Riots! Fires! Threats of higher import and custom duties!  Oh my!

Ukraine’s not been this interesting since the last time the media noticed that it’s Ukraine, not the Ukraine.  Russia is mightily pissed, and would like everyone to just rejoin the Soviet Union already because that wasn’t such a bad thing.  Meanwhile, the often-slagged bureaucrats of Brussels seem to understand a thing or two about what’s at stake.  In the middle are the Ukrainians themselves, divided over past, present, and future, and throwing petrol bombs in the streets in the meantime.

Ukraine as a historical entity was never much secure

Ukraine is situated in a pretty bad neighborhood.  To the south, the Black Sea can easily be closed by any power controlling the Dardanelles.  The Dneiper River bisects the country neatly in half and flows southwards, allowing invaders to set up boats and attack from the north rather easily.

Rather easy entry there.

No mountains exist as natural barriers to prevent Cossacks from a-rapin’ and a-pillagin’ – and so it should be no shock that, besides an impressive stint as Kievan Rus, Ukraine’s been under the domination of powers based from Muscovy.  Ukraine’s never been able to stand up to a power fielding forces bred in the same kind of climate – one reason why the Mongols, also from a steppe climate, had their way with Kiev in 1240 and ended its golden age.

What a lovely buffer state you have there

After the Mongol invasions, Kiev was never able to regain its footing enough to withstand successive invasions by Poles, Turks, and Russians, and thus relegated what might have been a great power to secondary status.  From that point, Ukraine was a buffer between various centers of political gravity – especially Moscow.  With its abundant cereal harvests, Ukraine was a lovely breadbasket to have as part of the Russian empire, and an even better buffer that could be sacrificed if necessary to save the Russian state.  Which is pretty much what happened in 1991.

The European Union sees a nice trade network extended; the Russians see a dagger pointed at their heart

We’ve been over Putin’s Russia’s psychology – paranoid and security-obsessed, believing that a good defense is a good offense.  But this is a conflict between a new form of international politics – the growth of a transnational organization vs. a traditional nation-state.  Russia does not see the EU as a friendly neighbor; rather, it sees a threat that, while not particularly menacing today, may eventually be subverted by another Hitler.  European governments, on the other hand, see themselves as well past that rather nasty past and desire open borders and open markets in the hopes of just making everyone richer.

Russian strategic interests in adorable form.

But the dagger isn’t just military.  Russia’s often described as a kleptocracy, and the robber barons who support Putin make plenty of money in Ukraine.  If Ukraine slides towards the EU, it will become more transparent, fair, and open – all of which will hurt their margins.  They’re not about to push Moscow to fight a war, but they’ll do what they can to preserve their interests.  Putin’s emerging social contract is based on letting these nasties get away with their business, and so he’s got incentive to stop Ukraine from drifting out of their economic orbit.

The people vs. the elites

The sitting elites in Kiev clearly would like to please Russia over the EU, but are having their hands tied down by mass protests.  Democratic systems are good at channeling this anger into action and policy changes; Ukraine’s democratic credentials have taken a hit recently but are still good enough to stay “partly free.”  Ukraine could slide into authoritarianism to survive this storm and keep Russia happy, but that’s a hard trick to pull off these days.

It’s a big sign of things to come

As the world organizes into supra-national set-ups, these sort of conflicts will happen more and more.  The EU has plenty of faults, but it’s potential power is staggering.  It’s an attractive group that might just offer that sweet spot of security and economic growth sought by every state out there.  Meanwhile, traditional nation-states will have to find their way in a world of declining nationalist sentiment.

Russia will not likely win this one

Alas for Putin, his country is too far gone to rebuild the Soviet Union.  The people of Ukraine will drift further and further westward and Russian defense will end up having to hinge on cooperation rather than strength.  That’ll mean adapting themselves to a European – and by extension American – way of living in the international system.  That’s a long way off.  But losing Kiev is just the first step.

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9 thoughts on “The Battle over Ukraine

  1. Ryan,

    Is there a clear divide on the demographics of who is pro-Russia and pro-West/EU beyond those who have great financial stake in the matter? I’m curious if the under 25 crowd who did not grow up with Russia as the enemy harbor the same ill-will as the older generations that did?

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    1. It’s a solid question. Like all systems, it won’t break down cleanly, but there’s a class, political, and linguistic divide between the two groups. Supporters of being closer to Russia tend to speak Russian, are working-class, and are associated with parties that align with Russia (like the Communists and the party of the president, Victor Yanukovych.)

      It’s highly likely that you’re right about that generational divide, but education also matters. Many of the vanguard of the protests are university students – so coal workers and farmers are left out.

      I found these articles on the subject:
      http://www.panorama.am/en/interviews/2013/12/04/jonathan-fryer/

      https://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine-abroad/financial-times-ukraine-students-youth-of-the-nation-for-euro-integration-332556.html

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  2. Thanks for the articles. Given how fierce and deep the divide is (especially when taking into consideration the areas that speak predominately Russian vs Ukrainian) I wonder if there is any real concern that Ukraine may split into two Sudan style…

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    1. I think we would need to see sustained and larger scale violence for the state to break up. But a devolution could be in the cards if this isn’t sorted. A rise of regionalism is the last thing Ukraine wants, but it could be inevitable.

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  3. ROTHSCHILDS HIDDEN BEHIND THE PROTESTS IN UKRAINE

    1) ” Delivering a speech at the German parliament Bundestag in Berlin on November 18, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Ukraine must take «credible steps» in order to clinch a trade agreement with the EU, «We know that reforms cannot completely be carried out in a day. We also want to support Ukraine in its reforms, with offers of cooperation, with financial means from the European Neighborhood Policy. But the conditions for this must be achieved by Ukraine itself and not just sometime, but rather now», she said. With less than two weeks to go before the agreement is due to be signed at a summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, the European Union has made clear that Ukraine has not done enough to meet the conditions for a signing». ”
    http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2013/12/10/ukrainian-opposition-what-do-they-mean.html

    MERKEL IS A PUPPET OF DEUTSCHE BANK.

    ” Opposition lawmakers and German media have accused Ms. Merkel of hosting a private party at taxpayer expense for the birthday of Mr. Ackermann [FORMER CEO OF DEUTSCHE BANK], an influential but controversial figure in Germany. ”
    ” A German official confirmed that Mr. Ackermann proposed guests’ names to the chancellery. Guests included executives from big German companies such as BASF AG and Siemens AG, as well as media publishers and some leading academics.
    The dinner highlights the fact that relations between Germany’s political and business elites have long been cozy, reflecting a tradition of trying to govern the country by building a consensus with industry, banking, unions and other interest groups. ” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125133086245062187.html

    WHO CONTROLS DEUTSCHE BANK ?
    WE CAN NOTICE RELATIONS AMONG LORD JACOB ROTHSCHILD AND DEUTSCHE BANK. https://wikispooks.com/ISGP/organisations/introduction/PEHI_Jacob_de_Rothschild_bio.htm
    DAVID HAYSEY ” HEAD OF PUBLIC EQUITIES AT RIT CAPITAL PARTNERS ” AND IN THE PAST ” DIRECTOR AT J ROTHSCHILD CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, BOTH OWNED BY JACOB ROTHSCHILD, ” HAS BEEN ” MANAGING DIRECTOR AT DEUTSCHE BANK ” http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/david-haysey/1b/470/bb3
    THERE ARE ALSO LINKS AMONG EVELYN DE ROTHSCHILD AND DEUTSCHE BANK. https://wikispooks.com/ISGP/organisations/introduction/PEHI_Evelyn_de_Rothschild_bio.htm
    LYNN FORESTER DE ROTHSCHILD, THE WIFE OF EVELYN DE ROTHSCHILD, IS A DIRECTOR OF DEUTSCHE BANK.
    ” In addition, she serves as a Trustee of the ERANDA Foundation (a Rothschild family foundation), the Outward Bound Trust, the Alfred Herrhausen Society of International Dialogue of Deutsche Bank and the Global Commercial Microfinance Consortium Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank. ”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Forester_de_Rothschild
    DEUTSCHE BANK IS CONNECTED ALSO WITH THE EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD OWNED BY BENJAMIN DE ROTHSCHILD
    ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_de_Rothschild ) AND BY HIS WIFE ARIANE DE ROTHSCHILD ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariane_de_Rothschild ). http://in.linkedin.com/pub/nicolas-hindi/31/912/265
    http://www.lejdd.fr/Economie/Images/Les-plus-grosses-fortunes-de-France/Benjamin-de-Rothschild-206941
    ” Benjamin de Rothschild, only son of the late Edmond de Rothschild, was a classic case of great expectations gone astray. Despite being groomed for greatness from a young age, as a teenager he skipped university and instead headed for Los Angeles with dreams of being a film producer. In LA he started taking drugs, and ended up on heroin. Meanwhile, he failed to make it into Hollywood’s charmed circle and bombed as a film-maker. ”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/poor-little-rich-boys-1097744.html

    2) ” Indeed, an estimated 2,200 EU- and U.S.-funded NGOs are operating in Ukraine, some of them no doubt serving as channels of support for the rapid organization of these protests. In December 2004, NGOs in the George Soros/Gene Sharp/Oxford University/Project Democracy networks were instrumental in the Orange Revolution that overturned the first election of Yanukovych as President. ” http://larouchepac.com/node/29060

    GEORGE SOROS IS CONNECTED WITH CARLYLE AND BLACKSTONE. http://www.culturechange.org/CarlyleEmpire.html
    http://transmissionsmedia.com/the-911-illusion-part-ii-deutsche-bank-blackstone/

    WHO CONTROLS SOROS, CARLYLE AND BLACKSTONE ?
    ” Henry Kissinger’s good friend Lord JACOB ROTHSCHILD sat on Bioport owner Blackstone’s International Advisory Board. (See Corexit Linked to the Blackstone Group and Lord Jacob Rothschild) ”
    http://transmissionsmedia.com/the-911-illusion-part-ii-deutsche-bank-blackstone/
    http://beforeitsnews.com/gulf-oil-spill/2010/06/corexit-linked-to-the-blackstone-group-and-lord-jacob-rothschild-76363.html
    ” Blackstone was founded in 1985 as a mergers and acquisitions boutique by Peter G. Peterson and Stephen A. Schwarzman, who had previously worked together at Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb Inc. ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackstone_Group
    Peter G. Peterson ” is founding Chairman of the Peterson Institute for International Economics ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_George_Peterson http://larouchepac.com/node/28610
    Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the wife of EVELYN DE ROTHSCHILD, is a director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. http://www.petersoninstitute.org/institute/board.cfm
    Blackstone is also related with the LCF EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD, for example, through the person of Daniel Costa Lindo that is a M&A Analyst at Blackstone and was Private Equity Analyst at LCF Edmond de Rothschild. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/daniel-costa-lindo/32/255/543 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_de_Rothschild https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariane_de_Rothschild

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waddesdonhttp://www.waddesdon.org.uk/ http://www.thefullwiki.org/Waddesdon_Manor http://www.thefullwiki.org/Ascott_House http://www.breathingenglishair.blogspot.fr/2012/04/ascott-house-buckinghamshire.html http://wikimapia.org/6825620/fr/Chateau-de-Pregny http://www.panoramio.com/photo/77169200

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