Influential Ukrainians Warn Obama, West Of Rising Russian Threat
September 10, 2009

After the Duma approved law on use of Russian armed forces overseas, several dozen Ukrainian intellectuals ask the West for security guarantees.

More than two dozen Ukrainian intellectuals are appealing to U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, warning of a greater Kremlin threat. Specifically, the group of influential Ukrainians is calling for stronger security guarantees to protect Ukraine from Russia, whose leaders they accuse of meddling in Ukrainian affairs.

In an open letter made public on Sept. 10, the authors expressed fears that Russia could use military force against Ukraine. They called on Western leaders to hold an international conference to provide guarantees for Ukraine's security.

"The Russian leadership has consciously chosen a path to destroy existing security systems, a main aim of which is to subjugate Ukraine within the geopolitical interests of Russia. There are signs that the Kremlin is not ruling out using its arsenal and military methods. The informational war against Ukraine has reached unprecedented levels. A picture of Ukraine as the enemy is being formed within Russian society," the letter reads.

This week, Russian lawmakers adopted in the first reading a new military doctrine that sanctions use of Russia's army abroad to protect national interests. Referring to this development, the Ukrainian intellectuals said: "For the first time in many years, there are signs that the Kremlin would not rule out using forceful means to reach its foreign-political aims with respect to Ukraine."

The group cited the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, signed on Dec. 5, 1994, in return for Ukraine's decision to turn over its nuclear arsenal to Russia. Citing this memorandum, the group called upon the European Union, United States, Great Britain, France and China to "take a firm and unequivocal stance to ensure the sovereignty of Ukraine."

Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, writer Yuriy Andrukhovych and honorary dean of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Vyacheslav Brukhovetsky are among the prominent Ukrainians who signed the letter.

The group's fears are shared by many Ukrainians, including President Victor Yushchenko. Oleh Shamshur, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, said Yushchenko hopes this month to meet with Obama in New York during a one-day UN summit on climate change.