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Germany as a Stabilizing Factor and a Driving Force in the Development of a European Democratic Ukraine

February 25, 2016
<p>Germany as a Stabilizing Factor and a Driving Force in the Development of a European Democratic Ukraine</p>

Yuriy Radkovets

 

The Role of Germany in the Victory of the Democratic Forces of in Ukraine

February 2016 marks the second anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity and its fateful events in Ukraine and around it, which actually defined the mechanisms and ways of formation and development of the Ukrainian European democratic state in historical and geopolitical perspective.

In fact, this has to do with both, its final choice, its transition to the European and democratic path of state-building, and the defence of its statehood and sovereignty from the beginning of Russia's armed aggression.

The key role in deterring Moscow and providing Ukraine with assistance has been played by leading Western countries and international organizations, first of all by Germany as the leader of the European Union.

The reasons and background. Putin's regime's turning in the early 2010s to the policy of confrontation with the West, and it (the regime's) openly aggressive foreign policy after the period of “establishing relations between the parties” caused a radical change in Germany's actions in the post-Soviet space.

Thus, Germany's government has actually abandoned cooperation with Russia in building a “new collective security system in Europe” (in the version proposed by Russia in early 2009 /almost immediately after the Russian-Georgian war/ the so-called “European Security Treaty” which actually neutralized NATO's stabilizing role in Europe), and began implementing a comprehensive strategy to contain the Russian Federation.

As part of this strategy, one of the directions of the official Berlin's actions was to support the former Soviet Union's countries of Democratic Choice, namely: Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. At the same time, Germany first of all focused on Ukraine, as the main counterweight to the Kremlin's neo-imperial policy.

Prior to this, together with the EU and the United States, Germany was on the side of national-democratic forces during the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine in 2004. The victory of these forces, led by Viktor Yushchenko, over Russia's protégé Viktor Yanukovych during the rerun presidential elections on December 26, 2004, actually foiled Moscow's plans to return Ukraine into the orbit of the Kremlin's geopolitical influence, and opened for Ukraine the way to European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Unfortunately, at that time the pro-Russian lobby in the leadership of some European NATO countries made impossible the implementation of plans for the accession of Ukraine and Georgia to the program of the Alliance — the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the April 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest, and that in fact was their (the European NATO countries') geopolitical mistake the consequences of which came quickly.

Thus, in August 2008, Russia insidiously unleashes an armed aggression against Georgia (“08/08/08”), and in the winter of 2008-2009, it provokes the “gas war” against Ukraine and united Europe.

After Russia's armed attack against Georgia in August 2008, the authorities of Germany, under the leadership of the Federal Chancellor of Germany A. Merkel, took a tougher stance toward Moscow, including promoting democratic and independent development of Germany's eastern partners.

The same position was typical of the Federal Republic of Germany also after V. Yushchenko's defeat and V. Yanukovych's victory in February 2010. But the new, pro-Russian leadership of Ukraine gave up the state's course to join NATO and almost completely shifted to Russia's side. At the same time, the official Kyiv of that time continued situational cooperation with the EU, causing Moscow's less negative reaction and in some ways the new Ukrainian government had an illusory “freedom of action” in the foreign policy and the economy.

In this situation, the main instrument of the German side to support democratic processes in the post-Soviet space became Germany's participation in the implementation of the EU's Eastern Partnership Program, and later — its active promoting the idea of ​​the implementation of the Association Agreement and creation of the Free Trade Area between Ukraine and the EU.

Germany and the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine. Berlin confirmed these approaches during the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine at the turn of 2013-2014, which happened due to V. Yanukovych's criminal regime's treachery, which gave up Ukraine's European course and in fact its independence in favor of the Russian Federation's Eurasian initiatives. Germany's leadership, and personally German Chancellor A. Merkel expressed deep disappointment with V. Yanukovych's and his government's decision, and confirmed full solidarity with the national-democratic forces in Ukraine.

At this, the official Berlin and leading German politicians were clearly against the Ukrainian authorities' military actions toward the participants of Euromaydan and called on opposing sides to peacefully resolve the conflict. At the same time, the leadership of Germany and German political circles, trying to prevent the suppression of democracy in Ukraine, initiated the European community's pressure on V. Yanukovych's regime.

Thus, the Federal Republic of Germany and the whole European Union negatively reacted to the forceful dispersal of Euromaydan by the Ukrainian authorities November 30, 2013, in which several dozens of young people (students) — activists of the protest — were injured. December 7, 2013, the European Parliament urged the Ukrainian leadership to immediately punish the organizers and executors of punitive actions against peaceful demonstrators.

This question was initiated by the Deputy of the supreme legislative body of the EU E. Brock — a representative of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany led by A. Merkel. In the subsequent Address of the European Parliament for the first time was declared the possibility of introducing sanctions against representatives of the Ukrainian authorities — to deprive the right of entry to the EU, as well as “freezing” their accounts in European banks.

December 11, 2013, with the direct support of the Federal Republic of Germany, at Euromaydan arrived the EU Special Representative C. Ashton and US Assistant of State Secretary V. Nuland. Despite this, the same day V. Yanukovych's authorities once again attempted to use force to oust protesters from Maydan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), which meant outright dismissive attitude of the then leadership of Ukraine and its Russian masters to Western countries and international organizations.

As a consequence — the Western world finally lost confidence in V. Yanukovych's regime. December 12, 2013, again at the initiative of the Federal Republic of Germany, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the advisability of holding early presidential elections in Ukraine. In this way, V. Yanukovych's powers as president of Ukraine were put into question.

The confirmation of such position of the West was the visit to Ukraine December 15, 2013 of the United States Senators J. McCain and C. Murphy. They spoke from the main stage of Maydan Nezalezhnosti and supported the ​​Euromaydan's ideas on the implementation of democratic and European course of Ukraine.

The efforts of Western countries and international organizations allowed to somewhat stabilize the situation in Ukraine, but did not remove the fundamental conflict between the criminal and pro-Russian regime of V. Yanukovych, and the National Democratic opposition. Moreover, V. Yanukovych's attempts to postpone the power transfer through early presidential elections in December 2014, provoked (from January 18, 2014) a new wave of mass socio-political protests and protesters' clashes with the Militia.

 

The most active clashes took place near the stadium “Dynamo” and in Hrushevskoho Street, when demonstrators tried to break through into the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. V. Yanukovych's authorities once again used this as a pretext to resume their military actions to disperse Euromaydan, by use of firearms included.

Transformation of the political crisis in Ukraine into an armed confrontation immediately caused reactions of the leading Western countries. Thus, already January 22, 2014, Ambassadors of Germany and the UK, as well as Vice-President of the European Parliament J. Protasiewicz warned V. Yanukovych about possible termination of the official EU relations with Ukraine due to the fact that firearms were used against the demonstrators.

The USA resorted to more rigid and resolute measures, cancelling entry visas of representatives of the Ukrainian authorities, involved in forceful harassment of democracy in Ukraine. On the same day the participants of the World Economic Forum in Davos, observed a moment of silence as a sign of honoring the memory of those killed in Hrushevskoho Street.

The leading role in the pressure on Russia continued being played by Germany. February 1, 2014 at the Munich Conference on Security, Federal Chancellor of Germany A. Merkel and US Secretary of State J. Kerry supported Ukraine in its desire to be independent from Moscow, as a guarantee of preservation of democracy in Europe in the situation of V. Putin's regime's transition to openly aggressive internal and foreign policy. At the same time, they expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine in its struggle for national revival of the State.

Pressure from the West forced the Yanukovych regime to suspend the use of force against the opposition. However, such a forced pause was used by the then Ukrainian authorities not to peacefully resolve the situation in the country, but to regroup their forces and to mobilize provocateurs and militias in the form of the so-called “Titushkas” — political and criminal mercenaries from among the underclass of the population of Ukraine, first of all from eastern and southern regions.

The Russian Federation, seeking to preserve the pro-Russian government in Ukraine in the form of the then-Ukrainian regime, also activated its support to V. Yanukovych. This question was of particular importance for Russia in the context of the implementation of its plans for the construction of the future Eurasian Union as a form of revival of the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire.

In particular, in this regard, Russia launched a massive large-scale information campaign to support V. Yanukovych's regime and to discredit the national democratic opposition in Ukraine, which was called exclusively “fascists”, “Banderites”, “extremists” and “anti-Russian” forces.

Besides, together with purely ideological support to V. Yanukovych and his government, Russia was providing them with assistance in the form of financial resources, transfer of special means to combat demonstrators (weapons, ammunition, sound and flash grenades and gas grenades), and also sent advisers and special task forces under the guise of the Crimean special task force “Berkut”.

Taking into consideration Russia's open intervention into the conflict in Ukraine, the EU and the Federal Republic of Germany also became more active. Thus, February 17, 2014 German Chancellor A. Merkel personally met with the Ukrainian opposition leaders V. Klychko and A. Yatsenyuk, and expressed the European community's full support for the Ukrainian revolution.

Such development of events, in fact, never gave V. Yanukovych any chance to preserve his powers, except for the radical forceful (military) actions to eliminate Euromaydan and full transition of Ukraine under the influence of Moscow following the example of Belarus and Armenia. February 18, 2014 detachments of Special Forces of Militia “Berkut”, internal troops and other special structures resumed military actions to oust the demonstrators from Hrushevskoho Street, and on February 19 — began the storm of Euromaydan. At the same time on the side of pro-Russian Yanukovych's forces were mercenaries — “titushkas” and individual units (groups) of Russian special task forces.

Taking into consideration the critical nature of the events in Ukraine, February 19, 2014 German Chancellor A. Merkel addressed Russian President V. Putin with her personal appeal calling on him to keep Yanukovych from violence and to stop Russian interference into the Ukrainian internal conflict. In words V. Putin agreed on the necessity of peaceful settlement of the situation in Ukraine, but in reality he continued supporting V. Yanukovych's using force against participants of Euromaydan.

Moreover, even in advance, and on the eve of these events, Russia had begun an active phase of covert preparations for a military invasion of Ukraine. In particular, under the pretext of “ensuring security” of the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi (February 7-23, 2014), in Rostov region and the North Caucasus, Russia had concentrated a powerful group of Russian most combat-ready formations and units of mechanized infantry and airborne troops, as well as special task forces — for the occupation of the Crimea and Donetsk and Luhansk regions of south-eastern Ukraine. At the same time, under the pretext of training and maneuvers, the Russian troops had been concentrated near the borders of Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv regions of Ukraine.

At the same time, the forces of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation and Russia's special services (FSB, the GRU of the General Staff of the Armed Forces) activated the process of formation of the so-called “self-defence groups”, but in fact — illegal armed groups of terrorists-mercenaries to capture the local authorities in the Crimea and the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. So, even before the overthrow of Yanukovych's government, Moscow had already been creating conditions for disintegration of Ukraine by the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, as well as creation of “Novorossia” as a new quasi-state pro-Russian formation.

At the same time, February 18-19, 2014 V. Yanukovych, close to him pro-Russian politicians, siloviki and oligarchs, as well as the Putin regime still hoped to overcome Euromaydan and to hold in their hands the whole of Ukraine. This resulted in the bloody events in the Independence Square on the 19th- 20th of February 2014, which led to the greatest loss of life among the civilian population of the country for the entire period of the struggle for national sovereignty of Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, all this did not help V. Yanukovych and his associates and supporters. The decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (with the participation of the constitutional majority of the national-democratic forces) on stopping the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in Kyiv, as well as on withdrawal of troops from the capital of Ukraine — completely demoralized V. Yanukovych and his environment.

Additional and actually final impact on the Yanukovych regime had also a visit to Kyiv February 20, 2014 of the delegation of the European representatives in the composition of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Germany F. Steinmeier, France — L. Fabius and Poland — R. Sikorski, who for the first time since the beginning of the events in Maydan Nezalezhnosti, proclaimed the European Union's direct responsibility for the events in Ukraine. Following the visit, the EU Council of Foreign Ministers decided in principle to impose sanctions against Ukraine's leadership for its having used force against the participants of the European Maydan.

Euromaydan and the Revolution of Dignity finally buried V. Yanukovych's regime's hopes for the ability to maintain its power in Ukraine and it ended in “chain reaction” — the collapse of the ruling Party of Regions and its allies in the form of the Communist Party and other left-wing and pro-Russian forces, as well as treason and escape to Russia of the Ukrainian leadership already February 20-21, 2014, V.Yanukovych and the Head of the Presidential Guard, Defence Minister, Interior Minister, Chief of the State Security Service and other officials from the former government, and his environment included.

Unfortunately, this did not mean the complete victory of democracy in Ukraine, despite the fact that it was supported by the leading Western countries (including Germany as the leader of the European Union) and international organizations. On the night of 20 to 21 February, 2014, the Russian Federation secretly started bringing its troops and mercenaries into the Crimea, it was the beginning of its armed aggression against our country.

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