Andrew Korybko is the American Master’s Degree student at the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO).
Acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk recently announced his resignation from the government amidst parliamentary infighting in the Rada, supposedly over none of the factions wanting to take the fall for the upcoming suicidal IMF stipulations. (His desire to leave off the hook ahead of the coming economic and social collapse of Ukraine has apparently come into collision with the interests of Western power groups seeking to establish control over the Ukrainian gas trasportation system first – OR). The withdraw of the nationalist party Svoboda and Klitschko’s (German) project Udar continues the chain reaction of institutional collapse that began in late-November with the EuroMaidan Color Revolution. If a new Rada isn’t formed within 30 days, elections will have to take place. It has already been forecasted that this is nothing more than a ploy to solidify Poroshenko’s power base (Udar is a close ally) and expand the reach of the Svoboda nationalists. These risky and Machiavellian calculations will likely have far-reaching implications, continuing to push Ukraine ever further towards full-scale collapse and spreading the black hole of chaos that has begun to emerge in the country.
Nearing the Precipice
In the run-up to the most recent stage of institutional collapse, Kiev had found itself in a conundrum. After revving up the population for so-called Western integration and signing the EU Association Agreement and receiving IMF loans, the Rada realized that none of its members wanted to be responsible for implementing the brutal economic ‘tweaks’ that both of them necessitate. This is the immediate cause of the current Rada crisis – everyone wanted to ‘join the West’, but no one wanted to take electoral responsible for what that truly means.
Concurrent to this, Ukraine also banned one of its consistently largest political parties, the Communist Party, which polled 15% at the last legitimate election in 2012. For a country trying to ingratiate itself with ‘Western values’, it is contradictory that it would carry out such a policy, however, it cannot be said to be unexpected. After all, there had been loud calls for lustration ever since the February coup against legitimate president Yanukovich. This policy of political (and therefore, social) exclusion has been aided by the nationalist and fascist forces that have swept to power and influence in Ukraine in recent months.
All of this is to say nothing of the enormous humanitarian catastrophe ongoing in the Donbass region, where the UN officially estimates that at least 1,000 people have been killed and over 3,500 injured since the start of punitive operations against Federalist supporters in mid-April. 500,000 refugees have fled to Russia since then, with over 34,000 of them currently being housed by the state.
The Real Reason for the Void
The aforementioned explanations for the current governing void all owe their genesis to events that started earlier than the coup itself. First and foremost, Ukraine has been a geopolitical chess piece for the US since its independence in 1991. Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote about its role as a pivot of America’s Eurasian influence in his 1997 work "The Grand Chessboard”, quipping that "Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire”. This strategic advice was certainly heeded at the State Department, since Victoria Nuland admitted that the US had spent $5 billion for "democracy promotion” in Ukraine since 1991. This investment wasn’t for "democracy” but rather for regime change by mobocracy, as can be seen by the Maidan mobs that ravaged Kiev before the coup. The drawn-out urban warfare of EuroMaidan, coupled with an intense Western propaganda campaign of state demonization, inevitably led to the shredding of the state’s structure right after the coup. This is something which did not even happen after the 2004 Orange Revolution, when the governing apparatus still relatively functioned in comparison to today.
Had it not been for the US’ geostrategic goals in enacting regime change in Ukraine and attacking Russia via proxy, there would be no crisis in the country. Refugees would not be streaming eastwards and Ukraine would not be split along civilizational fault lines. The growing black hole of chaos is completely attributable to the efforts of the US to follow through on its threats to disrupt Russia’s Eurasian Union integration goals, of which Ukraine was a possible candidate for membership prior to the destabilization’s commencement.
Ukraine Before the Storm
Events have been so dramatic and have moved so fast since November that it may be easy to forget what the country was like one year ago. In summer 2013, the government was corrupt but workable, with no large-scale violence and relative macro stability. All political parties were welcome in the inclusive government and the country had profitable dealings with the US, EU, and Russia. Importantly, energy supplies were secured and no downstream partners were in danger of a winter shortage.
Flash forward to the present day. The ‘government’ is dysfunctional and cripplingly corrupt, resembling Italy during the Cold War (one could even provocatively say today). Wide-scale violence has already claimed over 1,000 lives and destroyed the infrastructure in of one of Ukraine’s most formerly prosperous regions, destabilizing the entire Donbass. Lustration has made the Rada an exclusive club of those in alliance with the oligarchs, and extreme fringe movements hold disproportionate influence over the country. Although nominally moving towards Europe economically, Ukraine is now shackled in debt and is on the cusp of losing all bilateral trade with Russia, on which its economy is dependent. Failed political maneuvering by Kiev forced Russia to shut off the gas tap, raising fears of a cold winter and almost certainly guaranteeing another future crisis at the end of the year.
Over the Edge and Into the Unknown
In hindsight, the EuroMaidan coup may very well be seen as the fatal outside blow that wrecked Ukrainian statehood once and for all. The country is experiencing a painful and extended collapse before the eyes of the world, with the current political void being but the latest iteration of its downward spiral. Ukraine has gone over the edge and into unknown territory, with the only blueprint being the Yugoslavian scenario. The black hole of chaos inside of Ukraine is only growing, with the country now certainly exhibiting the symptoms of failed state status. There was an outside-engineered coup in a geopolitically convenient area, a proxy government, a merry-go-round parliament, a civil war that could possibly involve an intervention by its neighbor (Russia), and rabid nationalists scheming for power.
Being a country of 45 million and located smack dab in the middle of Eastern Europe, Ukraine may be ‘too big to fail’ for its foreign backers. In the past, it could never sustain itself on its own, being previously dependent on Russia since independence. Now that Russia has been violently pushed away, Ukraine is making itself a burden on the West and the EU, neither of which now wants to properly deal with it. The Western integration of Ukraine was a slogan used by both Ukrainian and Western politicians alike, none of whom wanted to take on the responsibilities associated with it, thereby putting the country in an untenable position and leading to the destitution of its masses.
Any entity demonstrating Ukraine’s failed-state characteristics should be something that other states’ militaries steer clear away from at all costs, but the US and NATO have unreasonably been moving even closer to this sick man since its symptoms began to show. The absorption of Ukraine into Shadow NATO under these circumstances is tantamount to directly involving the alliance in Ukraine’s hurricane-like spiral of chaos. Granting the country major non-NATO ally status is dangerous and irresponsible, especially when occurring during a government collapse and the increasingly dictatorial tendencies of its leader. The situation in Afghanistan, the most recent major non-NATO ally, has at least been semi-stable and predictable due to the forcible NATO occupation there (set to expire at the end of the year, however), but such a situation does not (yet) exist in Ukraine. It may be, however, that the West finds its Ukrainian operation ‘too big to fail’, and as the country experiences slow-motion economic, military, and political collapse, it may desperately think that NATO integration can plug these processes and reverse the inevitable.