Wednesday, August 12, 2009


"I shall waive my little finger and there shall be no more Tito".
Iosif V. Stalin, no date.

"I would like to inform you that over Ukraine's anti-Russian policies I have made the decision to delay sending our new ambassador to Ukraine....deep concern at the current, without exaggeration, crisis in Russian-Ukrainian relations....

We observe that during the years of your presidency, and it is impossible to see it differently, that the Ukrainian side has withdrawn from the principles of friendship and partnership with Russia....

Ukrainians have from time immemorial been and remain not only neighbors but a fraternal nation toward which we will always have the kindest feelings, with which we are brought closer together by common history, culture and religion, are united by close economic cooperation, strong kindred and human ties....

Bypassing Russia, Ukraine's top political leadership agreed with the European Union's leadership on Russian gas deliveries to Europe, and signed a document completely out of line with January's Russian-Ukrainian agreements....

A year after the tragic events, the issue of how peaceful civilians and Russian peacekeepers in Tskhinvali were killed with Ukrainian weapons is again being pointedly raised. Those in Kiev who supplied armaments to the Georgian armed forces... share the responsibility for committed crimes with Tbilisi...."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, 11 August 2009, in

The Russian President's statement to his Ukrainian counterpart on Tuesday was if nothing else, an endeavor, admittedly an open endeavor, to undo, in its geopolitical aspects the so-called 'Rose Revolution' that brought Yuschenko to power in 2004. Meaning that the Kremlin wishes for the next Ukranian President to give-up any thoughts of Kiev becoming a member of NATO, or (one presumes, although Moskva has not indicated anything openly about this) the European Union as well. Or even becoming diplomatically close to either. For Putin, et. al., the events of 2004, were, and, have been a major threat to not only Moskva's strategic interests but also its internal equilibrium as well. Since, it is not altogether difficult for the ordinary Russian citizen to surmise that any political change which occurs in a neighboring country, may also occur in his own as well. Not of course immediately, but, within the fullness of time. At least, that is the way in which Moskva has chosen since 2004 to regard what has occurred in Kiev: a threat in both its foreign and domestic interests. Which is not to say, that Russia has been totally at fault in its ongoing disputes with Ukraine over the pricing of its natural gas, or even in Ukraine's relationship with Georgia. However, the fact is that in the first, Kiev has not behaved any more differently than say other post-Soviet states who every so often become embroiled in disputes with Moskva over either pricing of natural gas, or the selling of it. Similarly, while no doubt Kiev's relationship with Tbilisi, especially the alleged provision of arms, is no doubt a 'red flag', it is all the same no more egregious than say Kirgzistan's hosting of an American-NATO base for the war in Afghanistan? What ultimately counts for the Kremlin is that fact that an unfriendly Ukraine, a Ukraine outside of its orbit diplomatically, changes the entire Russian idea of 'strategic depth'. An idea which Russia has based its own sense of security since the time of the wars with Charles XII.

There is per se, nothing out of the ordinary or shall we say extra-ordinary in Medvedev's statement and the purposes behind it. What is say we say unfortunate, is that he has to make the statement at all. What such a statement points to, is the fact that Russian 'soft power', even in its 'near abroad', is still tremendously weak. And, this weakness has the end-result that Russia needs to engage in this typical diplomatic equivalent of pyrotechnics, in order to try to advance its interests diplomatically. Perhaps in this case, with a very weak and unpopular incumbent, Medvedev's public relations 'demarche', will work. And, the incoming regime in Kiev, whoever it may be, shall be seriously interested in re-establishing good relations with Moskva. I myself think that the opposite is more likely to be the case: that the mere fact of Medvedev's statement will have an effect which is the opposite what he intends. Something that Tovarish Stalin learned back in 1948 in the case of Josip Broz Tito. Although perhaps the fact that neither the Americans or the EU are at this time, enamoured of becoming more involved with Kiev and its rather chaotic domestic political scene, may force whoever becomes the next Ukrainian President to move closer to Moskva. However time will tell soon enough.


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