War, not the expected peace arrived at the doorstep of Great Britain and France when they gave up Czechoslovakia to Hitler in 1938. War is happening right here at home and not in faraway Europe – the United States were harshly reminded about this at Pearl Harbor in 1942. War descended on Ukraine and thus is now much closer to Paris and Berlin, because Europe and the US haven’t supported Georgia in 2008. War showed up in the homes of Dutch, British, French, German, Australian families because Europe and the US weren’t courageous enough to lend a helping hand to Ukraine in 2014. It is impossible to run away from war and overwhelming aggression, it is impossible to buy yourself off. The war will catch up with you if you don’t stand up to it with utmost determination.
The strength of our enemy is in our weakness
Re: European Council meeting on Ukraine
Additional understanding of the situation has been gained after the August 30th European Council meeting (the EU summit). However, the picture, painted right before our eyes, is not comforting at all. Yet a sober view of the situation is always better than illusions – it can lead us to salvation. Illusions will inevitably lead to failure.
By all means, the diplomats and state representatives must continue to exude optimism and belief that this and the previous EU summits gave us hope.
However the analysts are able to examine the situation more openly.
The real situation can be considered from our viewpoint – Ukrainian that is.
Or it can be looked at from a European or even global point of view.
The European Union has turned out to be an organisational and moral bankrupt. The European Union is simply afraid of Russia. Consequently it is ready to betray not only Ukraine but also itself.
EU’s fear is evident in three areas:
Military/defence – the EU has turned out to be inferior because it kept hiding under the NATO’s umbrella, where EU states do not play a major role. The EU was established after the collapse of the USSR in a unipolar world with a single geopolitical (and hence military) hegemony – that of the United States. Unfortunately, the makers of the EU thought that such pleasant times would never end. That the US would ensure EU’s security forever. That all security related expenditures could be cut down every single time. That the responsibility for the situation in the world could be placed onto the US – just because they are so happy to oblige.
The “EU Project” did not even envisage a proper, strictly EU security system. There were some attempts to discuss European security system ten years ago but the discussion was over before it even started.
EU creators were naively convinced that the world became totally herbivorous and that the postmodern paradise, so nicely spoken about by wise university professors, abolished all human suffering, human folly and human bloodlust.
Putin had swung these herds of herbivores back to reality. After all, he never hid his hunger for revenge, which cannot be achieved without brutally killing one victim after another.
Herbivores could not believe it and hid away in the bushes. Remember the footage when funny, but oh so proud of himself Pinocchio-Sarkozy is leaving the airplane in Tbilisi in August 2008 – he is glowing with metrosexual pride because he has “brought peace”, the peace, which was reduced to supporting Putin’s dismemberment of Georgia. Imagine a caricature of Lord Chamberlain who “brought peace” to Europe in 1938.
Therefore herbivores could not (would not) believe that something like an annexation of territory the size of Czech Republic can happen in Europe. But it did, the annexation of Crimea did happen. They continued to hide in the bushes.
Next, the herbivores could not (would not) believe that Putin would go even further after breaking Crimea away from Ukraine. For it is obviously not Putin, who has been fighting in Donbas for the last six months. You don’t agree? Prove it. So where is your proof?
The list goes on. The herbivores remain in the bushes.
Putin mocked everyone before and during the “friendly tea party” of the herbivores in Minsk – he knew only too well that the satellites will show the massive breakthrough of his regular troops into Ukraine. The poor, sweaty herbivores timidly and guiltily extended their little paws to him (having seen such a massive military attack – what else could be expected of them!).
In short, as they say, “the king isn’t wearing anything at all”. The European Union as a Project turned out to be defenceless, and therefore powerless. And not just because it doesn’t want to start the fight and is desperately scared. Yes, that’s right – it doesn’t want to fight and is afraid. However, it also has no resources, required to confront such an arrogant usurper.
It has no technical or spiritual resources. Europeans have no corresponding security system to resist such a powerful geopolitical project. This is not about NATO. Europeans are not willing to fight for anything. Not even for themselves, much less for some vague and vigorously disputed about matters such as democracy, freedom, human rights, etc. or for such a distant country like Ukraine.
Is the outlook for the “EU Project” that of an independent Project? I highly doubt it, because this Project is unable to defend itself (without the support from the US and its allies in the EU, such as Great Britain). Will it always remain harnessed by the American chariot?
Economy – immaturity as well as incredible selfishness of the EU Project has become apparent on August 30th – it is all about economic security.
Thorough integration of Germany, a key European player, into the Russian economy and advanced penetration of the Russian business into German economy, are no secret at all. Same goes for Russia’s penetration into German or even greater European elites. This is true not only for Germany although it certainly plays the first fiddle in this situation. German “kanzlerin” meticulously keeps voicing such point of view over and over again.
Russia, of course, is more dependent on its exports to the EU than vice versa. But ordinary people and the EU elites are not willing to sacrifice anything. Well-being has become an idol for the Europeans. And so they can be very easily manipulated. Need examples? Here you go: the slightest threat of gas exports to the EU could lead to an unpredictable outcome for us, Ukrainians – I am afraid, however, that the EU will bashfully avoid seeing how Russia “protects Ukrainian pipelines in their entirety”. We all know who will protect them, no explanations needed. What we will have to tediously explain to presidents and chancellors later on is that the pipelines are Ukrainian, that the country is occupied, and that rivers of blood have spilled. But will we be able to prove any of this if they blatantly turn a blind eye? This is, of course, if we allow the Russians to “protect” the pipelines.
Sleek EU lifestyle doesn’t have room for the slightest limitations or disadvantages. This is, of course, sooner or later will lead to the collapse of such a spoiled Project. On August 30th EU’s hedonism and consumerism, having been fostered for decades, began to evolve into a threat for the EU. To the casual observer it is becoming quite obvious (we, Ukrainians, are those casual observers, perhaps unfortunately, but then again – maybe not?). I am not sure how aware is the EU about this threat. I think there are those who do understand that the European Project is not doing so well. But definitely not those parrots who are sitting comfortably in their Brussels-based bureaucratic trees. They will sell their souls for a piece of cheese and repeat the mantras they don’t believe in, until either the winds of history or Kremlin cynics sweep them out of those trees.
In summary – Putin nevertheless tied the EU to his creaky wagon. Much has been said about the diversification of energy supplies. However, Putin has managed to start a war just in time to demonstrate EU’s weaknesses before the diversification was completed.
Moral standards – on August 30th, the EU has confirmed that there is no such thing as “European concept”, “European solidarity”. At least it is not applicable to Ukraine.
At the end of the discussion, it became clear that the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Cyprus have certain comments regarding the expansion of sanctions. The attitude of Cyprus is not surprising – it used to be and probably remains somewhat of a “money bag” for Putin and Co. Oh, but look at Hungary – its attempt to break through to democracy in 1956 was crushed by the same army, which is currently destroying Ukraine! Oh, and don’t forget the Czech Republic – its attempt to break through to democracy in 1968 was crushed by the same army, which is doing the same Ukraine! Feels a bit like a knife in the back, doesn’t it?
Hungarian politicians never cease to amaze us with their right-wing madness. One day they demand a piece of Zakarpattia, the next – they request to create a Hungarian autonomy: “Ukraine is a developing country and we have a definite expectation of [Hungarian autonomy] in Ukraine”, said the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán.
Following Putin, the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman, recently stated that Ukraine is going through a “civil war” and that Maidan was a “den of Bandera-inspired forces”. After the abovementioned Summit, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Bohuslav Sobotka simply snapped: “Ukraine’s NATO and EU membership is not being discussed… I think that NATO and the EU should give only substantiated hope. I believe that we took a big step when we signed the Association Agreement with Ukraine… Discussing such complex matters as Ukraine’s EU and NATO membership will not facilitate conflict resolution in the East of Ukraine… Yesterday we talked about the sanctions impacting the economy, there is no doubt about it, but these sanctions have not changed Russia’s behaviour in the East of Ukraine”.
Odious Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico is even more open: “I think that sanctions are meaningless and counterproductive… Until we will see the effect of the sanctions, which have been imposed, there is no point to introduce new ones”. He has always been pro-Russian.
These people have spoken out loud. How many more of the marked cards will we suddenly see at the “right” moment?
Unanimous support of all the EU member states is necessary in order to make the decision regarding the sanctions. And so Russia will always have the resources to block such decisions as well as delay decision-making process interminably.
Military or logistic support is never even mentioned. Angela Merkel – the “Mother of Europe” – has spoken and clearly opposes the idea of West supplying weapons to Ukraine: “We don’t want to do it for the exact reason that we don’t believe in the possibility of resolving the conflict by military means. We shouldn’t support the impression that the supply of arms to strengthen Ukrainian army will help resolve the crisis”.
In other words, the EU sees no possibility to resist Russian revanchism neither by imposing economic sanctions nor through military resistance. Certainly, the EU continues to discuss further sanctions – but how will it deal with those few blocking votes? Token forces that amount to 5 NATO bases at its eastern borders and (!) 10 thousand servicemen are not even worth talking about – their presence doesn’t scare anybody. Russia won’t just wag its finger. It will attack. And not necessarily by using the Russian army – “necessity is the mother of invention”, as they say – just recall the annexation of Crimea. Putin may use the Russian-speaking citizens in various countries. For instance, almost half of Latvia’s population is Russian-speaking.
What is truly painful is the fact those who were once neighbouring our “concentration camp”, are now betraying us.
Current US administration is also only vaguely interested in us.
President Barack Obama has always demonstrated his indifference towards Ukraine. Even now, after a direct intervention of the Russian army in Ukraine, he doesn’t see the reason to interfere – regardless the creeping annexation of Ukraine.
Being his elegant and pretentious self, after a conversation with Angela Merkel, he has set the record straight: “Military confrontation between Russia and the United States is “not in the cards””.
That’s the bottom line.
Oh, and otherwise “we are in this together”, “shoulder-to-shoulder”, so to speak. We will, however, only provide you with non-lethal weapons. The list goes on.
It is clear that Barack Obama has no intention to get into trouble after Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. His actions demonstrate that he is an American noninterventionist. He promised some incredible social revolutions to people in the US – none of these have happened. Well, the end of his term of office is just around the corner.
But the isolationism and the lack of a broad world vision will remain. Before and at the beginning of the World War II most US politicians held similar views.
So where does Ukraine stand after this double disappointment?
There are two possibilities:
First – historywise, a comparison can be made with the situation in Poland on September 1, 1939. Poland had ally agreements with different countries but they did nothing. Their actions were limited to words. Even declaring a war against Germany was hard. Occupation of Poland by Germany and later by the USSR didn’t stop for minute. What did the Polish government do? It resisted fiercely and tried to involve its allies – France and Great Britain. At that point in time these countries were under impression that their only sacrifice will be the occupation of Poland. They did all they could to avoid direct military action. All of this was in vain. Hitler did his job and didn’t stop on his way.
Second – a situation, which Great Britain found itself in, when in 1940 it was standing alone against Nazi Germany. All of Europe – voluntarily or forcibly – surrendered to Hitler. France – the last remaining of key Britain’s allies – was partly betrayed and partly defeated. Churchill’s main task consisted of drawing the US into the war despite flourishing isolationism. This is similar to current situation Ukraine. The US and the EU would give their eye teeth to somehow get rid of this annoying conflict in Ukraine. It once took Pearl Harbour in order for the US to wake up from their dreams.
The governments of Poland and Great Britain – what did they try to achieve in the abovementioned situations?
Poland and Great Britain did their absolute best to internationalise the conflict – they tried to engage their allies in it, they demanded actions, not words.
How did they do it, though? One can always waste one’s breath – our diplomatic community and fiction writers (like me!) do just that. However, at this stage of the conflict our lamentations are good for nothing.
The allies will participate in joint defence actions only when they experience some discomfort, not when they believe they are “set for life” (or so they think).
What could be described as discomfort?
Irregular or cessation of gas and oil transit to the EU – oh well, too bad, we can’t fix it.
Environmental disasters (caused by the military actions), which – miraculously! – will also impact the EU.
Humanitarian disasters that will result in the EU being inundated with homeless and hungry refugees regardless of visa restrictions (these are, by the way, so nicely designed to provide a blissful mañana for an average EU resident).
Desperate attempts to radically defend own interests regardless of the interests of EU consumers (horribile dictu!) – similarly to what Israel does.
Widespread mobilisation in those areas, where local residents believe it is proper and timely – similarly to what is being done in Israel or Karabakh.
Vigorous and overall mobilisation of Ukrainian diaspora in the US and Canada, regardless of all the conveniences of their life in the recent times (again, for the Republicans and Democrats in the US – think about the Jewish or Armenian World).
Obviously, our actions must be asymmetrical. He acts unexpectedly and uses his imagination. Therefore, our answers should be unexpected and creative. He will counterstrike our predictable actions quickly.
The enemy is at our door. He feels absolutely safe on his home turf. It is unclear why only we feel the danger.
Russian society must see the corpses of Russian soldiers. Everywhere. If not on Russian TV, then on CNN or BBC. The enemy must feel the threat within the empire. All’s fair in war – à la guerre comme à la guerre.
There is no need to exaggerate the strength of this enemy. His strength is in our weakness and the weakness of our allies. Currently our full-time, turned part-time, allies are extremely weak.
His strength is in temerity and imagination. His strength is in the unexpected. In immorality. In cynicism.
We must answer accordingly.
Religious wars provide an answer of consistent depth of faith – think about those rare Christians, tortured in Slaviansk.
National liberation wars provide an answer of napalm, which burns the enemies out – think about Nadia Savchenko and her national pride.
Freedom wars provide an answer of a civil union – think of those Russians who are fighting for Ukraine, not against it.
We have something. We need immeasurably more to win.
We are not yet in the position of the Polish Home Army, which rebelled against the Nazis in Warsaw during August-October 1944 and was left on its own while Stalin’s army was watching quietly from the other side of the Vistula. They let the Nazis destroy the Poles.
Maybe our allies will choose not to repeat Stalin’s “heroic” act.
They can still act. Act, not repeat after Putin, not chime in with herbivores or lull themselves to sleep.
1. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a tale by Hans Christian Andersen – here and below are translator’s notes
2. “The Crow and the Fox” is a fable by Ivan Krylov
3. the USSR