Skip to main content

A Crimean Tatar holds a banner which reads: "Crimea + Ukraine=Heart" during a protest in front of a local government building in Simferopol, Crimea, on Feb. 26, 2014.

Darko Vojinovic/AP

President Vladimir Putin is provocatively overreacting to the Ukrainian political crisis by ordering the military forces in Russia's western military district to test their battle-readiness. The ethnic Russian minority in Ukraine are not in any danger, but Mr. Putin may be preparing to use them as a pretext for intervening in the affairs of his neighbour.

The other Russian concern – the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol, leased from Ukraine – is also not under threat. Russia's aspiration to a warm-water port, and access to the Mediterranean, goes back to Peter the Great. Now attained, it will hardly be abandoned – but nobody is asking Russia to do so. The lease runs until 2042, and no Ukrainian government has given signs of wanting to rip up that agreement.

And yet this week, Russian troops have gone so far as to establish a military checkpoint inside Ukraine itself, on the road from Sevastopol to Simferopol, the capital of the Crimea peninsula, which has been part of Ukraine for 60 years. Mr. Putin appears to be aiming to provoke an overreaction, as chaos may be his only hope of regaining his lost influence in Ukrainian affairs.

Story continues below advertisement

The new Ukrainian government, still taking shape, should respond calmly. It should seek to re-establish good political and economic relations with Russia, even as it begins to lean toward Europe. And as for Europe, the European Union must make its intentions clear, by offering Ukrainian a clear path toward EU membership – a more definite status than the tentative trade-association agreement that Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed president, renegued upon last November.

Ukraine has been in recession since the middle of 2012, and is now on the verge of insolvency. The International Monetary Fund stands ready, but its medicine is apt to be of the rigorous kind; there should also be some optimistic, Marshall-Plan-like reconstruction, with help from Germany and the rest of the EU, and perhaps North America, too.

In the Soviet era, Ukraine was a manufacturing centre. The country can re-emerge from a couple of lost decades of bad governance and asset-looting by an array of oligarchs. Ukraine's future belongs in the West.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter