By Lucian Kim, for REUTERS — At the Munich conference a year ago, Petro Poroshenko turned up as a Ukrainian opposition leader protesting on Kiev’s Maidan for closer ties with the European Union. Last weekend, he came as his country’s embattled president, struggling to put down a pro-Russian insurgency while staving off economic collapse. It’s finally dawning on Europeans how much their continent has changed in a year. For Germans, the clashes that erupted in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, the site of the conference, were a rude awakening to dangers they had long wished away.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) went on German TV to suggest Germany’s leaders “either don’t know or don’t care about the slaughter that’s taking place in Ukraine.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was just as blunt: “You can go to Moscow until you go blue in the face. Stand up to what is clearly a lie and a danger.”
Europe’s last big test was the bloodletting in the Balkans 20 years ago. But the breakup of Yugoslavia, despite all its horror, was a regional conflict confined to regional boundaries. Even if nobody asked the Ukrainians, Ukraine is about Russia’s future relationship with the West. Overnight, it seems, Europe has become a very dangerous place again.