western Sanctions Alone Are Not Enough

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Are the United States and the European Union right to impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials as a result of the escalating violence in Kiev? If so, should they be more proactive in solving the Ukrainian crisis?

In a lengthy cross-Atlantic telephone conversation earlier this afternoon, Artemyi Troitsky, a prominent Russian journalist, broadcaster and music critic shared his thoughts on the potentially revolutionary situation in this fractured country of 46 million.

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Q. In your recent Radio Echo of Moscow interview, you stated that the political conflict which is often referred to by international media sources as "the Ukrainian civil war" is inaccurate.

A. Civil war takes place when two major segments of the society fight against each other. In Ukraine, however, what we are witnessing is the national police state (i.e. professional siloviki) killing people. People in the eastern part of the country are, just like Russians, obediently awaiting what happens next; meanwhile those in Kiev and the west continue to revolt against the vicious regime. But at this point, no-one, except for armed killers, supports President Yanukovich.

Q. Is America's partial reluctance to meddle in this conflict due to their reluctance to reignite the existing tension with Russia?

A. I have always been supportive of Democrats. However, I must admit that Ronald Reagan was the only U.S. President who treated Russian tyranny in the most appropriate manner. American foreign policy is weak and cowardly -- this is mostly due to the fact that Russia has bought hundreds of billions of dollars worth of American bones. It's pure greed and cynicism. Russian Armed Forces are backwards and demoralized, while the Russian economy remains totally "dependent" and uncompetitive. This is similar to supporting the medieval state of Saudi Arabia -- purely because of their immense supply of oil.

Q. Aside from condemning violence, what are the other more proactive ways in which the Western world generally and the U.S. specifically should respond?

A. It has become apparent that the most effective and "easy" way to seriously change the course of the situation (in Russia as well as Ukraine) is to implement well-focused personalized sanctions on Ukrainian officials by banning visas, blocking foreign bank accounts, etc. But at the end of the day, all they truly care about are the stolen billions and numerous properties.

Q. Russia has openly accused the Western diplomats of meddling in Ukraine's domestic affairs, placing the blame for recent Ukrainian unrest on the West.

A. The West can solely be blamed for its very existence and the sheer fact that it also represents an attractive alternative to Russia. Certain Western activists and NGOs have been helpful in facilitating Ukrainian protests, but government-wise, the Western world remains absolutely passive -- they have vaguely offered Ukraine to form a partnership with the European Union, but failed to make any specific promises. These protests initially started as a way to defend and revitalize the vanishing European Dream, but soon enough, the main focus shifted to utter hatred towards the corrupt and ruthless regime. I know that the Ukrainian people are very disappointed in the Western response to recent developments in their country.

Q. Is compromise an option, and if so, what are the specific options for a possible and potentially immediate solution to the Ukrainian problem?

A. There's no room for compromise any more, especially following the latest developments (particularly as of today.) Similar to the Ceausescu/Gaddafi scenario which we have yet to witness, the collective Western plea for dialogue simply fails to make any sense. If Western leaders want to avoid being cowardly, they must demonstrate their support for the suffering of the Ukrainian people by imposing effective sanctions. If bloodshed continues, they (the West) must not refrain from using force, and therefore put maximum pressure on Russia. At this point, it is obvious that without Vladimir Putin's support, Ukrainian President Yanukovich won't last another day.