May 16, 2015

“The Ukrainian Crisis” of 2013-2015 or Fundamentals of the Existing International Order

The Independent Analytical Center for Geopolitical Studies “Borysfen Intel” affords ground to the analysts generation for expressing their point of view regarding the political, economic, security, information situation in Ukraine and in the world in general, according to their personal geopolitical studies and analyses.


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To illustrate how the “Ukrainian crisis” influences the existing international order, it is necessary to consider possible changes to the public (international-legal and political) and latent (hidden and secret) rules and principles of current international relations. “Ukrainian lessons”, that is, legal or political solving of certain aspects of the “Ukrainian crisis,” actually, have already become the fixation of new principles and rules of the new international order. Based on the theory of international order, it is possible to outline two main areas for the analysis: the first — the analysis of changes in the rules of the game in international relations under the pressure of “Ukrainian lessons” (change, in fact, of fundamental bases of the international order); second — the analysis of changes in the international order as a result of transformation of the global balance of power (influence of the polarity of the system of international relations). In this context, we will analyze the first direction.

“The Ukrainian crisis” and construction of changes in the international order.

The post-bipolar world is more multi-faceted and complex to analyze. This can be stated based on individual concepts in the theory of international relations, or on numerous foreign-policy doctrines and strategies of leading participants of international relations.

Today it is already obvious that technological breakthroughs in all areas of human activity and universalization of life order, fundamental disagreements in the understanding of the purposes of existence and development of both countries and the world as a whole, remain. The collapse of the Soviet Union did not provide “individual leadership” of liberal-democratic values and ideology, as it had been predicted by some authoritative Western theorists of international affairs (F. Fukuyama). According to I. Vinohradov, the elimination of the bipolarity of the era of “cold war” has not cancelled the competition of doctrines and strategies, the struggle for domination of ways of interpreting and understanding of the present, and does not deny that nations and states can create their own “orders of reality”. A. Yermolayev, trying to explain today's difficult and controversial international relations, hypothesizes that before our eyes the World of New Modernity is being born — the world, the face and the structure of which has not yet been shaped completely, and its birth is no less complex and contradictory, than the known to us the world of Late Modernity and Post-Modernity of the “long 20th century”.

According to the overwhelming majority of analysts of international affairs, in particular, Z. Brzezinski, in the early 21st century, the world has entered a zone of turbulence, when instability and chaos will only increase. A. Vlasyuk points out that the threat of a global crisis and chaos will be growing. This creates the need for an ethic of global responsibility, which is to be embraced by all civilized states and statesmen. Already today, there is every reason to state that we have to do with the key moment of “discontinuity of the linearity” of history. It fully deserves to be compared with the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the Balkan conflict, the struggle of the United States against international terrorism, the fall of dictatorial regimes in the Arab world. Now we can say with confidence that the Ukrainian events by the scale are not inferior to the above-mentioned events of the post-bipolar world, and their systemic results for international relations are even more important.

It is obvious that today in international relations between countries, the so-called “Ukrainian precedent” or pattern of solving various conflicts is gradually becoming practice. Apparently, it will be of universal, not just of European importance. Ways and results of solving the conflict situation in the East of Ukraine actually determine the prospects of the international order that is being constructed. However, it should be noted that the rapid, radical (and above all — instructive for any aggressor) resolving of the “Ukrainian crisis” can virtually make impossible the emergence of such conflicts in the future and will allow the international community to preserve intact the principles of the existing international order.

However, taking into consideration the obvious incompatibility (contradiction) of strategic interests and goals of individual participants of international relations, the confrontation between which may reach a critical point in the nearest future, such a solution is almost impossible. Therefore, the question of reorganization of the security segment of modern international relations is becoming increasingly important. Recent events in Ukraine by their historical significance are fully comparable with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the NATO and EU's expansion to the East. In all cases, we mean points of branching of historic paths and moments of the systemic-strategic choice.

In practice, the incredible has become reality, so there is reason to state that a new historical period has begun. Events in Ukraine can be considered milestone. They indicate that the post-bipolar world begins to live according to its own systemwide logic. There is also reason to believe that the third (new) period of the history of post-bipolar system of international relations has begun. Conventionally, there are the following milestone events of the first period — the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union; of the second period — NATO's expansion to the East. The first period wore the imprint of bipolarity and in fact, it was its logical continuation; the second period was the time of establishment of the Euro-Atlantic-centric world (the so-called Brussels-Washington order) and the beginning of formation of the monopolar international society. Today, we talk about the final separation from the previous system, that is, the degradation and scraping of the Yalta-Potsdam system of international relations.

I. Vynohradov said that the world is in constant search of a new order, and the subjects of the world politics have become regional and global economic, cultural-civilizational association/ communities, which have to be involved in creation of a new form of interaction between participants of international relations. In this sense, the “Ukrainian crisis” turned out to be in sync with the general trend of transformation of fundamental bases of the international order as both, a non-isolated international phenomenon and not an unexpected failure in the logic of international relations of the 21st century. “The Ukrainian crisis” has actually become a part, a catalyst, and possibly even a starting point in the final, “burying” (breaking off) of a number of fundamental parameters of international relations in the spheres of international law and international security, as well as of fundamental parameters of the international order.

Diminishing of the role of the international law and institutions of international security is a crisis of public principles of international order.

Today's vision of the world order and nature of international relations is based on the fact that the world geopolitical space is divided not so much by large states and their spheres of influence, as by internal lines of tension between the zone of stability, where the law and international law rule, and where the priority is human rights, and the sphere of uncertainty, characterized by disregard for the Law and the Justice as such. Probably in the near future we should expect even greater arbitrariness on the part of some major countries that will implement their own interests, regardless of international legal norms.

A. Merezhko points out that Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimea will entail disastrous consequences for the world order and the system of modern international law. If the international community ignores Russia's violation of norms and principles of international law in relation to Ukraine, it will undoubtfully result in an increase of chaos in international relations and a “war of all against all” (bellum omnium contra omnes). That is, Russia's aggression against Ukraine is a threat to the existence of the entire system of international law. Besides, Russia's aggressive actions have also undermined the international system of confidence (including in Russia itself), on which the modern international law is based.

The specifics of the current crisis in the international security system is largely the fact that it unwinds in the context of globalization, that is of dramatic increasing of the degree of interdependence of the subjects of international politics. It demands greater international responsibility of the participants in the system of international relations. But the neglect of international commitments, especially by an influential player (as an example — the Russian Federation's violation of a number of key international agreements and arrangements), can cause unpredictable consequences at regional and global levels, undermining sustainable economic and cultural development in Europe and worldwide.

In Ukraine, from the point of view of the international law, there was a military occupation and military aggression (if it is defined in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution “Definition of Aggression” of 1974 and if to pay attention, for example, to the conclusion of the European Council of March 3, 2014, PACE Resolution of April 9, 2014, the European Parliament Resolution of April 16, 2014, and others). The annexation of the Crimea and the “Russian game in Ukraine” have provoked the collapse of some of the taboos in the international arena. Two fundamental agreements have been violated: the Helsinki Accords of 1975, ensuring the stability of relations between the West and the East on the basis of guarantees of non-use of force, respect for the borders and sovereignty of States, and the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, signed by some major states, Russia included, which guaranteed Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in exchange for the destruction of its nuclear potential. Besides, Russia has violated international agreements on the Black Sea Fleet, a series of bilateral agreements (on friendship and cooperation, an agreement on border issues, etc), as well as the norms of general international law, in particular, the rules of the UN Charter.

Possible political-security consequence of the West's weak reaction to the breach of these Agreements may be renewed proliferation of nuclear weapons, as recent events have forced some States to conclude that the only defence of their sovereignty can be nuclear deterrence. Violation of norms of international law in the context of the “Ukrainian crisis”, is important not only as a global position of a possible “speaker” of the Eastern bloc in that international law can either be observed by all or violated by all, but the violation of international security guarantees in regard to Ukraine has set an unsuccessful denuclearization’s precedent (e.g., Iran) and undermines other international and bilateral security guarantees (first of all, the USA and China's security guarantees to some countries in South and East Asia or Russia's security guarantees to individual states of Central Asia and the post-Soviet territories).

Of course, today we can state with confidence that the veto power reserved by the permanent members of the Security Council, has ceased to perform its stabilizing function. The solution to this problem lies in redistribution of powers from the Security Council to the UN General Assembly. In particular, by expanding the powers of the UN in matters of preventive response to the emergence of conflicts. V. Butkevych states that without system changes in the UN, representing the Westphalian model of international order, it will be very difficult to solve problems. Under such system changes we mean, above all, reforming of the UN Security Council — namely, of its decision-making system (in particular the permanent members' right of veto) and the system of representation in the UN Security Council.

Russia's actions connected with the annexation of the Crimea were a direct violation of the basic principles and norms of international law. However, one of the consequences of a Russia's breaking of its international obligations was the fact that other international players have acquired the right to review their commitments to Russia. If today Russia rejects the idea of international law, or the idea of inviolability of state sovereignty (President V. Putin did it in some statements), then on the other hand the Kremlin does not deny the possibility of “the world of anarchy,” unfavorable for all participants of international relations, including for Moscow (especially if Russia's eastern border with China will not be a real border). That is why, very important are not only “Ukrainian lessons” in the context of the “Ukrainian crisis,” but also situational international compromises arising around the interpretation of these “lessons”. Without exception, all states seek to stably secure their national interests, but at the same time they are not interested in such a crisis of the international system, which will significantly worsen their chances to secure those interests.

All this is happening against the background of deterioration of the adequacy and effectiveness of international institutions, international law is denied, universally recognized norms and rules get devalued. Significant harm to international relations is done by “commercialization” and “bureaucratization” of values.

Despite numerous declarations about the need to modernize the system of international relations, most of international institutions and organizations established many decades ago, since then have not fundamentally revised their principles, functions, tasks, methods of activity and coordination, continuing to solve international problems, using slightly improved legal mechanisms and instruments belonging to the old paradigm of world order. International organizations turned out to be too static in the world that for a long time has been in the trend of dynamic changes.

“Hybridness” of international relations as a latent principle of the renewed international order.

The Hybrid Warfare ConceptIn late 2014 — early 2015 the international trend towards increased competition and growth of geopolitical tension in the world only increased. Political contradictions between the major geopolitical players have not been removed. In the geopolitical plane, there arise threats of direct armed conflicts between the rival states and coalitions of states.

At the same time we can say that the growing conflictness in world affairs and, in particular, “the Ukrainian crisis” has put in its right place the importance of the national idea in the life of the state and the people. It means, first of all, crystallization of the old-new trend in contemporary international relations, namely reanimation of the “nation-state” and the transfer of the standoff of countries from the international geopolitical discourse into national-political one. Such processes can be called “hybridization” of international relations. It is this kind of definition that can characterize the fact that most of the important lines of conflictness are gradually transferred from international sphere into the sphere of political struggle within individual states (the most recent model: the government — the opposition).

“Hybridization” of international relations means that such domestic political discourse turns into international one, while domestic political subjects get “hybrid support” from other participants of the international system (from the long-forgotten “hybrid help” to the parties in the Korean War of 1950-1953 and to the modern “hybrid uprisings” in the East of Ukraine, in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Myanmar and others.).

“Hybridization” can also be considered creation of terrorist organizations (some of which even pretend to be new forms of pseudo-states) to achieve certain geopolitical, economic, informational goals (striking examples are the Islamic State, the Boko Haram, Al-Shaabab and other entities). Apart from using the practice of “hybrid warfare” here can be included the “hybrid political war” (for example, Russia's financing of M. Le Pen's National Front and the Kremlin's creation of the system of “Trojan horses in the EU”: Hungary, Greece, Cyprus, etc). In this sense, “hybridization” of international processes is “in lockstep” with chaotization of international relations, and its systemic consequences are the fall of the role of international institutions and international law as such. In addition to this, “Ukrainian lessons” cause transformation of other types of orders (information, economic) as the information-propaganda weapon and economic sanctions, active pressure, trade restrictions turn into instruments of constant “hybrid war” and “hybrid policy”.

The Ukrainian conflict is a bright precedent of a modern “hybrid war”, which may either confirm its unique crushing action, or vice versa — will stimulate the effective search for measures to control the “hybrid” technologies. The Ukrainian precedent could be replicated as a special operation to destroy the statehood, during which the undermining is carried out by escalation of the internal political and economic contradictions (of countries, regions and international blocs). Within the framework of a limited conflict we cannot speak about military actions from a military point of view, since most military operations are often motivated not by achieving victory in the war, but by the political necessity. The main goal is not the destruction of the enemy's army, but a political signal that one side of the conflict is trying to properly give the other. The conflict of political signals here is meant as a large range of international conflicts of states in cultural-civilizational and ideological planes.

“Hybridization” of international relations may cause another important trend. As a result of “hybridization”, can be obtained not only the transfer of international developments into the context of national states, but also reanimation of “state-centrism” of international relations. In recent decades, the world has been becoming more complex through layering of multi-level complex relationships of different players. To “interstate chess games” were added non-governmental and private players. Reanimation of “state-centrism” in this sense does not mean a return to the classic medieval state-centrism, but it means a certain slowdown or getting a new content by trends in the “privatization” of modern international relations.

Increase in aggressiveness of states as the half-latent principle of the new international order.

D. Jensen points out that the Russian aggression against Ukraine has caused a greater impact on the European and international politics. The Kremlin is seeking the international recognition of a Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union and to shift the geographical balance of Euro-Atlantic influence, thereby reducing the influence of the United States of America. In pursuit of this goal, Russia is trying to distance itself from the international order, openly announcing it unfair. According to Moscow, the unpopular “new world order” that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union has come to an end. The global dominance of the USA and the West as a whole is getting smaller, and countries such as China, India and Brazil are becoming leaders. S. Talbott on this occasion said that if Putin gets away with violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, he will set an example for other world leaders, more aggressive ones, for example, such as China.

At this, we can see Saudi edition “Al-Sharq Al-Awsat”'s and probably the Saudi government's disappointment with the foreign policy of the Obama administration: “In connection with the Ukrainian events you may have noticed that Barack Obama failed to convince Putin to dance tango: perhaps Putin prefers judo”. The former Polish President Lech Walesa quite aptly spoke on the conflict between the West and Russia. He said that Europe today does not have a consolidated strong leadership facing the threat from the Russian side, to which it is necessary to react with force. L. Walesa believes that the Kremlin is behind by 30-50 years both, in the minds and in the structure of organization of the state, so it is using methods that have long been in the past. Putin has started a war against the whole of the developed world, has broken agreements, arrangements and guarantees. “How to play here, how to win, when Putin is boxing and the West is playing chess,” he says. It is obvious that the main threat is that international relations can turn into “judo or boxing without rules.”

Against the background of decrease in the efficiency and influence of global security institutions, the problem of militarization of the world is getting sharper. In particular, the signs of the beginning of a new “arms race” (including in its most dangerous nuclear components) are becoming more and more obvious. The present system of international security is almost not able to respond to crises, initiated by terrorist, extremist and fundamentalist movements. Assistance to countries struggling against terrorism and extremism for the most part is carried out in bilateral or bloc formats.

Today we can say that the thesis about militarization are turning into reality. To confirm this, you can bring the facts of the processes of building momentum of armaments, such as the modern policy of militarization of Japan; Saudi Arabia's becoming the first in terms of imports of armaments; the dynamics of increasing military budgets of individual states and regions; possible negative effects as a result of the conclusion of a new “nuclear deal” with Iran; re-armament of the armies of the USA and Russia against the background of intense military exercises of both NATO and Russia in Eastern and Northern Europe. Like never before is increasing the relevance of H. Hertz's “security dilemma”, which is that security threats to some states make it necessary to build up arms, which in turn triggers a chain reaction in the form of arms buildup by other states. The process of arms buildup continues till it ensures the safety of all players. The only problem is that in such a serious transformation of the international order there is a threat to face “a broken security dilemma” that instead of security will lead to a really great conflict.

One of the greatest challenges for Asia in the terms of security is the rapid growth of China's military power. A. Freund points out that in recent years China has shown a growing self-confidence and, one might even say the increasing aggressiveness. For Beijing, it is not just the question of defence, but for a long time it has been the matter of aggressive protection of its interests. By the same logic, the whole Asia is building up arms, because today next to China are being actively armed India and Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam. In the aspect of security policy China will position itself in new ways. This course includes the new anti-terrorism law that allows Beijing to intervene militarily abroad in case of a threat to the Chinese or their interests. Such a major change in China's security paradigm shows future serious changes in the foundations of international order, which to a large extent was ensured by China's liberal foreign policy. Not by accident, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: “The modern world order and international security system require a reset, but it does not mean their overthrow, but rather a search for new ideas to improve them.”

Besides, we should point out the creation of rapid reaction forces of the Arab countries at the meeting of the Arab League and the beginning of a similar active debate about the creation of a Common European Army. Part of this trend is the initiation of close military cooperation between the Nordic countries in response to the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation. These trends may indicate that the importance of security and military integration will grow, and new projects for such special and situational integration can lead to serious reformatting of integration processes, geopolitical and other global consequences that they cause.

After the occupation of the Crimea, the Kremlin was expected to confirm that Russia would remain at least within the “world order for the Third World”. Instead, V. Putin positioned himself as a revisionist of the universal world order, that is he suggested to respect the right of the winner in the war as an inalienable right of the modern world order. Speaker of the President of Russia D. Peskov said that Putin considers himself the savior of the dying international Law. Numerous speeches of Russian officials and Putin himself (including the statement in the famous film about the return of the Crimea) indicate V. Putin's the new doctrine for international law and the new international order. In fact, hiding behind the international law, one can see the “wind of changes”, which marks the return of the military force into the central place among the main regulators of international relations in all spheres.

Z. Dan states that the international security situation is unstable, and the international order, as we can see, is in the process of melting. Ukraine is the country whose territorial integrity and state sovereignty were guaranteed by the United States, France, United Kingdom and the Russian Federation. As a result of Russia's aggression in the Crimea, and then — in the East of Ukraine, the system of international treaties and the post-war security system have been destroyed. Positioning of countries on the Ukrainian issue has divided the world into two opposing groups, and Ukraine has become the personification of the threat of world war.


In fact, the “Ukrainian crisis” has became and remains an important factor in transformation of the international order (which is in constant destructurization and “swift-flowing” transformation) in the sense that it is a “catalyst” of the international confrontation of global players (the USA, EU, Russia, China) and regions (Middle East, Latin America, East Asia) for the construction and practical interpretation of the new international order.

The “Ukrainian precedent” of Russia's hybrid aggression against Ukraine in the Crimea and in the East of Ukraine, has caused a number of “Ukrainian lessons”, which formed the basis of the crisis of public principles of today's international order (reducing the role of international law and international security institutions) and crystallization of new and half-latent principles of the renewed international order (“hybridization” of international relations, strengthening of aggressiveness of states).

Crystallization or establishment of certain principles of the new international order evidences of the gradual “violence” of the prior one, beginning or already a safe break with the previous one, and therefore, the actual dismantling of Yalta-Potsdam system of international relations and order.

The consequences of this “upgrade” is the weakening of the regulatory function of international law (at least of the law of international security) and international organizations designed to ensure international security (UN, OSCE). The weakening of the regulatory function of international law means an informal revision of international obligations of states in relation to each other.

This, in its turn, increases the threats of “hybridization” of international relations, which mean intensification of foreign military, political, economic, media interventions of some states into internal affairs of others in order to overthrow unwanted modes or change the internal political configuration of individual states. Reanimation of a “nation-state” recreates state-centrist trends in international relations, as opposed to their “privatization”.

Due to the ever increasing general aggressiveness of states' activity, the continuing general militarization (increasing arms race, building up the pace of military-political integration, revision of military and political concepts by states and international organizations), the world is entering a phase of chaotization of international relations against the background of reduction of their carelessness. The return to the military force as one of the main regulators of international relations and the power factor of the participants means the general increase in the threat of new domestic and international conflicts that threaten the world with another world war (of a new or classic type).

Russia, China and their political allies in Asia and Latin America are trying to carry out a radical revision of the foundations of the international order that emerged after the collapse of the bipolar system of international relations. The Kremlin needs, first of all, recognition of it as a powerful center (pole) of power and as an equal member of international-political discourse. Manifestation of this recognition, according to Moscow, has to become the outdated principle (which seemed to have gone into oblivion along with the ghost of the “cold war”), of distribution of spheres of influence between powerful players of the international system. The derivative aspiration is the Russian Federation's fundamental desire to shift the geographical balance of the Western influence, thus reducing the USA's influence.

Therefore, we can assume that with this kind of politics, V. Putin is stubbornly trying to impose on the international community a new model of polycentric world where the most important role will be played by the countries of the so-called South-Eastern Bloc — Russia, China, India and Brazil. The Euro-Atlantic world, in its turn, refuses to play by the Kremlin's rules, ignoring the model of power solutions to international conflicts, encroachment on national sovereignty and change of borders in accordance with the national interests of one or another state.

Material of the “Information Analysis Center” (Lviv)

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