Why we welcome debate on Ukraine

The Eurasia Center issued a statement on February 14 signed by 27 respected foreign policy experts criticizing the Euro-Atlantic Security Leadership Group’s “Twelve Steps Toward Greater Security in Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic Region,” even as we stated our respect for its signatories. We are proud of our efforts to provide an effective alternative to the “twelve steps,” which proposed an approach to security in Ukraine and the transatlantic community without mentioning the real danger: Russia’s seizure of Crimea and ongoing multi-spectrum war in Donbas, and its insistence on dictating the policies of its neighbors.

We are aware, however, that since the release of the “Twelve Steps,” several of its signatories — including its three Ukrainian signatories — have been described in negative terms, along with the exposure of some of their personal information on the Myrotvorets website, an unreliable and irresponsible far-right forum. Efforts to defame and intimidate the signatories are wrong and must stop. We disagree with their views in the “Twelve Steps,” but we respect them and their motivations as well as their long and reputable track records.

In a healthy democracy, people debate ideas openly and vigorously, taking opposing and even controversial views. Criticism, even sharp criticism, is normal. Smears and threats undermine important policy debates, and should not be tolerated, especially for a country on a westward course that many of its leaders would like to see lead to European Union and NATO membership.

Such behavior and threats serve only one party, those in Moscow who want to dominate Ukraine. To achieve their objective, they would like to delegitimize Ukraine in Western eyes. No Ukrainian patriot or friend of Ukraine should want to help them do that. Ukraine can best advance its aspirations by ensuring all its citizens enjoy the right to express their views free from intimidation. Indeed, this is the Ukraine for which its citizens and its supporters are fighting.

Further reading

The views expressed in UkraineAlert are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Atlantic Council, its staff, or its supporters.

The Eurasia Center’s mission is to enhance transatlantic cooperation in promoting stability, democratic values and prosperity in Eurasia, from Eastern Europe and Turkey in the West to the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia in the East.

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Image: Ukrainian and US flags fly in central Kyiv, Ukraine. (REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko)