Mar 9, 2023·edited Mar 9, 2023

I was OSCE's representative in Kyiv 2005-2008. I can remember the jubilation of Ukrainians as they defeated the election-stealing schemes of Yanukovych and his ilk, and made progress in establishing the rule of law. Even so, in those early days, Ukraine was mired in its Soviet past, with rampant corruption, and heavy penetration by Russia in all spheres of life. People were jubilant, and didn't quite seem to realize just how far they still had to go before they could establish a true democracy. But they were happy, and their course was clear.

One of our principal tasks at OSCE Kyiv was to help Ukraine establish the institutional underpinnings of democracy. Working with the Central Election Commission, among others, we had many successes, but as I left Kyiv in 2008, it was clear that the storm clouds were gathering once again.

A long path of suffering lay ahead for the Ukrainian people. Putin's reflexive hatred and fear of democracy, and his continuous efforts to undermine its progress in the former Soviet Union, and to re-establish the Russian Empire in some form, have defined this period of post-Soviet history.

The struggle continues, and the outcome is uncertain. One thing I do know, however: Ukrainians will never, ever give up. Neither will Georgians.

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Well that was interesting. I learned stuff. I will definitely follow the (scanty) news from Georgia with greater interest now. Perhaps the Ukrainian war will help the Georgian democrats with Putin being too busy to interfere effectively.

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Yes, let's hope he's distracted. But I feel like this is one of the long-term battles the West faces: the extent that the Russian Federation has its tentacles in other nations' intelligence and government operations, especially in former Soviet states. Every week comes another news report about spies in embassies and similar shady individuals being expelled. BTW, the BBC is covering Georgia pretty extensively at the moment...

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Well said Ambassador.

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It is a very good article. It explains Ukraine’s and Georgia’s importance in the process of democratic expansion. No wonder Putin’s reaction.

An indispensable ingredient in a communist society is being able to control the media and keep its citizens uniformed. In order for Russian citizens to live peacefully under their communists masters, Russia needs a buffer zone around its border. This is one of the many important purposes of having satellites countries around them. The further Russian citizens are from uncomfortable prosperous neighbors the better.

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I remain concerned that so much of our efforts seem to be defensive, on turf chosen by Putin. I'd like to learn more about what we're doing to fight Putin directly inside of Russia.

Western economic sanctions are one example. How's that going? What more can we do with sanctions that's not already been done?

What else, if anything, are we doing to drive a wedge between Putin and Russian elites? To what degree are we forcing Russian elites to choose between accepting Putin's rule, and having access to the West?

As example, can Russian elites still buy and sell property in the West? Can they travel to the West? Can their children come to the West to be educated? What business interests do Russian elites still have in the West?

STICK: How do we convince Russian elites that supporting and accepting Putin is going to end any and all connections they have with the West?

CARROT: How do we persuade Russian elites that if they get rid of Putin and get out of Ukraine, we in the West would then be willing to restore relations and again give Russian elites access to all the West can provide them?

Are efforts like this already underway, but being kept secret? Is there more that can be done?

Let's talk about shifting some of our focus from defense to offense.

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