The Václav Klaus Institute's public statement on the situation in the Ukraine

1. The Ukraine is in its present form into a great extent an artificial entity that did not turn into an independent state until the break-up of the Soviet Union two decades ago.

2. On one hand, it includes territories in the west that had never belonged to the Russian empire (Transcarpathian region, Galicia and others) and became part of Russia only after WW2, and on the other hand territories that were from the 18th century purely Russian (Crimea, Odessa, the Eastern part of the country), for which the independence of the Ukraine meant the extraction from their original nation.

3. A certain artificiality of this state and the different perceptions of its inhabitants when it came to its future orientation have paralyzed its political life from the very beginning. It was very visible also from Prague. Another thing was the unsuccessful transformation of the country, the burdensome heritage of communism, as well as the economic and political chaos of the last 20 years.

4. The Ukraine has remained – and had to remain – a country economically deeply rooted in the post-Soviet bloc, a country linked to Russia and in many respects dependent on it. That is natural and there is no easy way to change it.

5. For Russia, the Ukraine is more than just its closest foreign country, more than e.g. Estonia, Tajikistan or Azerbaijan. It is the historic cradle of its statehood and culture, home to tens of millions of Russians.

6. Taking all this into account, the idea of some people in Europe – mainly of political activists but as it seems also of the highest representatives of the EU and the Czech Republic – that we can allow a clash about the future of the Ukraine and lead a fight about its orientation towards West or East ignores reality. It leads the country into an insolvable conflict that cannot have but a tragic ending.

7. Keeping the Ukraine in its objectively existing geopolitical situation as an independent and at the same time functioning and prosperous state asks in the long term for a large degree of restraint and diplomatic skill both on the side of its politicians and of its partners abroad. What we are currently witnessing on both sides is unfortunately just the opposite.

8. It is very irresponsible from the West to nurture the ambitions and illusions of radicals from Western Ukraine that there really is a choice between East and West and that the EU and the US can not only support the Ukraine as an entity in its direction towards the West, but can guarantee it in the long run. Such a clear and firm interest on the side of the West is in reality missing and so is the willingness to carry the costs. The West helped to start a crisis that it in fact does not want and the consequences of which it is not prepared to bear.

9. Giving the Ukraine a choice between East or West means breaking it. This is, unfortunately, what seems to be happening.

10. It also seems that most of those involved begin to realize this. The question is whether it is not too late. The belief that this problem can be solved by new elections is an illusion.

Václav Klaus, Jiří Weigl, February 21, 2014.