What West Wants from Ukraine? Enthralled by Paradigm Offered by Brzezinski (I)

The irrationality and absolute absence of logic startle when it comes to the emotions evoked in the West by the decision of Ukrainian government to postpone the signing of Association Agreement with the European Union. Since long ago it’s an open secret that the agreement gives nothing to Ukraine’s economy unlike the accession to the Customs Union where Russia is a member. Still the €610 million credit offered to Ukraine is painted as a lavish gift while the many billions loan to be granted to the country in case of its entry into the Customs Union is presented as a “bribe”. Western politicians welcome the chaos in the heart of Kiev. Nobody in Brussels thinks in terms of responsibility, nothing even slightly resembling something like economic aid to Ukraine is ever given a thought to... 

Indeed, why should the West come to the rescue of Ukraine? The only thing they care about in the Western capitals is the prevention of   further rapprochement between Ukraine and Russia. The paradigm offered by Zbigniew Brzezinski is popular among Western decision makers. In the Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives written in 1997 he wrote that 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.

The main goal of Ukraine’s association with the European Union is not improving the common people’s well-being but rather pursuing the geopolitical mission of weakening Russia. Brzezinski normally never mentions the fate of Ukraine itself; he only sees it as an outpost of the West.  His follower George Freedman, the founder of and the head of Stratfor, a global intelligence company, expanded the notion of the country’s future saying Ukraine will become a part of the fourth Rzeczpospolita with the capital in Warsaw. Only Brzezinski, who is a Pole by origin, could see such a scenario in his dreams.

These ideas may seem to be oversimplified but they are not marginal. The Brzezinski’s paradigm has become the axiom of Western political thinking along with the hostility towards Russia and sacrificing Ukraine. David Frum, a well-known political scholar, writes, “One step to that reconstitution of the Soviet Union was absolutely indispensable: Reasserting Moscow’s power over Ukraine…Ukrainian independence liberated not only the Ukrainian people, but all Europe. Russia without the nearly 46 million people and vast natural resources of the Ukraine is a large and powerful country, but it is no superpower”. The Forbes contributor noted the idea is obsolete because Ukraine is not an asset, but rather a big liability. It requires substantial funds to make it stand on its own feet. There is ground to believe that “absorbing” Ukraine would weaken Russia making it shoulder the burden of subsidizing the Ukrainian weak and ineffective economy.  As Forbes says, the Ukraine’s accession will not make Russia a bigger superpower than it is now. [1] All this talk about “absorption” is nothing more than manipulation of public opinion: as a matter of fact it is the issue of closer economic interaction that is on the agenda; the interaction which would leave a lot of space for sovereign decisions taken by the country on its own, providing for a much bigger space for independence in comparison with the European Union. Russia will not become stronger militarily thanks to Ukraine. The Customs Union is not the Warsaw Treaty Organization; Ukraine has nothing to add to the Russia’s potential. The Russian Navy is already based in Sebastopol; other problems can be tackled by Moscow on its own.   Nicolai N. Petro, professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island, is currently a Fulbright research scholar in Ukraine. He writes for the New York Times that, “By pitting both nations against each other, and then attempting to force Ukraine to choose Europe over Russia. Instead of adopting a strategy that would have allowed Ukraine to capitalize on its close cultural, religious and economic ties with Russia, and which could have also served to build deeper ties between Western Europe and Russia, from the outset European negotiators went out of their way to turn Union association into a loyalty test First, they rejected Ukraine’s suggestion — to which Russia initially had no objection — that accession to the European Union could be compatible with membership in the Customs Union, the precursor to a Eurasian Union linking former Soviet states. Now they have apparently also rejected President Viktor Yanukovych’s proposal to resolve the remaining issues (the main one being the very real possibility of European goods being dumped into Russia through Ukraine) through a three-way format that would include efforts to curb cross-border smuggling — something one would think would also concern Brussels. Second, instead of highlighting those values that would have honored Ukraine’s Slavic European identity, the European Union actively promoted the notion that accession was a “civilizational choice” between Russia and Europe. Since the majority of Ukrainians traditionally regard Russia as their closest and friendliest neighbor, is it any wonder that they balked at such a choice? [2]

 Julia Gray is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in international relations with a focus on international political economy. She is also confused about the stance taken by Ukrainian leadership, “The irony is that for now, Ukraine probably has more to gain economically from closer ties to the east than the west, even if the reputational benefit of being linked to the EU might help them in the long run. Ukraine is the breadbasket of central Europe, but the EU’s scheme of agricultural subsidies means that there isn’t a lot of room for Ukrainian food exports. Ukraine also has around $20 billion in loans at Russian state banks; worse relations with Russia would likely put that financing at risk. It’s also important to remember that Russia and Ukraine have long had a contentious relationship over gas, and angering Russia would certainly only deepen those troubles. Ukraine currently exports around $17 billion worth of goods to Western Europe and $16 billion to Russia — but if the Russian export market is cut off, it would hit around 1/5 of Ukraine’s GDP”. Gas supplies are vital for Ukrainian economy and the stability of the country. Russia supplies over 65 billion cubic metres or around two thirds of what Ukraine needs. [3] The Ukrainian economy is intertwined with Russia. So regardless of who is in power, it is difficult for officeholders to “choose” the West without alienating at least part of the citizens, as well as damaging the economy – particularly when the immediate material gain from doing so may be slight.[4]

Stephen Lendman of Global Research says, “Ukraine dodged a bullet”.[5]  

It should be noted that Russia does not oppose the rapprochement between Ukraine and the European Union – it only suggests that the conditions of its implementation be made clear. The whole experience of post-Soviet countries integration into the world economy proves that those who rushed in and acted alone finally happened to be losers because they had to make significant concessions and sacrifices. The same way it was when it came to joining the World Trade Organization. The would-be Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC or EurAsEC) will inevitably cooperate with Europe but making it more beneficial than in the case of individual states which have become EU members. The competition in the world is getting tougher. Sooner or later Brussels will have to realize that developing close ties with such a large economic entity as the post-Soviet Eurasia is better than confrontation. 

In Europe, behind the dolorous public statements about Kiev’s absence at the Vilnius signing ceremony, one hears notable sighs of relief. The European project is up to its eyeballs in problems and burdens, with renewed bailouts for Greece and Portugal looming. The phrase “Ukraine fatigue” is common parlance in Berlin, Paris, and other EU capitals. Viktor Yanukovych has hardly served his country’s best interests, but he likely did the European Union a favor by pushing Ukraine back in the European queue for several years to come.[6]

Austrian Contra Magazin stresses one more aspect of the Western partial approach towards Ukraine – indiscriminate support for extreme nationalism there, the people who have always been considered as persona non grata. The drive for finding support among anti-Russian forces makes Western politicians forget about such things as democracy and the state of law. In Europe one can often hear that democracy is at stake and the nationalist parties boost their clout! According to Contra Magazin, it’s all different in the case of Ukraine.Not a word about the Ukrainian party(the All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" translated as Freedom, is a Ukrainian nationalist political party led by Oleh  Tyahnybok - author’s note) friendly with the National democratic Party of Germany which is to be  banned pretty soon, perhaps today or tomorrow.  It’s all because the Ukrainian party stands for Europe and against Russia. It’s not democracy, the state of law or Ukrainian people. No, it’s all about geopolitics and economic interest geopolitical interests.[7]


(to be continued)