Letter to the Financial Times from The Board of Yalta European Strategy (YES).
Sir, To prevent a disaster in Ukraine, west and east must work together.
The situation in Ukraine demands urgent action. There is the real risk that violence will escalate and the economy collapse; the disintegration of the country is not out of the question. A terrible scenario for a country right in the centre of Europe, unimaginable a few weeks ago. We have little time left to grasp what is at stake.
We must avoid a disaster. Internal Ukrainian political camps face stalemate and are unlikely to be able to find a solution without the support of international partners. The US, the Russian Federation and the EU must bring together all political forces in Ukraine to initiate a constructive dialogue to prevent conflict, in everybody’s interest. We need a roundtable under the auspices of the international community, of east and west.
Ukraine should become an example of co-operation between the west and the Russian Federation. The international community must act before it is too late. If we remain spectators, not only will we be responsible for harm to economic welfare and human lives in Ukraine, we will also bear the consequences, which will be severe for all Ukraine’s neighbours.
There has been a rapid deterioration of the situation – a political solution is vital. Ukraine’s neighbours and partners have to be voices of reason and reconciliation to prevent further escalation. It is accepted wisdom that east and west need to co-operate to tackle global challenges. Ukraine – a country that has been outside the focus of many political debates – is now one of these challenges. The time for “Ukraine fatigue” is over. Ukraine’s citizens deserve the support of the international community to help political leaders find a compromise.
One hundred years after the beginning of the first world war, let us show that we have understood the importance of peace and show willingness to prevent aggression from prevailing over the right of Ukrainian citizens to a peaceful life.
This is no time for zero-sum games. And it is no time to settle scores for the Vilnius summit. The EU must move beyond its disappointment. The Russian Federation can use its influence, the US can bring its leverage to facilitate a solution.
This is the time to embrace Ukraine and Ukrainians, not abandon them. It is time for everyone involved to take responsibility.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, Chairman of the Board, YES; President of Poland (1995–2005)
Javier Solana, High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union and Secretary General of the Council of the EU (1999-2009)
Victor Pinchuk, Founder of YES; Founder, EastOne and Victor Pinchuk Foundation