Krassimir Ivandjiiski
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by Xinhua writer Lu Yu

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- As the West reacted with alarm to Russia's latest approval of military action in Ukraine, tensions might further escalate.

Based on the fact that Russia and Ukraine have deep cultural, historical and economic connections, it is time for Western powers to abandon their Cold War thinking, stop trying to exclude Russia from the political crisis they failed to mediate, and respect Russia's unique role in mapping out the future of Ukraine.

Protests in Ukraine started on Nov. 21, 2013, with peaceful demonstrations demanding the country's European integration, but soon snowballed into a violent movement against authorities.

Crimea, an autonomous republic within Ukraine, currently has become the center of the crisis in Ukraine.

Crimea is a multiethnic region enjoying autonomy after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991. According to the 2001 Ukrainian Census, 58.3 percent of the Crimean population are ethnic Russians and most of them hold Russian passports.

Russia also maintained its only Black Sea naval base in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea.

The Russian parliament on Saturday authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force to protect Russian interests. Russia has reportedly increased movement of troops and equipment into Crimea.

It is quite understandable when Putin said his country retained the right to protect its interests and Russian-speakers living in Ukraine.

Over the decades, Ukraine's population was divided along language barriers with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union (EU) while eastern and southern regions looking to Russia.

Although the EU has made efforts to broker a peace deal between Yanukovych and the opposition in order to solve the crisis, the situation in Ukraine rapidly worsened.

Right now, the West should show more appreciation for what Russia can do to solve the crisis in Ukraine. Given Russia's historical and cultural influence in the country, the Kremlin is the piece that cannot be missing in this political puzzle.

The West should also be honest with the fact that their biased mediation has polarized Ukraine and only made things worse in the country.

Ukraine now appears headed for an economic depression that can hardly be cured by its Western neighbors, as the EU itself is also struggling economically.

Looking to the future, Russia's economic cooperation and assistance are vital for Ukraine to solve its various problems.

Right now, the Ukrainians have to figure out what is best for their own country and solve the problems through political dialogue and negotiations.

At the same time, the United States and European countries must work with, not against, Russia to tackle the Ukraine crisis


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