Alexander Query: Ukraine’s Friend & Foe of the Week
Editor’s Note: This feature separates Ukraine’s friends from its enemies. The Order of Yaroslav the Wise has been given since 1995 for distinguished service to the nation. It is named after the Kyivan Rus leader from 1019-1054, when the medieval empire reached its zenith. The Order of Lenin was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union, whose demise Russian President Vladimir Putin mourns. It is named after Vladimir Lenin, whose corpse still rots on the Kremlin’s Red Square, more than 100 years after the October Revolution he led.
Ukraine’s Friend of the Week: Andrzej Duda, president of Poland
Poland and Ukraine have a complicated common history.
Centuries-old conflicts and the traumas of World War II left deep scars among the two neighbors, but their present-day relationship is a good example of how diplomacy and dialogue overcome unhappy chapters of the past.
On May 3, President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw to mark the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Polish Constitution, one of the pivotal moments in Polish and Central European history.
The summit brought together the presidents of Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
During the summit, as the head of a European Union and NATO member, Duda backed Ukraine’s bid to join both blocs.
“The summit participants will discuss a formal definition of the path which Ukraine should follow towards membership in the North Atlantic Alliance — a roadmap to this membership,” Duda said during the summit.
He added that NATO should formulate a plan for Ukraine to become a member of the alliance at a summit in Brussels next month.
Poland’s support comes at a time when Ukraine’s war with Moscow-backed forces in eastern Ukraine has no end in sight.
Duda’s unwavering support for Ukraine despite Russia’s constant campaign of violence, intimidation and propaganda makes him Ukraine’s friend of the week.
Ukraine’s Foe of the Week: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times columnist
The devil is in the details, and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman’s latest book review perfectly illustrates it.
In an April 27 column, he writes about the novel “2034” where he shares his fears on how the U.S. might go to war against China in 2034, with China joined by Iran and Russia.
While most of the column is focused on the tumultuous relationship between the U.S. and China, Friedman ridiculously blames Russia’s aggressive nationalism on NATO’s expansion.
“Our foolish decision to expand NATO into Russia’s face — after the fall of the Soviet Union — hardened post-communist Russia into an enemy instead of a potential partner, creating the ideal conditions for an anti-Western autocrat like Putin to emerge,” he wrote.
This bogus theory, which parrots dictator Vladimir Putin’s narrative to justify its invasion of Ukraine and Crimea’s annexation in 2014, is problematic, to say the least.
By adopting Putin’s view, Friedman sweeps away centuries of Kremlin imperialism and decades of the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact, still entrenched in the psyche of Eastern Europe. Russian forces have launched wars on the wrong side in Syria, Georgia and Moldova, besides Ukraine.
Friedman’s statement about NATO makes it look like an aggressive alliance that forced each of its members to join. Rather, it is Russia’s bloody imperialism that prompted many nations to leap at the chance to come under NATO’s collective defense umbrella.
It’s alarming that such an otherwise intelligent person gets something so fundamentally wrong. Russia under Putin will never be a partner to the West. His foreign policy aims are to subjugate his neighbors, through force and corruption, and attack Western values and institutions through any means possible.
Such dangerously wrong commentary, on the pages of the vaunted New York Times, make Friedman an unexpected foe of the week for Ukraine.