A Speech in Kiev

What will happen if we do nothing to help Ukraine.

Editor's note: This is not a speech we want to hear.  It's certainly not one we're recommending or which we will make.

But if we were patriotic Ukrainians - which we're not - then most definitely we'd want to hear it.  And if we were Oleksandr V. Turchynov, acting president of the Ukraine following last month's overthrow of Russian-aligned President Viktor Yanukovych - well, we'd probably be thinking very hard about making this kind of a speech.

Fellow Ukrainians, honored ambassadors and representatives of the international community, distinguished members of the international press,

I come before you today with a heavy heart.  My country, the Republic of Ukraine, has once again been torn apart by foreign adventurers.

For nearly eight hundred years, ever since the Mongols sacked this our beloved capital of Kiev, our people have been without a land to call their own.  We have suffered under bondage, under tyranny, under foreign oppression; died as puppets in other countries' wars; been starved to death with malice aforethought by the moster Stalin; and, when we thought the Germans might liberate us from Stalin's barbarity, we instead fell briefly into the hands of an even greater evil.  We have been murdered by every means known to man, and even now a portion of our country is forever barred to us due to the radioactive incompetence of the Soviet Russians that led to the Chernobyl disaster.

But through all that time, through all that suffering and bloodshed, the Ukrainian people stayed true to the belief that they would once again be free.  And in 1991, that dream came true as the Soviet Empire reached the common end of all empires.  We remember this day each year on August 24th, our Independence Day.

With this dread history in our past, we looked towards a brighter future, but we knew that our old masters, the nation of Russia, would someday return to its former strength.  Fate had gifted us with stockpiles of those most dreadful atomic weapons, sufficient to destroy both Russia and the world many times over.

Yes, the nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Soviets gave us a sure defense against future invasion, but at what cost?  We of Ukraine have first-hand knowledge of the permanent destruction that the atomic genie calls down.  Anyone who doubts this has only to visit what once was our thriving city of Pripyat, now a ghostly monument to these ghastly weaons of mass destruction.

Instead, we decided to make the most momentous and altruistic decision that a free land can be asked to make: We signed solemn treaties with the nations of the world, relinquishing forever the destructive power of the atom in exchange for international guarantees that Ukraine and her borders would be respected by all.

There were those at the time who warned that other nations could not be trusted; that the Ukrainian people could find security only in their own strength and their own military power.  But we were tired of war, tired of destruction, and most fearful of atomic doom.

So we made the bargain, turned over the weapons, and settled down secure behind the parchment of a treaty.

I am bitterly ashamed to confess to the world that those doubters were right.  Ukraine has been free for barely one generation, and what do we find?  That at the first opportunity, our old masters tore up their solemn vow, and have seized the Crimea which they vowed a solemn oath to respect as Ukrainian soil.

In truth, this attempt was no surprise.  We have lived with the Russians for all time, and we know their ways.

But we believed - truly, honestly believed - that the free nations of the West were based on truth and honesty.  We believed that their vows, their oaths, were a strong and a sure defense.

What naivety!  What delusion!  What can we have been thinking?  Were we thinking at all?  For now we find that, indeed, we are nothing more to them than the dust of a foreign field.  Russia invades, and what help do we receive?  Words, and precious few of those.

Russia has made plain that our Friendship Treaty with them is nothing more than a worthless scrap of paper.  The United States, alas, has shown that the Budapest Memorandum, by which we gave up our nuclear weapons in exchange for their protection, is also worthless.

Let the world note, and history remember, that it was not by the choosing of Ukraine that these treaties were abrogated.

So I, in my capacity as President of the Ukraine, declare to the world: Since the treaty by which we gave up our nuclear arms has been declared null and void by the actions of the powers that signed it, we too accept it to be null and void.  And since the actions of Russia have proven beyond all doubt the great threat under which Ukraine must continually live - if doubt there could be after the last 800 years - my responsibility as President is crystal clear.

The Ukrainian Army has once again acquired nuclear arms.  You may ask, from whom?  And I reply: by what right dare you question, when your dishonesty and disloyalty has been made plain before the world?  Does not the Ukraine have the same right to defend itself, to defend its people, to defend its borders, as all other nations on earth?  And has not the Ukraine in fact been invaded, and a portion of its soil even now is occupied by a foreign land?

If ever a nation had the right and the need to possess that ultimate of weapons, it is my beloved Ukraine.  I would be no President at all, and no Ukrainian at all, if I did not do everything in my power to defend our freedom and independence, and so I have done.

To Vladimir Putin, I say this: You have 90 days to remove all your forces from Ukrainian soil, to the last man.  Any Ukrainians who choose to go with you to Russia may freely do so.  All who remain, whether Ukrainian or Russian, will be respected in their property and person, subject only to due process of law in open court for their own personal actions as witnessed by good evidence.

I make no further demand - not by treaty, not of land, not even of financial compensation for the damage Russia's actions have wrought.  All Ukraine desires is what is rightfully hers, no more and no less.

And if not - if Russia is to freely take what is not hers, and the world is to stand idly by and permit it, then I most solemnly swear that we will defend ourselves, at a time, place and manner of our own choosing, as is the right of every nation subject to foreign invasion under international law, so help me God.

The blood will be upon the head of the aggressor Vladimir Putin, but not on him alone.  To the people of the West and particularly of America, I would like to state a proverb you know well: "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."

The nation of Ukraine has been fooled once.  It will not be so fooled again, not while I live and breathe.

Editor's note: The safety of America and the world depends on trust - and trust, once abandoned, is not easily regained.  We pray that this speech will be nothing more than a figment of the imagination, a bad dream!

This article was reprinted from a different site. Commentary may be added.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Guest Editorial or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

The author writes a noble, high sounding speech for the decades should Ukraine want to try and bluff Putin. Maybe Putin blinks. To me, it looks like a repeat of Hitler. The Ukrainians won't do anything, they have never fought a war on their own and are realizing how little you can reply on politicians. Politicians are typically self-serving policy wonks who know the art of shuffling paper and have no idea what it takes to make a business grow, yet they are experts on everything from nuclear weapons to what a business should pay its employees. I can't see anything good coming out of the obama/Kerry ticket masterminding this crisis unless leading from behind is the way to win when dealing with the Russians.

March 15, 2014 12:47 AM
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