Picnic on the outskirts of Geneva

(on visible and invisible)

Andrii Yermolaiev

philosopher, Head of SG Sofia

from magazine: Events Horizons #3
«Be who you want to be»
The multipolarity of a «revolted world»
The transition of the world from a uni-polar to a multi-polar system has been a topic for discussion and forecasts for the past two decades. Bi-polar post-war world (1950-1990-s) and fleeting uni-polar world are irrevocably becoming a thing of the past. Not just because the USSR collapsed or USA didn't handle the stress of hegemony.

The second globalisation played its role: yesterday's outsiders and former colonies are now competing on the financial, commercial and technological arena. Energy and ambition of Asia and Eurasia, Indochina and Middle East, Latin America and Africa to become a «historic player», break free from neo-colonial «foreign rule», have a Reconquista of its own cultural-historical heritage and turn it into a new «cultural capital» are becoming more powerful.

Distinctive features of our time are a sorry West, swept by migration waves from former colonies in 2010-s, and a social protest of yesterday's dependant nations. All this is accompanied by a powerful wave of the Outside-of-the-West Renaissance and an aspiration for independent strategic redefinition.

Split and confused West faces a collapse of the Old (neo-colonial) order and a fight for freedom not only on the foreign, but on its own domestic (political, social and cultural) arena. BLM movement in the USA, migrant's upheavals in France, Belgium and Germany, social protest in Britain uniting descendants from the Commonwealth - are historical events of the same kind, strengthening the ambitions of their young «states of origin». And the success of China, Vietnam, South Africa, Brazil motivate global movements of the «new Renaissance» to fight - for their rights in former metropoles and equal possibilities of multipolar development.

«Chinese wonder» at the beginning of the XXI century and China's ambitions to become a number one economy in the world by 2050 inspire governments of the so-called «third world». Not so much by the «socialism with Chinese characteristics» model, but the example of the success achieved while relying only on their own power and actively promoted approach of «diversity of development and common destiny».

This geocultural tolerance in particular appeared to be much more effective and attractive, than peculiar, causing cultural and normative conflicts «social tolerance» ideology, in fact embodied in the conservative ideas of «tolerant equality in poverty» and «class divided world with benefits for the rich».

A crucial role in the already begun process of strategic redetermination of the developing world is played by China's geoproject «One Belt-One Road», that appeared to be more beneficial and effective for young national economies, than activity of transnational companies and loans from western countries. A majority of investment projects under the «Belt-Road» became simultaneously a part of national modernisation strategies, ensuring industrialisation, implementation of modern information and logistic technologies, creating demand for educated and highly qualified workforce.

As is noted by the researchers of the German Bertelsmann Fund, the sum of West's financial investments is higher than the one of the «Belt-Road» (approx. 5 billion more during 2013-2017).

«Nevertheless, it must be said that Beijing is developing political capital from its investments, while Western countries, which do not act as a monolith, have a problem of coordinating their interests with each other. Moreover, Beijing is more interested in ensuring that politicians in partner countries incorporate Chinese investment into their success stories than Western governments have been in the past. There is also another accusation that is not quite right: China is not trying to split the European Union. It is the governments of certain EU member states themselves which are using investments into the New Silk Road project to free themselves from Brussels' micro-managing.» («DW», Frank Sieren, 20.09.2019).

The third globalisation is developing at a time of de facto multipolarity, where new «poles»-countries and unions with leading positions-have different advantages (economic, resources, technological and military). These differences lead to disbalance and strengthen the competition for the use of their own capacities by suppressing the advantages of the competitor. In any case, such a competition «buries» all the old rules and dependencies of the «Old order» strengthening the differences of yesterday's strong «collective» West.

China is aiming for economic supremacy in the world, and is not being discreet about it. However amidst the developing anti-colonial revolution and Outside-of-the-West Renaissance this success is possible only under successful globalisation and barrier-free partnership with countries and regions, viewing its growth and success as its own liberation and a road to independency. «Camps» and «blocs», typical for bipolarity of the Cold war times, look unpromising and unattractive. That's why, while aiming for economic supremacy, China is avoiding political declarations on «rivalry of two systems» (socialism/capitalism) and is actively promoting further globalisation based on multilateralism principles. Also, China is offering a competitive development alternative: «As we have upheld and developed socialism with Chinese characteristics and driven coordinated progress in material, political, cultural-ethical, social, and ecological terms, we have pioneered a new and uniquely Chinese path to modernisation, and created a new model for human advancement.» ( Speech at a Ceremony Marking the Centenary of the Communist Party of China, July 1, 2021, Xi Jinping).

On the other hand, China may become a leader of global anti-colonial revolution. And not because it is aiming for it. The attempt to preserve the «Old order», even wrapped in the package of the generous collective investor, may cause a boom of oppression to the next hegemony or unification.

«It is no exaggeration to say that millions, probably hundreds of millions of people in societies who have grown up with a history of subjection to Europe and America — the Chinese software engineer and the Turkish tycoon, as well as the unemployed Egyptian graduate — derive profound gratification from the prospect of humiliating their former masters and overlords, who appear uncompromisingly wedded to their right to dictate events around the world.» (Pankaj Mishra, «From the ruins of empire»).

The former leaders of global capitalism faced a development paradox, that they cannot overcome yet. Global capitalism and open borders allow yesterday's satellites execute successful modernisation and even break ahead. However a crucial condition of such a success is independence in the development and multilateral connections, that do not limit the possibilities and minimise the risks of clashes based on ideology. The former «third world» is aiming for just globalisation and independent future, while yesterday's united West is closing borders, is implementing restrictions and sanctions, is looking for a reason for justified «bloCing» of the world. It also leads to the search of new reasons to scratch old «geopolitical» wounds ( even to the extent of local military conflicts), protectionism and sanction wars, quarantines and lockdowns with a rapid restriction of migration flows using Covid-19 pandemic as a reason. All this ruined the XX century myth of indestructibility of western liberal order and «the end of history».

The attempt of a part of western elites to organise «economic crusades» against China and an actively cultivated fear of «Chinese supremacy» and fictional «American-Chinese» bipolarity looks like a conservative reaction of the «Old order» leaders against the developing multi-polarity and a gaining popularity principle of «coexistence in the development» and multilateralism.

However the history is going on. Global world is not dividing itself. It is transforming.
Pax GlobalWest: a new Western utopia or a new Western illusion?
A notable event of early 2021 is a summit series hosting leading western countries: the USA-UK meeting, «G7» summit, NATO session, EU-USA meeting and a bilateral summit USA-Russia (Biden-Putin).

Maybe, for the first time in the 15 years of crisis the leading western countries made an attempt to formulate a «future utopia» - world image desirable for the «Old order» leaders. The attractiveness and efficiency of the new utopia is not yet to be judged. However the main characteristics are already reflected in the documents of June (2021) summits, while practical decisions are postponed for at least a year.

A new western future utopia is represented in a number of initiatives:

  • USA-UK declaration already named «The second Atlantic Charter». In a nutshell, this document declares BritAmerica a new strategic alliance at a time of changing West and de facto multipolarity. NATO with BritAmerica in its core will exist regardless of changing world order - this is the main, read between the lines message of this document;
  • collective global geoproject «Build Back Better World» (encompasses Latin America and Caribbean, Africa, Indo-Pacific), a competitor of China's «Belt-Road». The project aims, first of all, to preserve the Old Order in the new context, with a maximum use of influence capabilities of former metropoles on traditional influence spheres (neo-colonial practices of loans and investments, preservation of their transnational companies' positions on the developing countries' markets, technological competition for influence spheres with the new economic leaders);
  • globalised NATO (new NATO strategy is expected in 2022), with a prospect of strengthening influence through the «strategic partners». New capabilities are connected to the implementation of the Indo-Pacific strategy (BritAmerica «Indo-Pacific» project);
  • US and Russian leaders' declaration of «strategic stability» opening new possibilities for the West to compete for influence on Russia. West needs Russia as a condition for precluding China from becoming a geostrategic leader. Admitting Russia to be a superpower and the formula of «strategic stability» allows to deter military and political convergence of Russia and China and to involve Russia in «long programmes» of long-term development («green» and «hydrogen» economy, «Arctic geoproject», collective cybersecurity etc.)
Such a utopia (or more precisely its project suggestion) is a new world image, revolving around a «collective imperium», imperium-association, Pax GlobalWest, based on the western model of society development , economy and culture (global capitalism, post-modernist society structure, common values of the western civilisation).

«Collective imperium» with a common military and political core (NATO) and pyramidal hierarchy of different influence centres. A Phillip Farmer's «pyramid world» where the influence poles are distributed by hierarchy (EU, MERCOSUR- South America, Britain- Commonwealth, etc.) and countries and groups of countries that are placed into tiers connected to poles, (for example, Central and Eastern Europe countries - and the UK).

In this utopia model all the beyond-system elements, such as competing poles, should be isolated, by stimulating domestic crises or even collapse (China, Iran). Ambitious, but geostrategicly important and ready for negotiation «influence centres» are receiving a proposal to «build in» on specific conditions - as local civilisational centres and regional influence poles (Russia, India).

Pax GlobalWest is aimed to compensate for the lost in a couple of decades uni-polar world (Pax Americana) and not to allow multipolarity to develop, along with coexistence in development and peaceful civilisation competition. That's why a complicated, multi-tier multipolarity, where a whole «collective imperium» instead of one superpower is on top looks more stable and has more prospects for the Old order reboot (hierarchy and influence spheres formed in the late XX century, in the aftermath of the World War).
A divided West.
Pax GlobalWest or Atlantic-exit?
American philosopher and republican Patrick Buchanan, talking about «The death of the West» in the early 2000-s noted that: «Europe's peoples are growing wary of the brave new world being prepared for them by the Strobe Talbotts and Romano Prodis» (P. Buchanan «The Death of the West»). It's not only about the questionable popularity of the «global nation» and «world government» ideas, openly discussed in the early 1990-s. Traumatised by world wars Europe for a long time made peace with Atlantic hegemony, fearing the nuclear threat and military potential of socialist camp headed by USSR. However socialist camp collapse and collapse of a soviet country opened new possibilities for Europe as well.

The countries, that formed the EU, faced the historic challenge far more complicated than a war or sovereignty loss. For many of them, demographic, cultural and economic crises became a vital threat to nation's ability to survive in the nearest century. Exact threat that Patrick Buchanan was talking about, when pronounced his verdict of «the death of the West». In this sense, European integration project and the EU as an alliance of elites and nations of Europe is not only a beneficial political and economic arrangement, but a means of survival, a future without geopolitical subordination, technological dependency and cultural entropy of the late XXth century.

Ambitions and bravery of «Fronding» France and united Germany created a precedent, the first one since Charles the Great's empire - Franco-German «core» of the united Europe. Despite the historical traumas, Franco-German core became a locomotive of the new European subjectivity - from the refusal of so-called «transatlantic free trade area» ( the negotiations stopped in 2016) to plans of technological breakthrough and ensuring the «technological empire» status of the EU («green energy», «hydrogen technologies») and new collective European security ( PESCO, 2017, «strategic autonomy»). This ambitions and moods (and not the painful, but secondary commercial reasons) pushed Britain out of the continental policy and economy (Brexit, 2016-2020).

EU's aspiration (primarily its Franco-German core) of the «strategic autonomy», in fact - a more independent economic, technological course and security policy, have brought a real division of the collective west on Atlantic and European sectors to the surface.

This resulted in the new «reboot» process. The Great Britain returned to the idea of its former might renaissance and strengthening of the barely alive Commonwealth in 2107. The «Global Britain» project was being prepared in synchrony with the Brexit process, and the new strategy was adopted and published in 2021, along with the exit form EU («Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy», March 2021).

In June 2021, at the meeting of the US President J.Biden and Prime Minister of the UK B.Johnson a «New Atlantic Charter» was adopted, that formalised BritAmerica project - a bilateral USA and UK alliance, with the potential of influencing the Commonwealth and satellite countries.

Also strengthening regional connections in the military cooperation of USA and Britain with Japan, Taiwan and other, BritAmerican intelligence alliance «5 eyes» (USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand), quadrilateral dialogue on security Quad (USA, Japan, Australia, India) that can become one more element of «Global NATO» concept under the Indo-Pacific project etc, may be added to the above mentioned.

BritAmerica does not hide its interest in preserving post-war Old order, as seen in the list of initiatives presented on June summits of western countries and unions (Global NATO, Wester Silk Route etc.).

The second part that constitutes BritAmerican line is a preservation of the division line on the Eurasian continent and strengthening the EU dependancy on the Atlantic integration and Euro-Atlantic security model. In order to deter the continental convergence and to preserve continental fragmentation a whole list of policies is implemented:

  • new, integrated Central European «buffer zone» (Intermarium, The Lublin Triangle etc.), dividing EU and Euro-Asian region;
  • destabilisation of Afghanistan and all of the Central Asia (withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, strengthening of power and influence of Taliban, threat of new islamist projects in the regions);
  • strengthening «Turan project» of Turkey, that broadens the influence of Turkey on the Central Asian countries through security guarantees and aid (for example Azerbajdzjan), and active cultural policy of the «Turan world» of close turk peoples;
  • the increase of tension on Indian-Chinese border, which minimises chances for cooperated policies of these countries in the Indo-Pacific region, keeping India as one of the key countries for the BritAmerica in the new Indo-Pacific geoproject.
  • creating a pre-war tension in the South China sea (one of the maritime trade communication centres) and a direct military-political patronising of Taiwan in the rivalry with China.
This are only few puzzles of the complicated picture, that supports and strengthens continental fragmentation, not allowing new alliances and convergence.

Losing tactically to BritAmerica, the Franco-German core is too ambitious to step back (the evidence is «Nord Stream 2»), but too weak to declare the transition from Brexit to the Atlantic-exit and its own proactive continental policy. Time, socio-cultural stabilisation of Europe, structural and technological reconstruction of European economy and resource base for growth is needed.

The countries of Central Europe became the «Trojan Horse» of the EU. Some of them have already implemented successful modernisation and are feeling like young «European tigers» (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary).

The trauma from 40-year long existence in the socialist camp and old historical resentment of Russia (Russian empire, USSR and the modern Russia), clearly underestimated and misunderstood in Moscow, motivate them to play an independent game inside the EU.

Most of the Central European countries are flattered by attention and acceptance by BritAmerica, they feel like «young blood» of global democratic world and easily pick up the calls for fighting against Eurasian and Asian autocracies, seeing their own benefits in it and a nice ground for bargaining with the Old Europe. They are even ready for the domestic European regional separatism for the sake of strengthening its weight and rising the stakes for geopolitical rent from the «buffer zone» ( for example geoproject «Three Seas Initiative», slightly similar to the Józef Piłsudski's idea of Intermarium confederation, «Lublin triangle» Poland-Ukraine-Lithuania, etc).

Franco-German failure with the initiative of EU-Russia summit, as an independent game of the EU with Russia after the «Geneva summit», shows a partial loss of the past influence and authority of the current French and German leaders, Macron and Merkel. However election campaigns in these countries (2020-2021), where national-conservative and «Gaullist» moods are strengthening, may deepen the emerging division inside the «European camp» itself - on supporters of the «strategic autonomy» of the EU and on parties interested in the new utopia of «Global Western World» (Pax GlobalWest) reconstituting a former unity of the Euro-Atlantic community.
BritAmerica, Franco-German «core» of the EU and Central Europe - are three parts of yesterday's united «collective West», competition of which will lead the West to a prolonged stagnation. The success of the whole «European project» depends on Central Europe a lot, as well as the possibilities and prospects of new continental union, in which former leaders of the European process saw future and conditions for European success as a union ( de Gaulle, the idea of united «Europe of Nations», stretching from «Lisboa to Vladivostok»).

What will the EU choose? The new world Pax GlobalWest or will decide on the Atlantic-exit, persuading its young partners in Central Europe in the continental idea attractiveness? Maybe, the issue of this choice will be the main intrigue of the further political events in Europe in 2021-2022.
Russia on the crossroads: «Single cooperation space», «Belt of eternal peace» or «fortress besieged»?
After the meeting in Geneva President of Russia Vladimir Putin published an article (Die Zeit, 22.06.2021), marking the 80th anniversary of Germany's invasion into USSR (22.06.1941). It is worth noting, that French President Charles de Gaulle and seemingly forgotten term the «Greater Europe» was mentioned. However one of the main messages of the article is a readiness for continental cooperation. Quote: «We are open to honest and constructive interaction. This is confirmed by our idea of creating a common space of cooperation and security from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean which would comprise various integration formats, including the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union.» However in two weeks after the meeting and the notorious discussion in the EU on necessity or inadmissibility of the EU-Russia summit, Russia's government demonstrates an alternate development scenario - priority of «The Greater Eurasia» (Minister for Foreign Affairs Lavrov's article, 27.06.2021) and a «comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation» with the «Belt of eternal peace» initiative along the Russian and Chinese shared border (Putin's and Xi Jinping's negotiations, 28.06.2021). Sino-Russian declaration has already been viewed as a hint on military-strategic Sino-Russian alliance.

After the implementation of the mobilisation economy model in the context of the global financial-economic crisis (2008+), Russia managed to ensure a list of strategic advantages for itself: a new military-technological status and strengthening of nuclear arsenal, implementation of the «Northern Route» geoproject, diversification of natural gas transportation potential («Nord Stream -1,2» - Europe, gas and oil pipes «Power of Siberia» «Eastern Siberia- Pacific ocean» and others - China), extensive strategic partnership with China (trade, technology exchange, political cooperation). War in the Caucasus, Middle East, Africa and participation in «hybrid wars» in Ukraine brought back a player-pole status to Russia, equal to countries-leaders with a far more strong economic potential. Arms, resources and «policy of presence» became new aces in the global multi-polar card deck.

Along with that, sanctions and systematic technological lag of Russian economy from economies-leaders create additional risks of economic and social overstrain. Domestic problems in Russia are being deterred by secret services and bureaucracy, mired in corruption. Social problems are out in the streets in the form of protests and youth riots. Transformation «pot» is being deterred by harsh politics and patriotic propaganda of «fortress besieged». But even the fortresses collapse if the gunpowder towers explode. That's why the choice of the way is also a choice of means of domestic compensations and social compromises.

«Russia - a fortress besieged» or a New Union. No doubt that overcoming a trauma of Russian great power policy, that has to do with the «greatest catastrophe of the XXth century» - collapse of the USSR, and creation of a new Union based on already existing Russian-Belarusian alliance - is one of the super-ideas of Putin's regime. And even though the Russian President denies the possibility of creation of the USSR-2 (which is logical, USSR - is a state of a socialist choice, even though of « a revisionist type», as is considered in China), but the ideas of a deep integration in the Eurasian region were always in the center of his politics. It is enough to recall Putin's program articles during the election campaign in Russia in 2012.

Russia was the first one that actively and consistently started to fight for the «soviet heritage», aiming to compensate for their own risks of the already begun second transformation («the first transformation» was a crisis and collapse of the USSR) on the account of new acquisitions and victories.

Union of states with the Russia as a «core» (Eurasian Economic Union, the Union State of Russia and Belarus), in my book, a goal that for Kremlin is above the geopolitical considerations. Nevertheless, its implementation can not be executed by breaking the rules, that are being set due to the transition to the multipolarity. Illegitimate and isolated New Union is a way to a practically guaranteed domestic crisis due to lack of economic means for the project and huge social fatigue of population both in Russia, and in states and separatist regions, that may be involved in the project.

Thus even the loudest patriots of the «great past in the future» would not be able to pull off such a risky project, without defining its place in the new multipolarity first.

Russia is choosing. But the choice in controversial:

  • Participation in the new Pax GlobalWest. And as a result they gain a new powerful opponent, critic and even rival - China, which doesn't forgive betrayal. Such a suspicion appeared after the Geneva talks, however it is more of an «impression» than a real summit result. In my book, neither in Europe, nor in China or Russia new Atlantic utopia is taken seriously (even though declarative documents on the intentions have been signed). And pending negotiations are used only as a tactical break and political detente. This is how it looks. This is how, I think, it is understood by all sensible political elites.
  • The Greater Europe 2.0. Hinted by Russian President in his article. Only possible in the event of a full scale implementation of the EU's «strategic autonomy» and the not yet fully articulated Atlantic-exit. But this means - to use all its power on the Greater Europe, make concessions in the Central European policy, including the «Ukrainian issue» (first of all, ending the Donbas war and reconstitution of territorial integrity of Ukraine), terminate an aggressive anti-west campaign in the media. And along with that - ensure China's loyalty to this approach (with its Belt-Road plans and EU agreement on investments cooperation). Even if such an option is possible - it is only so given the Franco-German «core» and Russia's convergence, up to common economic space agreements, deep NATO transformation from military into political-diplomatic bloc, establishment of a new, supra-bloc system of collective security on the continent. Despite the attractiveness of the «continental peace» idea, nowadays it looks like a fantasy;
  • «The Greater Eurasia». This option is one of the most popular in the political establishments of Russia. It can be portrayed like this - loud slamming of the «Central European door» and a «Cold peace» with the EU. Development of a military-political alliance with China and coordination of the «vital interests» along the two countries perimeter (and each one has a perimeter of its own). Acceptance of the rules of the «new cold war» games with its «democracies and autocracies» rivalry. The recent extension of the Russia-China cooperation treaty, and an initiative of «The Eternal Peace Belt» builds a good foundation for such a scenario.
Convergence with China, «The Grater Eurasia» - is West's nightmare, particularly if there is a possibility of a military-strategic alliance of Russia and China, with a united nuclear, economic, resource and territorial potential. With Russia, China is a new hegemony, without Russia - one of the poles, even though the most powerful in the future. This exact threat made BritAmerica involve themselves in the «Geneva bargaining», offering Russia a place and possibilities in the declared Pax GlobalWest.

There is also a risk of the following scenario. «Socialism with Chinese characteristics» sooner or later will rock the domestic social crisis in Russia itself, that has not overcome the post-soviet corruption state-corporate capitalism with all its flaws and social traumas. The growth of the leftist ideas and rehabilitation of the left (including marxist) heritage in Russian humanitarian sphere may prompt the new left turn in the Russian policy. To compensate this turn by promises of the «social state» strengthening by Russia's ruling party - is not an easy task, which is not likely to be done, especially in the middle-term perspective (2022-2025).

Russia chooses and plays. The desire to preserve and strengthen its position as an independent «pole» in a new multipolar world will hold back Russia in any scenario. Moreover, all the key players, that are being bargained with and with whom the choice is to be made, are in a no less complicated position, than Russia itself: domestic crisis in the USA, division in the EU, economic instability threat in China.

Russia also needs a year minimum. With the high chances of choice and possibilities for manoeuvre. Exactly what we are currently witnessing.
Ukrainian-Russian rift.
«Lonely trench» or «buffer belt»?
By transferring Crimea to the Russian jurisdiction and interfering in the Donbas conflict, Russia lost Ukraine as a partner state.

All the previous attempts to involve Ukraine in the Russian integration projects (for example Single Economic Space, signed by Kuchma in 2003, but not ratified by parliament), buy the elite with profitable trade arrangements and shared transnational business, scare the society with the «break of family ties» and «the war of brotherly nations» threats have gotten them nowhere. And if during the Kravchuk-Kuchma period it was «Ukraine is not Russia», during the presidency of Poroshenko and Zelensky it became «Ukraine is anti-Russia».

Maidan-2014, war and mass support of Zelensky radically changed composition, quality and motivation of the political elite. Huge amount of an already thin Ukrainian budget is spent on military, security structures and maintenance of the support that is (sort of) received by Ukraine. The role and weight of the administrative-security machine, as well as the incomes of the new bureaucracy in the condition of the de facto mobilisation, grew immensely. Large business and entrepreneurship found themselves under the tax, administrative and ideological heel of new militarised bureaucracy and political management, that preserved its place and got its «share» only if they are loyal, obedient and are «team players».

Especially, this characteristics of a new «military-bureaucratic state» revealed themselves during the rule of President Zelensky, who, being a civil and artistic person himself in the past, became an authoritarian leader, ignoring the law and using repressive governing methods in several months ( decisions of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine).

A majority of the current Ukrainian «political class» representatives are aiming for a new, post-oligarch reorganisation or in other words - «secondary primary capital accumulation». Authoritarian policy, «military-bureaucratic state» mechanisms and a high level of dependancy of domestic decisions on foreign influence (governments and secret services, creditors, diplomats, consultants) appeared to be a good mechanism for pushing old elites away form budget resources, licences and assets.

However, while trying to get the piece of the cake, they don't think about the consequences of their actions.

The old oligarchy, that was grown during the Leonid Kuchma's presidency, have controlled the state for two decades. They were adjusting to new situations and to every and each political consumer gaining power. A corruptively corroded, but stable mechanism of governance and control of the main national assets and resources has been created during this time. As paradoxical as it may be, it ensured a relative economic sovereignty of Ukraine: a difficultly penetrated domestic market and «empty» stock market, absence of the land market and perseverance of the state monopoly deterred foreign investors, which means - deterred transnationalisation of the whole economic structure.

The last Maidan (2014), war and a deep crisis in Ukraine «opened a door» for a compulsory transnationalisation. By means of forced privatisation, creation of land market, «dispossession» of large capital under «deoligarchisation» flag. Exactly what is happening now.

The corridor of possibilities for Ukraine is narrow. The prospects of a deep integration into the western structures (EU and NATO membership) are only declarative. The verification of this are numerous announcements and interviews of western politicians in the context of the June 2021 summits series in the West.

Reverse and convergence with Russia, amidst war and strengthening of separatist republics (Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics) as «new national Russian states» with a de facto double citizenship in Russia - is also not possible. For Ukraine, Russia and eastern border - is a rim, a large information and military «trench», which is used by Ukraine to separate itself from Russia. This is where the image of a «wall» that has become a political symbol of this division long ago is coming from.

The western border of Ukraine is also experiencing tension: passports distribution among Ukrainian citizens by Romania and Hungary is happening on the same scale as in the east. A growing dependancy from Poland (primarily labour migration, more than 1 million workplaces and tens of thousands students in Polish universities) results in a growth of polish cultural and information policy influence on Ukraine.

In this context, it is possible to evaluate and describe approaches, that are taken towards Ukraine by different players. Same as approaches that are dominant in Ukraine itself.

  1. In the eyes of the «nuclear Europe», Franco-German duet, Ukraine could become something like a «Euro-Asian shoulder» for a further expansion to the east. To the «common space» on the continent, that has been discussed for 15 years by EU and Russia on the «Petersburg forum» and other political-intellectual platforms. But this prospect is blocked by Donbas war and annexed Crimea. An emerged Ukrainian-Russian division deepens, and Ukraine lacks political-economic elite, capable of compromise on the continental question. At leat currently and in the middle-term perspective.
  2. Russian politics turned from games with political elites of Ukraine to an information and cultural expansion on the society itself. Russian government will no longer try to buy separate political groups, that in its majority appear to be little thieves and narcissists, but bets on the victory in geocultural war for social capital. Meaning, for the part of Ukrainian society that at the time of statehood crisis, a distinctive oppression to «foreign governance», can once again support the «electoral revolution» with the ideas of independency, neutrality and pragmatism. However, it will be a long time before the situation will take place, while risk of the domestics instability with unpredictable consequences is still high. It is safe to say that Crimea annexation and Donbas war lessons have not been learned.
  3. In the BritAmerican project Ukraine is one of the outposts of the Pax GlobalWest, deeply integrated in the Central European project of the «buffer zone». The Three Seas Initiative (liquefied gas supplies, natural gas storage, port infrastructure, gas transportation and new logistics), «sewing together» Central Europe into one energetic hub, looks attractive. But under one crucial condition - if the USA will get their share on the European market and will negotiate this deal with Russia and Germany. What will be the conditions for both parties - the question remains open.
  4. The scenario of a forced foreign political «projectionism» (devotion to unrealisable projects) that could compensate for the emerged vacuum of prospects and domestic threats of localisation with sprawling is not to be ruled out. Real possibilities for such a «projectionism» - are in the same borders of Central Europe and in an ungrateful role of a «trench» in a «buffer zone». Here, Ukrainian politics has a support, and not only declarative. It is coming from both partner neighbours and BritAmerican Atlantic alliance.
The declaration of «Lublin triangle» establishment in autumn 2020 (Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania) can be viewed as not only symbolic, but as a declaration of a deeper political-economic integration. The image of The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth-2 is justified. The vacuum of the future, which is currently very prominent in the Ukrainian society, and a deficit of new, intelligible utopias, fear and resentment of Russia, trauma of loss in the east of Ukraine may be filled with this project for some time.

The «Lublin triangle» may become a new fetish for Ukraine's entering the European community, a formula for advocacy and a step-by-step integration into the EU.

All three participants - Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania - are adhering to the position of a «buffer zone», which is fine by BritAmerican alliance. Thus, the possibility of the «Lublin triangle» being promoted as a new geopolitical formula of «friends confederation», core of the Central Europe with political, military and ideological components, shouldn't be ruled out.

Will this «projectionism» become a real historical exit, finalising the Ukrainian -Russian division? Doubtful. The ghosts of the past, same as troubles of the present, may only catalyse new crises in Ukraine - on cultural, regional and geopolitical grounds. Especially given that such a turn will help Russia in its fight for «soviet heritage», primarily in those regions and social groups of Ukraine where the «soviet historical memory» is strong.

5) Currently, Ukraine has a dominating policy - of a «lonely trench», with a regular army, «territorial defence», «partisans» and aggressive national-patriotic propaganda. However with a risk to be left one-on-one with a further molecularisation of impoverishing society and a prospects of a «wedding in Malinovka» ( a USSR movie famous for its tragicomic portrayal of disorder and anarchy). An administrative and budget decentralisation (with no real self-government mechanisms) and land market establishment became a powerful stimuli for territorial localisation. Soon, after one electoral cycle, political Center will face a new quality and new arrogance of regional political elites, who will not follow the rules of the game of «national parties» and nomenclature lists and will demand new autonomies - economic, cultural and administrative. At least.
Ukraine is in a historical confusion. It has shrunk to a size of a Little Ukraine. Ukrainian political elite thinks and behaves as an elite of a small country, dependant, weak and humiliated, half a step from «voluntary (geopolitical) colonialism» with a government of a dominion level.

Ukraine has not yet realised the fact that it is still a victim. But not on the eastern front - in the complicated geopolitical war, where it has been given a «trench in the buffer zone» role.

However, while defending the Motherland, sooner or later a question of how it should look like unavoidably arises.

To be in Europe - you have to become Europe. To be powerful and independent - you have to know how to create power and make independent decisions. To be a player - you have to see the horizons of the game, understand and know how to play by the rules, and not to obey the dictate and interests of other players.

It is necessary to stop the destructive process of the Ukrainian political nation de-constituting and a harmful fall of the state to the level of cave ethnic-nationalism.

It needs its own strategy for Reconquista of «soviet heritage», that is being fought for. It needs a new geocultural strategy in a multipolar and polycultural world. It needs political elite, capable of such thinking and action.

To be Ukraine - it needs to become Ukraine, the Greater Ukraine, that has been established in the long gone 1990s.

Sovereign. Neutral. Independent.

Translated by Irina Khariv
New issue:
Events Horizons #3
Myrios of Future Scenarios: The Historical Self-Understanding Rift (rus)
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