This is a disturbing photograph of a disgusting event. In June 2009, nationalists egged on by the Yushchenko junta reburied the remains of Galician SS volunteers with full honours. Note those garbed in Nazi uniform and the presence of either Uniate or schismatic clergy (or both). God willing, there’ll be no more of this rubbish.
Since its emergence as a puppet state of Imperial Germany in 1918, the Ukraine has been a problematic entity. The issue commences with toponymy, the study of place names. For example, the polities of the 17th and 18th centuries that existed in the present-day Ukraine were not even called thus, all their neighbours (Turkey, Poland, and the Austrian Empire) referred to them as the “Duchy of Russia”, or “Russia Minor” (commonly misnamed “Little Russia”).
Therefore, national identity (whether there is a genuine, identifiable Ukrainian nation) remains a long-standing central question and is at the core of much of the present-day Ukrainian malaise. Ukrainian separatism is frequently defined through a negative assertion, what the Ukraine is not, i.e. it is emphatically not Russian (there is also a latent denial of Polonism, i.e., the Ukraine is not Polish.) Self-definitions through negative assertions are inherently weak and limited; they are subordinate to a superior concept and depend on it for meaning.
This weakness of national identity is implicit in the frequently announced goals of Ukrainian leaders to engage vigorously in Ukrainian nation building, this is an implicit recognition that a Ukrainian nation, which meets the separatists’ ideals, may not yet exist, or may even be unattainable.
Only very superficial observers, not well versed in the history of the region, could have expected any substantial permanence from the so-called Orange Revolution. That particular episode was essentially political theatre (or political circus), not more legitimate than the presidential elections that it overturned. It took a lot of energy from interested parties to help the Orange régime in the Ukraine survive for the duration of the Yushchenko presidency. In fact, one can argue that the Orange regime ended when serious dissent broke out between the Ukrainian president, the Ukrainian prime minister, and the Rada.
Geography and 1,000 years of shared history and religion (Moscow was once a provincial town of Kievan Rus’) dictate synergy and mutual benefits from collaboration between the Ukraine and Russia. The very recent economic discrepancies were created artificially, in a major part due to the mechanisms of self-identification through negative assertion. If the Ukraine self-identifies as being “not Russian”, then it is more difficult for such a Ukraine to collaborate with Russia at the same time. Collaboration begins to seem like an encroachment on national self-identification.
Will Russia want (or need) to bailout the Ukraine economically? Much depends on whether the Ukraine is perceived as a kind of political and economic “black hole” into which external resources are poured, never to be seen again. Massive assistance implies substantial diminution of sovereignty, is the Ukraine prepared to diminish its macroeconomic separateness (worthless as that may be) in exchange for a bailout by Russia? Will other neighbouring countries, like Poland, who have coveted the Ukraine’s territory for centuries, agree with such a solution to the region’s economic woes?
Just as Ukrainian separatism is defined through a negative assertion (“not-Russian”), American involvement in Ukrainian politics seems to have been motivated by an anti-Russian posture (rather than a pro-Ukrainian position). As US-Russian relations improve, US support of Ukrainian anti-Russian posturing should continue to diminish.
The EU is generally more aware of history and of geopolitical subterfuges. The EU remains cool on the subject of Ukrainian separatism and seems sceptical of the Ukraine’s ability to fulfil international obligations. Therefore, the EU should also be agreeable to a regional support framework for the Ukraine.
The elections of a new president for the Ukraine indeed mark the formal end of the Orange régime (which ended informally considerably earlier). A new political order of battle should emerge. It might not be more stable or more productive than the ancien régime of the Orange revolution, but it will be a change, nevertheless.
29 January 2010
President, Global Society Institute
Mr Belaeff, although much closer to the truth than the American contributors to this forum (they are all hobbled by a commitment to American radical democratic ideology), doesn’t go quite far enough in his conclusion, no doubt, because otherwise this pro-American site would not publish it. Let’s be frank… the Ukraine has existed as a polity in modern times only when the Russian state has been weak and an outside power wished to weaken the Russian side further.
The first instance was in the confused period after the collapse of the tsarist state in 1917 and the final consolidation of Soviet power in 1920. Indeed, three separate (and rather nebulous) successor states arose, only to fall apart in short order. In November 1917, a Ukrainian People’s Republic was proclaimed, only to be suppressed by German occupation forces in April 1918, who set up a so-called Hetmanate as a puppet client state. In November 1918, this fell, and a so-called Directorate arose, which became a Polish cats-paw. By November 1920, the advance of the Red Army put paid to this attempt to cobble together a state. A stable so-called “Ukrainian” state never existed.
The second instance was during World War II, during the Nazi occupation of portions of the Ukrainian SSR in 1941-44. The Nazis set up the so-called Reichskommissariat Ukraine under Gauleiter Erich Koch of East Prussia. He was brutal and cruel in the extreme. He closed schools, dragged people off to slave labour in Germany, murdered Jews, and confiscated farm produce for shipment to the Reich. Reflect on that when you realise that Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich, both recognised as “heroes” by Yushchenko were collaborators with this monster. No actual “Ukrainian” state existed in this period, although many Nazi collaborators fled to the West after the defeat of the Wehrmacht and have planted an opposite impression in some Western circles (especially amongst gullible Americans and Canadians).
The third, and present, instance is the successor state that arose on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR after the fall of the Soviet state in 1991. This state is not particularly “Ukrainian”, especially not in the east and south, for instance. The majority of the population speaks Russian, an October 2009 poll found that 52 percent of respondents stated they used Russian as their “language of communication”, 41 percent of the respondents stated they used Ukrainian, and 8 percent stated they used a mixture of both. Yushchenko’s junta attempted to implant a “Ukrainian” national idea artificially. Up to this point, it was mostly a Galician Uniate affair, after all. That project has failed. This state existed for two reasons; one was Russian weakness after the Soviet collapse. The second was American Russophobia. Domestic political considerations, not actual realpolitik, often drive American foreign policy (as we see in the case of Israel, for instance). Often, loud anti-Russian minorities in the US and Canada have gotten the ear of politicians, and we Russians are smaller in number than these folks are (a reversal of the situation in Europe), so, it doesn’t surprise me that politicians don’t attend to us.
What shall happen with the withdrawal of American political support for the Ukrainian state? I don’t know… only time will tell. However, I do know this. Because of a generation of misrule by Western lackeys, it would take Russia another generation to reintegrate the Ukraine fully and heal its economic and social dysfunctions. As for my opinion, there is a real chance of the Ukrainian successor state shattering, with Russia picking up the bulk, Poland picking up Galicia, and Carpatho-Russia joining Slovakia. As I said, Russia has its work cut out for it in reconstruction, whilst Carpatho-Russia would have a rather peaceful Anschluss with Slovakia, and Poland would have its hands full with unruly Galicians (which is why Russia would leave it to them). However, I don’t KNOW… my crystal ball is out for repairs… do you have one?