Rushing into an election after an abrupt political shift, such as in Egypt following the Arab Spring uprisings, can lead to elected leaders incapable of serving the broad interest of a country in turmoil. Unfortunately, outside pressure seeking to delegitimize the interim Ukrainian government demanded the immediate election of a new leader.
Fortunately, Ukraine has a well-developed democratic process already in place while the strong showing in favor of now President-elect Petro Poroshenko affords the election process credibility. Although pro-Russian separatists forced 80% of the polling stations in Donetsk and Luhansk to close, the fact Mr. Poroshenko received over fifty percent of the vote, thus eliminating the need for a runoff election, should help undermine any questions of the President-to-be’s legitimacy, even in the East.
The fact that these disruptions in the election process were perpetrated by separatists against the national Ukrainian government might even further help add credibility to the President-elect’s rule while it gives the People of Donetsk and Luhansk reason to reject the dominance of the separatists. In other words, the separatists probably hurt their cause by denying voters the opportunity to reject the chosen leader and find dissatisfaction with the election process versus their brutal hand.
Furthermore, Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged to respect the results of the election. This would be encouraging, except no one can be sure what Putin has done to exasperate the Ukrainian Crisis and what he might do next. Skewing the facts, Putin has been trying to reframe the Ukrainian Crisis as Western provoked. While his actions regarding Crimea cannot be excused and highlight the untruth of his version of reality, he does raise valid criticism when it comes to treating Russia as a second class citizen.
The truth is that Russia was never thoroughly assimilated into the Western dominated International Community, thus Russia has been treated like an outsider trying to earn its place as an insider since the Cold War. For this reason, Russian was experiencing a strengthening of its soft power thanks to its defiance of American dominance. That is, before it hypocritically treated Ukraine in an even worse fashion than the US has ever treated most countries. Consequently, the International Community needs to do better when it comes to addressing Russian interests as the world tries to recover from the Ukrainian Crisis. In exchange, Russia must do the same for Ukraine and its other neighbors.
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