WASHINGTON, August 21, 2014 — Speaking from what was recently a part of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a special meeting of the Russian Duma in Yalta, in Crimea. He vowed that “we will do everything in our power so that this conflict is ended as soon as possible, so that the blood can stop flowing in Ukraine.”
Why the blood is flowing depends on who is telling the story. It is Putin’s fault for not allowing the Ukrainian people to move closer to the West. It is the West’s fault for trying to prevent the democratically elected president of Ukraine from choosing closer ties with Russia.
There is no reason that Ukraine cannot deal with both the West and Russia, but Ukraine has long suffered under Communist rule, followed by stifling corruption. The Ukrainian people need liberty and the free market, remembering that the free market is only a part of liberty. Neither the West nor Russia want to leave the choice to Ukrainians; both sides have only the desire to control the destiny of others for the benefit of either the elite in Russia or in the West.
If Ukraine had a free market, it would not be up to the government to decide who Ukrainians trade with; people and firms would be free to deal with either Russia or the West. If cabbage from Russia tastes better or is cheaper than cabbage from the European Union, then why should people be forced to buy EU cabbage?
The bloodshed in Ukraine has been for the worst of reasons. Clearly both Russia and the West detest freedom; fearing and avoiding the free market is a rejection of freedom. But this fight has changed the global political landscape immensely; it would be dangerous to underestimate the potential chaos that can flow from this conflict, especially in the currency markets. That it is happening for bad reasons doesn’t make it unimportant.
That Russia and the West would fight to capture the Ukrainian market, or that the Ukrainian government would preclude trade with either side defies all concepts of freedom. The truth is that the EU is a fortress; to enter that market requires a government deal. That EU citizens cannot deal with Ukraine without a deal at government level is a restriction of their right to choose.
Both Russia and the West have their candidates to make wealthy in Ukraine should they get their way, people who will support their global ambitions. Both are out to bleed Ukraine. In a true free market, it would be understood that true wealth isn’t just money, it is the minds and talents that create new products and new technologies. Wealth flows from entrepreneurial talent and creativity.
Creativity doesn’t come from serfs. Ukraine can’t be treated like a piggy bank, it’s people like a captive market or a pool of labor. In a free market, they would be a pool of talent and a source of wealth. If Russia, the West, and Ukraine’s own leaders believed in freedom or the Ukrainian people, Ukraine would be a free market trading freely with its neighbors.
Allow Ukrainians to deal with whomever they want. Let humans deal with whomever they want and we will see global peace.