Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Poland the Crisis in Ukraine.

Neoconservative thinking is deeply entrenched in certain intellectual circles in Poland and is best regarded with trepidation. Ukraine is seen as being in Poland's backyard and where it has the right to determine its internal affairs in a way that has so far backfired catastrophically.

One problem from the outset of the Ukrainian Crisis has been the way it has come under irresponsible forms of Polish meddling, where mainstream politicians such as Jaroslaw Kaczynski have publicly marched alongside far right Oleg Tyahnybok of Svoboda.

This is one of the most bizarre forms of 'solidarity' given the hero worship of Stepan Bandera common in far right nationalist circles in Lviv, the key figure of the OUN and UPA responsible for ethnically cleansing 200,000 Poles from Volhynia and East Galicia in the Second World War.

EU statesmen ceded too much initiative to Polish politicians who regard Ukraine as the geopolitical site for some messianic battle against the remnants of the Soviet Union and Russian Empire, a shrill New Cold War mentality that runs throughout a Warsaw think tanker Sławomir Sierakowski's supposed 'analysis'.

Sierakowski, though supposedly left wing, offers the usual bad historical analogies with Czechoslovakia in 1938 and Crimea in 2014. No less than other leftist Polish intellectuals of a messianic bent, Putin represents some amalgam of Hitler and Stalin and Germany is critisised for being too economically tied to Russia.

Sikorski shared with those such as old Solidarity leftistscas Michnik some 'anti-totalitarian' stance in foreign policy based on regarding Putin as a 'dictator' or 'neo-Soviet threat'. Sikorski even described the Nordstream pipeline deal between Russia and Germany as a new Nazi Soviet Pact as in 1939.

TVN in Poland has been sensationally ramping up the atmosphere of impending global conflict by showing maps of NATO troop strength and tanks versus Russia's military capacity. This sable rattling in Poland and the Baltics is both neurotic and based on a simple moralistic view of global politics.

As the crisis deepened in January 2014, public momentum passed to the more staunch neoconservative diplomats in Europe such as Radek Sikorski in Poland. His ardent hope has always been to yoke the protection of Ukraine towards Western military and economic institutions that are to reorder it.

By attaching any movement towards democratic reform in Ukraine so obviously to NATO expansion since the 2008 Bucharest Summit Sikorski has contributed to the current crisis and Putin's counter measure to 'secure' the Crimea against the threat of far right nationalists in Kiev.

For Sikorski destroying the Party of the Regions was to be the culmination of a historic struggle for hegemony over Ukraine with Russia that goes back to the seventeenth century, one that ensured Russian influence would exercise an influence over Central Europe until the decline and collapse of the Soviet Union.

From the outset of the Ukrainian crisis both Sikorski and Bildt have been obsessively trying to pre-empt the outcome by upping the stakes in a way that would outflank the plodding and ineffective techocrats such an the EU's Cathy Ashton or the hopless nonentity Van Rompuy.

As early as December 1, the Joint Statement by Sikorski and Bildt anticipated the fact that Yanukovych would most likely reject the Association Agreement with the EU and were positioning themselves for the reaction that would come. That a revolution would decisely win Ukraine for the west.

The “Eastern Partnership” represents an initiative that wants to pull EU states towards aligning the emphasis on improved trade relationships with accession to NATO in the wake of the Russo-Georgian conflict of 2008, somthing in iself a result of the foolish pushing of NATO in a land divided between east and west.

One can understand the anxiety of Poland due to the terrible history it suffered at the hands of the Soviet Union in the Second World War. But it is high time that ideologigocally fuelled politics and obsessisive competitive power gaming with Russia was replaced with more subtle diplomacy.

Sikorski's geostrategy has only helped to divide Ukrainian opinion on the ground and ignored the fact there is no overwhelming consensus in favour of NATO entrance. It wasvacdiplomatic blunder to push this too far and Putin has exploited this flawed strategy.

As Anatol Lieven stated,
If there is one absolutely undeniable fact about Ukraine, which screams from every election and every opinion poll since its independence two decades ago. It is that the country's population is deeply divided between pro-Russian and pro-Western sentiments. Every election victory for one side or another has been by a narrow margin, and has subsequently been reversed by an electoral victory for an opposing coalition.
What has saved the country until recently has been the existence of a certain middle ground of Ukrainians sharing elements of both positions; that the division in consequence was not clear cut; and that the West and Russia generally refrained from forcing Ukrainians to make a clear choice between these positions.
During George W. Bush's second term as president, the U.S., Britain, and other NATO countries made a morally criminal attempt to force this choice by the offer of a NATO Membership Action Plan for Ukraine (despite the fact that repeated opinion polls had shown around two-thirds of Ukrainians opposed to NATO membership). French and German opposition delayed this ill-advised gambit, and after August 2008, it was quietly abandoned. The Georgian-Russian war in that month had made clear both the extreme dangers of further NATO expansion, and that the United States would not in fact fight to defend its allies in the former Soviet Union.
Increased trade ties with those states are in the interests of all states, including Russia. However, the constant push towards having them as part of NATO is part of a design for military expansion to outflank and defeat Russia by turning the Black Sea into a NATO lake and winning control over pipelines from the Caspian

Ukraine is the key part of a wider geopolitical competition to have dominance and control over the Black Sea and oil and gas supplies from Central Asia. This key fact is omitted from most current accounts of the power struggle over Ukraine.

Whether it is liked or not, Russia is not going to cede control over energy supplies any more than western powers are going to stop intervening in foreign lands such as Libya, Iraq and Syria where supplies of oil and gas are at stake. Energy geopoliticand resource conflicts define 21st century global power politics.

It is in the mutual interests of both Russia and the west to cooperate. Those wishing to 'win' some conclusive historical victory over the Russian imperium and avenge the outcome of the Battle of Poltava in 1703 are playing a dangerous game based on atavistic fears about Russia and the Russians.

That battle,which confirmed Russian control over the Baltic and spelt the end of Sweden's hegemony in Northern Europe, as well as confirming Poland's decline is a historical verdict to be reversed 300 years later with NATO expansion with the final victory of those vanquished by Russia's emergence as a Great Power under Peter the Great.

By pursuing a foreign policy which clearly has as its aim the destruction of Russia's status as a Great Power, Bildt and Sikorski are necessarily going to antagonise Putin in a way that was always going to make the Kremlin ultra defensive and determined to reassert Russian power.

Sikorski is too intelligent not to realise this, one reason he resorted to projection in condemning Putin for his dangerous game. . After all, Ukraine without Crimea is a loss of that for which the New Great Game was being fought in Ukraine. With imminent annexation, Sikorski can fulminate about it but he shares the blame for it

The fruits of the Eastern Partnership have been Putin's counter measure, the use of 'special troops' to secure Crimea and now the referendum for reunification with Russia. Essentially, Polands strategy of extending its influence towards the Black Sea lies in ruins.

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