The latest decision by the Yanukovich government to delay any decision about the possible signing of an association agreement with the European Union has been greeted by a mix of shock and outrage by the Western corporate press. Unanimously, it was decreed that this apparent reversal by Yanukovich himself was the result of Russian blackmail, ruthless power politics and even not-so-veiled threats. Finally, the media presented this latest development as a personal victory for Putin and a strategic victory for Russia. In yet another triumph of form over substance western commentators offered lots of drama and hyperbole and very little explanations about what has really happened. I propose to set aside all the ideological hype and begin with a few basic reminders. What is “The Ukraine” really? The Ukraine in its current borders is a completely artificial entity created by the Soviet regime whose borders have no historical basis at all. In many ways, the Ukrainian SSR was a “mini-Soviet Union, only worse” whose population had suffered horrendously during most of the 20th century (and before). Furthermore, it is often overlooked that during the early Bolshevik regime, the Nazi occupation, the Soviet regime after WWII and since independence after the fall of the Soviet Union the Ukraine has undergone a steady process of “West-Ukrainization”: the language, political culture and even national myths historically associated with the Western Ukraine have been forced upon the rest of the country which has resulted in constant tensions between the generally pro-Western West and the generally pro-Russian East and South. Finally, to say that the Ukrainian economy is in a deep crisis would be an understatement. Not only did the Ukraine inherit a lot of very heavy and outdated Soviet industry, it has been completely unable to use any of it to begin a truly local production of goods and services. The only segments of the Ukrainian economy which have done reasonably well are those providing goods and services for the much larger Russian economy. In the process, however, these better segments have either become completely dependent upon Russian investments, or have actually been acquired by Russian companies. None of the above, however, is enough to explain the absolute disaster which has befallen the Ukraine since its independence. For that, we need to take a look at the Ukrainian political elites. Who has been running the Ukraine since independence? Formally, Presidents Kravchuk, Kuchma, Yushchenko and Yanukovich. In reality, however, since its independence the Ukraine has been in the iron grip of Ukrainian oligarchs. This is the single most important thing to keep in mind to understand the entire dynamic currently taking place between the EU, Russia and the Ukraine. In Russia the Presidential regime defeated the oligarchs, in the Ukraine the oligarchs defeated the Presidential regime. In fact, the Ukrainian oligarchs are very similar to their Russian counterparts of the Eltsin era. The tragedy of the Ukraine is that there has been no “Ukrainian Putin” and what could have happened in Russia without Putin did actually take place in the Ukraine. To say that the Ukrainian political elites are corrupt would be an understatement. The reality is much worse. All Ukrainian politicians are absolutely unprincipled political prostitutes who can be bought and sold and who have no personal values whatsoever. None. It is quite pathetic to read in the Western press that Yulia Tymoshenko is some kind of firebrand nationalist while Yanukovich is pro-Russian. This is laughable! Tymoshenko and Yanukovich and, frankly, all the rest of them (Klichko, Symonenko, etc.), are political chameleons who have changed their affiliations many times and who will gladly do so again. And just as the Russian people were essentially manipulated, powerless and apathetic under the regime of the Eltsin’s oligarchs, so are the Ukrainians today who are simply not given any decent person to vote for or support. The Ukraine between the EU and the Russian-backed customs union The reason why the association agreement between the EU and the Ukraine was presented by all the political parties (except the Communists) as a “civilizational choice”, a “strategic decision” and an “inevitable step” is that it was highly beneficial to the Ukrainian oligarchy which is absolutely terrified of Putin and who wants to keep its current position of power at any cost. True, a majority of Western Ukrainians want to join the EU but they never would have had the political clout and, frankly, the money to force Yanukovich and the Party of Region to initially appear to support this. No, the real center of gravity of the pro-EU activism can be found in the Ukrainian oligarchy and its discrete but powerful “friends” in the West – the very same forces who threw their full support behind Eltsin between 1990 and 2000: the Anglo-Zionist empire and its European vassal states. In contrast, the opposition to this association agreement with the EU was mainly found in the small to medium business circles in the Eastern Ukraine which is essentially dependent on Russia and who would have immediately collapsed into bankruptcy if Russia had reduced its investment in joint programs. Regardless, the way the Ukrainian elites dealt with this issue made public opinion basically irrelevant. A “civilizational choice” made by a small corrupt elite? In trying to convince the Ukrainian people to support the association with the EU the Ukrainian oligarchs and their Western supporters very skillfully “framed” the issue to such a degree as to make it unrecognizable and to make it impossible for the people to express their opinion. Think of it – if the choice between an association with the EU and a possible participation of the Ukraine into a customs union with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and others was truly a “civilizational choice” – would a popular referendum not be the only proper way to make such a dramatic decision? Yet, in reality, the decision was made by one man only: Yanukovich. Furthermore, is it even correct to speak of a “civilizational choice”? Most polls ask the Ukrainians if they want to join the EU, but that is not at all what is being offered to them. What is offered to them is only an association with the EU: a deal with was also offered to countries such as Chile, South Africa or Egypt (see here for more details). This is not at all a first step towards a membership into the EU (Turkey signed such an association in 1964 and is still waiting; does anybody believe that Chile will join the EU?). As for the entry into a customs union with Russia, it still has to be negotiated so at this point it is impossible to know for sure what the final terms of such a union would be (though the general outline is pretty clear). And yet, poll after poll after poll, the same question is being asked: “do you want the Ukraine to join the EU?” Here is an example of this in Wikipedia:
So what is really at stake here? The short answer is that what is at stake here is the future of the Ukrainian oligarchy. The more complex answer is that what is at stake here is what the West can gain by co-opting the Ukrainian oligarchy into its sphere of influence. In practical terms this means that as long as the West agreed to keep the oligarchs in power it could gain many very real advantages from the Ukraine such as a market for EU goods, cheap labor, the possibility to deploy NATO forces in the Ukraine (without necessarily offering the Ukraine to join NATO) and, first and foremost, the rock-solid guarantee to be able to dictate its terms to the Ukrainian oligarchy which would have no other option than to be hyper-compliant to any Western demands. Furthermore, the West very much sees this as a zero-sum game, what the West gets – Russia looses. While not catastrophic by any means, the severance of the current economic ties between Russia and the Ukraine would most definitely hurt Russia, at least in the short term. Furthermore, the West also believes that an association with the EU would prevent any further integration of Russia and the Ukraine. That is, I believe, probably true, simply because no real integration between the Ukraine and Russia is possible as long as the Ukrainian oligarchs remain in power. The real objective of the Anglo-Zionist empire in the Ukraine Just before Barak Obama got rid of her, Hillary Clinton made an amazingly candid admission about the Empire’s real goals in Eastern Europe. Here is what she said:
There is a move to re-Sovietise the region. It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that. But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.
Simple, direct and clear. Even the use of the expression “re-Sovietise” shows that Hillary and, frankly, most of the Western elites are still completely stuck in a Cold War paradigm in which every Russian move is necessarily an evil one and the West and Russia play a zero-sum game. In the logic of these people, any loss for Russia is by definition a good and highly desirable outcome for the West. What better way for the Empire is there to “slow down or prevent” any integration of Russia and the Ukraine than to offer the Ukrainian oligarchy an association deal with the EU which would cost the EU nothing and which would inevitably trigger a trade war between the Russia and the Ukraine? Russian objectives in the Ukraine Russian objectives in the Ukraine are pretty straightforward. First, Russia believes that a customs union with the Ukraine would be mutually beneficial. Second, Russia also hopes that, with time, such a mutually beneficial union would serve to deflate anti-Russian feelings (which are always stirred up by the Ukrainian political elites) and that, with time, the Ukraine could become a member of the future Eurasian Union. Third, judging by its bitter experience with Central European countries, the Baltic States and Georgia, Russia definitely hopes to prevent the Ukraine from becoming the next colony of the Anglo-Zionist Empire in Europe. Finally, a majority of Russians believe that the Russian and Ukrainian people are either one nation or, at least, two “brother nations” who share a common history and whose natural calling is to live in friendship and solidarity. Are the Russian objectives in the Ukraine realistic? Ironically, Russia faces exactly the same problem in the Ukraine as the Anglo-Zionist Empire: the Ukraine in its current borders is a completely artificial creation. Everybody pretty much agrees that the Western Ukraine and the Eastern Ukraine have almost exclusively opposite goals. On all levels – language, economy, politics, history, culture – the western and eastern parts of the Ukraine are completely different. The center, and the capital city of Kiev is a mix of both east and west while the south is really a unique cultural entity, different from the rest of the country and which is even more diverse than the rest of the country. An armchair strategist might suggest that the “obvious” solution would be to break up the Ukraine into two or more parts and let each part chose, but this “solution” has two major problems: first, breaking up an artificial country is an extremely dangerous thing to do (remember Bosnia or Kosovo!) and, second, there is absolutely no way that the West and its Ukrainian nationalist puppets are ever going to accept such a “solution” (they even insist that the Crimean Peninsula must forever be considered a part of the Ukraine, even though it was only donated by Khrushchev to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954!). Furthermore, I believe that an even deeper analysis of the consequences of an integration of the Ukraine into Russia should be made before jumping to conclusions. If, indeed, the Ukraine is a “big Bosnia”, does it make sense for Russia to want to bring this “big Bosnia” inside its otherwise very prosperous union with Belarus, Kazakhstan and others nations to the east? I do not argue against the argument that history clearly shows that the Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and all parts of one historical/cultural body. What I am saying is that the Ukrainian part of that body is suffering from a very dangerous form of gangrene and that I do not see how Russia and the rest of the (future) Eurasian Union could heal this member. While some segments of the Ukrainian economy do have an interesting potential for Russia, most of it is a disaster with no chance at all for reform. Politically, the Ukraine is a slow-motion disaster where corrupt politicians fight with each other for the chance to get money and support from the local oligarchs and their western patrons. Socially, the Ukraine is a ticking time-bomb which must explode, sooner or later, and while Russia can continue to bail out the Ukrainian economy with loan after loan after loan, this cannot go on forever. Finally, the western Ukraine is a Petri dish of the worst kind of Russophobic hysteria, often crossing into outright neo-Nazi propaganda, which will never accept any deal with the hated “Moskals” (Russians, or “Muscovyites” in the nationalist lexicon). The frightening fact is that in its current configuration the Ukraine is headed for disaster no matter who prevails, Yanukovich or the opposition. Just look at what the “liberals” and “democrats” achieved during the rule of Eltsin’s oligarchs: Russia’s economy completely collapsed, the country almost broke up into many small parts, Mafia dons ran the entire underground economy while Jewish oligarchs literally pillaged the wealth of Russia and relocated it abroad, while the media was busy feeding the Russian people absolute lies and nonsense. Well, today, exactly the same type people are running the show in the Ukraine. The big difference Looking back to what happened in the past 20 years or so it becomes immediately apparent why the Ukraine ended up in its current nightmare while Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan did so much better. The answer has three words: Nazarbaev, Putin, Lukashenko. I listed Nazarbaev first because he always was for an integration with Russia and its allies – Kazhakhstan never really wanted its independence in the first place and it was literally pushed out by Eltsin and his “democratic” allies Kravchuk and Shushkevich). Putin only showed up on the political scene a full decade after Nazarbaev had tried to do his best to maintain a single post-Soviet country. As for Lukashenko, he is a complex and eccentric personality who follows a rather bizarre policy towards Russia: he wants to integrate Belarus with the very market-oriented Russia while keeping Belarus and its economy and society in a “neo-Soviet” condition. For all their differences, Nazarbaev, Putin and Lukashenko have emerged as three powerful figures who did get their local oligarchs under control and who have thereby prevented their countries from becoming Anglo-Zionist colonies. In contrast, no real national leader has emerged in the Ukraine: every single Ukrainian politician is a joke and a puppet in the hands of private interests. Ukraine’s “civilizational choice” – a Pyrrhic victory for Russia? At this moment in time, the Western media is trying to present Yanukovich’s decision to delay any further negotiations on the association with the EU as a huge strategic victory for Putin and Russia. I personally disagree. While it is true that by this decision Yanukovich has delayed the collapse of the Ukrainian economy this is only a delaying tactic, nothing in substance has changed. Furthermore, while it is vital for the Ukraine not to sever its current economic ties with Russia, this is not true for Russia, especially in the long run. Of course, an economic collapse of the Ukraine would be bad news for Russia too who really does not need its big neighbor to go down the “Bosnian scenario” lest Russia be pulled in, which it almost inevitably would. But having avoided an immediate disaster in the Ukraine is hardly something I could call a “strategic victory” for Russia. One could make the case that the best option for Russia would be to take some huge scissors, make a deep cut along the current border between Russia and the Ukraine and relocate the latter somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This not being an option, the next best thing would be to make it possible for the Ukraine to break up into its natural components and integrate the Eastern Ukraine into the Eurasian Union. Alas, at this moment in time, this option is as impossible as the first one. What is then left for Russia? What is the “least bad” option Russia can try to make the best of? Exactly what it is doing today: try to prevent a complete collapse of the Ukrainian economy while hoping for a “Ukrainian Putin” to eventually emerge. A “Ukrainian Putin” would be a real patriot whose first priority would be to get rid of the Ukrainian oligarchs, the second one would be to clearly indicate to the Anglo-Zionists that they are no longer welcome in their capacity as colonial overlords, and third to try to get the best deal possible for the Ukrainian people in a future Eurasian Union. So far, there is absolutely no sign of such a figure emerging in the Ukraine. So yes, Yanukovich’s last minute change of mind is good news for the Ukraine and for Russia, but this is hardly a victory of any kind for Putin or Russia. First, I would not put it past Yanukovich to change his mind yet again (the man has no principles or values to speak of). Second, we already see that the Empire is going absolutely apeshit with rage over this latest development and that the US and EU will spare no efforts to orchestrate yet another revolution in Kiev. Same thing for the Ukrainian opposition which now will get a huge influx of dollars from the West to create as much chaos as possible. As for the Ukrainian people, they will be given no option at all other than to express their opinion in opinion polls asking the wrong question. Finally, as long as the current Ukrainian oligarchy remains in power, there will be no reason at all to hope for any meaningful improvements in the plight of the Ukraine and its people. The Saker
Karlin’s analysis http://darussophile.com/2013/11/24/ukraines-turn-to-the-east/
Ukraine isn’t going to be allowed to join the EU and in any case people should not have any illusions in EU membership after what the EU neoliberal commissars did to Greece and Cyprus.
@Robert: yes, great stuff, thanks a lot!
Make sure to read Karlin’s *very good* analysis at Da Russophile as he does a great job filling many details which I simply had not time to include. Very very good stuff for sure.
Thanks a lot!
Amazing piece Saker.
What do you think of Viktor Medvedchuk the leader of Ukrainian Choice? Isn’t he the ukrainian Putin ? They are very close personaly, with Putin being his children’s godfather.
@Yakoub Issa:What do you think of Viktor Medvedchuk?
On the good side, he never joined the Soviet Communist Party. On the bad one, he was a key member of the Kuchma administration which, while possibly the “least bad” one was still very bad. I like his views on direct democracy and federalism (he favors both), but how he made his immense fortune (about half a billion dollars) inspires no trust in me as he is clearly a major oligarch. This being said, he is probably one of the least-bad Ukrainian politicians, just not somebody I would put any trust in.
Well, it is true that the Empire would not give up. I think that the Russians indeed exercised some strong arm tactics. But it was only natural. Russia was always very explicit that it would not permit the extension of NATO/EU to its gates. EU/NATO pretended to have not heard, lulled by the apparent weakness of Russia under Medvedev’s helm. They haven’t learned anything from Georgia’s example. Maybe this time they would understand that the Bear is back and is more prudent not to rub his hair the wrong way.
But it is also likely that they will continue with their obduracy. One of the reasons would be (it’s a personal opinion) that EU’s grand plan is the “regionalization” with the corollary of a Jewish region in the former territories of the Pale of settlement, a rehash of the Zionist plans of Max Bodenheimer in the WWI, the so-called Judeo-Polonia.
@WizOz: . I think that the Russians indeed exercised some strong arm tactics.
I see no evidence of any strong arm tactics at all. All Russia did is agree with the statement of the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso who in February of this year declared that “one country cannot at the same time be a member of a customs union and be in a deep common free-trade area with the European Union” (http://www.ukrinform.ua/eng/news/barroso_reminds_ukraine_that_customs_union_and_free_trade_with_eu_are_incompatible_299321). Telling that Ukrainians that they cannot have their cake and eat it too is hardly a strong arm tactic. And its not Russia which demanded that the Ukrainians release Yulia Tymoshenko even though she was put in prison under the pretext that she had agreed to pay too high a price for Russian gas (so much for her being a firebrand nationalist). And before Yanukovich changed his mind at the last minute we did not see Russian politicians displaying the kind of hysterical attitude EU politicians have shown for the past couple of days. As far as I can all ALL the strong arms politics are coming from the West, not Russia.
Well, it was rather tongue in chick. EU accused Russia of brutal pressure, blackmail, scare tactics, etc. But Russia had to give them a taste of what could be the consequences of their irresponsible gamboling.
@WizOz:EU accused Russia of brutal pressure, blackmail, scare tactics, etc.
True, but, at least as far I as know, all the Russians did was to tell the Ukrainians “if you turn your back on us don’t expect us to bail you out” which is just the plain and undeniable truth. Now I understand that for those Ukrainians who believed all the nonsense of the nationalist parties this kind of wakeup call to reality is painful, but they have only themselves to blame for being so gullible in the first place. The harsh reality is that the Ukraine is economically bankrupt and politically irrelevant. This is why the EU will only agree to spend hot air on it, but not more than just a few Euros. Russia is the Ukraine only and last friend, but the Ukrainians will need a lot more hardship and sobering up before they will come to terms with that fact.
That’s it! I have to think of Moldova too.
Just out of curiosity, are Ukraine’s oligarchs also Jewish?
Ukraine’s fundamental problem is that she is a dependency of Russia that cannot accept facts. In the late 1980s, the Ukrainian elite looked at the Soviet price system, observed that Ukraine was subsidizing the rest of the USSR, and concluded that an independent Ukraine would do very well indeed.
Then, too late, they discovered global “free market” prices for energy and raw materials. Under the new pricing system, Russia had always been heavily subsidizing Ukraine….
And the Ukrainian elite has been trying to square that circle ever since.
Ukrainian foreign policy since independence has been all about trying to suck subsidies from Russia while running to Anglosphere Russophobes and their hateful little Polish/Baltic ‘Amen Chorus’ to avoid paying for it with increased Russian political influence in Ukraine.
Nord Stream ended that game.
And the endgame has been played out. The Anglosphere/Euros offer nothing of substance to Ukraine but a long list of expensive demands. Russia offers real benefits. The only thing that could get in the way is the boundless Russophobia of the Galicians and the equally boundless arrogance/greed/stupidity/unconcern for the well-being of Ukrainians Ukrainian business&political elite.
So while this is a defeat for the Anglosphere Russophobes and their hateful Polish/Baltic ‘Amen Chorus’, it isn’t yet a victory for Russia.
@Anonymous0246:are Ukraine’s oligarchs also Jewish?
Like in Russia, not all, but most. There is some info on that here: http://iamthewitness.com/Ukraine.html. HTH, cheers!
@rkka: The only thing that could get in the way is the boundless Russophobia of the Galicians and the equally boundless arrogance/greed/stupidity/unconcern for the well-being of Ukrainians Ukrainian business&political elite.
Yes, these guys would rather see the Ukraine turn into a desert than to allow the hated Moskals to pull it out of its current crisis.
Ukrainian foreign policy since independence has been all about trying to suck subsidies from Russia while running to Anglosphere Russophobes and their hateful little Polish/Baltic ‘Amen Chorus’ to avoid paying for it with increased Russian political influence in Ukraine
Yes, and all of their Presidents played that little game or, should I say, tried to play that game.
So while this is a defeat for the Anglosphere Russophobes and their hateful Polish/Baltic ‘Amen Chorus’, it isn’t yet a victory for Russia.
Agreed again because, frankly, even if Russia does truly help the Ukraine, all it will get in return is more nationalist rhetoric from the western Ukraine, and more embarrassed silence and passivity from the eastern part.
I might write another piece about the moral and psychological aspects of this nationalistic circus.
About Medvedchuk. Author is completely misunderstanding personalities.
He said :
“On the good side, he never joined the Soviet Communist Party.”
After that whole article looks useless, Viktor Medvedchuk is much more than exCommi, he was a kinda tricky Soviet regime advocate, that was the role like 2nd public prosecutor.
Medvedchuk is guilty in repressions against Ukrainian
dissident, he was an “advocate” of ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasyl_Stus). Just to understand he was from so-called Russian-speaking Donbass(Donetsk, Lugansk, etc).
The whole career of Viktor Medvedchuk smels like KGB.
Ukraine borders are really artificial, look at map of Ukraine in 1918:
And the next one:
Current population structure in Ukraine created by USSR, by terrible artificial famines of 1921-22, 1932-33, 1946-47.
Also Ukrainians are the majority outside all industrial centres of the East, so Ukrainians are more united than author presents.
@Fritz: LOL, considering that what you consider a “proof” for Medvedchuk career in the KGB (smell) I am not surprised that you would take two old photos of some old maps as evidence of something. You also confuse ethnicity with statehood and you refer to 1918 maps when, due to the collapse Russian Empire, invasion from Germany, invasion from Poland, local uprising and civil wars no borders existed. Funny but silly.
@EVERYBODY: the kind of arguments “Fritz” uses are typical of the utter nonsense the Ukie nationalists have been feeding the population of the Ukraine for many years already. That kind of propaganda was always generously supported by such “friends” of the Ukraine as Germany, Poland, France and the USA. I have seen Ukie nationalists even claim that the cities on the northern shores of the Black Sea where founded by “Ukraninians” over 2000 years ago and that the Mary the Mother of God was also a Ukrainian. Basically, there is no level of nonsense which we cannot expect these folks to spew as long as it serves their agenda. The bad thing is that this is all they can do. What they cannot do is run their country.
As one commentator already pointed out, and as I have on other sites discussing this issue, it completely boggles my mind why even just economic integration -even only partly- with the EU could be imagined by any serious person as something promising. The EU zone is economically decrepit. Greece and Cyprus were and are complete disasters. I think it is increasingly obvious that the real motivation to “join” or start being “integrated” into the EU arises out of emotion and feeling.
I ventured my opinion elsewhere that the real reason the Ukrainian Pres probably opted out is exactly because the EU was and is simply too broke to put enough money on the table to make the choice attractive. The Ukrainian Pres probably has enough sense to know that moving to integrate with the EU economically would be disastrous for the Ukrainian economy, especially at first, and so he would certainly want at least enough cash available to parachute out of there or at least enough cash on hand to spend what is necessary trying to cover over the consequences or at least hire enough police to control the riots that a surge in unemployment would result in.
Ukraine inherit a lot of very heavy and outdated Soviet industry
What do you mean here? What was outdated, in your opinion, and companerd to whom?
@Anonymous0241:What was outdated, in your opinion, and companerd to whom?
Stuff like heavy machines industry (trains) or military equipment (tanks), which could be used in the old Soviet Union but not exported. Also, a lot of the Ukrainian industry included parts of something, but not the full thing (aircraft), so when the Ukraine cut itself off the rest of the ex Soviet Union it had few “complete products” to offer and those which it did have were either too expensive for developing nations or outdated for developed nations. Of all the former Soviet republics only Russia has the know-how and means to fully recreate the part of the old Soviet industry which it lost at the moment of the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is why Sukhoi can built both combat and civilian aircraft, Russian shipbuilding is literally saturated with orders for advanced ships, Russian weapons are exported worldwide (including advanced systems, not just old Soviet gear), etc. What has the Ukraine built, or exported or even produced on its own? *Nothing*. Well, maybe the T-84 tank, but even that is just a beefed up T-80 and, besides, the tank seems to lack the advanced type of armor Russia tanks have because the Ukraine does not have the capability to produce it.
Bottom line: without Russian help the Ukraine currently has only cheap labor and agricultural products to offer (even its coal is not in demand). Basically, the same stuff as most African countries.
Although Ukraine has suffered much more that Russia from the breakup of its common economic space, it still has stuff Russia would like such as Zenit (booster rocket). Russia is certainly able to produce new versions but that is an expensive task.
Now, taking an opposite view, it does not really matter all that much to Russia (or the EU) what Ukraine can provide in the near term of whether Ukraine represents a good ROI. Its true value is in defining the border of the Catholic West and the Orthodox East.
One more thought, Putin has all the appearance of the guy with 4 aces while the EU is bluffing (badly) as it seems to be holding at most two of a kind.
Excellent piece – thank you!
I can see the Author is drawing a grim perspective: as there will be no help from Russia to “please” the Ukrainians, the only way a “new Putin” can bring order is by brutality and dictatorship, under which the most possible scenario of entry to “Eurasian union” is military occupation. Did it occur to you, that while Russia has lost in WWI about 10% of male population, Ukraine has lost 1/6? The resistance will be fierce, and do you remember, that actual victory by Pyrrhus has put an end to entire Greek culture, opening the way to Roman domination? In such a case, Ukrainian nationalists must be interested the most in such a course of events…
@Anonmyous0928: I think you completely misunderstood my point. So let me clarify. I am saying the following:
1) right now the Ukraine is run by oligarchs and as long as this is the case the Ukraine will not begin to recover from its current plight.
2) right now the Ukraine is run by oligarchs and that means that Russia has no real negotiating partner to work with.
3) by a “Ukrainian Putin” I do not mean “brutality and dictatorship” (what in the world are you talking about? get some real info about Russia, man, this is embarrassing…) but I mean a real Ukrainian patriot who will place the welfare of his people over the size of his bank account and who will have a vision shared by a majority of Ukrainians as to what they want their country to become.
With these pointers in mind, may I suggest that you re-read my post?
I basically agree with all of this. The one point I would add is that if the western powers have suffered a defeat it is one which was (again) entirely of their own making.
I don’t know how it has been reported elsewhere but here in Britain the media was openly gloating about how Russia was about “to lose” the Ukraine when the association agreement was signed. The terms of the association agreement with crazy demands such as that the Ukraine change the gauge of its railways from Russian broad gauge to European standard gauge (remember Britain is a full member of the EU even though its cars drive on the “wrong” side of the road) confirm that this was not a trade agreement but a device to detach the Ukraine from Russia in order to weaken Russia. That this was so is also confirmed by some of the things EU officials said eg. an anonymous EU official (almost certainly the EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule – or should that be Fool?) who went around telling everyone that “Russia with the Ukraine is an empire but without the Ukraine is just a country”. Moreover it is difficult to understand why otherwise the EU rejected so stridently any suggestion that the Ukraine might join the Customs Union once the association agreement was signed. This is of course consistent with the EU’s sulky refusal to enter into tripartite negotiations with the Ukraine and Russia as was suggested by the Ukrainian government last week.
Beyond that, it was as a device to distance the Ukraine from Russia that the EU association agreement was being represented by its supporters within the Ukraine itself. At no time did anyone from the EU come along to tell these people to calm down and it was not that at all but just a trade agreement.
Given that this was so it beggars belief that the EU can have seriously thought that Russia would not take steps to derail this project and given the overwhelming influence Russia has in the Ukraine (especially in its eastern regions which form Yanukovitch’s electoral base) there was a strong chance it would succeed in doing so.
To add to the folly the western powers (including by the way the US) have made little secret of their intention to replace Yanukovitch with Tymoshenko who they want sprung from prison for that purpose.
To my mind what this episode shows is how completely out of touch with reality US/EU policy has become. Any project that requires Yanukovitch to commit political suicide, Ukrainian industry to immolate itself and Russia to collude in the destruction of its own interests in a country so physically and emotionally close to it was going to run into serious problems and it was frankly delusional to think otherwise.
Saker, as a relatively recent reader of your blog and first-time commentator, can I first congratulate you on some superbly written and argued articles – really top-class material. You put many professional journalists and broadcasters to shame.
Regarding the situation in Ukraine, what’s your take on the pro-EU demonstrators? Are they being paid by the oligarchs? Looking at Ukraine’s dismal economic situation which would worsen dramatically if it signed this deal, it’s hard to understand how those marching and pepper-spraying in favour of the EU have reached the conclusion that it’s a good thing.
@Fern:Regarding the situation in Ukraine, what’s your take on the pro-EU demonstrators? Are they being paid by the oligarchs?
First, welcome to the blog! I hope that you will feel at home here and comment often.
To answer your question, no – a lot of these demonstrators most definitely strongly and sincerely feel that signing an association deal with the EU would be better for the Ukraine. Yes, there *are* paid demonstrators there, they get something between 100 to 250 Hryvnias ($12-$30) per day and per person, but to say that a majority of demonstrators are paid is wrong (even though some Russian TV channels like to stress that). Remember that the western Ukraine is generally very anti-Russian and pro-Western, then there is a generational difference, the younger Ukrainians are generally more pro-Western too. Also the Ukrainian TV and other media are also very strongly pro-EU and anti-Russian so all in all you can easily get 100’000+ demonstrators out in the streets of Kiev. As for the oligarchs, they will pull the strings in the back, by supporting politicians and journalists, but they will not themselves pay demonstrators. That is done by various nationalist NGOs who get their money from the oligarchs and western intelligence agencies. But, again, while the paid demonstrators are definitely there, I would not exaggerate their importance or deny that more or less 50% of the Ukrainians really do want their country to join the EU (even though sining an association with the EU is in no way a first step towards that goal).
Many thanks and kind regards,
An entire article and no mention of the agricultural sector?