One of the largest countries in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, is now experiencing hard times, with reports putting the country on the brink of chaos. The West and Russia are sensitive about what is happening in Crimea. The sides continue to accuse each other of adding fuel to the fire, and threaten to impose sanctions. Official Washington warned that “diplomatic measures are already running out”. The Kremlin, too, remains committed to its uncompromising line. Is the world on the threshold of a new war?
Grave consequences of the uncompromising war
The reports say that different scenarios are in use in Ukraine. British Foreign Secretary William Hague described the deteriorating situation in Ukraine as the “biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century”. American analyst Vasil Jaiani says that the Ukraine crisis can have six global consequences (see: Vasil Jaiani. 6 Unintended Consequences From The West’s Passive Response To The Ukraine Invasion / “Forbes”, 5 March, 2014).
It`s no coincidence that the situation in Ukraine is a very sensitive issue for politicians and pundits. In the true sense of the word, serious changes can affect a large geopolitical region. In this context, comments and prognoses by Henry Kissinger and George Friedman concerning the consequences of what is happening in Ukraine are worth paying attention to.
In his “How the Ukraine crisis ends” article, posted by The Washington Post, Henry Kissinger says that both the West and Russia should be careful over the Ukraine problem (see: Henry A. Kissinger. How the Ukraine crisis ends / “Washingtonpost.com”, 6 March, 2014). According to him, they both have made mistakes. Mr. Kissinger believes that they should refrain from trying to impose their will on Ukraine, and that wise Ukrainian leaders would opt for a policy of reconciliation between the various parts of their country. In fact, the West, led by the United States, is dictating terms. Just like Moscow does.
Mr. Kissinger says Ukraine should not join NATO. “The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus.” “It is incompatible with the rules of the existing world order for Russia to annex Crimea”. For him, Ukraine should become an area of cooperation and mutual tolerance between the West and the East (see: previous source).
George Friedman, the founder and chairman of Stratfor, has almost similar views. In one of his latest articles, he says that Russia`s concessions to Ukraine are over (see: George Friedman. Ukraine and the ‘Little Cold War’ / “Stratfor.com”, 4 March, 2014).
The United States is committed to its policy of damaging Russia. “For the next generation, until roughly 2020, Russia’s primary concern will be reconstructing the Russian state and reasserting Russian power in the region”. “By 2015-2020, it (Russia) will have a military that will pose a challenge to any power trying to project force into the region, even the United States” (see: previous source).
It leads to the conclusion that Mr. Friedman disapproves of geopolitical confrontations in Ukraine. His view is that Russia should defend itself, but it has no right to invade lands of another state. According to him, Washington should change its strategy of damaging Russia. He believes they should reach a compromise.
Interestingly, Russian experts also point to Moscow`s being forced to defend itself as the main argument. They say that Russia needs “to defend its interests with an iron fist” (see: Sergey Karaganov. Russia needs to defend its interests with an iron fist / “The Financial Times“, 5 March, 2014). Sergey Karaganov, the dean of the faculty of international economics and foreign affairs of the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Moscow, says that “to prevent the situation from deteriorating further, all sides now need to calm down” (see: previous source).
Refusing “a dictated mediation”: unanswered questions
It is understandable in the global geopolitical context. The West and Russia appear to realize that the Ukraine crisis is deepening. And to solve the problem the parties must calm down, reach a compromise and act in compliance with international law. But this theoretical approach has failed to materialize. The point is that there must be a concrete mechanism for solving the conflict. And it is the point the Kremlin and the West clash on.
The West insists on the OSCE mediation, an option Russia does not even want to consider. Russia’s envoy at the UN Vitaly Churkin said “Russia cannot accept a dictated mediation”.
In principle, Russia does not rule out the OSCE mediation. But Mr. Churkin`s words are thought provoking: “It will take them months sending observers there, and God knows what will happen over this period” (see:Направление наблюдателей ОБСЕ на Украину займет месяцы, заявил Чуркин / “РИА Новости”, 4 March, 2014). These words remind us of the history of the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh.
But why did not diplomats from superpowers take this position when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict began? None of them, for example, said that it was Azerbaijan`s internal business, that “God knows what will happen while they are carrying out inspections”. Practice proves that Mr. Churkin is right.
The OSCE has been “observing” the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for years, not months. And the problems have just multiplied, with no hint of progress achieved. And why did they dictate this mediation model to Azerbaijan? Where is justice? At every opportunity they advise the parties to “refrain from war, because it is no-win situation, the use force is not a way-out, sit at the table of negotiations”. As far as the Crimea crisis is concerned, the parties (official Kiev and Moscow) do not accept the OSCE`s mediation.
One should confess that no one has yet proposed a mechanism that can be more effective than the OSCE mediation. The conflicting parties are now on the brink of war. In Crimea, the Russian military prevents representatives of international organizations from entering the region, with local officials favouring Moscow. They already applied to the State Duma to annex Crimea to the Russian Federation. Official Moscow, for its part, does not allow anybody to interfere.
Against this background, the USA, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy demand the compliance by Russia of the Budapest Accords of 1994 respecting the territorial sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. The West threatens Russia with sanctions. However, some experts believe that it`s hard to impose sanctions on Russia. (see: Why It’s Hard to Impose Sanctions on Russia / “The Wall Street Journal“, 5 March, 2014). The European Union imports billions from Russia, most of it in oil and gas. The Kremlin, too, warned to impose sanctions.
The Ukraine crisis appears to be a double-edged sword. Pundits and politicians believe that the position of the parties does not reflect the reality now, and that they cannot, practically, quit it. This can lead to some negative consequences on a global scale. Vasil Jaiani says: “Several things are at stake in Ukraine, credibility of international treaties, security guaranties provided by the US and its allies, Washington’s and Brussels’ resolve to assist West leaning Eastern European nations in transition to consolidate democracies, and ability and willingness of the West to deter and restrain rogue states from engaging in acts which may threaten international peace and security elsewhere. Let’s break it down: International agreements mean less and less, more countries will see nuclear arms as their guarantee of security, NATO and Russia are headed for conflict, rogue states will become less inhibited, America’s word will not be taken seriously, countries that try to become more democratic will undermine their own national security”.
Knowing this, when will the superpowers stop causing problems to each other?