‘I condemn Putin. But …’ – What the West’s sellout of Ukraine will look like

The most serious threat to the future of Ukraine comes from the increasing number of officials, commentators and businessmen who take the position that former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner does in an interview published in today’s “Novaya gazeta” titled “Bernard Kouchner: ‘I condemn Putin. But…’”

The most serious threat to the future of Ukraine comes from the increasing number of officials, commentators and businessmen who take the position that former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner does in an interview published in today’s “Novaya gazeta” titled “Bernard Kouchner: ‘I condemn Putin. But…’” 

2015/10/31 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics

Most Ukrainians and their supporters in the West have focused their ire on those Western politicians and commentators who have not condemned Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine and his Anschluss of Crimea, viewing such people and their arguments as the greatest threat to the chance that Ukraine will recover its territorial integrity.

But in fact, the most serious threat to the future of Ukraine comes not from them but rather from the increasing number of officials, commentators and businessmen who take the position that former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner does in an interview published in today’s “Novaya gazeta.”

The Russian journalist who interviewed him chose as the title of the article “Bernard Kouchner: ‘I condemn Putin. But …’” That reflects the weariness of the West to stand up to Russian aggression, the lack of patience among Western elites, and the desire to “turn the page” in relations with Moscow. And it is precisely this that is the greatest threat to Ukraine.

Kouchner says that people say that Putin must return Crimea to Ukraine, but “he will never return it!” To say that he should is “unrealistic,” and it is time to “stop fantasizing. It is necessary to try to find a compromise,” especially since the European Union does not have the same interests that the Ukrainians do. Ukraine must do this.”

“We have said that the seizure of Crimea was a bad thing, something scandalous … True, it is scandalous. Putin acted by force. And I condemn this,” Kouchner says. “But there are scandalous things which we tolerate or act as if we don’t notice and agree on compromises. There are many such things, especially in the Middle East.”

And “in Crimea, we also could do this.”

This is exactly the same logic that informed those who sought to appease Hitler in the 1930s, and it is the one on which dictators have long counted, that individuals and countries will find a way to excuse the actions of such leaders if they are not directed specifically against themselves.

But both at the international level as Hitler’s behavior before, during and after Munich showed, and at the domestic level as Pastor Niemoeller warned, such an approach carries within itself a threat to those who adopt it unless and until they are forced to act by a direct attack on their countries or their persons at a much less propitious time.

Unfortunately, Western leaders have failed to call Putin’s actions what they are – acts of aggression – and they, especially under pressure from easily bored publics and vitally interested business communities and driven by their own desire to show that they can make “peace in our time” are increasingly adopting Kouchner’s position.

Yes, what Putin has done is bad, but we should look the other way and find new ways to cooperate. The Kremlin dictator is counting on that, and Ukrainians and their supporters should recognize that this position and not that of the open apologists for Moscow are the real threat to Ukraine – and ultimately to far more than Ukraine as well.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Lev Havryliv

    These miserable, unprincipled appeasers stand condemned.

    It is French, Italian and German business interests that are placing profit before respect for international law and norms of behavior. They have learnt nothing from history.

    What a despicable inversion of “European values”?

    • laker48

      French hypocrisy at its best.

    • OlenaG

      There is a joke within NATO. How do you tell which side the French are on? See where (who at) they have there guns pointed. Most of us in NATO liked the French but never really trusted them. After all even the German Army called the French Partisans a more formidable force than the French Army.

      But alas this French attitude is what Europe has always done…appeasement. One would think after the error Neville Chamberlain made with Hitler that Europe would learn. I would also include the Golf Player Obama as one of those that has failed to learn.

      Apparently Western values and civilization aren’t worth protecting. Guess Europe will learn an old lesson all over again. Freedom Isn’t Free.

      • Being

        Exactly nicely said!

  • Thomas Ferree

    Ahh, yes – the French, and many other Western and European countries leaders . . . . they only need support and help when they are desperate to save their own countries! I recall that in 1966, Mr. de Gaulle decided that the American military presence was no longer welcome in France and told them to leave. Seems he forgot that if it were not for America the French people, and many other European countries would today probably be speaking German! Ahh, yes – the mistakes of history that are constantly repeated! Truly a shame that business interests, greed, and economics are more valuable than human lives. Appeasement kills!

    • Being

      Yes for these “leaders” only the Guillotine and the Gallows suitable to fix their mistakes. No space for such a “people” on the Earth.

  • Jens A

    NO APPEASEMENT! Should we also forget the murder of almost 300 people in MH17? Should we forget more than 6.000 killed people in Eastern Ukraine? Should we forget an increasing number of political prisoners in a country that, at least on paper, is still a member The European Council? Should we forget big time corruption and organized crime of Putin’s system spilling ever more into our own countries and political systems?

    NO! NO! NO!

    Putin is a bloody criminal. Nothing more. Nothing less. NEVER forget it!