From December 2013 it was clear that the potential decent into civil war was a strong possibility due to the battle over its future identity and the cynical geopolitical game being played over the heads of the people there by the Great Power blocs to either side of this strategical borderland.
The exact division between west and east and central Ukraine are complicated. The danger is that a polarisation between extreme ultranationalists from the west of Ukraine and pro-Russian nationalists are those which threaten violence and forcing people across Ukraine to choose being for or against the east or west
As I wrote back in December 11 2013.
The division over Ukraine's destiny has been one made not only by
Russia's policy towards it but by the cynical position of Western power
interests from the EU to the IMF who continue to back those such as
Tymoshenko who are corrupt oligarchs or 'our oligarchs'
The EU has not been overkeen on Ukraine moving closer towards it and eventual entry but with
extracting the maximum of economic benefit for it at the expense of
whole swathes of Ukrainian industry to the east in Kharkiv and Donetsk
where EU trade policies could cause unemployment and economic misery.
The EU trade agreement made that clear. There was nothing in it that could have united Ukraine or prevented Yanukovich from believing that a free trade agreement on EU terms would not have hada bad economic impact of the areas his Party of the Regions controlled.
Western Ukraine focused on Lviv is the poorest part of the nation and
has nowhere to go other than towards integration with the West. The
Carpathian regions are poor. A lot of the support for the uprising
branded as 'the Orange revolution" in 2004 came from these areas.
The economic impact of 1990s 'shock therapy' is consistently downplayed. A lot of liberal rhetoric in the west is primarily focused on neo-Russian imperialism, as if it only was the only cynical participant
in the wrangle for influence in Ukraine. Putin's
Russia being 'a Slav version of Pinochet's Chile' ( John Kampfner )
Kampfner seems oblivious to the fact that it was 1993 that Yeltsin use military force to ram through 'shock therapy' reform endorsed by the IMF by paramilitary methods and tanks in order to promote the very same policies Pinochet had rammed through in Chile in 1973.
Yeltsin's Russia and the catastrophic
collapse in living standards caused by the imposition, via the IMF, of
the those policies that were forced on Chile ( collapsing living standards ) is precisely what led to Putin
becoming so popular in reasserting control over the Russian economy and
asserting sovereignty after 1999.
Likewise, in Ukraine the disastrous
economic legacy created by the Orange Revolutionaries-as well as the
continuity in corruption-led Ukrainians into the streets against it with
protests called 'Enough' in 2009 that called for a 'clean sweep' of all
politicians from the Ukrainian system as incorrigibly corrupt and needing removal.
The unfortunate tragedy in
Ukraine is that popular response to the continued failure of the
political elites to preside over reforms that benefit the ordinary
citizens-as opposed to post-communist kleptocrats and pro-Western
oligarchs courted by Washington and Brussels- is apathy, pessimism and a desire to emigrate
ominously, the EU's interest in Ukraine being pushed closer towards it,
such as it is, is one promoted most assiduously by those who are
foremost in the the idea that the West is embroiled in a "New Cold War"
with Russia such as Radek Sikorski, an ardent Polish neoconservative
put forth as a potential leader of NATO, Sikorski tends to view by
slightly too obsessive in putting one over on the Kremlin and winning
the Ukraine to the West as part of an ongoing global game for hegemony
over the gas and oil pipeline routes and, ultimately, control of
Ukraine happens to be one of what Brzezinski calls the
five key geopolitical pivots on which control of the Eurasian Heartland
shall depend. The danger is that in pushing for Ukraine to move towards
the EU, and thence NATO, serious divisions between the nationalistic ethnic Ukrainians
and Russian would emerge.
Both Carl Bildt and Sikorski view getting Ukraine to be a test of the EU having clout in foreign policy terms.
Sikorski views getting Ukraine into the NATO fold a victory for Poland not having been the dominant empire in
Eastern Europe instead of Russia after the gradual disappearance of Poland as a European power.
None of this has much to offer
the average citizen of Ukraine who would like better living standards
and governments that are not corrupt. If the EU could have offered something
better than it did Russia in the 1990s they more might be persuaded of its benefits but there seems no indication of some sort of Marshal Plan
sponsored reforms have meant the IMF enforcing shock therapy responsible
for causing immiseration, enrichment for a well positioned elite and
those with the 'right connections' , as well as mass migration and
cultural repudiation or else a reversion to far right nationalism.
The tendency for higher support for
the EU amongst the young is, no doubt, due to a desire to emigrate
West. But significant numbers of protesters in Kiev are from
Svoboda, a neo-fascist movement, those who have no other future than the overthrow of those regarded as having held them back since Independence in 1991
is paradoxical that the presence of Svoboda in the protests in Kiev is
omitted by Western journalists such as Harding, Kampfter, Garton Ash etc. Or, indeed the fact,
that in the West of Ukraine in places such as Lviv, these neo fascists won 40% in the last elections.