Ashgabat, 20 Dec—Russia and Ukraine signed 15 bilateral documents Tuesday (17 Dec). If good sense can somehow prevail on all sides, the net impact would be entirely positive for all players – a win-win situation albeit different players taking home unequal slices of win.
The Moscow-Kiev deal includes the bailout package for Ukraine, the substantial discount on natural gas, the offer for joint civil, military and dual nature projects and lot more.
Putin, the Karate master who advocates in his co-authored book that the secret is in using the force of your opponent to your advantage, has delivered a master stroke.
This latest package of documents between Russia and Ukraine and the engineered chaos in Ukraine demand full attention of Central Asia — and there is one big lesson for the so-called ‘west’ too:
Ukraine as a lab for foreign intervention
By now it is clear to anyone with even marginal interest in the CIS space that Ukraine is being used as lab for more ambitious projects.
It is also the case of the bully who will disrupt the game if he is not allowed to play.
By communicating with several foreign students in Ukraine we have learned that the protests are not as widespread as portrayed by the media. Moreover, to put if rather bluntly, the protestors are not interested in any particular agenda; their main reason for staying on the streets is free alcohol, food, condoms and ample opportunities for hook ups. Even though this sounds like a sweeping statement, hardly anyone we communicated with suggested that anyone was heartbroken because of the aborted partnership deal with Europe.
Let’s forget all the conspiracy theories for a while – they are mostly a figment of someone’s fevered imagination but annoying prove true more often than not.
Let’s ignore what Yanukovic and Putin have been suggesting about the root and purpose of the protests in Ukraine.
Let’s just look at one example that can neither be explained away nor overlooked: The visit of the former US presidential candidate, John McCain to Ukraine on 15 Dec.
McCain, addressing a crowd at the Independence Square in Kiev, said, “The free world is with you, America is with you, I am with you.”
The bellicose diatribe of McCain was open and blatant interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, and to top it, he practically incited the crowd to violence.
Had it been Putin traveling to the USA the incite Occupy Movement, would Uncle Sam have permitted it? Would the ‘Free World’ approve it in the name of free speech? Would it even be possible for Putin to enter the United States solely to address the Occupy Movement crowd?
The acquirable wisdom for Central Asia here is that the ‘west’ neither loves democracy nor human rights. It only loves its own narrow interests. Any Central Asian government still willing to take the word of a western government on its face value needs to think again.
Let’s say something that can easily and swiftly be classified as a conspiracy theory: Ukraine is being used to test the ideas and approaches to apply later in Iran and Russia.
Conspiracy theory? Possibly.
But think again, Central Asia.
Russia has offered to buy US $ 15 billion worth of Ukraine debt bonds.
This is timely assistance for Ukraine whose debt to GDP ratio now stands at nearly 36% and external debts are in the vicinity of US $ 124 billion. If nothing else, this bailout package will prevent Ukrainian economy from going into a coma.
And, this is an act of tremendous courage on the part of Russia. The GDP of the Russian Federation, as per World Bank figures for 2012, is US $ 3373 billion, which means that bailout package of $ 15 billion will amount to about 0.44% of the GDP of Russia.
Whatever reasons for Ukraine being where it is today, the bailout package is what it was looking for in a deal with Europe. Yanukovich had to take any lifeline thrown in his direction.
The European mindset and the approach emanating from that mindset that led to the collapse of EU-Ukraine talks is the source of concern here for Central Asia.
If the purpose of denying Ukraine any viable bailout package was to bring their economy to its knees, it was not a wise maneuver because Europe has neither means nor collective political will to pull back Ukraine to its feet once it collapses.
If the idea was to spite Putin, it was not a wholly admirable ambition.
Who is still living in the Cold War era? Any quick guess?
If Europe doesn’t have the resources to match its aspirations, whatever those aspirations are, the logical thing is to either raise the resources or clip the aspirations.
On the other hand, Russia with its not-so-deep pockets has stepped out on a limb.
Central Asia needs to draw its own conclusions.
If words were money, every Ukrainian would be a multimillionaire based on the non stop rhetoric and golden paradise promises of the USA and Europe.
If money is money, it is showing up from a man condemned and despised by the noble west.
To be continued . . .