It’s Ukraine’s mess, but the world’s problem

Farmington Daily Times

Ukraine appeared again in Americans’ view this week with two developments, as the origin of yet another cyberattack and the report of the registration of Paul Manafort, former chairman of President Donald J. Trump’s campaign, with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as a representative of a Ukrainian political party supported by Russia.
It is not necessarily that Ukraine is responsible for these two developments. 
At the same time, it is as if there were mosquitoes in the house and occasional alligators in the backyard and there is a fetid swamp nearby. It is reasonable to conclude that the skeeters and the gators came from the swamp.  
Ukraine is chaotic and lawless. It is a place where cyberattacks can originate and internationally minded political parasites can profit.
The latest cyberattack originated in Ukraine, struck thousands of computers across the world, included attempts at cyber-ransom and apparently was and is beyond the capability of any Ukrainian authority to control. 
That the world is vulnerable to such cyber-mischief is its own fault, and perhaps inevitable, but it doesn’t help one bit that Ukraine, for a variety of reasons, is a corrupt, basically outlaw, society.
That Mr. Manafort and Rick Gates, another former official of the Trump campaign, were not only tangled up in Ukrainian affairs but also that their firm carried away some $17 million in the 2012-2014 period from the Party of Regions of Viktor Yanukovych, former Ukrainian president and supporter of Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin, is something else again. 
For an American to represent a foreign country in the United States, as Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates did, is perfectly legal and provided for under American law in the form of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, passed by Congress in 1938 during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates did register as foreign agents about five years late.
For them to have been involved in an American presidential candidate’s campaign may be something else again and will be looked at closely by special counsel Robert S. Mueller and others examining Russian interference in America’s 2016 political campaign.
What needs to be done about Ukraine is a separate but important question. Involved in its future are Russia and the European Union, as well as potentially the United States, at least as a NATO member, and, we can hope, a country that desires to see world peace. 
International military and political wrangling over Ukraine risks worsening its already questionable unity, divided as it is between Ukrainian nationalists and pro-Russian Ukrainians.  
Mr. Trump should propose that, under the United Nations, an international conference be convoked that would include Russia and the EU as well as Ukrainians to consider the issues that surround Ukraine’s future, free of commercial interests. 
That might be a way to get rid of the political mosquitoes and alligators in this problematic, sometimes dangerous world property.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 28, 2017