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From Munich to Kyiv

BRATISLAVA/PRAGUE – In 1938, when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich proclaiming “peace in our time," Winston Churchill famously denounced the decision Britain and France had just made. “You were given the choice between war and dishonor," he said. “You chose dishonor and you will have war."

Sadly, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and US President Barack Obama, facing a similar choice in Ukraine, have chosen dishonor as well. But now it is Ukraine that is getting the war, while Europe stands aside, even as its security is undermined and its values mocked.

More than one hundred prominent Czech and Slovak public intellectuals have written an open letter to Europe's key leaders, admonishing them to get off their chosen path of appeasement. As citizens of the successor states to Czechoslovakia, the country that received its death sentence at the Munich conference, we feel a particular responsibility to speak out.

It has been a year since Ukraine's citizens sent a corrupt regime packing, with many perishing under their national flag and the flag of the European Union, to open a path toward dignity and freedom for their country. It has also been a year since the Russian army occupied Crimea, violating the principle of the sanctity of borders upon which peace in Europe has stood since World War II. Today, the bloody footprints of Russian agents and soldiers are as evident in Ukraine as the poisonous traces of polonium were in the streets of London following the murder of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. The order for that murder, as an inquest in London is now hearing, can be traced to the Kremlin.