Bush Speaks Out on Ukraine
President Bush warned Friday that the world “is watching very closely” as Ukraine tries to sort through charges of vote fraud following a disputed presidential election in the former Soviet republic.
The United States and other Western nations contend that massive fraud marked the presidential runoff election in the Ukraine, and its highest court has ordered election officials not to publish the results until an appeal is heard next week.
Bush, speaking to reporters covering his vacation visit here, said he hopes a clear and credible winner would emerge.
“There’s just a lot of allegations of vote fraud that placed the result of the election in doubt,” he said as he entered a restaurant near his ranch.
“The international community is watching very carefully,” the president said. “People are paying very close attention to this and, hopefully, it will be resolved in a way that brings credit and confidence to the Ukrainian government.”
While I salute Bush for publicly addressing the issue, I’m afraid that I must persist in asking for a firmer stance. Why? In reading the actual transcript of his statement, he avoids the fundamental question (emphasis added):
Q Mr. President, what are the consequences if Ukraine does not comply with international pressure and demands on the elections? And do you think that President Putin overstepped his bounds?
THE PRESIDENT: There’s just a lot of allegations of vote fraud that placed their election — the validity of their elections in doubt. The international community is watching very carefully. People are paying very close attention to this, and hopefully it will be resolved in a way that brings credit and confidence to the Ukrainian government.
It’s nice to know that we have monitors. But what about Russia’s involvement? What about broader foreign policy implications in the region? Where’s the discussion of democracy promotion and national security — the central tenets of his agenda?
I hope that this statement is just the first of many yet to come. But we’ll see.