Archive for April 3rd, 2014

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So where are we now? H G Wells’ time machine and Ukraine

April 3, 2014

Where are we now – with regards to finding an acceptable solution to the crisis in and surrounding Ukraine – at the geopolitical level at least?

That seems to be a reasonable question – so let us hop onto H G Wells’ time machine.

time machine

Whether this is a harsh assessment – or not – is for readers to decide.

It appears John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov are currently somewhere between Munich 1938 and Yalta 1945, and show little overt sign of acknowledging the public perceptions that come from this.

More broadly Russian public opinion appears to be somewhere prior to 1991 and the official breakup of the Soviet Union.  How long that will last with the Russian economy stagnating and Crimea little more than a black hole in economic terms for the immediate years ahead remains to be seen.  A jolt to reawaken the internal issues of the modern day Russia will sooner or later arrive.

Many NATO members have suddenly woken from a decade or more of malaise and remembered why they joined in the first place.  Finland and Sweden are now talking about joining.  Ukraine will not.  It will try and maximise its existing agreements with NATO and gain leverage under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty – but Article 5 will not apply.

Meanwhile in Ukraine,  the vast majority of the population now remember why in 1991, it voted for independence.  At that time, every region, including Crimea and Eastern Ukraine had majorities vote for independence.  Thus there is a reawakened – or perhaps new born – sense of national identity that is abundantly clear (at least to those who live here).

The Europeans currently don’t seem to have an anchor on the time line of historical geopolitics.  They are not present at meetings between Lavrov and Kerry – which will suit The Kremlin.  And you have to ask – why are they not participating?

Ukrainian lack of participation can at least be explained by Russian refusal to recognise the interim government – but that is not a sustainable position if negotiated settlement is to be the outcome.

The EU and Ukraine seem to be whispering to each other in a dark corner of the room, whilst the USA and Russia sit centre stage, seemingly set to decide the Ukrainian (and by extension European) future within a 20th Century format.

Sadly for Ukraine, the EU is equally likely to drift back in time such is the penchant for the Europeans to seek a consensual agreement at almost any cost – more often than not arriving at a lowest common denominator that is so low as to be meaningless and/or counterproductive.

The EU perhaps hovers around 1994, looking once again at Ukraine in political and economic crisis with external Russian threats as obvious as they were under the Yeltsin policy.  It wants to love Ukraine at arms length.

The EU would really prefer a 2014 independent Ukraine free from Russian shenanigans, but it will undoubtedly roll back time somewhat – how far remains to be seen –  to accommodate any US/Russian deal.

Thereafter all three will then put immense pressure in Kyiv to accept what is likely to be unacceptable to huge numbers of the Ukrainian public – and we know where that will lead us once again.

So the question must be, with Ukraine having a reinvigorated sense of its identity, and an overwhelming majority that will balk at subjugation to Russia once again – just how far back on the historical time line will external actors try to convince Ukraine to go via either cleverly or thinly veiled agreement  – or will Ukraine manage to quantum leap into a reality whereby the majority of its progressive energy will manifest itself tangibly?

 

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