The Ukrainian crisis to destabilize Europe and the world for a long time

Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine (on the right) and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council both hold the Association Agreements signed between EU and Ukraine. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission (on the left) applauds. (EC Audiovisual Services, 27/06/2014).

Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine (on the right) and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council both hold the Association Agreements signed with the EU. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission (on the left) applauds. (EC Audiovisual Services, 27/06/2014).

The Kiev government and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko may be celebrating their military victory in ‘recapturing’ the rebel town of Sloviansk, but they don’t seem to mind much about the future. For one thing the pro-Russian rebels have not been defeated, at least not yet; they withdrew from the northern parts of the Donetsk region and have concentrated their forces in the city of Donetsk. To uproot them from this city of one million inhabitants, Poroshenko has to order his troops (made up mainly of irregulars recruited from Maidan’s right winger if not fascist fighters) to bombard large residential areas even from the air.

Only in this way Kiev can ‘recapture’ Donetsk city, repeating the same tactics used so far in taking back Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. This time though the number of civilian casualties and the wave of refugees could reach such levels as force to the UN to intervene. If this will be the case then the entire Donetsk region may be placed under some kind of international dictate, a situation which could lead to a de facto autonomy, as it happened in Kosovo and Bosnia. This is what Kiev ostentatiously wants to avoid, but practically the government pushes things in the opposite direction by using only military, that is non-political, means to win back the eastern provinces.

Divisions to haunt the long-term horizon

However dreadful the short-term scenarios may be, the long term prospects are more predictable and dangerous. ‘Conquered’ militarily by Kiev, the predominantly Russian speaking regions of east Ukraine would, at no time in the foreseeable future, become again an integral part of this country. Not after this poisonous civil war which has unearthed the old divisions between the western and eastern territories of Ukraine.

The Maidan ‘regiments’ of the extreme right or even fascist Svoboda and Right Sector political formations prevailing in Kiev and the western zones of the country, may in the end score one bloodstained victory over the Russian speaking easterners. Nevertheless, such an outcome in no way can constitute a long term platform for peaceful coexistence.

Unquestionably, a military and blood-spattered victory of the west over the east part of the country and the witch hunt which is certain to follow, would deepen the divisions. For many years to follow, the bloodshed and the certain economic catastrophe of the eastern provinces, devastated by the civil war, would haunt the governance of Kiev over the east. If the government and the President then fall in the trap to handle the eastern protests and grievances with force and a revengeful attitude (a sure possibility), then the civil war will continue in the foreseeable future. The confrontation between Kiev and the eastern provinces would then pass to a less violent phase but it will continue to plague the political, economic and social life of the country.

The civil war is not over

Still Kiev has not regained control of the entire eastern part of Ukraine and the fighting goes on. Predicting the end of any military confrontation is a rather tricky business. The same is true for this one. On top of that, uncertainty is heightened by the fact that the Ukrainian crisis has transformed the latent for many years confrontation between Russia and the West (US and the EU) into an all-out confrontation, with hidden military characteristics, visible traces of intelligence clashes and, an unseen after the Vietnam war, media battle.

Already the Ukrainian crisis has created a new deep partitioning of the entire Old Continent. Moscow has come to reconsider its strategic economic orientation and has started looking eastwards towards China, eyeing new markets for its abundant raw materials and hydrocarbons, and also looking for additional sources of technology inputs and investments. In short, the Ukrainian predicament leads the entire world to a new cold war.

More dangerous divisions

Unfortunately, this new division of the world into pro-Western and pro-Russian parts is more insecure than the old partition between communism and capitalism. The existence of more power centers like for example the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) occupying north Iraq and south Syria, are creating untested before grounds. Add to that the nuclear aspirations of Iran and the Chinese aggressiveness in South-East Asia and you come up with an explosive state in world affairs.

Yet of all those dangerous developments in our brave new world, Europe is the most complicated one. Take for example France. If Marine Le Pen comes even close to winning the next Presidential election, the EU will be greatly undermined and Brussels’ role as a compromise and quarrel solving platform will be perilously diminished. Not to forget that Le Pen has built up excellent relations with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The new global divisions

All in all, the Ukrainian crisis will continue to generate uncertainty and security risks firstly for Europe and then for the entire world. The new division between the West and Russia may even suit Vladimir Putin’s internal power system, securing his authority for years. Rather obviously then, the main players, Washington and Moscow are using their leverage in this conflict not to secure peace for Europe but to serve their own interests.

 

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Comments

  1. An idiot discusses the civil war detween the Sudeten Germans and the Csechs.

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