Always good to be reminded that Europe is not just the wimpy EU or neurotic Balkans.
There’s also Ukraine, and where (if anywhere) it fits in to the Bigger Picture.
Luckily we have Odessablog’s Blog on the case, watching things with an astute British eye from balmy Crimea. Here’s a long piece with many points of interest as the argument gets into its stride:
Whether the “Orange Revolution” was about heading “West” and away from Russia as some commentators would say is also debatable. It is possible it was based on the perception (rightly or wrongly) that the Ukrainian population held that the vote was rigged and they were therefore not protesting to “head West” but protesting that they wanted their votes to count and not be a window dressing for perceived “democracy”. Even today the general population would vote overwhelmingly not to join NATO which is hardly an attitude of a population wanting to move “West” at any costs since 2004.
… despite numerous criticisms (some justified and others not), President Yanukovych will continue to have the support of the leadership of the EU and USA. What is allegedly or seemingly lost in non-tangibles such as democracy (and the instability it brings) is a substantial gain when it comes to stability. We should recall how quickly “the West” recognised the last presidential vote regardless of the accusations of foul play by Yulia Tymoshenko…
The EU has given clear signals that it will not be expanding for at least the next decade with regards to EU membership. Ukraine is a very large nation with massive infrastructure needs. It is a bigger geographical area than France. That takes a lot of FDI from the EU and would exceed anything that was, and currently still is, being thrown at Poland. Just not a viable political option when the austerity belt is being tightened around the EU member states…
And especially this:
Within a decade much can and will change. The EU will not be the entity it is today. It faces stark choices over the Eurozone that, whichever path taken, will lead to serious internal changes. There are major policy issues that would affect Ukraine happening now and within a few years, such as integrated transport policies and in 2013 a major shake up of the agricultural policy.
Will Ukraine even want to join what the EU will morph into by the time it can realistically make a formal request and have a fair chance of acceptance?
… The current speed and trajectory of Ukraine towards the EU, pretty much suits all neighbours in the grand scheme of things, so whilst Ukrainian internal shenanigans may occasionally draw a necessary comment, they will never be so forceful as to knock Ukraine off course as far as the Grand Area plan is concerned, or stability associated with it, even at the cost of a little democracy or freedom of speech.
Far better that, than the current situation in North Africa and the Middle East where the Grand Plan is under some serious pressure. Let’s not even mention China!
A timely piece of work, given the stern warning coming from a thoroughly fed up US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who has just given the weebling Europeans what is more or less their last stern warning re defence spending and general backbone:
Nato had degenerated into an alliance "between those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of commitments, and those who enjoy the benefits of Nato membership but don’t want to share the risks and the costs", Gates said.
Noting that he was 20 years older than President Barack Obama, he said Washington’s security guarantees to Europe, embodied in the Nato alliance, were fading. His peers’ "emotional and historical attachment" to Nato was "ageing out", he said, adding: "You have a lot of new members of Congress who are roughly old enough to be my children or grandchildren."
Generational change, economic hardship and European refusal to take responsibility for their own security were all feeding Nato’s decline and possible end, he warned.
2021 is a mere 520 weeks away.
Bets on what the Eurozone, EU and NATO (and OSCE and almost every other piece of clunky Cold War institutional architecture for ‘European Security’) will look like then? Ukraine may find itself quite nicely placed simply by edging along unobtrusively in a sensible enough direction?