CHOICE OF UKRAINE, FOREIGN PLOICY OF UKRAINE, russia, RUSSIA UKRAINE RELATIONSHIP, RUSSIA-UKRAINE DISPUTE, RUSSIAN COLONIALISM, russian foreign policy, RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM, UKRAINE, UKRAINE IN 21ST CENTURY, UKRAINE IN EASTERN PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME, UKRAINE IN EUROPEAN UNION, UKRAINE IN POST SOVIET PERIOD, UKRAINE’S EAA AGREEMENT, UKRAINE’S IDENTITY
UKRAINE’S EUROPEAN CHOICE AND RUSSIA’S OPTION
Ukraine’s intention to sign European Union’s partnership programme has caused major rift in the relationship between Russia and Ukraine.Russia’s eagerness to engage Ukraine in the customs union formed by Russia,Belarus and Kazakhstan got a severe jolt though Ukraine wants observer status in customs union and Russia is opposed to it.Both sides have different perspective and different goal in the post soviet period.But this incident is significant as both are neighboring countries and socio-culturally more tied for near about 1000 of years since the period of Kievan Rus.But it was bound to happen and Russian leadership has to accept the reality as Vladimir Putin told that as an independent country Ukraine has every right to choose it’s own course of action.
The process already started during the post soviet period when Russia was relatively weaker and west Europeans including their American partner were strong enough to pursue their own sets of agendas .The rapid historical revisionism,post soviet de-russification process funded and engineered by USA and western Europe ultimately bearing the fruit of expectations.The enlargement of European Union and NATO could not have happened if history,politics,culture of east Europe and ex-soviet space had not undergone through massive western and American oriented transformation and exorbitant distortion of facts by the post-soviet historians and commentators.The positioning of Russia as an aggressor and east Europe as victim in the nationalist projects funded and engineered by western and American govts has brought the situation to this much.
In fact Russian imperialism and colonialism vastly differed from western or American colonialism and imperialism .If we consider the western colonialism and imperialism in Asia and Africa –we would find that due to rampant looting,slave trade,exploitation had made the continent poorer and weaker.India was a wealthy country before the British rule but it transformed into a poor country with large industrial waste land with relatively poor infrastructure.The same fate happened to American occupied phillipines,dutch and French occupied African regions by and large.Those countries are still in the bottom-line of every set of index which indicates prosperity.But if we look the Russian occupied territory or soviet occupied territory, we would find those regions became immensely benefitted by the occupation be it in industrial arena or in agriculture. For this reason,these countries can easily dream to become the part of Europe as soviet union invested heavily in infrastructure and education of those region(look at the literacy rate and human development index of those areas).One may try to bring out the ghost of oppression and depression,but that was relatively lower than what the western and Americans did to their colonies as a whole throughout the centuries.What the colonies had when their colonizers left them at lurch.Ukraine which was known as bread basket of former Russian empire or soviet empire was a largely agriculture based economy but soviets turned it as an industrial hub.This is not the story of Ukraine but the story of entire ex-soviet states and east Europe.If these countries were not advanced it would have been impossible for the west Europeans to integrate them into a larger European community.
But the above story did not give Russia much leverage for various reasons-one is already mentioned historical revisionism and propagating national identities of those areas into a russophobic conundrum and the other is different foreign policy interests.Ukraine is a small country with small economy and it’s aspirations cannot be matched with big and powerful nation like Russia.While eastern Ukraine is inclined to Russia, the western Ukraine is almost anti-russian.When Russian language was going to be introduced as another state language,then the protestors and nationalists who campaigned against it were largely western Ukrainians. The another point of contention is that after the fall of soviet union most of the countries are facing identity crisis and the leadership of those countries have become extremely opportunist without any proper vision.This situation was tactically used by western and American forces and left Russia with limited option.If we consider it from pure economic perspective,both the west and usa holds the two major reserve currencies of the modern world-euro and dollar,here Russian roubles are simply less or not attractive though Ukraine enjoys/enjoyed extremely low priced gas from Russia which is/was backbone of Ukrainian economy.In the mean time Ukraine had dispute with Russia regarding gas price causing disruption of gas supply to Europe as a transit country for which Russia had to form Nord stream and South stream project to bypass Ukraine for smooth supply of gas to Europe,this caused Ukraine a loss of 700 miillion dollars transit free annually.Only leverage which Ukraine could exploit is having a Russian black sea fleet head quarter at Sevastopol ,and here Ukraine’s option is minimal.This situation has caused loss of interest about Russia among Ukrainian elits which also wants to diversify it’s gas import.There are various media projects,research works funded by American and western govts are going on in the soil of Ukraine to turn the public opinion against Russia using those issues.Ukrainian political parties have also joined the hot headed nationalists to vilify Russia in all the way.The situation has become like India and Pakistan where the population of the two countries are/were blood brothers,had/has a shared history of more than three thousand years but for British conspiracy and the incompetent national leadership made/make them fight for each other bloods.
Now question is –is it fair to blame the west and united states for everything?Does Russia has no responsibility in this case?We agree or not here Russian responsibility is minimal and western&American interventions own much.Russian failure remained in the sense that it could not launch counter propaganda campaign as I have earlier mentioned Russia was not in position before 2000 AD to do anything for financial region and Russia’s western oriented ruling class.The opportunity was missed then.We did saw orange revolution in Ukraine engineered from outside and brought Victor Yuchenko willful anti-Russian and western ally as president of Ukraine.The process to make ex-soviet satellites as European or NATO satellites was applied to Ukraine and ultimately it is seeing the light of day.Many Ukrainians come to work in Russia and remit dollars to their families in Ukraine but get assimilated into Russian culture as both Ukrainian and Russian cultures are almost similar in all sense with minor differences and stay in Russia forever. Russia’s enormous potential simply makes Ukraine jealous and mentally insecured. Surprising fact is that unlike Ukrainians Russians consider them as brothers and sisters, In fact Russians cannot think themselves separate from Ukrainians and Belarusians.
Now question remains what are Russian options at this stage. Russian leadership rightly pointed out if Ukraine signs European association agreement then there will be flow of European goods in Ukrainian market by the virtue of free trade between Ukraine and European Union and by the result low cost Ukrainian goods which are not competitive enough in European market may find safe haven in Russia and it’s newly formed customs union causing dumping of goods.Russia may use following options-
1)Stiff anti-dumping tax on Ukrainian goods
2)Imposing restriction of trade.
3)High gas price,let Ultra-nationalist and Russophobe Ukrainians face the reality
4)Slowing down joint projects,west and usa at this stage are not capable to substitute Ukraine in this case.
5)making successful PR campaigns and funding various groups
6)Should never block back channel talks and negotiations but big no no to presidential level talks for the moment
7)making less anti-Ukrainian statements in media/public as it gives opponents much more leverage to opponents but counter-reply must be given whenever necessary
8)negative travel advisories to Russians in case of Ukraine and visa restrictions to Ukrainians in limited manner
Ukraine must realize the cost of enmity as it will be dangerous to Ukraine’s future as it owns more than 60 bn dollars debts to various creditors including russia.But Russia also needs to maintain the cultural soulful bond between Russians and Ukrainians and people to people contact in a balanced manner so that western and American powers cannot become successful in their evil design. Isolation from Ukraine is not desirable anyway as we know you can change your friends but not the neighbors and that applies to both.