Hope on Putin?Roman Tsymbaliuk
The West explicitly demands that the Ukrainian authorities fulfill their obligations and create the long-promised anti-corruption bodies. Ukraine resists. And so, yet another Russian propaganda myth about Ukraine’s transatlantic "masters" is collapsing. The Ukrainian elite is like a rock. Indeed, why are those foreign guys teaching us life? With such an approach, we might as well see Kyiv publicly reflect on the cons and pros of its previous “multi-vector” foreign policy. It was once implemented by Leonid Kuchma, later tried by different heads of the Ukrainian government and state, but the scheme was ultimately ruined by Viktor Yanukovych. It was a brilliant version of "shuttle diplomacy" between the West and Moscow, allowing Kyiv to keep fooling a little both the former and latter, giving unrealizable promises, while remaining "respected partners", getting loans, asking for grants and reporting to the people about unprecedented foreign policy successes.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, it would seem, was supposed to convince the authorities that there was no alternative – the only way is westward, along with all of its positive and negative aspects, as well as the new Anti-Corruption Court. After all, the Kremlin is very convincing in its policy: not only it grabs Ukrainian territories and kills its citizens, at the same time Russia snatches property off of Ukrainian oligarchs / businessmen / politicians.
The beginning of the year showed rather clear that the West will not back down in its demands, and if Kyiv continues to sabotage the creation of the full-cycle anti-corruption bodies, Ukraine will not only face the cooling of relations, it will see the collapse of the Western coalition in its support. Many European capitals already fail to understand why they should lose money amid restrictions imposed on deals with Moscow, while Kyiv continues to profess the "In Texas only Texans are allowed to rob banks" principle and consistently fights off anti-corruption efforts. And then the most important question arises: will Ukraine be able to survive and remain a full-fledged state without western support, especially financial one? Hardly so. It must be nice to theoretically reflect on the ideas of borrowing money in China, other Asian countries or Mars, for Christ’s sake, but there are very few of those who are really interested in lending us money in hard currency.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, it would seem, was supposed to convince the authorities that there was no alternative – the only way is westward, along with all of its positive and negative aspects, as well as the new Anti-Corruption Court
Probably by coincidence, the IMF issued loans to Ukraine worth $12 billion, the same amount Vladimir Putin promised to Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, after signing the first $3 billion check from the planned package of $15 bln. It’s highly likely that Russia will gladly return to discussing this scheme. And if today's Ukrainian officials cannot resort to such a step for reasons of common sense and the instinct of self-preservation, then without external support and reforms it’s a sure bet that these very officials will lose their offices. It is no accident that the word "revanche" is heard more and more often in Ukraine. The revanchists will have their hands untied – they could just blame their predecessors for everything and agree with whoever, including with Putin. “Really, why not buy a whole country, practically for nothing?” Putin might be thinking.
However, the Kremlin will put forward a number of conditions.
First, and not the most important: Ukraine will have to officially recognize that the armed seizure of Crimea was a voluntary "reunification with Russia", automatically withdrawing all claims in international courts over the occupied peninsula. Besides, it will have to loudly and repeatedly say that Oleh Sentsov is a real terrorist, while Volodymyr Balukh is a major illegal arms dealer. It will be necessary to give up on all those who, despite the occupation, harbored in their heart those three words: "Crimea is Ukraine". Naturally, there will be “treachery of the Crimean Tatars”, and we will have to agree with Lavrov's obscurantism, claiming that everyone who rallied for Ukraine on February 26, 2014, were "right-wingers and Wahhabis". Most prominent activists will have to be deprived of Ukrainian citizenship so that they don’t muddy the water.
Second, and also not the most important thing: we will need to officially declare that there is a “civil war” ongoing in Donbas, that it was Ukraine who shot down the MH17, and the Netherlands is conducting a “sham investigation”. Then Putin's statement will suddenly become logical about "miners and tractor drivers" who get an unlimited supply of arms and ammo from some magical coal mines, while leaders of collaborators will be able to safely wander across the Rada corridors surrounded by Russian bodyguards. It will fall out of trend to recall Russian “little green men” or “men on vacation” in Donbas simply because we are "fraternal peoples" or even "one people".
Kyiv will automatically be obliged to realize the Kremlin's long-sought dreams: federalization by the Moscow-imposed scenario, giving the Russian language the status of the second state language, or better - the primary one. Definitely, no NATO or EU ahead, only the benefits of a visa-free travel between Ukraine and Russia and an innovative Customs Union.
Kyiv will automatically be obliged to realize the Kremlin's long-sought dreams: federalization by the Moscow-imposed scenario, giving the Russian language the status of the second state language, or better - the primary one
There is another condition for the renewal of a "multi-vector" foreign policy. It is very small, but also key: it will be necessary to betray Ukraine, forget the fallen defenders of the Ukrainian people, and admit that "Putin has outplayed everyone" and that he is the most far-sighted leader. By the way, even today’s Ukrainian leaders might agree with Putin’s foresightedness - after all, a year ago he honestly warned that the National Anti-corruption Bureau is pure evil.
It is no accident that the Kremlin claimed that some kind of secret meetings had been held between Putin and Poroshenko. Thus, the Kremlin is sending signals to the West that not everything is so unambiguous in anti-Russian speeches coming from Kyiv. And although the statement about such communications between the presidents was later disavowed, that bad aftertaste remained. Besides, Western diplomats, despite the Rada’s persistent unwillingness to pass the law on the Anti-Corruption Court, keep asking: “Is it possible that Ukraine make a U-turn toward the east?”
Is it possible? No, it’s not. Ukrainians would not allow this. But how could those people in high offices be convinced that it is better not to check in practice whether this statement is true and that they better not step on Yanukovych's rake?
It would really be easier and cheaper to return with dignity to their campaign promises. There was a lot said about fighting corruption and living a new life... It's time to implement this all. That’s because time is not some unlimited resource, and in Moscow is well aware of that.
Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow