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Hague's myopia over Ukraine

William Hague wants the world to know that the people of Britain are ready to "make sacrifices" to support the coup-installed government in Kiev.

William Hague wants the world to know that the people of Britain are ready to "make sacrifices" to support the coup-installed government in Kiev.

It might be manners to ask them first, because many people in this country were rather less than impressed by TV coverage of far-right street fighters attacking the police, breaking into public buildings, filming themselves beating up the head of national TV to force his resignation and standing over MPs while they voted to legitimise their coup d' etat.

Hague appears incapable of appreciating any of the crimes associated with the now West-anointed de facto authorities.

He failed to comment on last week's physical attack by members of the governing coalition party Svoboda on Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko while he was at the rostrum.

Our Foreign Secretary had nothing to say about yesterday morning's brutal assault by dozens of people on Party of the Regions MP Oleh Tsaryov as he left a TV news programme in Kiev.

Similar silence greeted the previous evening's assault, using green disinfectant and flour, on another Party of the Regions politician, Mikhaylo Dobkin, who, like Tsaryov, has indicated his desire to contest the country's May 25 presidential election.

For Hague a discreet veil covers the violent activities of the ultra-nationalist, anti-semitic Svoboda outfit and its yet more extreme allies.

His eyes only function further to the east where his 20/20 vision detects the hand of Moscow directing the protests and occupations springing up in most main urban centres of eastern Ukraine.

Stop interfering, our Foreign Secretary cries, apparently oblivious to the on-the-spot role played by EU international affairs high representative Catherine Ashton and leading US Republican politician John McCain in encouraging the violent protests in Kiev's Independence Square that led to the flight of then president Viktor Yanukovych.

Interference is apparently the private preserve of Moscow, while the EU and US simply encourage struggles for democracy.

In reality, Ukraine and its territorial integrity are the victims of Western determination to disregard previous strategic agreements with Russia in favour of bringing Ukraine into the twin orbits of the EU and Nato.

This contradicts the 1990 agreement between then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov and Washington, following West Germany's absorption of the German Democratic Republic, that Nato would not expand "as much as a thumb's width further to the East."

It also highlights Western insincerity over a settlement negotiated in late February between the Yanukovych government and the opposition, brokered by three EU foreign ministers, which was ditched as far-right forces spearheaded a seizure of power.

Events in eastern Ukraine now have their seeds in the lawless January-February events in Kiev that propelled acting president Oleksandr Turchynov into office.

That was the point made in parliament by communist leader Symonenko for which he was assaulted and forced from the podium.

Ukraine's communists oppose the truncation of their homeland, but they recognise that neither Moscow nor the Russian-speaking majority in the eastern region will tolerate a Ukraine that gazes only to the west.

As much as Hague tries to present matters as a Russia-bad, EU-good issue, this approach is a non-starter. Neither the US nor Germany is interested in a sanctions trial of strength with Russia.

Wiser counsel must prevail in tomorrow's Geneva talks to effect a lasting solution for Ukraine that does not leave resentment and the seeds of future conflict in its wake.


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