How the Ukraine-Russia -West Crisis Might Come to the End
Three possible scenarios of a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis: cold war, cold peace, and peaceful coexistence . Today we witness the realization of the last, intermediate scenario, which, in addition to everything else, is a Soviet legacy. In the Soviet times the peaceful coexistence theory was tested in the USSR as a form of continuation of class struggle, which promoted ties with nations with a different economic vision . Nowadays, it is tested as a scenario for cooperation with nations that have different ideas about democratic institutions and procedures. Possible only within a limited period of time, the peaceful coexistence scenario hinges on third-arty political actors’ unwillingness to actively seek compromise for the situation in Ukraine. The slow, gradual introduction of the Western sanctions, as well as Russia’s reactive sanctions against the Western nations, is now detrimental to all parties involved, although it does not preclude a dialog and contacts between parties involved in the settlement of the crisis. This scenario calls for an active participation on the part of Ukraine. Despite the complexities of the situation in the country’s East, Ukraine should be actively implementing political and economic reforms, creating additional forms of representative democracy in the regions, carrying out the policies of linguistic diversity, and launching programs of exchange, study and advanced training for young people in order to call into play instruments of social mobility.
The best outcome for the future is arguably the cold peace scenario. The political developments in Ukraine suggest that this scenario stands a good chance. First, the analysis of the presidential election in Ukraine shows a high level of trust in the institution of presidency after the revolution that happened in Ukraine. The fact that a presidential election in Ukraine did take place on May 25, 2014, in itself, is Ukraine’s titanic victory. Moreover, the country’s even bigger victory is the vote outcome: 54.7% of Ukraine’s population elected Petro Poroshenko as the president of Ukraine . Unlike all previous elections , the snap election in May 2014 had only one round, demonstrating the Ukrainians’ support for the new president and desire for unity inside the country. Meanwhile, Petro Poroshenko’s personality is important as an instrument for resolving the current crisis. Unlike the nation’s two previous leaders, Victor Yanukovych and Victor Yushchenko, Petro Poroshenko does not represent the West or the East of Ukraine. Not surprisingly, in his inauguration speech he did not hesitate to dot all the “i”s: “Crimea is a part of Ukraine” and Ukraine is not about to “join the NATO” . The election to the Verkhovna Rada – Ukrainian parliament – scheduled for October 2014 can become another factor contributing to the realization of this scenario.
The cold peace scenario calls for two counterbalancing factors in international politics. On the one hand, all political actors involved in the settlement of the crisis should lack a common vision of Ukraine’s future. Time should be playing against the introduction of new and harsh sanctions. Arguably, Western leaders, unable to achieve an agreement among themselves, will one more time miss the moment when the “remedy” is a cure, not a poison. We particularly witness it today and Mr. Barroso perfectly articulates this thought: “The EU is not a foreign power. Decisions are taken together. As long as this is not being recognized we will not succeed.” On the other hand, Russia will not cope with the pressure put on her by Western nations, while the situation inside the country and the enlargement of the Eurasian Union will require from Russia an increasingly more attention, diverting it from Ukraine.
The “cold peace” will result in a situation when Ukraine will regain the geopolitical status of an independent state, Russia will probably pay a contribution for the part of Ukraine’s territory – Crimea, and active efforts to resolve the issue of Crimea’s territorial affiliation will be postponed indefinitely. In European history this sort of complex political arrangement is known to have taken place in Austria, when, after the end of World War II, Austria again became a republic while remaining occupied by the Allies – UK, France, US, USSR. In the 20th century, Austria remained for a long time a “turning point” in the relations between the East and the West . Arguably, the Austrian experience is a good template for resolving the Ukrainian crisis, the one that meets the interests of the EU nations, although the application of this experience is bound to cause certain difficult reactions on the part of both Ukraine and Russia.
The most negative and undesirable scenario would be a cold war. The introduction of harsh economic sanctions, a complete re-orientation of the markets, the curtailment of programs, contacts and cooperation will result in alienation of the parties, the loss of dialog, and mutual isolation. In the short run, complete and/or partial realization of this scenario will cause losses to all political actors, although in the long run Western nations, unlike Russia and Ukraine, will regain its former strength. This has been proven to be true many times in the course of history . As the events have shown, the member states of the EU and NATO were parties least of all prepared for the cold war scenario. The German Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen, aptly noted, “Putin awakened NATO from slumber and achieved what he did fear most of all… the West stands united.” In response to the Ukrainian crisis, the NATO will station its troops on new bases in Eastern Europe for the first time in order to ensure safety of the former Soviet Baltic republics .
Which of the scenarios – cold war or cold peace – will come true in the future nobody knows. The equilibrium has been upset, the established border questioned, and the political actors – Russia, Ukraine and the Western nations – have different views and visions regarding the essence of the confrontation in Ukraine.