Ashgabat, 24 Dec—The Russian bailout package with the $15 billion bond purchase and immense discount on gas price at its core, translates into one life-size message for the so-called ‘west’: You are damned if Yanukovych falls and you are damned if he doesn’t.
The current gas sale-purchase agreement between Russia and Ukraine will fall due for renewal next year and there is no telling how the new terms may look like if Yanukovych is replaced by someone else, assuming there IS someone else to replace him.
The $15 billion bond purchase will be made from the national wealth fund of Russia (also called national welfare fund) and this fund is meant for riskier investments. One clause is that the investment can be revoked under certain conditions. Disappearance of Yanukovych could be one such condition.
If Yanukovych is ousted, with him will go the Russian bailout package. A cursory look at the balance sheets shows that Europe, or for that matter ‘the west’ has neither the capacity nor the collective political will to prop up a falling Ukraine.
And, a fallen Ukraine would be infinitely worse than a Ukraine under Yanukovych, a democratically elected president. This is one side of the coin – you asked for a nightmare and you might even get it.
The other side of the coin is that Yanukovych may survive the protests after all, and continue to repair his damaged economy with the help of the Russian bailout package. He will have no reason to reach out to the ‘west’ anyway.
With the fast changing circumstances everywhere, time is of essence. And time is what Europe cannot use efficiently because of its unwieldy and helter-skelter expansion, the result of being long on ambition and short on smart planning.
Whether Yanukovych stays or goes, it is defeat for the suppliers of beer, sandwiches, condoms and pocket money to the ‘protesters’ in Kiev.
What is the larger message for ‘the west’ here?
The core message here is that ‘the west’ is a myth that has outlived its utility.
Where is the collective ‘east’ against which this ‘west’ needs to engage in perpetual battles?
Geographically there is an east no doubt, as there is geographically a west too. But the whole of the east has never toyed with the preposterous idea of creating a united ‘the east.’
There are economic blocs and there are political and military alliances but there is also the maturity to recognize that binding the whole of ‘east’ into a kind of EU-like alliance will harm everyone and serve none.
With due respect to Nietzsche and Kipling, ‘the west’ cannot afford to remain ‘the west’ for long.
This is not a novel concept. The realization that appending the sovereignty of each country to a clumsily glued Europe is already taking a heavy toll; the sum total is consistently less than its component parts. And there is the frustration among the masses from Germany to Greece for diverse reasons, all rooted in being EU.
In fact, during the after the Russia-Ukraine deal, the only sane voice came from Germany.
Germany’s new Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggested that Brussels may have misjudged Moscow’s determination and its emotional, historical and economic ties to Kiev.
“Those are questions we and Europeans need to answer. The only thing I’m sure of is that we presented a financial and economic package which fell far short of what was needed to keep Ukraine competitive and bind it economically to Europe,” Reuters quoted Steinmeir on 17 December 2013.
To be continued . . .