V.Gorbulin. Is the ‘resetting’ of relationships with Russia possible? Models and scenarios of development.


Dear gathering, the presentations by Messrs. Hryhoriy Perepelytsia and Yevhen Marchuk indeed prompt to conclude that some remarks are probably to be made on a common political security order prevailing today.

Speaking about multi-polar world, Mr. Perepelytsia focused only on one of three existing models. Why do I focus your attention on this? Because the issues of multi-polarity are widely discussed by both practitioners and theorists. However I would like to recollect that it was at the time of the bipolar world, when this subject came up strangely enough for the first time, when Yevgen Primakov, who passed away not long ago, was the first to offer establishing of a triangle “Moscow-Delhi-Beijing” in opposition to the North-Atlantic Alliance regarding all the issues related to the common security policy, as well as economic issues to some extent, no matter how strange it may seem.

One could say it did not happen during the Soviet time. When Putin came to power, the Russian leadership started implementing these ideas with a particular persistence and notice. The matter concerns, first of all, the establishment of BRICS as a system, which includes so called great arch, in other words big nations, able to oppose the US as the unipolar leader.

I cannot but recall in this context my meeting with Samuel Huntington in October 1999. Then he very clearly outlined his vision for Ukraine, which I disagreed with. The vision was based on that the greatest threat to the world today could be civilizational multi-polarity, when power pole configurations could be formed from certain communities of civilization (as it has been mentioned before by  Mr. Perepelytsia). The main thesis was that they would be based on different value and religious systems and the most acute situation could arise in Ukraine, if it seriously tried to get closer to the universal civil values and accession to the European Union or NATO. I did not agree with this statement. However, recent events show how ahead Huntington saw. I would be very happy if our conference would generate some ideas that could seem to be unrealistic, but would prompt to think. In my opinion, it would be another big mistake for Ukraine not to see and think about such things.

The second scenario, the second model, which is now being intensively discussed by the experts is so called “bipolar world”. The Soviet Union and the socialist camp do exist anymore and it seems that the direct ideological conflict between communist ideology and general human values has disappeared. However, today we have two systems, although I cannot call them ideological, with very serious contradictions. They are: the general democratic vision of the world development promoted by the Western world and the so called “state centrism” that China gives preference to, and today Russia is opting for in a very active way. In this context, other local bipolarities can emerging that can result in colliding interests of countries with very different approaches that ultimately threatens global potential catastrophe.

The third model is a "unipolar" world, where many players in the world have hoped that the United States would continue perceiving themselves as a leader. But today they do not consider themselves as such a leader, though the USA do not release their responsibility for course of events in the world. However, even such a prominent theorist of the US security course of foreign policy as Zbigniew Brzezinsky is questioning the model, where the United States should be responsible for everything that happens in the world.

What can Ukraine do under such models of the security situation development in the world? In my opinion, it can serve to promote the Euro-Atlantic community to the East, integrating continental Europe for the purpose of peaceful and constructive involvement in the international community. The current situation in Ukraine is far from the one where our country would be able to play its integrating role in the process of global transformations.

The agenda has another question: how can the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian conflict be stopped with minimal losses to our country? What can the further development of events be? I recently articulated my vision in the newspaper “Dzerkalo Tyzhnia”, describing five possible scenarios. I will not enter into each of them, but I would like to make a few remarks about some of them. In my opinion, I can talk about three radical scenarios and two intermediate or compromise ones.

The first radical scenario is a scenario of total war, which has invoked a lot of criticism. But it is quite possible if the Russian government decides to start open military aggression to obtain a land corridor to the Crimea or even free access to its military forces in Transdniestria.

In this case, Ukraine will have no other options to settle the conflict in Donbas, and it will have to defend its independence, using all available resources. In this connection, I would like to emphasize that total war is only a war for the defense of Ukraine. Such development can bring huge losses to Ukraine, it would militarize the whole society, introduce martial law, leading to the economic, political, cultural, ideological and propaganda mobilization. But I must honestly admit that martial law had never brought anything good to the citizens of a country where it was introduced. We will have to look for an opportunity of attacking the enemy's critical infrastructure and make an active guerrilla war.

Of course, I would not like to opt for this scenario; it is important to consider whether Ukraine could win such total war. I think it could, because Russia, whatever is said today, has restrictions in terms of technological and financial resources, and the results of the sanctions are the direct example hereof.

As for the margin of strength the Russian political system, I have a double vision for it. On the one hand, Putin's rating exceeds 80%, on the other hand, the question arises if this rating reflects the truth. How much of the population characterized by negative demographic dynamics and the inability to stand up to the aggressive national minorities, can demonstrate resilience and stability.

Army. Yes, it was definitely modernized in the last seven years. There are two interesting formulas on this subject. I will articulate them in Russian, since they are drafted by Russian experts: the first one: “The ‘security’ of Russia ends where the security of its neighbors begins and this directly concerns Ukraine" and the second one: "Everyone knows that the West may be ready for war, but everyone knows that the West hesitates whether such war can happen. Few people know that Russia is not ready for this war, but everyone knows that it is ready for action." So, if these two formulas are projected to our reality, we have to be ready for those scenarios mentioned by Messrs.  Perepelytsya and Marchuk.

Subject to the second radical scenario: "cutting off or the wall", it suggests Ukraine’s definitive rejection of the occupied territories, a complete break of relations with them. To do this, Ukraine needs to create powerful defensive constructions and maintain adequate isolation of these lands to ensure its safety. Pursuant to this scenario, there is a large range of domestic political issues to be solved. First of all, there is a huge number of displaced persons: their number equals to a million in Ukraine and, in fact, a million in Russia. What about the people who remain in this area cut off from Ukraine? This is a serious issue for our political leaders, to a certain extent this is a loss of international prestige of Ukraine. However, in my opinion, all these problems should be approached, primarily, based on the analysis of our own resources and intentions to obtain peace for Ukraine as such.

The “satellite” scenario or switch to the terms of a separate peace with Russia, in my opinion, is unlikely to happen, but, it cannot be excluded considering the historical experience.

The fourth scenario already mentioned by Mr. Perepelytsia is to "freeze" the status quo pursuant to the formula "neither war, nor peace." In due time, I studied carefully Trotsky and I can say that the political decisions offered by him in 1917-18 were probably the only correct decisions allowing to keep the Soviet regime in the territory of Russia.

The fifth scenario envisages a series of measures that Ukraine has every moral, political and legal right to.

First, the occupied territories are temporary withdrawn from Ukrainian jurisdiction and they are transferred under international jurisdiction. Ukraine ceases to fulfil any obligations to those who decide to stay in this territory. Any economic contacts with the occupied territories are terminated.

Second, Ukraine reserves the exclusive right to make decisions about the restoration of its territorial integrity and implement it in the most appropriate time and way.

Third, the status of the territories occupied by Russia and seized by terrorists can only be temporary and should not appear in the Constitution of Ukraine.

Fourth, the members of gangs and other accomplices of Russian aggression who were not involved in serious crimes shall be subject to amnesty. Although, it must be admitted, this is a very difficult and complex issue.

Fifth, line of demarcation is determined on a proportional basis. Donetsk and Luhansk are declared open and demilitarized cities under international control.

Sixth, the troops that separate the Ukrainian army from the gangs shall be composed primarily of members of the armed forces of the European countries whose leaders are involved in the international settlement. Ukraine should create at least three, and not one (like today), joint military teams with NATO countries and place them around the zone of the “frozen” conflict.

Seventh, Ukrainian side continues to develop and modernize its armed forces and reserves the right to use them for the preservation and restoration of its sovereignty.

Eighth, Ukraine gets political compensation that would represent a guarantee of its independence and clearly define the prospects of membership in NATO and the EU

In my opinion, it is quite system’s use case of what Ukraine should do next.

I have to mention also some thoughts of the Western world on this subject. I found a very interesting material prepared by Stratfor, the known American private intelligence analytical agency. They presented their forecast scenario for Ukrainian events. This is the scenario forecast of George Friedman, the Stratfor's Head, who presented the project of the so called Baltic-Black Sea-Adriatic territory.  In many ways it reminds the idea of a sanitary border existing between Russia and Europe after the World War I, offered by Jozef Pilsudski. Stratfor delivers only two scenarios: the first one is relatively optimistic, the second scenario is pessimistic. But even the optimistic scenario assumes continuation and even serious deterioration of relations between the West and Russia, the pressure on Russia for the purpose of solving the Ukrainian problem. In the context of possible concessions to Russia, there may be granted certain guarantees of Ukraine not joining the EU in the medium-term perspective, and not joining the NATO in the long-term perspective. This option is somewhat correlated with the relatively recent draft of the European Security Treaty, which was lobbied by Russia (the so called "Corfu Process" mentioned by Mr. Perepelytsia). Interestingly, even in this optimistic scenario, Ukraine is experiencing very heavy losses. And they are, first of all, political losses. This is about the perspectives for Ukraine, perhaps, even from the point of view of its statehood.

The pessimistic scenario envisages gradual softening of the position of the West and the readiness of the latter to make serious concessions to Russia in exchange for preventing further escalation of the confrontation at the sub-regional level. However, this scenario implies, in my view, a fundamental weakening of the West's geopolitical role it continues to play today.

Of course, these are contingent scenarios. But as a nation, we must take into account this opinion, which, unfortunately, is gaining momentum in the West. Therefore, we must protect ourselves and must do everything for this purpose.

Conferences as this one can give us many useful benefits because they help to articulate an ideology that we have to defend in any political or informational environment existing in countries interested in Ukraine to be an independent and prosperous state, occupying a respectable place in the world and regional security.

18.01.2016 19:00:00