Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
It’s a long time since the States of Etruscans, Avars, Phoenicians existed. There are no such people anymore, their languages passed into the category of the dead, nobody knows exactly what religious rites they performed. Nevertheless, scientists study their history, evaluate the activity of those governors who managed to overcome the crises of the times of their governance, as well as the inability to control a situation that became fatal for the people.
Portraits of historic figures and the canvas of events are laid out by separate little stones (like a mosaic), while the numerous lacunas that sometimes occupy up to 95% of historical canvases are filled on the basis of representations of the specific researcher on how events had to develop and what could influence specific decisions of specific people. I.e. our representations of how events developed many centuries ago and what their participants were guided by are 90-95% the subjective opinion of the researcher.
The scientist, in turn, during the development of their position can lean on both facts and emotions, can take a liking to the image of the State or the politician that is thought up by them, and therefore to treat all facts in their advantage. At last, the researcher, without knowing the norms and rules of a specific society, without understanding what for the citizens of this State is good or bad, extrapolates his representation about perfection to the actions of people living in other conditions and sharing other values.
If one day someone becomes interested in the short history of the unfulfilled Ukrainian State at the end of 20th – beginning of the 21st century, for their services there will be a set of documents that are carefully stored in international and State private archives. Nevertheless, the latest researcher anyway will be obliged to rely on their intuition and to believe that the mosaic constructed by them at least partially corresponds to reality.
This time the problem will be not a lack, but a surplus of information. Moreover, the information will be extremely inconsistent, irrespective of its origin. On the one hand, its possible that none of the official concepts of State-participants of a crisis will correspond to historical truth. But they will be universally recognised and justified, and, most importantly, each of them will draw a certain consistent picture of the strategic development of a situation. From another hand, the casual participant of events can record at a certain time, in a certain place, a specific fact that can’t be doubted. But this fact in the overall known picture won’t be implanted in any way.
Respectively, the conscientious researcher will be obliged to neglect the casual fact for the sake of the strategic integrity of a picture. Or they will be obliged to recognize that we can’t distinguish truth from lie. Perhaps the conscientious researcher will go further and will call into question the validity of the sum of our historical knowledge. Such attempts were repeatedly made, and like any absolutization, they are noxious. But the future researcher will be obliged to recognize the helplessness concerning the driving motives and the reasons for the Ukrainian crisis.
We will begin with actual events. The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, speaking during his working visit to Great Britain at the Royal Institute of International Relations (Chatham House), accused Russia of trying to create an alternative to the current world order, and for the sake of this it is aggressive towards neighboring states. Listing the States that were subjected to “Russian aggression”, Poroshenko named Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Syria. The thesis about Russian aggression in Donbass was repeated by Poroshenko in an interview to the Sky News TV channel, and was also developed during his meeting with a group of Deputies of the House of Commons.
What does the unbiased researcher working in the far future see when political expediency in an assessment of today’s events already gave way to scientific objectivity? The President of a tertiary country, on the territory of which there is a military conflict, accuses a neighboring great country of being aggressive, and tries to get the support of European states (in particular, Great Britain).
Can Poroshenko be right in his accusations? He can. The objective researcher of this period can’t but know that both direct military invasions and hybrid aggression were a popular method of solving political problems in the 20th – beginning of the 21st century. But it is also possible that Poroshenko can lie. Therefore, his position must be buttressed up by objective facts.
As Ukraine is put in one row with Moldova, Georgia, and Syria, it is necessary to define, for a start, the degree of “Russian aggression” concerning these States. The first thing, Russian contingents in all three cases were located on the territories of these countries in compliance with both multilateral international agreements and with the consent or via a request (as in Syria) of the national governments.
In Moldova the civil conflict was stopped in its embryo by forces of the Russian contingent, and it didn’t resume. Furthermore, the number of Russian troops was reduced to an absolute minimum. Part of them took part in a trilateral (Russia, Moldova, Transnistria) peacekeeping mission. Part of them protected warehouses of arms and ammunition, which, according to the international obligations of Russia, had to be withdrawn to its territory. The possibility of the implementation of this obligation was initially blocked by the conflict (the population of Transnistria for a long time interfered with the withdrawal of arms). Then, the regime of President Yushchenko [President of Ukraine 2005-2010 – ed] forbade the passing of echelons through the territory of Ukraine, motivating his decision with reasons of ecological safety. The contingent protecting the warehouses was reduced according to the extent that weapons and ammunition was gradually withdrawn.
In fact in Moldova Russia provided the termination of the inflaming civil war at an early stage, preservation of the formal territorial integrity (Transnistria is still recognised by Moscow as the territory of Moldova), and also conscientious intermediary efforts for the purpose of achieving a political settlement of the crisis. Only thanks to the efforts of Moscow, Moldova still not only keeps its chances of creating together with Transnistria a confederative State, but it also exists as the independent State. Romania even at the very beginning of the conflict pushed forward the plan of transferring Transnistria under the sovereignty of Ukraine so that the rest of the Moldavian territory passed under the authorities of Bucharest.
A similar situation was developing in Georgia too. Russia helped to freeze the Abkhazian and Ossetian conflicts and wasn’t in a hurry to recognise the independence of these States. And Russian peacekeepers protected not only Abkhazians and Ossetians from Georgians, but also Georgian enclaves in the territories of the self-proclaimed Republics. And once again – it is exactly only by the efforts of Moscow that the civil war was stopped, and it is Moscow who tried to arrange dialogue leading to a political settlement of the crisis.
If there wasn’t the provocative course of Saakashvili, who not only tried to launch war, but also attacked Russian peacekeepers who were in the territory of South Ossetia according to the Dagomys agreements of 1992 between Russia and Georgia, the conflict would remain in a similar-to-Transnistria frozen condition to his day.
In both cases Russia created all the conditions for a peaceful resolution of the crisis by achieving a compromise in political agreements. To what extent the sides were able to use these conditions – this question is for them. Neither Moscow nor anyone else is able to come to an agreement on their behalf.
Finally, in Syria Russia is in general at war with the same terrorists who the US, Turkey, and a few other participants of the international coalition are at war with. Russian troops, unlike other impostors, were invited into the country by the lawful government of Syria. The common opinion of the world community is that a definitive political settlement must be reached during inter-syrian dialogue, without outside interference. Russia is the only one that doesn’t lay down preliminary conditions to start this dialogue. It doesn’t refuse any politician or political force the possibility to participate in post-war elections, except those that are recognized as terrorists by all the world community.
Thus, if the impartial researcher will use only the examples given by Poroshenko himself, and will accept as a reality his affirmation – that Russia plays in Ukraine the same role as in Syria, Georgia, and Moldova, it will be necessary to recognize that the role of Russia in Ukraine is exclusively constructive and directed towards resolving the crisis at the expense of an internal Ukrainian political resource, without outside interference (except the international intermediary efforts known as the Minsk and Normandy formats).
But in his inventory there will be not only these examples. Poroshenko visited London on April 18th-19th. And on April 19th the International Court of Justice of the UN in the Hague adopted an intermediate decision on the claim of Ukraine to Russia, refusing Kiev the acceptance of providing measures for its claim. As Kiev presented to Moscow claims of financing terrorists on the territory of Ukraine, the court practically (although a final decision hasn’t yet been made) already disavowed the Ukrainian claims. Thus, from the point of view of international standards, Russia not only didn’t attack Ukraine, but didn’t even finance internal political opponents of Kiev. In fact, the court confirmed the civil nature of the conflict in Ukraine, something that Russia talks about all the time.
However, the court nevertheless, in the guise of a consolation prize for Kiev, urged Russia to provide rights to Crimean Tatars and also studying in Crimea of the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages for all who desire it. But even here the impartial researcher will quickly find out that the wishes of the International Court of Justice of the UN were fulfilled by Russia long before the beginning of the process.
The last traditional accusation that Poroshenko presented to Russia concerned the violation of the Minsk Agreements. However, these agreements are between Ukraine and the DPR/LPR. Russia can promote their implementation (in the presence of the good will of the sides), but can’t violate them in any way without being a participant.
At the same time and on the same dates, Aleksandr Turchynov – the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, whose powers during his accession to the post in 2014 were defined by a special law (at this time his powers was so expanded regarding control over security officers that today nobody knows if generally they have any limits) – stated that the Ukrainian power structures must be ready to restore by force the power of Kiev in Donbass and to try to not “leave behind” the Russian border.
How should the impartial researcher who is living in the far future and doesn’t have the opportunity to understand the subtleties of modern international politics and inter-Ukrainian relations evaluate this situation?
The facts available to him say that it is Ukraine that is the aggressor. Moreover, its high-ranking official even threatens to attack Russia (albeit in a veiled, but rather transparent form). This official (Turchynov), acting out during three and a half months in 2014 the President’s duties (being in parallel the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada), personally gave the order for the beginning of the civil war, which he called the “anti-terrorist operation”. When he headed the Ukrainian State, the Ukrainian armored vehicles entered, and shells flew on Russian territory, the Russian border crossings were subjected to fire from mortars and small arms. It means it is possible to believe that also now he isn’t joking and is ready to start a war.
And what about Poroshenko? In sources it is written about him that he is the President of peace. Well, our researcher will work again in the archives and will find mentions of certain marginal Ukrainian political scientists concerning the existence in Kiev of a “party of war” and a “party of peace”. And it is precisely here that the puzzle of the scientist will be completed, the elements of the mosaic will fall into place. The researcher will think that Poroshenko is the President of peace, broken by the party of war led by Turchynov. That’s why the nominal leader of Ukraine is so unconvincing during his speech in the British capital. That’s why for a long time heads of European States avoid him, and those who nevertheless are obliged to meet him limited themselves to protocol banalities. That’s why also the level of his event in the British capital would correspond to the level not of the most representative parliamentary delegation that arrived in a format of “suit and tie tourism” to take a walk in the Albion under the pretext of solving major State problems, but also not at all at the level of the head of State. That’s why in Kiev the jokes about the failure of Poroshenko’s visit were told even before it started.
And in all these assumptions he will be wrong. Poroshenko doesn’t want and never wanted specifically war or peace. He doesn’t think in these categories at all. Poroshenko desired to become the President of Ukraine to convert political power into financial success. And he succeeded in this. Now he wants as long as possible to stay in the presidential chair so that no worthless kopek rolls past him. I am not even sure that he understands that now he is the lifelong president of Ukraine. As soon as his presidency ends, life will also end, and, most likely, Ukraine too. He simply doesn’t want to miss out on his little deal, which is what will happen if he runs away ahead of time.
If war doesn’t disturb Poroshenko’s preservation of power and earnings, then the show must go on. And war doesn’t disturb this – it only promotes it. Firstly, it is possible to earn lots of money on military budgets. Secondly, different kinds of radicals are distracted by war and don’t pursue Poroshenko with inconvenient questions about outstanding promises.
Of course, if peace was profitable in the same way, Poroshenko wouldn’t oppose peace, but why strain yourself for the sake of it if things are currently so good?
Turchynov is guided by completely other interests. He, of course, is also not against stealing another one or tens of millions of dollars. The worthy person most live worthily. But first of all he believes in his “great historical mission”. He considers that God intended for him to create a great Ukraine and to destroy Russia. And, in his opinion, these two events must be interconnected.
That’s why Turchynov differs from Poroshenko only in the fact that any current level of the conflict that doesn’t prevent Poroshenko from stealing suits him (more weaker, more intensive – it is all the same for him). While Turchynov (with a total lack of opposition to Poroshenko) does everything so that the conflict is aggravated and expanded. His wet dream is to involve Russia in military operations. Recently in an interview to the BBC he regretted again that in March-April, 2014, his orders to open of fire on Russian troops in Crimea and on the people who seized border crossings in Donbass weren’t fulfilled. Thus (as it follows from his other statements) he realizes that the implementation of his orders could become the trigger of a full-scale war and even counts on this war gaining at least an all-European character.
It is unlikely that in the future the conscientious researcher will be able to understand that the authorities of unfulfilled-Ukraine was formed partly by thieves to whom it is all the same what occurs as long as personal welfare grew, together with non-adequate people infected with a messianic complex. Both of them are not concerned about the real problems of Ukraine, and the fact that people scatter and die out and the economy is already destroyed. They, like artists, see the world in their own way.
By the way, not only in the future, but also today, many people, before the eyes of which the transformation of Ukraine into a decaying carcass full of worms and larvae, still continue to look for some political logic in the actions of the Kiev authorities, assume that they in own way, but nevertheless solve the problem of strengthening Ukrainian statehood, the creation of the nation, etc. In reality, for them Ukraine is only a way to solve their own financial problems (this is first) and satisfaction of sick ambition (this is second).
Any Maidan is a bunch of aggressive outcasts (bums, poets, politicians) eager to revenge society for their lack of realisation and to caress their ego. “Although small, but a chief,” said one of my acquaintances about her son who served in the Soviet Army up to a Junior Sergeant.
So they flatter it, and they also revenge. But the purpose of the State here matters not. I saw in the early 90’s, when Poroshenko was at the beginning of confectionery, how Ukrainian politicians give speeches in the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in parliament, and in the same Chatham House. As far as it can be regrettable, Poroshenko didn’t say anything new. By the way, Turchynov is also not original. In the late 80’s Korchinsky called to create in the place of the Russian empire the great Ukrainian empire.
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