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There will be no Russian intervention in Ukraine without the consent of the United States

20 February 2014 / 23:02:23  GRReporter
4728 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Despite the hopes that the agreement between President Viktor Yanukovych and the Ukrainian opposition forces would put an end to the violent clashes in Kiev, the truce has proved fragile. Since morning, the fight in the main Maidan square has started again and no one is aware of the exact number of dead and injured.

The violation of the armistice has reinvigorated the comments that the only solution is for Ukraine to be divided into two. GRReporter has contacted one of the best experts on Russia and the former Soviet Union in Greece for comment. He is Andreas Petsines, editor in chief of the Greek economic magazine "Imerisia" and of "Economic inspection" magazine which has been issued since 1934 and is the oldest magazine in Greece. Previously he worked as head of the economic departments of "Exsousia" and "Ependitis" and as a commentator and analyst for Skai Radio and Planet. He acquired a bachelor's and master's degree from the Faculty of Political Economy at Lomonosov Moscow State University, where he defended his doctor’s thesis.

Mr. Petsines what has caused today's situation in Ukraine?

We should note two very important historical facts. Ukraine has always been divided into two parts, namely into eastern and western. Eastern Ukraine has always been closer to Russia not only because people of Russian origin live there but also for economic and religious reasons. Russia’s economic influence is strong and the majority of the citizens are Orthodox Christians. Western Ukraine was ruled by different forces. Once it belonged to Russia and then to Poland. The people there are Uniates and Catholics and they have never wanted to be governed by Russia. Even when the whole country was occupied by Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great, the Ukrainians in the western part rebelled.

The other thing is that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has failed to solve two main problems, namely poverty and corruption. These two factors have exacerbated the problems in a country where the government has never listened to the citizens and has done nothing to improve their life. They have always stepped on two boats, one was the West and the other the East, i.e. Russia.


In this sense, do you think that the division of Ukraine, which has been widely discussed by commentators in recent days, would solve the problem?

Yes, many analysts argue that the division of Ukraine, i.e. the inclusion of its eastern part into Russia, and its western part, beyond Dnieper, becoming independent, could be a solution to the crisis. I would note that even Putin had said at one point that Ukraine was a formation that should not be independent and should belong to Russia.

Probably, the division may be the solution. However, it should be noted that Ukraine is not Kosovo, where another nation lives, other than Serbian. In Ukraine, we are talking about people who have different preferences regarding its development. Those from the western part want it to join the European Union and those from the eastern to Russia, because they have closer connections with it.

However, what we are seeing is a very real danger of an outbreak of a civil war. And something like this would de facto lead to the division of Ukraine.

What could be the outcome of this situation?

I think the intentions and capabilities of Russia are crucial in this case. It cannot afford losing Ukraine because, without it, it will return to the years before the ruling of Catherine the Great. It cannot afford losing Crimea in particular because it is a major factor for security in the southern part of Russia. If it lost Ukraine, it would become a country of the East.

The question today is whether the Russian government can ensure that Ukraine will remain under its control. I do not think it is capable of doing so because both Europe and the United States support today's Ukrainian opposition.

I think what should happen is for Ukraine to remain united, find its feet and gain equal relations with both Russia and the West. This model is similar to that of Finland during the Cold war, when the country was neutral in terms of NATO and the Soviet Union. In this way, it could have economic benefits from both sides. Unfortunately, this does not seem real and the danger of division is great.


How do you assess Russia's position on the events so far?

I think it acts carefully and does not want to exacerbate things. Of course, it is talking about the interventions on the part of the West, but this is normal. Both the West and Russia are deeply interfering in the events in Ukraine.

Russia is balancing, trying to pacify the country and to impose Viktor Yanukovych. At the same time however, he does not seem able to govern. I think control has escaped from his hands and only weapons would help him change that but in this scenario, we are talking about bloodshed.

What is your opinion on the position of the European Union in the conflict?

The European Union had made ​​a tragic mistake at the beginning of the talks on the accession of Ukraine. The economic package it had offered to Yanukovych was very, even ridiculously, small. It is not possible to talk only about one billion euro.

Tags: PoliticsUkraineClashesOppositionViktor YanukovychRussiaVladimir PutinYulia Tymoshenko
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