The people of Ukraine need to know that the free world stands with them as they protest the actions of President Viktor Yanukovych designed to destroy their constitutional rights and drive their country into the sphere of influence of Vladimir Putin’s resurgent Russia.
For more than two months, protestors have refused to compromise their principles and braved not only terrible cold but also the increasingly draconian tactics Yanukovych has deployed to intimidate them. In an attempt to break the resistance, more than two dozen have been killed and hundreds more injured in recent days.
The world cannot afford to be distracted by the Olympic festivities in Sochi as just next door liberty-seeking Ukrainians are brutalized by their own government.
A free and prosperous Ukraine is a natural partner for the United States and our European allies. We should be defending our interests in Ukraine both by quickly imposing economic sanctions against the government officials responsible for human rights abuses and by offering mutually-beneficial economic cooperation in the event that real democratic reforms are implemented.
More than two decades ago, Ukraine finally threw off the yoke of Soviet domination and embarked on a path towards greater integration with the West. Yanukovych has tried to reverse this progress and return the country to the old patterns of autocracy and oppression.
The United States should fulfill its historic tradition of speaking out forcefully on behalf of those who cry out for freedom and against those who would silence them.