So where are we now?

September 6, 2014

It is perhaps time to take  giant step back and look at where we are in Ukraine, as it seems many onlookers have lost their way, and too many parties involved have donned blinkers.

So, a quick rewind to former President and national looter extraordinaire Yanukovych’s decision not to sign the EU AA and DCFTA.  A protest began, launched via Facebook by a well known journalist.  People turned up.  It took the Ukrainian political establishment by surprise.  Ruling parties and opposition alike.  It stayed, catching Ukrainian, Russian and European political establishment by surprise too.  Reaction from all political sides was indeed slow.  The numerous historical entries in the blog clearly identify all this at the time.

The protest was not about joining the EU, but about shunning its values and the reforms required that would assist in delivering those values contained within the political AA, rather than the trade related DCFTA.  Even at EuroMaidan’s peak, most polls had Ukrainian society with less than 50% wanting to join the EU.  Again all of this found in numerous blog entries at the time.

Every time the protests began to wilt, the Yanukovych regime could not resist the temptation of trying to finish it off instead of leaving it to wither – thus by acting the regime reinvigorated the protests, by now with political support from the opposition and some – but not all – quarters within Europe.  Russia too had begun maneuvering behind the scenes, and by the beginning of February, overtly.

The Rubicon was eventually crossed the day the first 5 protesters were shot dead.  Everybody knew that.  There was simply no going back.  As previously written some days ago, “the Europeans managed to get the Ukrainian public mood entirely wrong when brokering their ill-fated February deal with former President Yanukovich. The Europeans have seriously underestimated The Kremlin and its desire to control Ukraine whatever the cost. It may be about to seriously misunderstand the Ukrainian desire to break with The Kremlin, whatever the cost. Logic and diplomacy need not necessarily apply, as so far has been the case from a European perspective throughout.”

However, The Kremlin has never understood Ukraine either – as Trotsky opined many times.  It has continued to get  it wrong under President Putin.  The first time, publicly,  in 2004/5 when backing the wrong horse, but managing not to alienate itself from a Ukrainian society temporarily lost in the hollow tandem of Yushenko and Tymoshenko.

It has, however, completely lost Ukrainian society this time – no matter how much land is annexed or controlled, the vast majority Ukrainian society has now left The Kremlin building – and won’t be returning.

Whether Ukrainian society has to wait for President Putin to leave office and then confront any successor (who may be worse), or whether President Putin will have a “Krajina Srpska 1995” moment with any carved out zone of control, effectively throwing it under a bus at some point, and regardless of whether the EU still exists before genuine consolidated and deep democracy comes about, who knows – but time is ultimately on the side of the values and ideals Ukrainians want for themselves.

In short, Ukrainians will continue to reject the Kremlin model of rule by law with its associated corruption, and continue to pursue the democratic model of rule of law – and it matters not whether any western or eastern “club membership” comes with it.

Having removed a corrupt President of their own, Ukrainian society is not about to subscribe to Kremlin (nor Brussels) imposed rule by law and corruption being installed in its place.  As such the Ukrainian government’s greatest threat is not necessarily The Kremlin, but a failure to deliver a just and democratic State.

Whilst Ukraine and Russia fight a war in the eastern regions, Ukrainian society continues to fight its war for democracy with its entire political class and all institutions of state – a cause no different from that first called for on Facebook last November.

Meanwhile, the differences between the “Luhansk People’s Republic” and “Donetsk People’s Republic” remain largely undiscussed.  Whilst both may be engaged in fighting Kyiv (at least until 6pm tonight when a ceasefire has been declared – whether it be adhered to remains to be seen), their visions of the future are not entirely alike.  It is perhaps why the more swivel-eyed nationalists appeared in Donetsk and grabbed all the headlines, whilst Luhansk stayed very much more out of the limelight.

Those in Luhansk seem far more aware that without the $ billions in subsidies coming from Kyiv each year historically, economically they won’t survive.  Those subsidies will certainly not be coming from Russia having taken on a $22 billion liability in Crimea whilst under on-going sanctions from the West – not to mention the desperate gas deal with China that is seriously underestimated costs-wise, and in which China drove a very hard bargain by being gifted such a strong negotiating position by The Kremlin.

Those sanctions from the west – rightly applied from the illegal annexation of Crimea, are likely to remain for some time – indeed years for those specifically applied with regard the Crimean annexation, even if and when others are lifted.

There is now a separating of policy line within the west.  There is the “Ukraine victim” policy, which is currently running secondary to the “Kremlin offender” policy – naturally the wrong way around.  It should be Ukraine first.

Ukraine is the victim because of its societal desire to rid itself of a corrupt architecture personified by the now vanquished former president, and as a consequence, the correct diagnosis within The Kremlin was that Ukrainian society will not accept a return to the status quo minus Yanukovych.  Whilst the diagnosis is correct, it has resulted in the wrong prescribed cure as far as Kremlin outcomes are concerned.

Short term tactics, illegal land grabs, plus asymmetrical and conventional warfare, have resulted in a coalescing not only of Ukrainian identity when it was previously flaccid, but also in an increased determination to bring about the democratic nation desired – even if the EU ceased to exist tomorrow, that will not change societal momentum regarding its goals.

With short term tactics and long term strategy the key to both is time – and time is clearly on the side of Ukrainian society and not that of the current Kremlin occupants.

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