Is US policy in Ukraine dictated by the promotion of democracy or by something else?

Author: us-russia
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Category: News, TopStories
Is US policy in Ukraine dictated by the promotion of democracy  or by something else?
Published 11-05-2016, 11:08
Is US policy in Ukraine dictated by the promotion of democracy  or by something else?Near 600 000 km2 in territory and with a bit more than 40 mln population, Ukraine is associated with bright national costumes, hearty songs, rich and tasty cousin and inspirational nature, - familiar to all Russian literature-lovers from N. Gogol’s novels. Hard to believe that this country became a geopolitical chessboard where the interests of the most powerful nations collide with each other. 
Is US policy in Ukraine dictated by the promotion of democracy  or by something else?Near 600 000 km2 in territory and with a bit more than 40 mln population, Ukraine is associated with bright national costumes, hearty songs, rich and tasty cousin and inspirational nature, - familiar to all Russian literature-lovers from N. Gogol’s novels. Hard to believe that this country became a geopolitical chessboard where the interests of the most powerful nations collide with each other. 
Why so much importance is attributed to Ukraine? And why started from the peaceful manifestations, the Ukrainian crisis turned out to be an acid test of the Western – Russia relations, which revealed all dangerous relics of the Cold War – from ideological differences to contrasting points of view on what global and regional security is and how the geopolitical architecture should look like? 
Cited too often but not that often thoroughly analyzed, - Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book The Grand Chessboard (1997) once wrote: «Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire”. 
People start to interpret these words from the end to the beginning, saying that so far Ukraine is a guarantee of Russia’s security geopolitical position and its’ thrive as a huge country; therefore, it is in interests of other powers to deter Russia from expansion by influencing on Ukraine. 
This interpretation is true but only partially. Ukraine is, indeed, geopolitically important for Russia due to strong cultural, historical and economic ties, but it’s vital necessity for Russia is predisposed by Western geopolitical strategy with respect to Ukraine, not vice versa. And it is of a paramount importance to feel the difference. 
The win of liberal democracy is the most valuable prize the USA won after the Cold War in its ideological confrontation with the Soviet Union. It presumes the US global leadership as there has not yet emerged any alternative that could undermine the effectiveness and progressiveness of the liberal democratic principles and institutions. 
Promoting itself as a liberal democracy pathbreaker, the USA sees its responsibility in advocating democracy as a recipe for a thriving future and "global security” for the whole world as "democracies do not fight each other”. 
Such a view of the present and future international order corresponds with the strategies with regard to Eurasia after the dissolution of the USSR. The same year as "The Grand Chessboard”, Zbigniew Brzezinski published an article "A Geostrategy for Eurasia” where, he states that "America's central goal should be to continue to expand the democratic European bridgehead” and outlines a concept of "geopolitical pluralism”, which implies that the US should by any possible means prevent "the emergence of a hostile coalition that could challenge America's primacy, not to mention the remote possibility of any one state seeking to do so”. Of course, the latter includes any Russia´s ambitions to expand its influence on other post-soviet States, as well. 
As the US "indispensable leadership” is a result of the crash of the Soviets, which represented an alternative model of socio-economic and ideological development, the only way to preserve it –is to prevent the emergence of any other force which can represent and promote such an alternative, - no matter how it will be called the Soviet Union or the Eurasian economic union. 
Ukraine has always been viewed as the most perspective Russian partner in formation of such a union. Historically the territories of Ukraine served as a "buffer zone”, protecting Russia’s central part from Western and Osman Empire’s territorial claims and was a bridgehead for Russia’s advance to the Black sea. More than that, these territories have always been industrially developed. By the end of the 19th century, more than 34 thousand of food, engineering, chemical and shipbuilding factories functioned and later ¼ of the USSR’s GDP was produced on the territories of the modern Ukraine. 
However, it is not so much industry that determined Ukraine’s importance for Russia but its’ strong cultural and civilizational role. Ukraine is an essential part of the Slavic trinity together with Belarus and Russia. As once John Morrison, an expert in Russian-Ukrainian relations said: "the same as French-German relations form a core of the European Union, the Ukrainian – Russian relations represent the pith of the orthodox world”. 
Ukraine´s role does not reduce itself to representation a part of the orthodox Russian culture but it has always been a translator of European culture and values for the rest Russian territories. According to N. Trubetskoy – Russian ideologist of Eurasianism, after the incorporation of the Ukrainian territories in 1654 to Moskovite state, there was a phenomenon of "ukrainization of moscovian culture” when Ukrainian experience of close ties with Europe was implemented in other Russian territories. 
Bearing all this in mind, it is easy to understand why Russian– US geopolitical competition for the Ukrainian future became "a zero-sum game”. Separated from the ties with Russia and focused on Euro-Atlantic integration, Ukraine could become Western geopolitical victory over Russia. Russia loses access to the geopolitical and geo-economic potential of Ukraine, and most importantly - the "heart" of it’s own history and culture based on the unity of the Slavic Orthodox Nations and Eurasianism. Geopolitically weak and spiritually bankrupted, Russia becomes dependent from the liberal-democracy sponsor and is not capable of evolving into Eurasian Empire with its’ conservatism and unique mode of governance, balancing between democracy and autoсracy. 
In other words, the competition for the Ukrainian future is, indeed, a competition for Russia’s future as Eurasian empire and that is what Zbignew Brzezinski was trying to say, - a perfect strategy in theory, however not proved by reality. 
Despite the Ukrainian crisis, on 1 January 2015 the treaty between Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia establishing the Eurasian Economic Union came into effect. The Union now bands together five member-states including Armenia and Kyrgyzstan and has diversified international relations with more than 16 letters from various states suggesting economic and trade cooperation received. 
Ukraine turned into a failed state controlled by oligarchs and their cronies. Ukraine’s separation from the Eurasian integration processes turned out badly for itself. The loss of the Crimean peninsula and war in the Eastern Ukraine reduced Ukrainian GDP by 7, 5%, inflation rose to 21%. The responsibility for financial issues is shifted to the Western experts from the World Bank and transnational capitalists. While according to the modest estimations of the Eurasian Development Bank, Ukraine’s membership in the Eurasian Economic union could bring it the growth in turnover ranging from 13.5% to 16.4% of GDP. Due to the cancellation of export duties on hydrocarbons the Ukraine’ s growth of trade balance could reach $ 2.9 billion, and competitiveness of Ukrainian producers could rise by 5%. 
Ukraine’s non-participation in the Eurasian integration processes affected Russia’s relations with European Union; evoke fears of Russian aggression among Baltic and East European countries but did not transform Russia. The reason is quite simple; - Ukraine appeared to be not able to become liberal-democratic counterweight for Russia, as it has neither liberal-democratic tradition nor a strong statehood. 
Ukraine has a patchwork territory artificially formed by the czarist and soviet authorities and Ukrainian elite’s nationalism is based on the contrasts to Russia not on the independently formulated national ideology. This nationalism is a product of the Western Ukrainian regions, while the Russian speaking Southeastern part of Ukraine has always been exposed to a strong Russian and Soviet influence. The results of questionnaire undertaken by the Research & Branding Group in 2011, revealed that 61% of the population would prefer Soviet Union revival to the current independent state status. 
The only way to compensate on the lack of liberal-democratic elite is to plant foreign seeds in the Ukrainian ruling elite’s soil. As a result, the US ex- Department of State member Natalie Jaresko was appointed to the position of the Minister of Finance, Lithuanian businessman - Aivaras Abromavičius became a Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine. 
Ukraine’s long-established historical and cultural ties is what predisposes the unity of the Russian and Ukrainian people, but the western oriented Ukrainian elite, encouraged by the outside intrusion is what pulls them apart. 
To cap it all, the Ukrainian crisis demonstrated the US strategy to disintegrate the Eurasian continent, which failed in terms of Eurasian economic union but worked out for Europe and Russia. 
It is not a secret, that many leaders throughout history placed their hopes on Russian-German partnership. We ca recall Otto von Bismarck’s efforts to establish Russian-German- Austrian partnership, - the idea which he promoted long after the dissolution of "the League of the Three Emperors” saying that the wars between three countries contradict their interests and sheer logic. 
Russia and Europe are long-established trade partners; Europe consumes more than 70% of exported Russian gas and 45% of Russian population despite the Ukrainian crisis regard themselves as Europeans, ranking Germany and France as models for socio-economic development. 
The idea of creating a "Bigger Europe” from Lisbon to Vladivostok still arises from time to time, and annoys the US, trying to tight Europe as close as it is possible economically, politically and militarily. 
Ukraine and other East European countries, as well as Baltic States form a division line between Europe and Russia, which is according to one of the geopolitical giants - Halford John Mackinder, helps to control Heartland and prevent closer partnership between Germany and Russia. 
The Ukrainian crisis and the following militarization of this region under the NATO’s auspices deepened this division line and postponed Russian-European cooperation for an indefinite time, - so far the main "achievement” of the US strategy towards Eurasia but not that durable. 
The recent developments in Europe concerning migration crisis and terrorists threats, as well as million-euro losses of European businessmen suffering from terminated trade deals with Russia can break the ice of the EU-Russian relations which means, the US is to find other ways to "divide and rule” in Eurasia.
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Category: News, TopStories
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