Ukraine needs continued support — and tough love

Despite the progress, opinion polls and voting patterns still reflected deep divisions along regional and generational lines, as well as on pro-European or pro-Russian orientation.



March 6, 2023 - 6:09 PM

Ukrainians gather Friday in Kyiv’s Independence Square to celebrate Russian troops’ withdrawal from Kherson. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The day the Ukrainian Parliament declared independence on Aug. 24, 1991, I witnessed the historical moment from the gallery with my wife and a group of Western expatriates. Below us, amid rapturous applause, a huge Ukrainian flag was carried into the hall on the shoulders of many of Ukraine’s founding fathers. In a poignant instance of historical revenge, they draped the flag on the dais under a large statute of Vladimir Lenin and bellowed out “Chervona Kalyna,” the song that has since become the unofficial Ukrainian anthem of resistance during the country’s current war with Russia.

Up in the balcony, marveling at what was unfurling, we hugged one another and shed tears of joy. I thought of my parents, who had fled Ukraine and the tyranny of communism during World War II and settled in the Detroit area. We were experiencing a miracle about which they could have only dreamed.

But unlike Ukraine’s Warsaw Pact neighbors, which began the painful transition from communism to capitalism and became nascent — though often struggling — democracies seeking to join the European family, Ukraine faced a far more difficult task. As an adviser working in Ukraine’s new parliament, I had a front-row seat, and it was not a pretty sight.

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