Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Western Failure, Ukraine's Crisis and Putin's Reassertion of Russian Power.

The EU states are set to impose increased sanctions on Russia after the takeover of Crimea by pro-Russian forces and subsequent referendum in favour of rejoining Russia. Such 'smart sanctions' seem unlikely to bring about much change to Russia's position on this

One problem is that their  economies are too dependent upon Russian gas, especially the main EU economy of German which, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster and the influence of the Greens, has decided to run down its nuclear power plants by 2020.

The US and EU has been in the business of 'Democratic Geopolitics' since the end of the Cold War in 1991 in trying to fund and promote civil society activists who would be able to reform Ukraine and put it on the trajectory towards EU membership and NATO.

This strategy has now conclusively backfired because western statesmen were prepared to continually overlook the fact that Ukrainian ultra-nationalism in the west of the country was becoming more of a predominant force in the years leading up the Euromaidan protests of 2013.

Although the uprising in Kiev has led to Tymoshenko's Fatherland Party coming out tops, the far right nationalists have been eased into positions of power to appease the more violent parts of the demonstrations against Yanukovych's grip on power.

EU diplomats are already 'expressing concern' that the deputy national security minister is Dmitry Yarosh, a neo-Nazi from the Right Sector and starting to get cold feet about the prospect of actual civil war in Ukraine and a repeat of the collapse of Yugoslavia after 1991.

More disturbing is that Tymoshenko is not popular after her disastrous time in office after the 'Orange Revolution' in 2004 which saw her quarrel with her all Yushchenko and become deeply unpopular for signing gas deals with Russia and for being yet another corrupt oligarch in power robbing the country.

Given that the Svoboda Party has gained an electoral dominance in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil on a platform of opposition to 'them', the monied elites and oligarchs ( supposedly Jewish ) who dominate Ukraine, there is a distinct possibility they are set to gain in the forthcoming May's elections.

The new interim government in Kiev hardly induces confidence. The fact that Tymoshenko's Fatherland Party and far right nationalists have come out tops after the three months of the Euromaidan Protests demonstrates the failure of civil society activists to break the oligarchical powers that dominate Ukraine.

Before Tymoshenko's release she was seen asa busted flush. Her speech at the Euromaidan received little applause or support. She was voted out in favour of the very Yanukovych government that has been forced out of office, a last ditch attempt to use 'People Power' to reverse a free and fair electoral verdict.

With the collapse of Ukraine's economy, the monied oligarchs are co-opting these nationalists as a means of deflecting anger away from the economic system and onto enemies within. Putin has been able to exploit that so as to act as the protector of ethnic Russians in Ukraine.

The tragedy of Ukraine lies the absence of any truly left, liberal or liberal conservative force in Ukraine capable of reforming the political and economic system system. Over two decades of failure and bitterness since 1991 has resulted in an uprising hijacked by ultra nationalist forces.

The accelerating pattern of polarisation seen in the Balkans is set to repeat itself. This time Putin is out to restore Russia's position as a global force by avenging the humiliation of the 1990s when its old ally in Serbia saw Kosovo detached from it without Russia being consulted.

The use of 'special forces' in the majority ethnic Russian Crimea to takeover the province and secure it against potential threats from Kiev was a realpolitik manoeuvre made possible by justifying it as a proportionate response to the influence of far right Ukrainian nationalists in the new government.

Western diplomats, especially from Poland .e.g Radek Sikorski, have been playing a dangerous power game in consistently trying to link EU and NATO together in an expansion of western power, one made clear since the Bucharest Summit of 2008., one aim of which as to turn the Black Sea into a 'NATO lake'

One reason for Sikorski's gloating Twitter messages in Kiev on the overthrow of Yanukovych was he saw it as a decisive opportunity to smash the power of the Party of the Regions and hasten Ukraine's transition towards becoming part of NATO. Then he realised the ultra nationalists were out of control.

Sikorski's policy is in continuity with a historical grudge match against Russia for control over Ukraine that dates back to the seventeenth century. Getting Ukraine decisively into Poland's sphere of influence ( and hence 'the west' ) would fufil the completion of this task in rolling back Russia towards 'Muscovy'.

Putin was never going to allow a geopolitical strategy such as advocated by Sikorski, and less so by Germany and other EU powers, to suceed as he regards it as part of an attempt to encircle Russia and prize away Russian control over oil and gas pipeline routes.

The reality remains that Western politicians turned a blind eye to ultra nationalism. That allowed Putin to exploit the chaos and fear in Ukraine to decisively reassert Russian influence in the Crimea and, perhaps, even over the mostly Russophone and ethnic Russia eastern parts of Ukraine.

The impact of that move is clear; Putin is not prepared to countenance Ukraine becoming part of NATO. Western diplomats would have been better to extend a more generous offer of trade and investment to Ukraine and not tying it so much to the prospect of entrance into NATO.

The entire farce of the western geopolitical strategy, at least as far as the Eastern Partnership is concerned, is that the main prize was to absorb Ukraine into NATO and control over Crimea was considered the ultimate strategic prize. Without Crimea a major foreign policy aim has been conclusivel thrwarted.

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