Crisis in Ukraine: How did we get here?

The situation in Ukraine is not wholly unexpected when one looks at the context of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting instability. When the USSR crumbled in 1991, so too did the institutions that made many of the former Soviet Republics  stable. Aid from Moscow – both economic and political went interrupted if not eliminated, and these newly formed independent governments were tasked with the overwhelming job of leading.

In Ukraine, the institutions required to instill confidence in the people and to effectively enforce the rule of law were not fully developed. Similar to the experience of Russia in the 1990’s, corruption, bribery, and inconsistent enforcement became the norm. The difference between Russia and Ukraine?

Strong leadership.

Nobody can say that Putin is a sensitive and collaborative leader, but he is nothing if not strong, demanding, and confident. These are traits that Russians and Ukrainians alike traditionally respect and respond to in a leader.

While the end result of the situation in Crimea is uncertain, one thing is clear: Ukraine needs a combination of both strong internal leadership and direct outside help and advice to get back on its feet. Aid alone will not benefit the country unless they know how to use the aid effectively. Rule of law must replace corruption as the norm, and trust must be rebuilt throughout political, legal, and economic institutions. This will be a long process, and I hope partnering countries will continue to offer the necessary support this country needs.

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