Saturday, November 30, 2013

The gates of Hell are opening for the Ukraine

written specially for the Asia Times 
Just as I have predicted in my last piece about the developments in the Ukraine, European politicians and Ukrainian opposition parties have gone into overdrive to attempt yet another color-coded revolution in Kiev.  The normally demure and low-key Eurobureaucrats have suddenly found it themselves to castigate Russia with irate statements about "unacceptable Russian interference" while their own diplomats actually went on stage to encourage the (illegal) demonstrations in Kiev.  As for the opposition, it used its formidable resources to bring people form all over the Ukraine, the Baltic states and Poland to Kiev to organize a mass rally and, just to make sure that enough people would show up, they began the rally with a free rock concert.  Finally the united opposition parties have declared that they are creating a "united headquarters of the resistance" which will have as its first task to coordinate a Ukrainian-wide general strike.

Finally, the opposition, lead by Yulia Timoshenko from her jail, is now openly calling for the overthrow of the Yanukovich government and new elections.

Very impressive.

And what about the "pro-Russian" Yanukovich government?

Just as I have predicted, it is already prepared to "zag" following its surprise "zig" of last week.  All Yanukovich & Co. have done is to send Prime Minister Azarov to explain the latest change of mind of President Yanukovich on a TV talkshow hosted by a notorious russophobic Jewish anchor "Savik Shuster" (his real name is "Shevelis Shusteris"- he first worked for the CIA-created Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, then for Russian "democratic" media outlets before joining the "Ukrainian" TV following the "Orange Revolution" in Kiev.  This true "cosmopolite" also holds Italian and Canadian citizenship, probably along with an Israeli one) where nobody listened to a word he had to say: for each economic figure Azarov mentioned in defense of his position, the nationalists responded with emotional slogans, promises of a bright tomorrow and the usual rabid anti-Russian rhetoric.   Still, Azarov explained that he had decided to show up because he hoped that at least on TV they would let him speak (that same day the opposition in the Ukrainian Parliament simply shouted Azarov down thereby successfully preventing him from taking the floor to explain the government's decision).

Yanukovich himself hinted that all that had happened was a "temporary delay" and that the Ukraine might sign after all, just a "little later", maybe in Spring.

Next, the government ordered their riot-cops to clear the Maidan square in Kiev at 4AM, which was done with the usual level of wanton violence (on both sides).  Azarov then denounced its own cops and announced that a special commission would be set up to investigate the violence and find out who was responsible (who else could it be besides him is unclear).

Finally, Yanukovich officially declared that he was "deeply outraged" by the violence and that all Ukrainians were united by, I kid you not, "our choice of our common European future".

Absolutely pathetic, if you ask me.

As for the so-called "Russian" folks of Donetsk, they organized an anti-EU/pro-Yanukovich rally were they displayed an immense sea of blue-yellow Ukrainian flags while playing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" form is 9th symphony (probably unaware that this was the official Anthem of the EU).

The contrast between two parties to this dispute could hardly be bigger, I think.  Let' compare them:

The Eurobureaucrats and the Ukrainian nationalists

The Eurobureaucrats and the Ukrainian nationalists are mad, really really mad.  They feel like just one man suddenly changed his mind, reneged on all his previous promises and suddenly single handedly stopped a process in which they had invested a huge amount of political capital.  And they are absolutely correct, this is exactly what happened.  Now the Eurobureaucrats and the Ukrainian nationalists are exactly in the same predicament: both feel extremely weak and both fear Russia, both sides are financially bankrupt and hope that a political victory will overshadow their economic failure, both sides hate Russia and feel that it is absolutely crucial to deny Russia any possible advantage (real or imaginary) it might gain from a union with the Ukraine.  Yes, these are purely negative, hate-filled, feelings of inadequacy mixed with self-delusion about a much hoped for but forever unachievable greatness.  But negative feelings, in particular nationalistic ones, can be very powerful, as Hitler has so clearly demonstrated the entire world.

The supposedly "pro-Russian" Eastern Ukrainians

They have no vision, no ideology, no identifiable future goal.  All they can offer is a message which, in essence, says "we have no other choice than sell out to the rich Russians rather than to the poor European" or "all we can get from the EU is words, the Russians are offering money".  True.  But still extremely uninspiring, to say the least.  Worse, this point of view reinforces, at least by implication, the key theses of the the Eurobureaucrats and the Ukrainian nationalists: that this is a sellout to Russia and that the Russians are blackmailing and interfering whereas, in reality, the blackmail was totally on the EU sides as clearly shown with the demand that Tymoshenko be freed (while Berlusconi in Europe is charged with exactly the same crime, so much for double-standards).

And what about Russia in all that?

I am beginning to fear that this will all explode into a real and very dangerous crisis for Russia.  First, I am assuming that the the Eurobureaucrats and the Ukrainian nationalists will eventually prevail, and that Yanukovich will either fully complete his apparent "zag" and reverse his decision, or lose power.  One way or another the the Eurobureaucrats and the Ukrainian nationalists will, I think, prevail.  There will be more joyful demonstrations, fireworks and celebrations in Kiev, along with lots of self-righteous back-slapping and high-fiving in Brussels, and then the gates of Hell will truly open for the Ukraine.  Why?

Well simply because joining one Titanic at the hip with another one will save neither.  The EU is sinking and so is the Ukraine.  Neither has any real vision of how to stop this disaster and both sides are absolutely dead-set to try to hide their bankruptcy by an increasingly strident and outright nasty political rhetoric.   Needless to say, neither empty promises nor nationalistic slogans will feed anybody and the already dying Ukrainian economy will collapse at which point the Russian priority will have to change from supporting it to protecting Russia from the chaos happening just across its 2300km long and mostly completely unprotected border with the Ukraine.  What are the risk for Russia?

The real risks for Russia

Being drawn into the inevitable chaos and violence with will flare up all over the Ukraine (including the Crimean Peninsula), stopping or, at least, safely managing a likely flow of refugees seeking physical and economic safety in Russia and protecting the Russian economy from the consequences of the collapse of Ukrainian economy.  Russia will have to do all that while keeping its hands off the developing crisis inside the Ukraine as it is absolutely certain that the Eurobureaucrats and the Ukrainian nationalists will blame Russia for it all.  The best thing Russia could do in such a situation would be to leave the Ukrainians to their private slugfest and wait for one side or the other to prevail before trying to very carefully send out a few low-key political "feelers" to see if there is somebody across the border who has finally come to his/her senses and is capable and ready to seriously begin to rebuilt the Ukraine and its inevitable partnership with Russia and the rest of the Eurasian Union.  As long as that does not happen Russia should stay out, as much as is possible.

Sarajevo on the Dniepr

Right now, all the signs are that the Ukraine is going down the "Bosnian road" and that things are going to get really ugly.  The explosive brew we now see boiling in the Ukraine is exactly the same one which so viciously exploded in Bosnia: local nationalist backed by foreign imperialists who are absolutely determined to ignore any form of common sense, nevermind a negotiated solution, to achieve their ideological goals.  To most sensible and rational people my doom and gloom scenario might seem too pessimistic.  I would encourage these skeptics to take a look at this well-known Polish joke:
A Pole walking along the road happens to spy a lamp. He picks it up, and as it is covered in rust he gives it quick rub. Out comes a genie.  “I’m the genie of the lamp and I can grant you three wishes,” the genie says.   “OK,” says the Pole. “I want the Chinese Army to invade Poland.”  Odd choice, the genie thinks, but nevertheless he grants the wish, and the Chinese Army comes all the way from China, invades, and goes back home.  “Right, second wish. Maybe something more positive,” says the genie.   “No,” replies the Pole, “I want the Chinese Army to invade again.”  So the Chinese come all the way from China, lay waste to more of Poland, and then go home.  “Listen,” says the genie. “You have one last wish. I can make Poland the most beautiful and prosperous place on earth.”  “If you don’t mind, I want the Chinese army to invade one more time.”  So the Chinese army comes again, destroys what’s left of Poland, and then goes home for the last time.   “I don’t understand,” says the genie. “Why did you want the Chinese army to invade Poland three times?”.  “Well,” replies the Pole, “they had to go through Russia six times.”
This is the kind of "humor" a deep-seated inferiority complex combined with a compensatory strident nationalism can produce.  Ask anybody who has ever met a Ukrainian nationalist and he will confirm to you - they make the Polish nationalists look outright mild-mannered and sober.

Needless to say, when the Ukraine explodes the Eurobureaucrats will look the other way and lock the borders of their respective countries as best they can while the leaders of the Ukrainian nationalists parties will cut and run to the West where they will get well-paid position in academia, various think-tanks and NGOs.  As for the people of the Ukraine, they will be left to fight each other against a background of hypocritical outpouring of crocodile-tears from the so-called "international community?

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'entrate?

I sincerely hope that I am wrong and that some individual or movement will rise up from the current chaos to prevent the Ukraine from collapsing into the "Bosnian scenario" but, unfortunately, I don't see any sign of that happening.  Ukrainian politicians - all of them - are a disgusting sight.  Ditto for the EU politicians, by the way.  At the very best they are boring, uninspiring if marginally competent.  At their habitual worst, they are pathological liars, political prostitutes and delusional imbeciles which are too illiterate and too arrogant to ever see the writing on the wall, even when it is written in big, thick, block characters.

Full disclosure here: I am by training, by trade and by character a pessimist (have you ever met an optimistic military analyst?).  For example, ever since I published my very first post on this blog I have been predicting a US/Israeli attack on Iran, and that still has not happened (worse, I still think that sooner or later the Israelis and their Neocon sayanim colleague will provoke such a US attack, if need be by a false flag operation).  So I have been wrong, very wrong, in the past and I fervently hope that I am wrong again.  Alas, I see no facts or arguments even indirectly suggesting that there is another, hopefully better, scenario for the Ukraine in the future.

Does anybody else see any?

The Saker