from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Obama: Silent on Ukraine

December 9, 2013

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

More on:

United States

Diplomacy and International Institutions

Russia

Ukraine

Last week, National Security Adviser Susan Rice gave a long speech about administration human rights policy.

Here is one passage:

We often can cooperate with Russia on nonproliferation, arms control, counterterrorism and other vital interests.  But, as we meet these mutual challenges, we don’t remain silent about the Russian government’s systematic efforts to curtail the actions of Russian civil society, to stigmatize the LGBT community, to coerce neighbors like Ukraine who seek closer integration with Europe, or to stifle human rights in the North Caucasus.

Well, maybe not silent about Ukraine--but close enough to it.

There have been massive demonstrations Ukraine this weekend --despite very bad weather and police repression-- and ever since President Yanukovich rejected an agreement that would have tied Ukraine more closely to Western Europe and the EU. He chose instead closer ties to Moscow and met this weekend with Putin. The whole story is well told at CFR’s main site today.

Where is President Obama? Rice last week repeatedly assured us of the administration’s commitment to human rights ("advancing democracy and respect for human rights is central to our foreign policy.  It’s what our history and our values demand, but it’s also profoundly in our interests") but neither she nor the President nor the Secretary of State has said much about the extraordinary events in Kiev. It’s time for them --personally, not through nameless spokesmen-- to offer at least moral support to the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians out in the streets, and to denounce the suppression of dissent by the Yanukovich government. It is not in the interest of the United States for Ukraine to fall back into the Russian orbit--nor for our top officials to remain indifferent and near silent in the face of the largest manifestation of a demand for freedom to occur in years in Europe.

More on:

United States

Diplomacy and International Institutions

Russia

Ukraine

Close