A Rejoinder to Doug Bandow and Stephen Kotkin


“Donbass is a Heart of Russia” (1920’s poster)

By Michael Averko

Re: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2014/12/01/the-battle-for-ukraine-u-s-and-russia-must-find-an-exit-if-not-stage-a-reset/

Before the overthrow of Yanukovych, it’s fair to say that the EU and US had more of a pre-1914 geopolitical attitude towards Ukraine than Russia, for the reason that I note further below. The current predicament sees a post-Soviet Russia recognizing that there’s more to the world than Europe. Some in the West have referred to the “world” with the mention of the UK, US, Canada and Australia. Yet Russia is more prone (in some influential Western circles) to being typecast as having a reactionary geopolitical position.

There’s room to discuss how Russia responded after the overthrow of Yanukovych. The situations regarding Kosovo and northern Cyprus, as well as what happened in Kiev, serve as a basis for explaining Crimea’s present territorial reality. 

Concerning the Donbass situation, consider what would’ve happened with no involvement from Russia. The Kiev regime having free reign in restricting pro-Russian advocates, inclusive of a great exodus to Russia, with Moscow having less influence. There’s also the issue of a segment of Russian public opinion feeling a need to do something in Ukraine, as well as the worldwide problem of policing borders. Keep in mind that the violence in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas dramatically increased with the military activity from forces loyal to the Kiev regime.

Putin’s mind is arguably not so difficult to read as some suggest. He’s willing to have good relations within the reasoned perspective of his country’s best interests. Upon seeing resistance to this stance, he will consider other options.  

Re: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/28/opinion/stalin-father-of-ukraine.html?src=twr&_r=2

Excerpt –

“Mr. Putin cannot simply swallow Ukraine – it is no longer ‘New Russia.’ And unlike Stalin – indeed, because of Stalin, and because of his regime’s own behavior – Mr. Putin cannot entice Ukraine back into a new ‘Eurasian’ union with Russia either. Ukrainians have little affection for Stalin’s dictatorship, but their struggle for statehood owes much to his legacy – a legacy that, for different reasons, neither they nor Mr. Putin like to think about.”


The EU can’t simply “swallow Ukraine”. This point partly explains the stringent particulars which Brussels has put on Ukraine, without giving a specific timetable for when that former Soviet republic can become a full fledged EU member. (The pro-Ukraine in the EU advocate Brzezinski acknowledges it’ll be quite some time before Ukraine can get EU membership, with others being less optimistic.) Likewise, the idea of some form of an effective new Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in Ukraine faces significant challenges.

In the lead-up to the present crisis in Ukraine, Putin and the since ousted Ukrainian president Yanukovych supported the idea of a development program for Ukraine, involving the EU and the Customs Union/Eurasian Union. Yanukovych never committed to the latter, with the EU and US taking a zero sum game stance unlike Russia.

Post-Soviet Ukraine has seen fluctuating preferences. It’s arguably premature to believe that what might seem evident now in Kiev regime held territory will be etched in stone.

Contrary to some suggestions, contemporary Russians (in overall terms) aren’t so big on Stalin. In Russia, the annual Victory Day holiday emphasizes the role of the people of the USSR who defeated Stalin, as opposed to a blinded hero worship of the dictator. Putin recently paid tribute to those who suffered under Stalin’s rule.

Michael Averko – http://www.eurasiareview.com/author/michael-averko/

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