Friday, December 13, 2013

Brzezinski on the situation in Ukraine: A comment

"Come what may, the events in Ukraine are historically irreversible and geopolitically transformatory. Sooner rather than later, Ukraine will be truly a part of democratic Europe; later rather than sooner, Russia will follow unless it isolates itself and becomes a semi-stagnant imperialistic relic. The spontaneous outburst of distinctive Ukrainian patriotism – sparked by the mendacity of a corrupt and self-enriching leadership ready to seek Moscow’s protection – signals that commitment to national independence is becoming the dominant political reality. This is especially the case among the younger Ukrainians who no longer feel that they are linguistically or historically just a slightly deviant part of “Mother Russia”. Yes, linguistic divisions persist and some parts of Ukraine still feel closer to Russia. But it is striking that even some of the most outspoken espousers of a European vocation have only recently embraced the Ukrainian language as their own. Two decades of independence, of growing pride in rediscovering Ukrainian history, and of observing the country’s western neighbours economically benefiting from their European connections is creating a new mindset. That mindset is not embracing anti-Russianism but it is asserting Ukraine’s own historic identity as culturally an authentic part of a larger Europe. That is why, one way or another, Ukraine will unavoidably come closer to Europe. It is striking that even in neighbouring Belarus, ruled by the authoritarian Lukashenko regime, a similar western orientation is beginning to surface. Neither country is motivated by hostility towards Russia, but each senses that its independence as well as its cultural identity points increasingly in a westward direction.... The impact of this on Russia will be felt over the longer run. Moscow’s current geopolitical goal, shaped by President Vladimir Putin’s nostalgic obsession with the country’s imperial past, is to recreate in a new guise something akin to the old Russian empire or the more recent Soviet “union”.... It is only a question of time before it becomes evident to Russia’s social elites that Mr Putin’s heavy-handed efforts have very limited prospects of success. Sooner or later, he will no longer be president. And not long thereafter Russia – and especially its emerging new middle class – will conclude that the only path that makes sense is to become also a truly modern, democratic, and maybe even a leading European state."
Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Russia, like Ukraine, will become a real democracy." The Financial Times. 11 December 2013, in
For once, former American National Security Advisor and academic, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is on the mark in the above referenced comments on what is occurring in Ukraine at the moment. Indubitably, the Yanukovych regime is one the way out. As the recent pour parlers between the regime and the opposition clearly shows. Of course, Yanukovych will endeavor to the utmost, to not comply with the oppositions demands and to merely straddle the situation. AKA, engage in what one may describe as 'salami tactics'. However, given the fact that Ukraine's economic situation requires immediate repair, the ongoing demonstrations in the Kiev and elsewhere in the country cannot be long prolonged 1. In that respect, and perhaps in that respect only, the situation resembles Russia in the autumn of 1905, where the situation appeared to 'snowball' and become worse and worse until the Tsar Nicholas II, promised the necessary reforms to appease civil society. The key difference herein is that 'the necessary reforms' to appease Ukrainian civil society include Yanukovych being ousted from the Presidency. As it is quite clear that sans this step, Yanukovych will, regardless of any agreements reached with the opposition, attempt to engage in a new round of salami tactics. As per the impact of the events in Kiev on Russia, Brzezinksi is also correct: in the longue durée, Russian elites will see for themselves that Putinism is not only not, the best means of running the country, but is in fact, quite the opposite. It is in fact running the country into the ground as Putin's own comments yesterday indirectly indicated 2. The only question is whether President Putin chooses to relinquish power at a time of his own choosing in 2017, of if he will be ousted in a fashion similar (`a la les évènements) to what is taking place in Kiev at the moment. Time will only tell.
1. See for this: Neil Buckley, "Crunch time for Ukraine on its commercial future." The Financial Times. 13 December 2013, in
2. See: Kathrin Hille, "Putin criticizes capital outflow." The Financial Times. 13 December 2013, in See also: Judy Dempsey, "Is Putin Russia's Ruin?" Carnegie Europe: the Global Think Tank. 11 December 2013, in


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