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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
4727 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.

If the European Union had offered Ukraine more things, probably it would have won the battle for power in the country.

What do you think could stop what is happening now? The number of killings is said to have been over 30.

The truth is that we do not know exactly what is happening. For example, in Lvov and in other places in western Ukraine local troops have taken over the military bases and the weapon is in their hands. The situation is quite chaotic, it is not clear who is killing whom. In all cases, however, we are talking about a slaughter.

Very extreme and, I would say, even fascist elements who want Ukraine to entirely break away with Russia have taken precedence among the Ukrainians from the western part of the country. I think the solution is just one, namely to release from prison Yulia Tymoshenko in order for her to pacify the rebellious people and then the country to develop on the model of Finland, as I said. If Ukraine receives financial assistance and the spirits appease, it will be able to survive as an independent state between Russia and Europe.

Do you think that Russia would resort to militarily intervention? Some analysts claim that, after the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russian special forces would very easily transfer to Ukraine.

Yes, there is infrastructure, Russia has landing craft and the proximity is significant. However, the elite forces of the Russian Army are in Sochi alone and their number is small. Russia has established a military base in the region of Krasnodar, where it has battle tanks and a large fleet of fighters and bombers, and air forces.

However, I do not think that Putin would dare to intervene. If this happened it would lead to a much wider conflict, and I do not think Russia will openly invade Ukraine. This could only happen after an agreement with the U.S. on the division of the country. Then the tanks could enter to protect the population.

A numerous Greek minority lives in Ukraine, whose position in the conflict is important. Here is what Victoria Pomazan, a journalist from the media of the Greeks in Mariupol,, told GRReporter,

"The federation of Greek unions in Ukraine is located in Mariupol, near the Azov Sea, 1,000 kilometres away from Kiev, because the Greek community is concentrated there. We learn about the events in Kiev from television. Today’s situation is very serious and unpredictable. There are over 30 victims and more than 800 injured people who are in hospitals. Even the opposition has lost control over the nationalists, who have decided to take matters into their own hands, thus provoking the clash.

Throughout the history of Ukraine, its western part was pro-Western since, in different periods, it had been connected with Poland, Lithuania, Austria and Hungary. In 1939, by order of Stalin, it was incorporated into Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine, where we live, has always been considered as the small Russia and the people here have always been well disposed to Russia. In our opinion the conflicts of interest began right here.

Today it is impossible to make any forecasts. The whole situation is breaking the integrity of Ukraine and we, being its citizens, want these hard days for the country to end as soon as possible."

Tags: PoliticsUkraineClashesOppositionViktor YanukovychRussiaVladimir PutinYulia Tymoshenko
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