Understanding The Ukraine: Geopolitics, The People & The Future
We’ve been following the protests in the Ukraine and reporting on it by publishing different viewpoints. A turning point was reached last week when President Yanukovic reached an agreement with the opposition. Things have moved quickly in Ukraine since then, where this ends up is still unclear, but we thought it would be a good time to look back and try to understand what is going on in the Ukraine.
An interesting perspective on who made up the protest movement comes from a Ukrainian activist, extensive interview, revolutionary syndicalist Denis — who is a member of the Autonomous Workers’ Union in Kiev, published by ROAR Magazine. He paints a complicated picture of a protest with many strands. The people involved seem to be a very mixed cross-section of Ukrainians who hold varying political views and were united in their opposition to Yanukovic. It seems Yanukovic has taken actions that angered many segments of the population including the oligarchs who dominate most institutions including the legislatures, presidency and governors as well as media and business community. Where these angry Ukranians will go now that the person who united them is out of power will be interesting to watch. There also seems to be a lack of deep political education among many Ukranians which could lead to easy manipulation.
The article below focuses more on the geopolitical impacts of the Ukraine. It quickly goes through all the players but focuses on the EU, United States and Russia. In another article from the same site (which we recommend as they have closely covered developments in the Ukraine) about a meeting of the Security Council of Russia to discuss how they should handle the Ukraine, there was an interesting paragraph about why we did not see counter protests to the EuroMaiden. The article quotes Mikhail Dobkin the current governor of Kharkiv Oblast:
“Dobkin also explained why so few eastern Ukrainians were seen in Kiev’s counter-demonstrations on the so-called anti-Maidan. He said that unlike the nationalists who could count on limitless US-supplied monies to cover the huge expenditures needed to bus in a support the nationalist insurgents in Kiev, the eastern Ukrainians had to travel on their own initiative.”
We’ve published other articles about US influence including reports that the US was paying protesters, diplomats being overheard discussing who should be in the next government and the overall interests of the US in controlling Ukraine. In fact, US efforts to influence who is in the government in Ukraine go back to the era of George W. Bush when he funneled $57 million into Ukrainian politics over two years. Of course, on the other side was Russia trying to keep Ukraine in their orbit. There were also some interesting views expressed by people from the other major power, China, in the China Daily.
This is not to say there was not real opposition from Ukranians to the government of President Yanukovic. As we stated above there was united and widespread opposition to him from many parts of the Ukraine with lots of good reasons. KZ
The Geopolitics of the Ukrainian conflict: back to basics
Having rapidly looked at the locals, let us now turn to the folks that do matter:
The Ukrainian oligarchs:
Most of them believe that as long as the Ukraine maintains an anti-Russian stance the EU will let them do whatever the hell they want inside the Ukraine. They are correct. For them, signing an otherwise meaningless agreement with the EU is basically accepting the following deal: they become the faithful servants of their EU overlords in exchange for what the EU overlords will let them continue to pillage the Ukraine in pretty much any way they want.
There is a smaller group of oligarchs who still stands to lose more than win if the Russian-Ukrainian relations sour and if Russia introduces barriers to trade with the Ukraine (which Russia would have to do if the Ukraine signs an free trade agreement with the EU). These oligarchs believe that more money can be made from Russia than form the EU and they are the folks who convinced Yanukovich to make his infamous “zag” from the EU towards Russia. Thus, there is a split inside the Ukrainian oligarchy whose representatives can be found on both sides of the current struggle.
The EU is in a deep, systemic, economic, social and political crisis and it is absolutely desperate for new opportunities to rescue itself from its slow-motion collapse. For the EU, the Ukraine is first and foremost a market to sells is goods and services. The Ukraine is also a way to make the EU look bigger, more powerful, more relevant. Some believe that the Ukraine can also provide cheap labor for the EU, but I don’t believe that this is a major consideration for the following reasons: the EU already has way too many immigrants, and the there has already been a steady stream of Ukrainians (and Balts) leaving their country for a better life in the West. Thus, what the EU really wants is a way to benefit from the Ukraine but without suffering too many negative consequences from any agreement. Hence the 1500 pages of the proposed agreement with the EU.
The goals of the USA in the Ukraine are completely different from the goals of the EU, hence the very real tensions between their diplomats so well expressed by the “fuck the EU!” of Madam Nuland. Furthermore, and unlike the bankrupt EU, the US has spent over 5’000’000’000 dollars to achieve its goals in the Ukraine. But so what are these goals really?
This is were it gets *really* interesting.
First, we have to go back to the crucial statement made by Hillary Clinton in early December of 2012:
“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.”
Now, it is absolutely irrelevant to argue about whether Hillary was right or wrong in her interpretation of what the Eurasian Union is supposed to become, what matters is that she, and her political masters, believe, and they really believe is that Putin wants to re-create the Soviet Union. No matter how stupid this notion is, we have to always keep in mind that this is what the likes of Hillary sincerely believe.
Next, we need to recall another crucial statement, made this time by Zbigniew Brzezinski who wrote:
Without Ukraine Russia ceases to be empire, while with Ukraine – bought off first and subdued afterwards, it automatically turns into empire…According to him, the new world order under the hegemony of the United States is created against Russia and on the fragments of Russia. Ukraine is the Western outpost to prevent the recreation of the Soviet Union.
Again, it does not matter at all whether evil Zbig is right or wrong. What matters is that Zbig and Hillary jointly provide us with the key to the current US policy in the Ukraine: to prevent Russia from becoming a superpower. For them, and unlike the Europeans, its not about “getting the Ukraine”, its about “not letting the Russians get the Ukraine”. And this is absolutely crucial: from the US point of view, chaos, mayhem and even a full-scale civil war in the Ukraine is much, much, preferable to any, and I mean any, form of economic or political union between Russia and the Ukraine. For the Americans, this is a zero-sum game: the bigger the loss for Russia, the bigger the win for the AngloZionist Empire.
Here we have to completely switch our point of view and realize the following, no matter how counter-intuitive this might seem to be, regardless of the extreme closeness between Russian and Ukrainian languages and cultures, regardless of a long common history, regardless of the fact that both Russians and Ukrainians jointly defeated Nazi Germany, regardless of the fact that the Ukraine is a big neighbor of Russia and regardless of the fact that the two countries have close economic ties, Russia does not need the Ukraine. Hillary and Zbig are simply plain wrong. Furthermore, Russia has absolutely no intention of re-creating the Soviet Union or, even less so, becoming an Empire. This is all absolute nonsense, stupid propaganda to feed to the western masses, Cold War cliches which are absolutely inapplicable to the current realities. Furthermore, Russia is already a superpower, quite capable of challenging the EU and the USA together (as the example of the war in Syria has so dramatically illustrated). In fact, Russia has had its most spectacular growth precisely at a time when the Ukraine was occupied by Poland (14th-17th century):
|Growth of Russia by years|
Why would modern Russia need the Ukraine? The Ukrainian economy is in ruins, the country is plagued by immense social and political tensions, and there are no natural resources in the Ukraine which Russia would want. As for the “being a superpower”, the Ukraine’s military is a farce, and the Russian military would have little need to the so-called “strategic depth” offered by the Ukraine: this is 19-20th century military logic, modern wars are though throughout the depth of the enemy’s territory, with long-range strike weapons and Russia is quite capable of closing the Ukrainian airspace without any form of economic or political union with it.
No, what Russia needs first and foremost has stability and prosperity in the Ukraine. Not only does a non trivial-part of the Russian economy have ties with the Ukraine, but a total collapse of such a big neighbor is bound to affect the Russian economy too (which, by the way, is pretty close to getting into a recession for the first time in a long while). Furthermore, millions of Russians live in the Ukraine and millions of Ukrainians live in Russia. Most Russian families have ties with the Ukraine. So the last thing Russia wants is a civil war in which it would almost inevitably be drawn in.
Even in Crimea all Russia really needs is a status quo: peace, prosperity, a good tourism infrastructure to host Russian tourists, and stable basing right for the Black Sea Fleet. For that Russia does not need to occupy or annex Crimea. However, should the Crimean Peninsula be attacked by the Ukrainian neo-Nazis there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the Black Sea Fleet will intervene to protect the local population with which it has many family ties. It is important to remember that the Black Sea Fleet is infinitely better trained and equipped that the Ukrainian military and that it includes a very powerful Naval Infantry force (one Brigade and one Battalion, the latter specialized in counter-terrorism operations). It is one thing to beat up and burn riot cops and quite another to deal with battle hardened (Chechnia, Georgia) and highly trained elite forces armed to the teeth with the latest and best military equipment.
As for the big scheme of things, Russia sees its future in the North and the East, not at all in its southwest. The Arctic, Siberia, the Far East, China and the Pacific, these are the direction towards which Russian strategists are looking for the future of Russia, not the dying and decaying EU or the ruined and unstable lands of the Ukraine!
So what is likely to happen next?
I think that the EU is most unlikely to achieve its objectives in the Ukraine for a very simple reason: the Ukrainian nationalists and the so-called “opposition” (i.e. the armed insurgency) are all bought and paid for by the US. The EU bureaucrats can continue visiting the Ukraine and make loud statements, they really don’t matter. So its really the US vs Russia and here I have to say that the US goals is far easier to achieve that the Russian one: all the USA needs chaos, something easy to achieve and relatively cheap to finance, while Russia needs stability and prosperity and that, at the very least, means to provide is cardiac resuscitation to the basically ruined Ukrainian economy and to jump-start some kind of much needed reforms. The latter probably cannot be done without breaking the backs of the Ukrainian oligarchs. Does Russia have the means to achieve this? I very much doubt it. Not with its current signs of upcoming economic problems and not with a spineless and corrupt clown like Yanukovich in power. So then what?
Well, if rescuing the Ukraine is not an option, then protecting Russia from the inevitable chaos and mayhem is the only option left. That, and making darn sure that Crimea is safe. Russia could, for instance, provide direct assistance to the eastern Ukraine, especially to region like Kharkov which are governed by competent and determined people. Beyond that, the only option left for Russia is to hunker down and wait for either a viable force to take power in Kiev or for the Ukraine to break-up in pieces.
So what about the Ukrainian people?
I think that where I stand on this issue is clear from the above. The EU needs them as slaves, the US needs them as pawns, and the only party which needs them prosperous is Russia. That is simply a fact of geo-strategy. If the Ukrainians are too stupid and too blinded by their rabid nationalism to understand that, then let them pay the price for their folly. If they are smart enough to realize it, then let them find the courage to act on it and make it possible for Russia to help them. If not, then at the very least I would advise them to stop hallucinating about some kind of invasion of “Moskal Spetsnaz forces” to invade and occupy the “independent Ukraine”. Moscow has better things to do and is already busy elsewhere.