October 29, 2014

Winners and the Defeated

Russian Military Aggression against Ukraine.

The beginning of peaceful settlement of the situation in Eastern Ukraine within the framework of the Minsk Agreements dated 6 September, allows to draw the first conclusions concerning the consequences of the fateful events that have been taking place in our country lately. This primarily refers to revolutionary changes of Ukrainian authorities at the beginning of this year, as well as the Russian Federation's military aggression that followed.

Taking into consideration Ukraine's being the center of these events, it would be logical to begin the analysis of such consequences exactly from our state. Thus, on the one hand, Ukraine finds itself in the most difficult position as a country — the object of aggression, which had lost some of its lands (Crimea), and got an armed conflict on its territory (in the form of self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics) with no real prospects for its quick resolution.

Besides, Russia's unleashing of trade-economic and energy wars against Ukraine, as well as fighting in the East of our country, have led to significant losses of the Ukrainian economy, in fact, putting it on the brink of a large-scale crisis. In this respect, the most negative impact for Ukraine had closing of Russian markets for Ukrainian products, suspension of Russian gas supplies to our country, as well as destruction and wrecking of industrial, energy, transport and social infrastructure of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. A significant problem for Ukraine is also a need for significant financial cost to restore the country's power structures after their having been actually destroyed by V. Yanukovych's regime and countering Russia's military aggression.

According to some experts, all this, as well as the high likelihood of continuation of the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation against our country, including possibility of expansion of the military invasion to the Ukrainian territory, not just “puts an end to” the prospects for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, but also calls into question its very existence as a sovereign and independent country.

Well, let's leave it to the conscience of these “experts”, but let us look at the situation from the other side. Despite all the problems, we were able to thwart the plans of the full destruction of Ukraine in the spring of this year by organizing mass unrest in the east and south of our country, followed by the creation of so-called “Novorossia” (“New Russia”) on the basis of their territories. In fact, Russia's efforts to implement the above-mentioned scenario in bounded variant only in Donetsk and Luhansk regions also failed. The mentioned above was a result of the unexpected to Russia resistance of force structures of Ukraine and lack of large-scale support to the Russian Federation by the local population.

Instead, ironic as it might seem, but the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine within a few months has done what our state could not do over the 23 years of its existence.

In fact, for the first time in its history, the population of Ukraine has got united within a single nation in the face of a common enemy, which is Russia, specifically — Putin's regime, with its neo-imperial and fascist-chauvinist ideology. At this, the Russian occupation of the Crimea and partly of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and with it separation from Ukraine supporters of Russian ideas, has only contributed to this process.

In turn, the said finally put an end to the “multi-vector” policy of Ukraine, which in reality was just an attempt to balance between East and West, was hampering any development of our state. The Russian military aggression has irreversibly turned Ukraine away from Russia and returned our country into the orbit of Western civilization. Now, the USA, the EU and NATO, not Russia are Ukraine's strategic partners and act as guarantors and defenders of Ukraine's interests.

In this respect, extremely important for our country is coming to power in Ukraine of a strong and cohesive leadership, capable of real and decisive actions, unlike the leaders of the “Orange Revolution”, who only declared course towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, but failed to implement it in practice.

Evidence of these changes were prompt and adequate to the situation decisions of the leadership of Ukraine, which allowed to stop Russian provocations in the East and South of Ukraine, as well as to block further expansion of separatism in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

To further strengthening of Ukrainian authorities contributes implementation of the law on lustration, which allows to get rid of people in the leadership of Ukraine, whom we inherited from the former Soviet Union and Communist Party, as well as of the criminal oligarchic groups.

In fact, for the first time in our history, we have got a really Ukrainian government, which mainly consists of patriots of our country, democracy and European integration. As a result, once again, for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, we are in a fundamentally new situation of the unity of all branches of power of our state in most important issues.

At that rate Russia's military aggression against Ukraine has become a powerful incentive for the rehabilitation and strengthening of our state security forces who had been deliberately destroyed by V.Yanukovych's regime, including by stealing their material basis, adopting deliberately anti-Ukrainian programs of “military construction” as well as appointments to senior positions of Russian citizens-representatives of the FSB and GRU of the General Staff of the Russian Federation.

Today instead of them we have patriots of Ukraine and this has already allowed to build capable Armed Forces, able to resist Moscow's military aggression and to reorient the military component of our state to counter real threats from the Russian side, and not a fight against bogus challenges from Romania (as was formerly practiced by the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine). Finally, to counter Russia, Ukraine is focusing its major efforts in the defense sector in terms of redeployment of Ukrainian troops from the West to the East and South of the country.

In this context, important for Ukraine is also deployment in the conflict zone in the East of our state of the OSCE mission, which includes both international military observers and military forces of NATO member countries to ensure their safety. At this stage, for this purpose it is planned to send to the Donbas about 200 German military servicemen. In the future on their basis is possible deployment of US and NATO's military bases at the Ukrainian territory, which will lead to a radical change of the military-political situation in the region.

Finally, with regard to Ukraine's economic problems. They really cause significant damage to our country, but are only temporary. Loans from Western countries and international financial institutions, opening of European and American markets for Ukrainian goods and making real economic reforms in our country in a short time will allow to resume and ensure the growth of the Ukrainian economy, as it happened in other countries of Central and Eastern Europe after their having chosen the course of integration into the EU.

Moreover, Russia's blocking its market to Ukraine and cutting gas supply create real prerequisites for our state's achieving trade-economic and energy independence from the Russian Federation, including due to the reorientation of Ukrainian goods to the markets of other countries and arranging gas supplies from Europe. That's exactly how Georgia got real independence from Russia after the Russian-Georgian conflict of 2008.

For its part, Russia, at first sight (especially to the average Russian citizen), seems to have defeated Ukraine and achieved its goals of the annexation of the Crimea, creation of the long-term conflict at the Ukrainian territory and demonstration of resoluteness to the West and the countries of the former Soviet Union in terms of last warning about possible consequences of their attempts to oppose Russian interests. At the same time, all this has led to a rapid growth of Putin's rating in the Russian Federation against the background of strengthening chauvinistic attitudes in the society that had been consciously built up by the leadership of the Russian Federation in recent years.

However, the real consequences of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine are much more negative for Russia than its achievements on the Ukrainian direction.

Thus, Russia has finally lost its credibility in the world and is actually in international isolation as the aggressor country with irresponsible, reckless and unexpected policy. Evidence of this was the exclusion of Russia from the “Group of eight” (G8) and suspension of cooperation with it by most of the world's leading countries and influential international organizations, including the EU and NATO. In fact, Russia's actions against Ukraine were supported by only a few pariah states like Venezuela and Syria, while full relations with Russia continue to maintain only a few countries of the “third world”, including Argentina.

At this, even the closest allies of Russia-Belarus and Kazakhstan disapprove of Moscow's policy towards Ukraine, and the last hope of the Kremlin-China takes a neutral position on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and is not going to create with Russia any anti-Western alliances, for which hopes the Russian Federation.

Even more negative, and in fact, disastrous consequences for Russia, had sanctions against it imposed by the USA, EU and their allies in connection with Russia's annexation of the Crimea, and provoking tension and support for terrorists in Eastern Ukraine. Since the spring of this year the main of such sanctions have been as follows: a ban on entry to the USA and EU and blocking the bank accounts of a wide range of people involved in Russia's military aggression against Ukraine; actual closing the Russian government, banks and companies' access to American and European loans and investments; limiting Russian business's opportunities in the West; cessation of military-technical and energy cooperation with Russia (especially in the part concerning the transfer of advanced technologies to the Russian side in the above mentioned spheres).

All this, as well as Russia's own actions to close its markets to products of Western and Ukrainian producers have created a number of significant problems for the Russian Federation. Thus, at the macroeconomic level, the most negative impact for Russia have as follows: the outflow of foreign capital due to a loss of investor confidence in Russia (according to different estimates — 80 to over 200 billion US dollars since the beginning of this year); the need to send large sums to support the Russian ruble (already has been spent about 60 billion US dollars without visible results); integration of the Crimea into Russia and continuation of the aggression against Ukraine; Russian banks and companies' losses (Gazprom has lost a third of its income); the Russian government and Russian businesses' being unable to get foreign loans (including external debt service). The latter puts Russia on the brink of bankruptcy due to the almost two-fold excess of its foreign state obligations (about 720 billion US dollars) over gold reserves (up to 450 billion US dollars).

Against this background, Russia's additional problem of macroeconomic nature is the coordinated actions of the USA and Saudi Arabia to reduce world oil prices as the main export product of the Russian Federation and the main source of financing of its state budget. According to Russian experts, the scale of the problem may exceed the effects of sanctions of western countries and international organizations against Russia and cause losses of over half a trillion rubles within one year.

The result of these processes has become the rapid deterioration of the Russian economy, including: economic slowdown of the Russian Federation (according to preliminary estimates, the results of 2014 will be less than 0.2 %); fall in exchange of the ruble (since the beginning of this year it has fallen by 20 %); increase in inflation (expected at least 8-10 % over the year); stop of enterprises and increase in the number of unemployed; actual impossibility of the development of new oil and gas fields in remote regions; cuts in social programs; decline in real incomes of the population.

These problems also lead to complication of the situation in Russia's regions, resulting in: reduction of the number of donor regions; increase in deficits and debts of regional budgets; reduction of income for most of the subjects of Russia as a result of production cuts at their territories; change for the worse social conditions of life of local people.

In its turn, this leads to an increase in negative attitudes of Russian citizens to the policy of the current government and aggravation of interethnic and inter-confessional conflicts.

In general, the above-mentioned circumstances create real conditions for Russia's return to the situation of the 1990s that saw the collapse of the Russian economy, political chaos in the country and growth of axifugal tendencies in its regions. These trends can already be seen in attempts to create so-called Siberian, Ural, Kaliningrad and other people's republics, which declared about themselves in summer this year. Although such attempts did not have wide success, they showed true attitude of the RF's population to the federal government.

And on the “eastern doorstep” of Russia is already China, which only awaits reasonable opportunity to establish its control over Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation. At this, as has shown the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, despite the huge military spending, Russia could not cope even with Ukraine, due to lack of sufficient forces and means in the Russian Federation.


The above-mentioned trends lead to the following conceptual conclusions:

There is no freedom without struggle. Despite the sacrifices and challenges Ukraine has won its right to independence and sovereignty, went out from under Russia's control, has got a single national idea and has returned to the Western civilization. However, the implementation of the European choice of our country still requires considerable time and effort to overcome negative effects of the Soviet past, activities of criminal oligarchic groups and the Russian Federation's military aggression.

Russia's time has gone. It can capture the East and South of Ukraine, Kyiv and Lviv, but this won't save it. In today's world, the main tools of geopolitics are intelligence, efficient economy and ability to foresee consequences of one's actions in the short and longer term, rather than brute force, even in the form of hidden “hybrid” wars. Moscow's main mistakes have become reassessment of its capabilities and underestimating of the opponents — which mistakes have created the preconditions for the catastrophe of the Russian Federation, together with all its attempts to regain the former empire.

Experience shows that Russia is not an irresistible force. We can fight it, defend our interests and achieve victory, both at the tactical and strategic levels. At the same time, to the final change of the Russian Federation as totalitarian, aggressive and neo-imperial state, it will be a significant threat to the security not only of its neighbors (including Ukraine), but of the entire civilized world.