‘We are not a bridge; we are the West,’ a Ukrainian president needs to follow Latvian one in declaring, Portnikov says

Photo: social media 

Op-ed, Ukraine

More than 20 years ago, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright observed with some bitterness, “whenever I want to talk about Eastern Europe, everyone wants to change the conversation to Russia.” That attitude continues in many capitals of the old West with many insisting that at best “the countries in between” are a bridge between East and West.

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst and writer

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst and writer

This week, new Latvian president Egils Levits bluntly rejected this notion declaring that we are no bridge: We are the West.” That position is completely correct, commentator Vitaly Portnikov says, and only by agreeing with it can Ukraine and its neighbors protect to have “the fate of any civilized state.”

Unfortunately, the Ukrainian commentator continues, Ukraine has felt the need to “constantly form some kind of bridge between Russia and Europe” and equally often suggests that the Kremlin has not recognized “all the advantages which would open before it and it would gain if it give [Ukraine] the chance to play the role of a bridge.”

But that is “not the logic of a bridge,” Portnikov says. Rather, “it is the logic of a bordello with a readiness to sacrifice principles and the future for ‘a peaceful and rich life.’” That is not the logic of a citizen but of a petty-minded individual concerned only about how much money he has.

Worse, this logic, which has been operative in Ukraine most of the time since 1991 has “transformed Ukraine into one of the poorest countries of Europe, an invalid country with a paternalistic and inert population” – in sharp contrast to those who wanted to be part of the West and have already become members of NATO and the European Union – and a better life to boot.

“By its constant talk about its eternal attempts to become a bridge,” Portnikov continues, “Ukrainians have imposed a sentence on their country, one called into question by periodic uprisings.”

It is important to remember, the commentator continues, that “Russia does not need any bridges. Russia itself borders the EU and now, when it is building new pipelines, it is by so doing preparing to deprive Ukraine of its accustomed function. So much for being a bridge. Russia needs from Ukraine only one thing: that it become East.”

Moscow has no interest in having Ukraine as a bridge to the West.

It wants it to be completely rooted in the East and “still better to be simply Russia because after all we are ‘one people,’” Portnikov says. Consequently, Ukraine must make a choice instead of avoiding it by talking about being a bridge.

“Sooner of later, a Ukrainian president will have to say what the Latvian president has said: ‘we are not a bridge,’” and that he has first made clear that Ukraine is part of the civilized West rather than the authoritarian East.


Read More:

Edited by: A. N.

Dear readers! We need your help. COVID-19 has hit independent media outlets hard, but even more so in Ukraine, where most outlets are controlled by oligarchs. To make matters worse, several English-language media sources from Ukraine have closed recently. And even worse, this comes at a time of troubling government tendencies and amid a pro-Russian resurgence in Ukraine. 

Help keep us online and reporting on the most important of Ukrainian issues for you in these troubling times, bringing the voices of civic society to the forefront of the information war. Our articles are free for everyone to use but we depend on our readers to keep going.  We are a small independent journalist team on a shoestring budget and have no political or state affiliation. If you like what you see, please support us with a donation

Tags: , , , , , ,