Author Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Eugenia
The Ukrainian elites, which receive upon the division of the Soviet inheritance everything necessary for the successful state building, by their own actions brought the country to the brink of a collapse.
Ideal starting conditions
Politics and history are not pre-determined. The “project Ukraine” living its last days was not doomed from the start.
Suddenly emerged new country had the world’s 10th economy. It housed on its territory 40% of the Soviet military industry and 60% of the heavy industry. Well-developed agriculture was not only able to provide enough to cover domestic needs but also to actively export agricultural products. The network of the railroad and highways, long-distance pipelines, several large warm water ports more than covered the needs of the foreign trade but also had an almost unlimited potential for transit. The Ukraine’s population was 52 million, and the demographic dynamics in 1991-1992 was still positive. The country possessed highly trained work force, a well developed system of personnel training for the industry and agriculture, high quality scientific base. All these goods were protected by half a million-strong group of the Soviet Army – the largest in the USSR -armed with the most modern weapons, since it was deployed at the peak of the potential main offensive.
At the moment of becoming independent, Ukraine had a lot more than was necessary to build a successful state. Moreover, the geopolitical situation was also in its favor. The country did not have powerful enemies or even serious competitors. On the contrary, in 1992 the Ukrainian political leadership was happy to report the lack of external threats. The relationships with all neighbors were friendly, and the important world players themselves wished to be on good terms with Kiev. Let me remind you that in 1994-1996 the format G7+ was born that was used exclusively for the contacts with Moscow (G7+Russia) and Kiev (G7+Ukraine). However, the Russian format with time grew into the full-blown G8, whereas the Ukrainian dissipated in time and space, but in 1990s these formats were still equal.
There existed a small problem: Ukraine did not have enough energy sources to support its industry. Not of all kinds, but only of oil and gas. In spite of a relatively high level of domestic production – 4-5 million tons of oil (as much as Romania produces) and 20 billion cubic meters of gas (more, than produced in Azerbaijan) – Ukraine supported only about one fifth of its needs in oil and one quarter in gas. There existed theoretical possibilities to increase domestic production but they were neglected. Similarly neglected were opportunities to reduce the energy dependence of the industry.
However, Russia traditionally supplied the required amounts of oil and gas. Considering that 60-80% of the transit of Russian energy export in the 1990s went through the Ukrainian pipelines, it was not that difficult to agree on the mutually beneficial trade conditions. That was what Kuchma did signing in 2002 a ten-year agreement with “Gazprom” about the gas sale at $50 per thousand cubic meters. The contract was supposed to be valid until 2012 and provided the Ukrainian industry with huge competitive advantages on the world market, which (considering the rapid rise in the price of oil and gas) would only be increasing each year.
The considerable geopolitical and economic potential of Ukraine was also based on the dependence of its foreign trade and efficacy of its industry on the Russian energy resources, Russian markets, and Russian collaborators. In 1992-2003, Russia went through the political crisis of 1993, which came close to a full-scale civil war and led to a long-term split in the society, two Chechen wars, and a default of 1998. Absorbed in its internal problems complicated by increasing geopolitical conflicts with Euroatlantic partners, Russia needed minimal political loyalty of Kiev (Russia did not insist on anything more than neutrality) and was ready to pay (and paid) for it with serious economic concessions.
The today’s talk in Moscow about 35 billion dollars invested into the Ukrainian economy only considers the money that could be counted. This includes gifts of the low prices for oil and gas as well as credits on favorable terms and investments in joined projects. The losses Russia suffered from the most favored nation status (MFN) accorded to Ukraine and other indirect forms of supporting the Ukrainian economy cannot be calculated even theoretically (the expects quote the sums of 200-300 billion dollars but this is a speculative estimate).
Against the trend
How come that with such blessings Ukraine has reached the point when horrible end seems preferable to horror without end?
Much was said about the venality of the elites that literally burglarized the country. However, the valid question immediately arises: why 52 million people with misguided persistence keep putting in charge precisely that type of people? Why with all the differences between the leadership styles of Russian, Belorussian, and Kazakh elites, for them the sentence “the state interests” does mean something, whereas for the Ukrainian leaders this is at best something entirely incomprehensible? At worst, the reference to “the state interests” in Ukraine is nothing more than a way to deceive the population. How did that happen that millions happily agreed to be deceived, robbed, deprived of a future for the sake of some meaningless symbols totally alien to them – symbols that had nothing in common with either the Soviet civilization, from which these people emerged, or with the European civilization, which they supposedly dreamed of joining, or, most importantly, with real life?
In my opinion, the answer to these questions lies in one essential and quite obvious difference between the principles of the state building adopted in Ukraine and those espoused by the Russian, Belorussian, and Kazakh elites. In the last three cases, the states of citizens are being built. In Belorussia nationalistic parties lead miserable half-marginal existence. Only in the last three-four years, the official Minsk started to show demand for the loyal “state nationalism”, which, on the one hand, is contrasted with the nationalism of the opposition, and on the other hand, is meant to provide the Belorussian leadership with some basis to counteract the overwhelming Russian influence in EAEU.
In Kazakhstan, Kazakh nationalism is relatively strong but it is not structurally defined (as political parties) and is expressed mostly at the everyday life level and at the level of bureaucratic groups. However, such experienced statement as Nursultan Nazarbayev from the first days of the Kazakhstan independence recognized Kazakh nationalism as the most serious threat to stability, territorial integrity and the very existence of the country. A concept of Kazakhstan, as opposed to Kazakh, state was adopted. Nationalists had to be content with the dominance of “national personnel” in business and politics. However, that dominance was never absolute, and the rights of other nationalities, first of all, the Russians (Russian-speaking, Russian-culture) were protected by law. As far as Russia is concerned, nationalists there still lament that the imperial discourse in the Russian politics never yielded to the national one. That is, Russia was developing not as a national state of ethnic Russians but as a state of Russian citizens, and in the last years – of the Russian World.
Therefore, Moscow, Minsk and Astana achieved internal stability based on the compromise among nations linked to the renunciation of the nationalistic policies. The adequate internal policy made possible constructive compromise-based foreign policy. Despite all problems, from the mid-1990s Russia, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan were moving towards re-integration of the post-Soviet space based on new political, economic, and ideological realities.
From the first days of its existence, the Ukrainian state was being created as the state of the “title nation”. The national development was given priority, and then words attributed to count Cavour: “We have created Italy. Now we need to create Italians”, – were transformed by the Ukrainian nationalists into “We created Ukraine. Now we need to create Ukrainians”. Instead of the idea of equality of citizens, the concept of “positive discrimination” was adopted, with centuries of “oppression” used to explain the necessity to give priority to everything “Ukrainian”.
The union of post-Soviet bureaucrats and nationalists
From the firsts days of the state building in Ukraine, the Ukrainians nationalists found themselves in deep cognitive dissonance when the goals they declared were in sharp contrasts with the real aims and means used to achieve them. Simply put, they blatantly lied knowing full well that if they had said the truth about their true goals, not only they would have never be given power but would have hard time to stay in politics. The people of Ukraine would not have put up with them. In the early to mid-1990s, the Ukrainian population still retained high post-“perestroika” political activity not yet having turned into easily led mass as it happened in early 2000s.
It should be noted that hard-core nationalists, who had advocated such position even before the fall of the Soviet system, the nationalists, who had the right to declare that they indeed had fought for the Ukrainian independence, were a tiniest minority in the Ukrainian politics of the 1990s. Stepan Khmara, Levko Lukyanenko, Vyacheslav Chornovol, and Gorin brothers – those were pretty much all their known leaders. Organizations like the Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) and Ukrainian People Self-defense (UPSD) were marginal and their members few. “People’s movement of Ukraine for the perestroika”, even having been transformed into “People’s movement of Ukraine” positioned itself as a broad democratic movement (albeit with a nationalistic flavor). Before the definition of the party structure, that was an amorphous political entity where radical nationalists rub shoulders with former communist opportunists (like Yavirivskiy and Pavlichko) as well as with the liberal intelligentsia.
The electorate was not particularly interested in nationalists, which habitually got 20-25% of the vote (on the average across the country). The nationalistic forces receive real political support only in the three regions of Galicia (Lvov, Ternopol, Ivanovo-Frankovsk). In all other regions even in the Western Ukraine they always collected less than 50% of the popular vote and in the regions of Novorossia – no more that 5-10%. In these conditions, nationalists would have to either remain in perpetual opposition or find themselves a strong ally. And such an ally was found.
Former party and Soviet state leaders, which renounced their past in order to preserve their positions, were at that time in search of an ideology that could support their right to stay in power. They already renounced the communist ideology and were scared of the reintegration rhetoric. They believed that reconstructions of the unified state would lead to restoration of the Moscow control over the provincial elites that would significantly restrict their ability to control the property located on the territory of Ukraine, including that used to belong to the Soviet Union. In some way, Ukraine fell victim to the richness of the Soviet inheritance. It seemed inexhaustible, and the Ukrainian elite was anxious to guard it against the former colleagues that received less. Any initiative regarding reintegration was not looked upon as an attempt to organize a mutually beneficial cooperation of the complementary economics but as an impingement of the elites from the neighboring republics coveting the Ukrainian share of the property.
Here the interests of the Ukrainian former communist party bosses and that of Ukrainian nationalists coincided. Nationalists wanted to build in a Russian country, which was Ukraine in early 1990s, a non-Russian state (at that time it was not yet planned as anti-Russian). The former communist party elite wanted their own state to safeguard their right to loot the property inherited from the USSR. Since all processes of post-Soviet integration could have nothing else but Moscow as their center (traditional political center + the territory tying together the European and Asian republics + unlimited natural resources), Russia objectively turned out to be an adversary for both nationalists and the state bureaucrats. Hence the popularity of the myth about the eternally oppressed nation struggling (obviously, against Russia) for centuries for its freedom. This was also the origin of the myth about the integration into the EU as the main route for the development of Ukraine. The Ukrainian politicians were not at all concerned about how realistic their projects of the EU membership were: the most important aim was to justify the refusal to participate in the post-Soviet integration projects by indicating a different direction.
The union of bureaucrats and nationalists has succeeded in pushing aside the influential left (socialists and communists). Internal career squabbles among the leaders of the Communist and Socialist parties played some role in that. Also, the actual control of the bureaucrats over the state mechanisms was important, as was a certain disillusionment of the population in the left ideology (the Soviet Union having just disintegrated). As a result, bureaucrats gained control over the economy and finances as well as the opportunity to enrich themselves without hindrance, whereas nationalist took over the ideological and cultural sphere (culture, science, education).
During this twenty years, nationalists not only brainwashed two generations of students but the Nazi-nationalistic ideology has been absorbed in all areas where any type of educational process took place, including the army, the structures of the Ministry of Interior, Security Service of Ukraine, any military or police forces.
Initially, the Ukrainian nationalism was presented in a soft version. Specifically, until early 1990s nationalists recognized the dubious nature of the practices of Bandera Ukraine Insurgent Army (UIA) distinguishing it from the purely political Organization of Ukraine Nationalists (OUN). They even publicly condemned the activity during the Great Patriotic war of such formations of Ukrainian nationalists as battalions “Roland”, “Nachtigall”, division “Galitchina”, and of schutzmannschaft battalions. At the time, it was unthinkable not only to proclaim Bandera and Shukhevich the heroes of Ukraine but in any way positive political figures.
Only slowing with the emergence of new generations on the political arena, the emphasis began to shift. This was helped by the behavior of Russia, which, absorbed by the internal problems, essentially relinquished the fight in the Ukrainian informational space. By the mid-1990s, the Russian TV channeled were pushed out of Ukraine and by the end of 1990s-erly 20001s – the same happened to the Russian press. The Ukrainian propaganda machine, not particularly effective and completely devoid of the intellectual component, worked out quite effectively under conditions of the informational monopoly. Naturally, everybody interested enough could easily obtained alternative information, but the majority of the population always receives political news from the most accessible sources.
As the social atmosphere changed, Ukrainian nationalism became more and more radical slowly turning into open Nazism. Institutionalized “civilized” nationalists from early 2000s (even before Yuchshenko) stopped demonstrating disdain for nationalistic militants. They quickly found justification for the radicalism of nationalists. It seems that militants are Nazi because they are offended by the preservation of the Soviet symbols, by that the majority of the population celebrates 9th of May, speaks Russian and is no hurry to proclaim as heroes murderous followers of Bandera that only survived to these days thanks to the Stalin’s humanism.
At some point in early 2000s, bureaucracy, anxious to destroy the social base of the left via privatization (similar processes took place in Russia as well), produced the oligarchy. Now it was not bureaucrats that appointed somebody to become a millionaire but billionaires bought whole parliament fractions, ministers, premiers, presidents. The bureaucratic-nationalistic consensus was substituted by the oligarchic-nationalistic. By that time, the situation in Ukraine appeared to the West (primarily to the US) ripe for active interference. Possibly, had the Ukrainian elites not chosen the anti-Russian course on their own, the West would not have dared to employ direct interference and coercion. However, Ukraine wanted to separate itself from Russia, exterminate in itself everything Russian for too long; it nurtured too carefully the most Russophobic, the darkest forces, for this to be ignored and not made use of.
Additionally, from the beginning of 2000s, with the new President, Russia concentrated more and more on its national interests and less on the “universal” values. That policy put Russia on the collision course with the US interests, and the anti-Russian Ukraine seemed to Washington an effective instrument for the containment of Russia. It is not at all surprising that the US bet on the forces representing the oligarchic-nationalistic consensus that were completely in control of the Ukrainian politics (regardless of the formal party competition or even animosity), particularly considering that these forces were Russophobic not only by ideology but also due to their practical interests.
Ukraine has become the key theater of action for the USA
We cannot say that the US has not followed the situation in Ukraine in 1990s and has not assembled a loyal group of politicians, bureaucrats, and public figures. It was a normal practice “just in case” (any intelligence always uses any opportunity to acquire valuable assets in countries with important strategic position, particularly if it does not cost too much). But in 1990s the US, dealing with the Yeltsin’s Russia ready on most issues to follow in the wake of the American politics, paid it back by recognizing some Moscow control over the post-Soviet space as the sphere of Russian vital interests and tried not to emphasize their interference into the internal affairs of the post-Soviet countries.
From the start of 2000s, the Russia’s foreign policy became more and more independent. Naturally, many politicians with the ties to Washington remained in power, but the influence of the pro-American lobby was no longer decisive, and the dynamics and vector of the change left little doubt: the new Russian political elites adopted a course on the restoration of independence in the foreign and internal policies. Putin was ready to remain a friend and ally of the US but on equal terms and not as a vassal.
That was an appropriate time to make use of the anti-Russian assets in post-Soviet countries. Importantly, almost all successful or failed “color revolutions” in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) occurred in 2003-2008 (from the “revolution of roses” in Georgia to the ”war of 08.08.08). The goal of these coups was not simply to cut Russia off from the post-Soviet region but to create a string of hostile states along its western and southern borders (up to the border with Mongolia and China). As a result, the opportunities for Russia to conduct independent foreign and economic policies would have been blocked, the resources tided up by the hostile surrounding consisting of the former Soviet republics. The reputation of the Russian government inside and abroad would have been constantly undermined by continuous provocations (like those that Saakashvili supplied in abundance). At the same time, Moscow would have been restricted in its ability to respond to such provocations, since any decisive move would have provoked an open war with a block of post-Soviet states (Yushchenko tried to embroil Ukraine in the Russian-Georgian conflict, but, according to the plan, there should have been 10-11 such Georgias and Ukraines). Thus, Russian would have been up against a block of countries from the Baltics to Baikal. The US could have interpreted that as a war of former colonies fighting against Russian neocolonialism applying to Russia the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples from 14th of December 1960 (by the way, adopted by the General Assembly on the USSR initiative) and all other resolutions of the UN General Assembly on the subject.
Russia missed the hit in 2003 in Georgia and in 2004 in Ukraine. Moscow managed to stop further spread of the “color infection” (the coups have not moved beyond Bishkek, but even in Kyrgyzstan the “revolution” was followed by the same “color” counter-revolution).
During the 5-day war in August of 2008, Russia launched the geopolitical offensive. From that moment on, all power of Washington was employed not to marginalize Moscow in order to to prevent it from becoming a geopolitical challenger of Washington, but to destroy the already established geopolitical rival. Russian efforts brought about peace (however fragile and unstable) in the Central Asia as well as blocked the American interests in the Caucasus. The latter was in the large degree due to two factors: that Kadyrov took it upon himself to stabilize the situation in the Northern Caucasus and that pro-American regime of Saakashvili thoroughly discredited itself by the defeat in the war (politicians that succeeded Saakashvili, although not friendly to Russia, are more reasonable, which provided an opportunity to stabilize the relationships). All these factors made Ukraine by the end of 2010 the key country for the US in the post-Soviet space.
A puppet bargaining with a puppet master
At that time, the oligarchic-nationalistic block believed that Russia should be treated as a source of all possible economic preferences, whereas the policy should be geared towards the West. By 2010, the “orange” Maidan team was completely discredited and lacked significant public support. Furthermore, the team had demonstrated total inability to create an acute conflict with Russia (like the one with Georgia) that would have tied up the Russian resources at the Ukrainian direction preventing Russian from interfering with the global affaires.
For that reason, the US did not object against the election of Yanukovich as President in 2010. Washington knew that Yanukovich would try to return to the Kuchma-style policy of multi-vector that presupposed the use of Russia’s resources to pay for the integration with the EU. At the beginning of 2000s, such policy no longer suited the US, and that was what prompted the coup of 2004. Then Washington no longer needed allies (no matter how loyal and dependent); it needed executors of already made decisions. But in 2010 the situation has changed: the US was pushed to support the Ukrainian multi-vector stance by the general weakening of its global geopolitical position as well as by the growing problems in the American economy. The US no longer had money to support its allies. Now the voiceless vassals were expected to pay for the American policy out of their own pocket.
In the situation of 2010, Yanukovych was the only Presidential candidate suitable for the US. The Yushchenko team (including the present day “heroes Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko) was completely discredited, and it would require time to restore its image. Timoshenko earned the reputation of been unpredictable and prone to constantly cheat her partners. The only dirt the US had on her (her cooperation with Lazarenko) has already been presented in the Ukrainian media and produced minimal effect. On the contrary, Yanukovych was not only under control of the American agents (the group of Levotchkin-Firtash) but sincerely wanted to “integrate into the EU” by signing the association agreement. Apparently Victor Feodorovitch decided to prove to all who deposed him in 2004 that he was the only one who could “unite Ukraine” reconciling the East and the West. In reality it meant the refusal to honor his election promises and the beginning of the pro-Western policies.
Yanukovych was expected to sign the association agreement that would destroy the Ukrainian industry, completely discredit himself, concentrate everything negative on his own persona and then lose the 2015 elections to the American protégée. To make sure this scenario is followed (in case Yuanukovych refuses to go peacefully), another Maidan was being prepared for 2015.
Yanukovych was naïve enough to believe that just because he is presenting the West with the whole of Ukraine, he would be allowed to get reelected in 2015. To that end, he and his surrounding actively financed and supported Nazi organizations (not only “Freedom” but also “Ukraine Patriot”, UIA-OUN and others). “Dander of fascism” was supposed to unite around Yanukovych the anti-fascist voters from the South-East. For moderate nationalists and “eurointegrators”, the signed association with the EU was expected to serve as the incentive. Finally, to preserve the loyalty of the majority of the population, particularly those concerned exclusively with their economic wellbeing, it was planned under the pretext of the association to obtain a 15-20 billion credit from the EU, which would be enough, according to Azarov’s calculations, to keep up or even improve the living standards until the 2015 elections.
The plan of Yanukovych was logically perfect. The EU getting its hands on Ukraine – an assest worth trillions – was expected to open up its wallet for a mere twenty billions. Yanukovych and Azarov thought that if Greece received 200 billions, then Brussels could find 20 billions for Ukraine.
The problem was that the US did not plan on keeping in power Yanukovych, who represented the interests of the national industry, and those interests would sooner or later collide with the abstract but unprofitable “European values”. He was supposed to be replaced by completely tame comprador, and the national Ukrainian business was supposed to die out replaced by the European companies.
Maidan instead of the golden key
As result of that 5-year operation, the US would have established in Ukraine by early 2015 perfectly tame and legitimate Russophobic regime. The EU would have the free trade zone with Ukraine, which, first, after the demise of the Ukrainian industry, provided Europe with the 45 million-strong Ukrainian market (albeit with the decreasing buying power but still able to last a while longer), but, most importantly, via the free trade zone within the CIS the EU should obtain the access to the marked of all CIS countries, particularly that of Russia. That would have minimized the European losses from the planned free trade agreement between the EU and US that was disadvantageous for the EU. Europe hoped to cover the losses form the free trade zone with the US at the expense of Russia and CIS.
Obviously, the US cared not about the compensation of the European financial and economic losses but about its own geopolitical interests. Most importantly, that free trade agreement acting as the “wormhole” from the US directly into the CIS made the Custom Union worthless and negated all integration plans of Russia in Eurasia. In one hit, the US would restore its political and economic dominance in the world, and the most dangerous American rival – Russia – was expected to pay for it.
That was a very elegant plan, and I can imagine how mad the Washington politicians were when that lummox Yanukovych finally realized that he would never see the European billions to support the social stability and suddenly only three months before the signing of the association agreement postponed the event. Yanulovych thought that he would bargain, get the money, and then sign. To make the EU more amenable, he went to Moscow, in accordance with the old Ukrainian tradition, where the coveted billions were promised to him on much easier terms. Putin tried at the last moment to play the Ukrainian cards he was dealt, that was why the decisions were made quickly and big money was given freely.
In contrast to Yanukovych, people in Washington know full well what the window of opportunities is. All interconnected elements – from the signing of the association Ukraine-EU agreement to Maidan-2015, including the free trade agreement the US-EU – were built into a rigid scheme and coordinated in time. Taking out one block made the whole building come down. As a result, Yanukovych got himself Maidan as early as the end of 2013.
Who unleashed the civil war
However, we need to thank for that not so much the US as Levochkin. He and Firtash providently protected their business in the association agreement, which was prepared under the watchful eye of the Chief of Staff of the president of Ukraine – that is, the very same Levochkin.
Therefore, after the signing the country economy was supposed to go downhill, most oligarchs to become poorer whereas the group of Levochkin-Firtash – to get richer. The refusal to sign the association agreement put an end to the financial and political wellbeing of the group. Levochkin, who was coordinating his activity with the US embassy from way back and was involved in the Maidan preparations, decided to use that mechanism to put pressure on Yanukovych and coerce him into signing the association agreement. He initiated the students’ Maidan, and then it did not make the proper impression on Yanukovych, provided the provocation with beating up the students, after which Maidan stopped being peaceful.
After that, Yuanukovych had only two-three weeks left to disperse Maidan, before his power began to crumble from the inside, before his nominally loyal ministers and generals started negotiations with the opposition about switching to their side, before the West actively intervenes. Yanukovych, too sure of the strength of his position and insignificance of Maidan, started long negotiations with the opposition trying to make Maidan go away by temporary concessions. As soon as his weakness became evident, the West entered the game. The regime was doomed.
Having learned form the previous Maidan, Yanukovych was prepared to defend himself. He intended to simply wait out Maidan behind the police cordons. The idea was: if they do not go away in half a year, then they will after a year; sooner or later they will give up. And then it was revealed that, in contrast with the army, the Ukrainian police are professional and well trained, and peaceful Maidan has no chance to overthrow the government. Only a military coup has that chance.
At the moment when the Ukrainian opposition and the US chose the path of a military coup, and the EU agreed to that decision, the fate of Ukraine was sealed. If until then, despite decades of the cold civil war between the Russian and Galician Ukraine, there still existed options for peaceful compromise-based resolution of the internal conflict, now, with the hot civil war going on, the break down of the country became inevitable. The problem was that the neo-Nazi militants were expected to play the role of the key force of the coup, since the opposition lacked any other organized force. However, if the militants are given weapons (so that they could accomplish the coup), and the adequate response of the law enforcing agencies is blocked, then the militants become effectively the masters of the country.
Law enforcement structures, having been betrayed by the politicians, rapidly degraded; true professionals left, neo-Nazis joined in, opportunists ready to serve any power remained. Nazis found themselves in favorable position allowing them to not only rapidly increase their numbers and supply of arms, but also institute effective control over the law enforcement structures.
All this was clear and present threat for the Russian population of Ukraine. It was much less organized, lacked military units, was almost without weapons, but in conditions of the imminent Nazi terror the problems were being rapidly solved. 25 millions of anti-fascists could not flee Ukraine. Nor could they accept the victory of the second Maidan, as they had accepted that of the first. The first Maidan stepped on their choice, the Constitution, and the law. The second threatened their lives.
A military confrontation of the two almost equal parts of Ukraine supported, respectively, by the US and Russia made a victory of one side problematic and the war potentially endless. It could have likely turned out that way, and Moscow would have found itself mired in the Ukrainian conflict for many years, but at the time of the coup the internal economic resource that supported the functioning of the Ukrainian state was practically exhausted. To pull the Ukrainian economy out of the crisis, many billions in credits were required as well as long-term investment projects and capacious markets for Ukrainian goods. Russia was prepared to offer all of this to Yanukovych but had no intention (and could not even if it wanted to) to offer anything to the Nazis.
It immediately became apparent that the EU and US likewise have no intentions to finance Ukraine. The outbreak of a civil was suited Washington just fine: there was no need to spend any money, but both Moscow and Brussels were sure to have problems, and the possibility of a dangerous for the US alliance between the EU and EAEU was blocked. The EU itself did not manage during the entire crisis to emerge from under the US shadow and start to defend its own and not American interests.
The lack of resources not only for a prolonged war but even for the routine functions of the state should have made the Ukrainian civil was short but extremely intense and bloody. Initially, the conflict was indeed developing that way until Moscow succeeded in temporarily reducing the intensity of the fighting forcing Kiev into the Minsk agreement.
Nevertheless, the Minsk agreement did not and could not solve the key Ukrainian problems. Thus, it was from the start considered by both side of the Ukrainian conflict as a pause, which should be used to strengthen their positions and increase their military potential. Kiev found itself in a worse situation than DPR and LPR. The republics had Russia as their rear, and a part of their relatively small population fled to Russia, while those that remained were able to subsist on the Russian humanitarian aid. Ukraine, on the other hand, suffered economic catastrophe rapidly growing into the political crisis. Accelerating decline in living standards of the majority of the population, increasing unemployment that is now at about one third of workforce, lack of prospects, all this undermined the trust in Maidan politicians, created resentment and radicalization in the society that threatened another Maidan.
The economic catastrophe split the Maidan elite, which was not united to begin with. The political groups will have to fight for the remaining economic resources as well as find and present to people those responsible for the failures in the war and destruction of the economy, which makes any agreement among them virtually impossible. Considering that every political group in Ukraine already has its own military units (mostly volunteer battalions), the only political experience of whose consists of taking part in the military coup against Yanukovych and in the civil war, it is certain that they will be solving this internecine Maidan dispute by the force of arms.
Fatal inevitability of self-liquidation
The civil war in Ukraine is taking on several forms, and it is only a matter of time before it intensifies. Ukraine is not able to escape this fatal funnel by itself. The Nazis will not let the government reach a compromise with Novorossia. Novorossia will not live quietly with the Nazi government. There are no resources to alleviate the social problems. The Ukrainian leadership is inadequate and poorly understands what in reality is happening in the leftovers of the Ukrainian economy or who and how determines the country’s politics. An attempt to resolve the conflict internally would, because of a relative balance between the opposing sides, lead to so many casualties that the neighbors would not be able to remain uninvolved, not least because millions of refugees would be pouring over the borders.
In order to avoid the development of the conflict according to the worst scenario, an external power willing to take on the responsibility for disarming the sides of the conflict and for the financial and economical support of Ukraine to restore its economy is required. Presently, there are no volunteers to perform such charity. Taking into account the political situation in Ukraine (split, full of hatred, armed to the teeth society) as well as its economic conditions, the benefactor would run a risk of overstraining himself by carrying the Ukrainian load.
Inadequacy of the Ukrainian elite, its irrational belief in the willingness of the West to solve the Ukrainian problems at the expense of the West put the state in the position when it speedy self-liquidation is the only logical way of development of the the current situation. Conversely, preservation and restoration of the Ukrainian statehood, even within diminished territory, appears less probable or even improbable. To come to pass, this option would require a miracle that would change all the factors now at play. Based on the religious faith in miracles, this may appear possible, but from the position of the political analysis, the probability of it is so low that it should not even be considered.
Impossible to cancel the war
And the last argument, possibly, the most unpleasant for citizens of Ukraine still believing in the possibility of the revival of their country. The country could be saved if at least one of the global players were interested in prolonging its existence. Of course, listening to the diplomats and state leaders, one could easily believe that the whole world dreams of nothing else but of the revival of Ukraine and restoration of its territorial integrity. But as we know, diplomats use the language to hide their thoughts, and the true position of a state is never spoken of openly (otherwise, there would not be any need to maintain the intelligence and counterintelligence agencies). We can only judge the true goals and intentions of a state by its actions.
First, between August and December of 2014 in Donbass an army had been formed to replace the disparate groups of militia. The army well trained and equipped was clearly excessive for the defense of those stubs of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions now controlled by the armed forces of Novorossia. We could, of course, believe that the militiamen found tanks, guns, self-propelled heavy artillery units, multiple rocket launchers, and other nice things in the Donetsk steppe. They had not noticed these things there from April to August and then all of a sudden – rich harvest: everyone who ever gathered mushrooms knows that such a thing can happen. One could also believe that thousands of instructors (from sergeants to complete regiment headquarters) necessary to create an effective military structure just simply came from different countries following their hearts (which does not happen in this world). It is even possible to believe the weapons were found and that the instructors came not only in the required numbers but also with required specializations. However, spare parts, ammunition and GSM in quantities sufficient for the intense fighting still had to be supplied by someone.
The minimal approximate size of the armed forces of Novorossia is 35 thousands (about three divisions at the time of the Great Patriotic war). To conduct regular military operations (and to support the civil population, at least, at the level of subsistence) the supplies should reach hundreds of tons a day. For comparison: 6th Army of Paulus at Stalingrad at the beginning of the encirclement, according to the calculation of the German command, required 600 tons a day of supplies only to maintain it battle ready. Paulus thought that the minimal requirement was 800 tons. At the moment of encirclement, Paulus commanded up to 240 thousands soldiers (possibly, 30 thousands of Romanians were not counted by the German command).
That is, whatever the patriots-alarmists say, in Novorossia an army has been created in a shortest time clearly excessive for the defense of the controlled territories. Such army could not have been organized without Russia’s help. Russia is obviously not inclined to spend money and resource (that are not unlimited) without good and sufficient reason. If an army capable of attacking is being formed, it means it will attack.
Second, if Russia and Russia-friendly media at every corner repeat how trustworthy Poroshenko is and how he would establish the federalized Nazi-free Ukraine at any moment, then, considering the actual situation in Ukraine, where neo-Nazi and his colleague in power regularly accuse Poroshenko of betrayal, it appears that Petr Alekseevich is been led to the slaughter, while Russia is readily furnishing his opponents with the arguments for the coup.
Third, if OSCE, EU, and American satellites all fail to see the Russian soldiers in Ukraine or to observe anything but humanitarian convoys crossing the border (what caused multiple hysterics in Kiev), then this is because they do not want to see. After all, when the Americans or Europeans want to notice something, then they see even thing that are not there, like weapons of mass distraction in Iraq, referendum in Kosovo, or Russian fault in the catastrophe of the Malaysian airplane near Donetsk. In other words, knowing that the army has been organized in Novorossia much stronger than the one that defeated the Ukrainian army in August, and that this army sooner or later would start an offensive, the EU and US absolutely ignore the opportunity to accuse Russia of arming one side of the conflict. Furthermore, our Western “partners”, by deciding to provide Ukraine with military aid (including weapons), offer Moscow an opportune to legalize its own participation in arming Novorossia.
Fourth, the US is pushing Kiev to the escalation of the armed conflict knowing full well that any more or less serious Kiev offensive would be used by Novorossia to inflict yet another catastrophic defeat on the Ukrainian army. Washington also understands that the next catastrophe would be the last – even if the militia lacked the numbers to occupy the whole territory of Ukraine at once, a coup in Kiev and subsequent free for all anarchy on the territories not controlled by the Novorossian militia would become inevitable. In any case, there would not be any Ukraine (united or split).
In other words, everybody is preparing for the war with the full understanding of the outcome of that war. The maneuvers of the actual players in the conflict hiding behind the leaders in Kiev, Donetsk, and Lugansk are aimed at being able to convincingly blame the opponent for the renewal of the fighting, its inevitable escalation and increased gore. Yes, Moscow and Brussels do not need the war in Ukraine. Yes, it would be desirable to find a peaceful solution. But because Washington is intent on fighting, and Kiev has no choice but to fight, the start of the second phase of the civil war in Ukraine could be postponed, the army of Novorossia could be prepared so that to avoid officially deployment of the Russian army, but the war cannot be canceled.
London and Paris wanted the USSR to battle with Germany in 1939. Stalin wanted to delay the start of the war until at least May of 1942 (by that time the Soviet army was expected to complete the rearmament). The war started in 1941. Obviously, Putin would be happy to postpone the conflict until 2017. By that time there would be a good chance to gain control over Ukraine without the escalation and without more losses. It is equally obvious that the US would have preferred Russia to start fighting in April-May of 2014. It seems that Russia managed to avoid getting directly involved in the conflict but this will have to be paid for by a full-scale (from Lvov to Kharkov and from Kiev to Odessa) civil war in Ukraine in 2015.
The return of the Empire
The last question of possible interest to us: what will happen to Ukraine as a result of the war? Nothing. There will not be any Ukraine. The very fact that with Moscow’s help adequate governments structures in DPR and LPR still have not been created indicates that these republics are not needed. Novorossia remains a geographic and historic term but is not becoming a political reality. The army was needed – it had been organized, whereas the government structures are not needed – and they have not emerged. This means that Novorossia is not planned. The patriots-alarmists then draw the conclusion that Novorossia is being betrayed to Kiev. But if, as we have shown above, Kiev itself is betrayed, and self-liquidation of the regime is simply a question of time and not of principle, and we are talking about a short period of time here, then who would Novorossia be betrayed to?
It will be betrayed to nobody, and nobody will be creating it. What does Russian need a new Ukraine in the guise of Novorossia for? Russia also does not need any “buffer state” between the EAEU and EU. It would only get in a way. Anyway, Russia has a border with NATO countries (Norway, Estonia, Latvia). Russia needs the entire Ukraine or almost entire Ukraine. It is now obvious not only to Moscow but also to Brussels that this territory is incapable of independent development and is only a source of problems. That is why Novorossia as a federal region (as well as Malorossia) is possible whereas as an independent state (independent states) it is not. The world does not have any more money for independence, be it Ukrainian, be it Novorossian – it is as simple as that.
It is time for the Empire to return to its natural borders (at the very least, in the south-west).