In the latest issue of the Russian magazine Russkiy Mir (“Russian World,” December 10) our foreign affairs editor considers the implications of the crisis in Ukraine for Russia’s geostratigic position in the years to come. (Translated from Russian by the author)
In Ukraine the United States presented Russia with its most serious challenge in the last quarter-century. Russia has not responded to that challenge in a timely manner. She proved unable to anticipate and then counter the Maidan scenario last winter, even though the grand rehearsal was presented with the “Orange Revolution” ten years ago. Now Russia’s relations with her strategically essential neighbor – Ukraine – are on the brink of rupture, or a painful restructuring for decades to come.
Normal US-Russian relations would require the recognition that Russia has legitimate interests in her near abroad. To understand the Washingtonian mindset, however, we need to recall a quote from President Obama’s graduation address at West Point in May 2014: “The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe.” Evidently he was alluding to the Maidan.
The Founding Fathers would turn in their graves to learn that, according to the president of the United States, their values have inspired Messrs. Tyahnibok, Yarosh, and other blood-soaked heirs of Stepan Bandera who now sit in the Parliament of Ukraine. The mindset is hardly new. In 1999 Senator Joseph Lieberman declared, “The United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.”
“The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation,” Obama says. “That has been true for the century past, and it will be true for the century to come.” In reality it has never been true, it is not true now, and it never will be true. Madeleine Albright’s famous claim along those lines back in the 1990’s was a sign of her mental instability. It was reiterated in Bill Clinton’s 1996 speech on Bosnia. That Obama has chosen to recycle such inanities is a sign of intellectual and moral bankruptcy, not only his own but also that of a sizeable segment of the American foreign policy establishment. But the march goes on. If some country dares resist the will of the “indispensable nation,” then it is necessarily evil. Susan Rice thus condemned China and Russia at the UN for vetoing the U.S.-supported UN Security Council resolution to bomb Syria as “disgusting,” “shameful” and “unforgivable.” It’s psychotic.
A state’s political, military, economic, and moral resources are conventionally used in a balanced way to protect or enhance its security. The U.S. is practicing a different brand of diplomacy, which is in ample evidence in Ukraine. And Russia, in responding to the initial Maidan crisis, has made a severe miscalculation.
This error now needs to be corrected as part of Russia’s long-term strategy aimed at regime change in Kiev. Let us be clear: Moscow will never obtain Western recognition of its legitimate interests in the near abroad. Moscow should therefore defend its national interests as it deems fit. It should be understood that the sanctions and demonization of Russia’s and Putin personally, of diplomatic abuse and military pressure, will continue regardless of what Russia does. If Russia does not act to prevent the transformation of Ukraine into a Russophobic “Banderistan”, then the return of the Crimea will prove to be scant compensation for the overall weakening of Russia’s geopolitical position. To avoid this, Russia needs to do several things.
First of all, it should fight the regime in Kiev on all fronts – openly and secretly, diplomatically and undiplomatically. No handshakes with Poroshenko. Join the already raging information war. Moscow should constantly remind the world of the false-flag stunt with the Malaysian Boeing in the sky above Ukraine, and insist on a full disclosure of all facts which are still concealed. It should demand an investigation of the massacres in Odessa on May 2 and on May 9 in Mariupol, and an internationally supervised trial. Finally it should tell the world about the ongoing mass murder of ordinary people in southeastern Ukraine, where a ceasefire is supposed to be in operation.
It is necessary to take TV documentaries and feature films revealing these and other Western myths. It is necessary to politically support the Novorussian de facto independence. The Kiev regime has already lost the right to Novorossia, so now it is necessary to support the irreversible changes to ensure its viability. Using the U.S. terminology, Russia has the “Responsibility to Protect.” In my opinion, Kiev should be forced to abandon all hope for the resumption of military operations.
Third, you need to provide political and financial support to the opposition in Ukraine, to the non-Banderist civic groups. These groups are small, but given the fact that Ukraine is facing inevitable economic collapse, there exists a favorable and growing environment for Russia’s use of “soft power.” It is necessary to tighten the screws in economic relations with Ukraine, based on an understanding that there will be no security, no stability, for as long as Kiev is controlled by the current regime. It needs to be discredited, starting with the coup February 21, 2014.
Regime change in Kiev and Ukraine’s de-nazification are a matter of life and death for Russia. Ukraine’s partition is a poor alternative. Even if Novorossiya were to include Kharkov and Mariupol, the Banderist remnant will become even more Russophobic – and it will still include most of Ukraine, on both sides of the Dnieper. That would poison Russian-Ukrainian relations for a very long time. It makes more sense to preserve the unity of Ukraine, but to create conditions for its denazification.
Don’t expect any readiness for compromise from the U.S. They will continue to bait their protégés in Kiev to continue military operations in the east. Not right now, of course, but in the spring of 2015, when NATO rearms Ukraine’s military forces. The chaos in Ukraine is a long-term condition, and this is only one part of the global strategy of the United States based on the notions of global dominance and exceptionality. Instead of calming the situation in the South China Sea, Washington will continue to encourage its Asian satellites Japan, South Korea to be tough with China. But as Obama said two years ago, the national security strategy is to retain full-spectrum dominance, to maintain the ability to counter threats worldwide, and to “confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world.”
Meanwhile, the Hudson Institute claims that the situation in Kyrgyzstan is critical to U.S. national security, and Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says that the U.S. commitment to Moldova’s territorial integrity is essential if America is not to surrender its position in a key region to U.S. foreign policy.
So there. Ukraine, Syria, gays, lesbians, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova – all of them are among the vital interests of the one indispensable nation. Not one, not even the smallest such “interest” can ever be dropped, for – as Obama said at West Point – “that’s not leadership; that’s retreat. That’s not strength; that’s weakness.”
[Click here to go to Russkiy Mir Facebook posting of Srdja Trifkovic’s article]