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The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine reported that a special envoy of UN Secretary General Robert Seri, who came on a mission to Crimea, captured by unknown gunmen.
"R.Seri just informed that his car in Simferopol blocked by unidentified armed men in uniform and told the team that they take him to the airport. He refused to go, and now he was captured and held hostage actually unknown," - said the agency " Interfax-Ukraine "Director of Information Policy Department Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Yevhen Perebiynis.
"Since the end of the Cold War, perhaps no academic idea has been more debated—and more dismissed—than Samuel Huntington's notion that a global struggle between cultures, a 'clash of civilizations,' would replace the ideological divide between the West and the Soviet bloc," writes Hirsh. "But the current crisis in Ukraine, and the uneasy standoff between the country's generally more pro-Russian eastern half and its more Westernized west, invites a new and far more favorable look at Huntington's thesis. The late Harvard University political scientist's views may even point the way to a resolution, one that will take into account both the "Eurasian" self-identity of Ukraine's eastern region and the yearnings of its other half to join the European Union."
In the decade after the dissolution of the Soviet Union on Dec. 26, 1991, it appeared that Huntington had read things wrong. Except for the ethnic bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet bloc and communist countries went peacefully democratic. Similar developments took place in Latin America and East Asia. Even China opened itself up more to the rest of the world. Instead of a clash of civilizations, the dominant trend seemed to be global integration, a convergence of economic systems (capitalism) and political systems (democracy) that played out more along the lines of Francis Fukuyama's "End of History" thesis.
But more recently global convergence appears to have ground to a halt, and nowhere more so than in the mind of Vladimir Putin. The Russian president's blitzkrieg occupation of Crimea was hardly an isolated act. Rather it should be seen as part of a long-term effort by Putin to resurrect Russia's cultural and political dominance in the former Soviet sphere, even as he has gradually turned himself into a quasi-czar/Soviet-style ruler and subverted Russian democracy. Putin's brazen bid to buy off ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and induce him to join a "Eurasian Economic Union" including Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan—based on what Putin called "the best values of the Soviet Union"—may have been politically motivated, but it was largely justified on cultural grounds.
The Russian leader and the conservatives he surrounds himself in the Kremlin have long sought to promote the reconstitution of Russian power based on the idea that many of these countries with large Russian-speaking populations, including the breakaway Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (now under Moscow's control), are part of a distinctive Eurasian culture that is different from the West on many levels, including spiritually. "We should not be shy when bringing back the ideas of ethnic unity," Putin's protégé, former Russian President Dimitri Medvedev, said in 2011 as they laid plans for the Eurasian union. These views have deep roots in Russian academic literature, playing out in debates over concepts such as "Neo-Eurasianism" and "Byzantism," whose unifying theme is a rejection of Western values.
On 5 March 2014, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting in Paris with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, William Hague, and the Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Andriy Deshchytsia.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the urgent question of the Budapest Memorandum, the agreement signed by the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Russia in 1994. The United States had conveyed an invitation to the Russian Federation to the meeting. We deeply regret that the Russian Federation declined to attend.
The Budapest Memorandum sets out the obligations of signatories in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons. Under its terms, the three parties commit to refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The Memorandum also obliges the UK, US and Russia to consult in the event of a situation arising where the memorandum commitments are questioned.
Ukraine voluntarily surrendered the world’s third largest nuclear weapons arsenal in exchange for these assurances. The three Governments treat these assurances with utmost seriousness, and expect Russia to as well. Russia has chosen to act unilaterally and militarily. The United Kingdom and United States will continue to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and we commend the new Ukrainian government for not taking actions that might escalate the situation. Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity can only degrade Russia’s international standing and lead to greater political and economic consequences.
In the meeting, the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine discussed steps needed to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and called on Russia to engage in consultations with Ukraine as they have committed to in the Budapest memorandum.
The United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine agreed that direct talks between Ukraine and Russia, facilitated as needed by members of the international community, are crucial to resolving the current situation. They also agreed that international observers should be deployed immediately in Ukraine, especially in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. The three governments reaffirmed the importance of protecting the rights of all Ukrainian citizens, and believed that international observers would help address any concerns regarding irregular forces, military activity and the treatment of all Ukrainians irrespective of their ethnicity or spoken language.Ukrainian navy soldiers raise their flag on top of the Ukrainian navy
While our focus today is on the Defense Department's Fiscal Year 2015 budget, I know events in Ukraine have been the focus for all of us. Before I address the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, I want to address Ukraine.
General Dempsey and I have been following the situation closely. A few days ago I spoke to the Russian Minister of Defense. Last week, I also participated in a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Brussels.
Across the Administration, our efforts have been focused on:
* De-escalating the crisis;
* Supporting the new Ukrainian government with economic assistance; and,
* Reaffirming our commitments to allies in Central and Eastern Europe.
I strongly support the steps the President has taken to apply diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia. Earlier this week, I also directed the Defense Department to suspend all military-to-military engagements and exercises with Russia.
Also, this morning the Defense Department is pursuing measures to support our allies - including stepping up joint training through our aviation detachment in Poland, which I visited a few weeks ago, and augmenting our participation in NATO's Air Policing mission on the Baltic peninsula. Our EUCOM Commander, General Breedlove, is convening Central and Eastern European Chiefs of Defense.
This is a time for wise, steady, and firm leadership. It is a time for all of us to stand with the Ukrainian people in support of their territorial integrity and sovereignty, and their right to have a government that fulfills the aspirations of its people. That is what President Obama will continue to do.
I would also like to thank the members of this Committee for your attention to this situation. Senator McCain, I know, was in Kiev a couple of weeks ago at a critical time and helped assure the Ukrainian people that the United States stands with them. To further that goal, I join President Obama and Secretary Kerry in asking members of this Committee to support the Administration's economic package to help stabilize the economy in Ukraine.
The events of the past week underscore the need for America's continued global engagement and leadership. The President's defense budget reflects that reality, and it helps sustain our commitments and our leadership at a defining moment.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2nd L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) speak as French President Francios Hollande (C) stands between them during the Meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon at the Elysee Palace in Paris, March 5, 2014. At left is French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)