Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A look in the long distance: who will have to pay for "Ukraine v2"?

I just wanted to mention here a topic which is not often discussed in the western press but which does pop-up with some regularity in the Russian press.  Let's set aside the current events and ask ourselves the following question:

Sooner or later there will be some kind of state in what used to be the Ukraine until 2014.  The Crimea is gone forever to Russia, that is certain.  A "People's Republic of Donetsk" all alone like some kind of Lichtenstein but stuck between Russia and Banderastan is most unlikely.  Even a "People's Republic of the Donbass" or a "Novorossia" composed of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions would have a very hard time surviving as an independent state.  I think that we can assume that the Donbass will either have to join Russia or, at the very least, the Eurasian Union (Rus, Kaz, Bel, Arm, etc.) or some kind of loose Ukrainian confederation.  The latter is, of course, only possible if the USA gives up on its delusion of maintaining a neo-Nazi and russophobic Banderastan and accepts some kind of sovereign but civilized "Ukraine" in its place.  Right now there are no signs that anybody in Washington is ready to accept that.  But whatever the USA does or does not want, there is one thing which is sure: all the successor states of the original Ukraine will need HUGE amounts of foreign financial aid.  We are not talking just about providing a few billions in loan guarantees to a clique of corrupt oligarchs, but about fully re-building a more or less modern country almost from scratch.  This is a huge program which will take at least a decade and will require immense resources.  It will have to be implemented in an highly volatile environment, with massive poverty and corruption, with violence prevalent and possibly with a serious terrorism problem.  The political instability of such a environment is guaranteed.  So in the light of this - if you were the EU or Russia - would you want to be responsible for more or less of that territory?

Think about it: whoever will end up "owning" (if not de-jure then de-facto) most of this new "Ukraine v2" will also own most of its problems.  The EU plan in this regard is crystal clear: the EU wants to own it all and let Russia pay for it all.  Unsurprisingly Russia does not agree.  The Americans have it even better: they simply don't ask this question, don't think about this issue and have no plans to own anything if by "owning" we mean "paying for".  This is completely immature and plain silly.  Denying this problem will not make it magically disappear.

Now here is the beauty of it all, at least seen from the Russian point of view:

Russia has already reunited the only part of the Ukraine it really "wanted": Crimea.  From a purely egoistic and self-centered point of view, Russia could built a huge wall all along its border with the Ukraine and declare "to hell with it all" and let all the other actors (Ukrainians, EU, US) deal with that.  I am kidding, of course, but as a thought-experiment, this is a useful one.  Ask yourself: what would happen if Russia did exactly that.  Let's assume that Russian public opinion would not be up in arms against such a decision (in reality it would!) and let's just also assume that the (imaginary) "United People's Republic of Donetsk and Luganks" would be fine with that (it's only a though experiment - so indulge me in some unrealistic speculations here, okay?).  Let's even assume that Kharkov, Odessa, Zaporozhie, Nikolaev and other cities and regions stop protesting or resisting.  All Russia would do is turn off the gas spigot (unless it is paid for in advance), get out the popcorn and beer and watch the reports from the Ukraine.  What do you think would happen?


Absolute and total chaos.  It's either that or the US/EU would have to come up with a way to not only put a semi-legitimate AND very effective regime in power, but also to pay a bill ranging anywhere form 30 to 100 billion dollars (depending on how much of the problem you want to address immediately).  Now look at the same problem from the Russian point of view:

Either the US/EU agree incur huge costs which will severely damage their economies (and they cannot afford that) or

The EU and US begin an ugly fight over "who pays what and under what terms", and

The EU is hit by a series of shocks as a result of the Ukrainian chaos (illegal immigration, crime, political disputes), and

NATO will be seen as either ineffective/incompetent/useless at best, and as reckless and irresponsible at worst.

So no matter what, the AngloZionist Empire will suffer massive consequences for is crazy notion of letting a huge country like the Ukraine explode right in the middle of the European continent.

To be honest, I am quite certain that Russia does not want that outcome at all.  First, the Russian public opinion is extremely worked-up about having fellow Russians attacked by a mix of neo-Nazis and Jewish oligarchs and it would never accept putting up any kind of wall or abandon the Russian-speaking Ukrainians.  Second, as I mentioned before, Donetsk and Lugansk along cannot be viable in isolation.  Finally, I am not at all so sure that only these two regions will decide to hold a referendum, especially after the economic crisis really hits.

Ideally Russia wants a lose Ukrainian Confederation.  This confederation would have to be thoroughly de-Nazified and would probably have to join the economic union with Russia and its partners (if only to benefit from Russian financial aid).  Russia would also want the US and EU to pitch in its "fair share" of financial and technical support to gradually re-built "Ukraine v2", especially considering that these two entities are responsible for breaking up "Ukraine v1" in the first place.  Needless to say, "Ukraine v2" would not be Banderastan and it would not join NATO.

As a side note, it would be really smart for the new Ukrainian leadership of this "Ukraine v2" to declare itself not only neutral but also totally demilitarized.  Seriously, what is the point of having a military when stuck right in between NATO and Russia?  Provide more targets? 

As a (former and "recovering") military analyst I can tell you that by far the best defense against foreign agression for Ukraine would be:

1) the size of its territory (geographical defense)
2) being completely demilitarized (political defense)
3) being officially neutral (legal defense)
4) being in between two rival blocks (military defense by means of "other side")

That does not require a single Hrivna of financing, looks extremely progressive, would get a standing ovation from all its neighbors and would provide the perfect "buffer" to reassure both NATO and Russia.  And just imagine the amount of money saved which the "Ukraine v2" could use for far more urgent and contructive needs!

Alas, that would also require a vision which is far beyond what the current freaks in power can even begin to contemplate.

As I have mentioned it in the past, the USA's entire Ukrainian policy is based on a fallacy cooked up by Zbigniew Brzezinski and parroted by Hillary Clinton:  Brzezinski believes that Russia cannot be a superpower without the Ukraine and Hillary believes that Putin wants to rebuild the USSR.  They are both completely wrong, of course: Russia is already a superpower (it has now defeated the US/EU/NATO alliance in both Syria and the Ukraine) and Putin does not want to rebuild the USSR at all.  I wonder if there is anybody in the US polity which understands who much these conceptual mistakes will end up costing the USA.  By listening to these two hateful maniacs (this is really what Zbig and Hillary are!) the USA has completely mismanaged every step of its crucial relationship with both the EU and Russia.

In the case of rump-Ukraine more is not better, more is worse; less is better.  The less Russia will have to manage and pay for the reconstruction of the Ukraine the better off Russia will be.  From the EU's point of view, however, the more Russia takes over of the Ukraine, the better for the EU.  This is even better from the US point of view because from the US point of view the more the US/EU "own" the Ukraine, the more they will have to pay for it and the more the transatlantic alliance will come under stress.  So, paradoxically, it would be in the best interests of the USA to have Russia take over all of the Ukraine.  Sounds crazy?  Maybe, but that is still a fact.

So here is the truth: the Ukraine is not a prize at all - it is a huge burden.

That is a truth which no politician can openly state, of course.

Checkmate on all boards
But we can, and should.  Because if we keep that truism clear in our minds, we can then see why Russia's victory in this massive confrontation with the united powers of the US/EU/NATO is so total.  Can you guess?

Because no matter what, Russia will have the option to chose how much of the Ukrainian burden it is willing to shoulder whereas the West will have to take whatever Russia does not want.  Yep, that's right.  Just remember the thought experiment we just did above.  Russia could, in theory, refuse to take up any further burden and declare "ain't my problem, sorry" and there is nothing the US/EU/NATO could do about it (not to mention that such a Russians stance would completely deflate the stupid canard about Russia being ready to invade the Baltics, Poland or any other EU country).

In a sane world ruled by non-delusional people the real priority of western politicians would be to cuddle, beg, plead, threaten and trick Russia into taking over as much of the Ukraine as possible - the whole thing if possible.  Let Russia deal with the neo-Nazis, let Russia pay Ukrainian pensions and salaries, let Russia rebuilt the entire economy, let Russia waste its energy and resources on this ungrateful and truly Herculean task.  If Russia agreed to take over the full Ukraine NATO could even re-heat its "Russian threat" canard and justify its existence.

Luckily, however, as long as Putin is in power Russia will never agree to anything like it.  Time is on Russia's side and the worst the situation of the Ukraine becomes, the weaker the US/EU/NATO block is, the stronger the Russian bargaining position becomes.

So while Russia cannot remain indifferent and while Russians cannot cynically get some popcorn and beer and watch it all go to hell, Russia will continue to play a very low-key game: Russia will stick to its principled position, it will refuse to be a party to any ludicrous solution, and it will condemn the crazy and neo-Nazi policies of the freaks currently in power in  Kiev.

Other than that, Russia will simply wait for western leaders to wake up from their current delusional hallucinations and get serious about solving a problem which is first and foremost their problem which they created and they will have to pay for solving.

The Saker