ArmInfo’s interview with Aleksey Kolomiets, President of the Kyev-based Center for European and Transatlantic Studies
by David Stepanyan
One can get an impression from what is happening now in Ukraine that the fate of the Kremlin-cherished Eurasian Union and restoration of Russia as a super power depends on the current developments on Kyev streets…
The major goal of Putin's team is the Eurasian Union. The Customs Union is a certain 'shield' and 'preparatory phrase.' It may seem improbable, but one can hardly find any banner reading "Eurasian Union' in the streets and on the barricades in Kyev and in Ukraine, generally. They have focused on opposing the Customs Union.
Unfortunately, the multi-party opposition in Ukraine also lacks political foresight. Meanwhile the men at the wheel of the Kremlin think that the Russian superpower has already been restored. What made them think so was annexation of the part of Georgia. In geopolitics, an aggressor will not stop until it is punished. And Putin is well aware of that. Therefore, such huge forces have been thrown to Ukraine.
How much possible is the opposition’s victory in Ukraine? What may it lead Ukraine to?
Unfortunately, it is mainly the paradox of the opposition configuration in Ukraine that has created the ongoing chaos.
The confidence in the opposition, if not its legitimacy, is diminishing rapidly. It has become the dominating challenge. Therefore, if the current opposition gains power, it will not stay in power long. New forces and new leaders are emerging in front of our eyes and Maidan is turning to them. Furthermore, Maidan has become one of the determining factors for the future of Ukraine. There is an extremely high probability that a transitional government will be created in Ukraine. However, he thinks, it will be a government of suicides/kamikadzes that will stay in power for a few months till elections. The whole question comes down to this: will it be parliamentary or presidential election.
Is the state and territorial split of Ukraine possible?
The Russian strategic factor is the key one among the factors that affect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The strategy of the Kremlin is to take under full control as many territories of Ukraine as possible. The main blow is directed at Lugansk, Donetsk and Kharkov regions and the Crimea. The congress of the "Ukrainian front" held in Kharkov is one of the elements of this strategy. In fact, the assault teams are being legalized. The Crimea has become active. In particular, the leadership of the Supreme Council of the Crimea has been preparing documents, which openly say about the Crimea's annexation by Russia. The executive power of the Crimea is absolutely ignored. The reaction of the Crimea Tatars to the challenges to separate from Ukraine may be easily predicted. The majority of the Crimea Tatars will never agree to live in Russia and the NATO member - Turkey will come forward to support them. Such development of events will be extremely dangerous as in that case everything may be beyond somebody's control.
The West’s response to the developments in Ukraine was tough enough. The U.S. speaks of sanctions, while EU mulls suspension of relations. How much will all this affect Ukraine’s relations with the West and its European integration?
The West has started acting too late. Ukraine was already shocked by atrophy of the West. This prompted the Ukrainians the necessity to act independently. There is no doubt that the USA is the leader of these actions, but not President Obama. The relations of Ukraine with the West should be fully revised. In particular, I mean true security guarantees.
The issue of the so-called European integration should be fully revised. It is necessary to fully restart the relations with the EU, and the process should be started after the election to the European Parliament and formation of the new staff of the European Commission. The strategic documents of relations between Ukraine and NATO in the new geo-political conditions should be prepared by the NATO summit in September. The so-called "Ukrainian plan" similar to the "Marshal's Plan" may play a significant part. The sponsors of this plan have already come forward the USA, the EU, Japan, Azerbaijan and Norway.
Do you share the opinion that the protests in support of the Association with the EU were just a reason for a power change in Ukraine?
A question arises as to whether the protests would start but for the association problem? The protests spiraled into revolution, while revolution gives no importance to secondary issues. The association agreement is a document of the past. A new agreement is needed.
One can get an impression that Yanukovich will stay in power if another tranche of the Russian loan is provided. $15 billion is rather a weighty lever of influence for Moscow on the pre-default Kyev. Will these billions really save Ukraine from the financial and economic crisis?
The situation of the money that come to Ukraine from Moscow is simply wild, as $3 billion simply disappeared. This was a shock, first of all, for Putin.
In general, there are extreme disagreements between Putin and the Russian government in the matter of granting $15 billion to Ukraine. The credit has been suspended, as the financial and budgetary situation in Russia is worsening fast, and to resume crediting is a political suicide. Who to deliver the money to? - Yanukovich? The former premier of Ukraine, Azarov, was a security guarantor, but he ran away from Ukraine to Austria. According to the leading analysts, Ukraine is already beyond control from the point of view of finances, budget and monetary policy. There are only two steps to default.