22 June 2014, 18:06

Novorossiya won't go back to being part of Ukraine - expert

Petr Poroshenko

Petr Poroshenko

Petr Poroshenko

Ukraine’s President Petr Poroshenko has outlined plans for a unilateral ceasefire and sweeping constitutional reforms. It came hours after talking to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and days after Russia’s Gazprom switched off gas supplies to Ukraine. Alexander Domrin, Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, and Kirill Koktysh, Associated Professor at the MGIMO, shared their opinion on the subject with Radio VR.

Alexander Domrin: "It is not the first time when they have this kind of a dispute; at least, it is the third time when we have this situation where Ukraine refuses to follow what was written down in the contract. I don’t have much hope that interference of anybody, including the EU, can be a decisive factor in it. The ball is in the corner of Ukraine right now.

First of all, of course, the sanctions may not have anything to do with the reality, just like the first round of the American sanctions against Russia. Right now, the situation is pretty desperate and you were absolutely right when you said that war is business, war is actually a big business. Again, it is up to Ukraine to do something about it. When I say Ukraine, I certainly mean Kiev, I mean the Government of Kiev, not the people of Ukraine, because the people of Ukraine, except for a small section, which is the Right Sector and people like them, people in Ukraine are also tired of what is going on in that part of the country.

I think that, at least, several months ago, it was actually before the presidential election, the Ukrainian Government could do something to federalize the country, because it was the only way how Ukraine could survive in its current borders. But as I understand, the situation has reached a point of no return and I don’t think that Novorossiya can be back in Ukraine. Ukraine, as a state project, as we know it, is over."

Kirill Koktysh: "The peace plan could be called realistic, but its realization depends on how long it would be implemented. It means that Poroshenko, on the one hand, he claimed decentralization, something that the regions asked for and something that Russia advised to do, because to rule a Unitarian state with so different regions is very hard and it is a conflict producing system.

So, he proposed the governors to be elected. But actually, the procedure of how this is going to be implemented would probably take something like four or five months. This means that there is a question – what is the strategy and whether it will produce real changes, or whether it will initiate a process that could be cancelled on any of its stages. So, it is a question of Poroshenko’s motives and what he would like.

But obviously, he has to maneuver between the party of war and, actually, he was elected to be a President who would be able to set peace. And the more maneuvers there would be, the weaker his power would be. This is a direct dependence.

From the other side, if he would manage to initiate a peace process, in spite of the pressure from the party of war, which is quite powerful…there are oligarchic and political groups who demand a war and who make points on the current war and current losses. But if he would be able to initiate a real peace process, he would be able to consolidate his power.

First of all, it is the economic reasons, because it produces the possibility to make money. It produces a demand and you can make money by replying to this demand. This means that Kharkov plants are now building tanks.

So, do I get it right that arms manufacturers can mostly benefit from this ongoing crisis?

Mainly, the financial groups who own the arms manufacturers as well, because, first of all, the finances are ruling and Ukraine is not an exclusion. First of all, it is Kolomoisky’s interest, who is the governor of Dnepropetrovsk. He makes really good money. He is the main supplier of fuel to the Ukrainian army now, don’t forget this, like Standard Oil in the US. And now, he claims to be the main subcontractor to build a wall between Russia and Ukraine. Technically, it is impossible to built, but, nevertheless, money could be spent on this.

So, this is the big business as well.

Any war is a big business and I can’t name a single war which could be an exception.

We can speak about two different strategies – the US strategy and the European strategy. For the US, discussing the thesis that war is a business and even is a big business, as a matter of fact, what the US need – they need to prove that Russia is an unreliable gas supplier, it is definitely a threat for Europe and actually not a good partner. What for? The US needs to persuade Europe to sign an agreement on free trade with the US, which would replace Russia, as the main European trade partner, with the US. So, the turmoil in Ukraine is something that helps the US to implement this strategy.

With regards to Europe, Europe is not happy, because for Europe it would mean additional expenses for the American gas, because it would be 1.5 more expensive than the Russian gas; new expenses for security and a necessity to sign this agreement which nobody in Europe is happy with.

So, these are two different games. The US needs to persuade Europe to impose sanctions. If the US would impose sanctions alone, it wouldn’t be a success, it would be persuasive enough and nobody would be convinced that this is right. If Europe would support this, this would be a success. If Europe won’t support it, it wouldn’t be a success.

So, Russia has to play in two different scenarios. From the one point of view, Russia tries not to stay on the rails that are prepared for it under these scenarios. From the other side, Russia is also responsible for what is happening in the southeast of Ukraine, because Putin claimed that he would be able to defend the Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the southeast of Ukraine. So, this is a tough choice of what to do and how the situation will develop. But up till now, the situation was developing step by step and every next step was carefully thought about and carefully awaited."

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