Twenty years after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia’s disinterest in its former empire has been matched by the other former Soviet republics distancing themselves from the former imperial center.
By arresting former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian authorities were trying to both weaken the domestic opposition and get Moscow to soften its stance on the gas prices. They appear to have failed to achieve either objective.
Russian liberals, like many of their counterparts across Russian society, need to set aside their patronizing attitude toward Ukraine and their longing for the historical might of the Soviet Union.
The criminal prosecution of Ukraine’s former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, and her associates reveals the fragility of Ukraine’s democracy and the weakness of rule of law in the country.
The state of governance in Ukraine today is the subject of widespread debate, with Ukrainian and international observers citing evidence of democratic backsliding under Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Moscow needs to drop the notion of creating an exclusive power center in the post-Soviet space. Like other former European empires, Russia has no choice but to reinvent itself as a global player and as part of a wider community.
States of the Euro-Atlantic security community share basic interests and depend on one another for security, economic prosperity, and human development. To address modern security challenges, these states must revitalize the institutional foundations of their shared security community.
Enormous societal and political shifts 20 years ago opened prospects for a new, united Europe. Despite Russia’s role in this peaceful departure from totalitarianism, the country’s course in the subsequent two decades was not so straightforward. While the demolition of the Berlin Wall is no guarantee of success, democratic transformations are a necessary precondition.
The 20 years that have passed since the Soviet Union’s collapse have shown that the former Soviet republics are capable of developing and strengthening their independence and economy, as well as integrating into global and regional processes, even as Russia continues its transition from an empire to a great power.
As the United States seeks to respond to the democratic challenges of the Arab Spring, it can be helpful to consider what has been learned since the early democracy promotion experiences of 1989.