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Kiev's Maidan protesters bravely enduring months of bitter cold, withering police attacks and sniper bullets; the gilded bathroom fixtures of deposed President Viktor Yanukovych's opulent personal residence; a wheelchair-bound Yuliya Tymoshenko emerging from prison to address her countrymen in a broken voice.With the Russian Duma's approval of President Vladimir Putin's request to use Russian military forces in Ukraine (not restricted to Crimea), the mirage that Yanukovych's ouster signals the start a new era, in which the country moves inexorably away from Russia and into the European democratic fold, has now evaporated. Confronted with a reality that they should have foreseen, Europe's leaders must recognize that Ukraine is subject to deep internal cleavages and conflicting geopolitical forces. For starters, Ukraine is riven by deep-seated cultural tensions, stemming from its history of occupation by competing foreign powers. The West's uncertainty over Ukraine contrasts sharply with Russia's clear vision.The West must balance the need to ensure that Ukraine does not become the site of a proxy battle with the necessity of stopping Putin's destructive ambitions. Ukraine's conflict bears out a critical reality: The Atlantic community and Russia need each other. It is therefore essential that the U.S. and Europe do not leave Putin with a free hand.
The twilight of the global order
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