Russia and the West Must Begin Thinking Seriously about a World ‘After Ukraine,’ Kolerov Says

Column in Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 17, 2015)

Modest Kolerov, an outspoken champion of Russian nationalism and expansion, says that the expert community in Moscow has still not decided on what would be best for a world “after Ukraine” but that in his opinion, “the best scenario for [Russians] would be a freezing of the conflict.”

Kolerov, who is editor of the Regnum news agency, says that he reaches that conclusion because of his long experience working with South Osetia, Abkhazia, Transdniestria, and Nagorno-Karabakh and because of his conviction that “the Ukraine we know today is [already] a phenomenon of the past” (regnum.ru/news/polit/1895852.html).

The commentator made this and other declarations at a conference in Novgorod last week called “Russia and the West: Quo Vadis?” organized by the Russian-Polish Center for Dialogue, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Russia, the Polish embassy in Russia, the NATO information bureau in Russia, the Polish Institute in St. Petersburg, the Russia-Baltic Media center, the Danish Embassy in Russia and the Norwegian consulate general in St. Petersburg.

Kolerov began his address by insisting that in the future “Ukraine will no longer exist” because “that Ukraine which we know today is a phenomenon of the past.” Consequently, he argued, “the life of Eastern Europe and Eurasia after Ukraine requires an honest approach from the sides participating in the process.”

“When we will see tomorrow will be a different phenomenon, another Ukraine. We no longer can discuss the history of Ukraine and its interests,” Kolerov says. Those have been “sacrificed to those who sponsored, organized and continue to organize coups” against legitimate governments as was the case with the Maidan.

According to the Regnum editor, “we must discuss what each of the sides – Germany, the EU and Poland sees as the immediate future of this territory,” but up to now, he insists, “not one of the sides has a model or image of the future of Eastern Europe after Ukraine.” Nor, Kolerov acknowledges, is there “any precise understanding … of the future after Ukraine.”

He says that Russian policy toward Crimea, the Donbas and other territories of Eastern Ukraine “has been reactive … We know that all the previous policy of Russia toward Ukraine … was dictated” not by a considered examination of Russian national interests but by Moscow’s deference to the insistence of the West on what he calls “a dynastic policy.”

As a result, until February 2014, Russia had been “losing in Ukraine.” Indeed, Kolerov says, “its entire 25-year-long policy toward Ukraine” had been a failure.

Throughout that period, he says, “Ukraine through the efforts of all administrations was formally pro-Russian was in fact anti-Russian and pro-Western, and “consistently pursued a firm course involving ‘the rehabilitation of pro-Hitler, Banderite collaborationism which is now its official ideology.”

Last year, Russia adopted a new course in “a series of impromptu steps in Crimea, in the Donbas, and in relation to Ukraine as a whole.” In every case, Kolerov insists, Moscow was defending itself against the attacks of others. But now the question arises: “What model of the Russia does Russia want to achieve” regarding Ukraine?

There is no clear answer to this up to now, he says. “There are attempts to combine principles of various kinds: the integrity of Ukraine, the federalization of Ukraine, the right of the east of Ukraine to self-determination, military security of Russia in connection with the expansion of NATO into Ukraine which undoubtedly will occur.”

The only thing on which Russians agree and about which there can be no discussion is the status of Crimea as part of the Russian Federation, Kolerov says. “A retreat in Crimea would mark the death of Russian statehood and the national suicide of our people,” he argues. “Everyone must understand this.”

According to Kolerov, “the Minsk agreements will not be observed in the first instance by the West.” And he argues that the West will continue to seek to weaken Russia by moving against it elsewhere in the post-Soviet space and in particular in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Armenia.

The Regnum editor says that the EU and the US will undoubtedly seek to “impose on the region the economic model of shock therapy” and to displace Russian influent with their own by expanding NATO just as they have already done in the Baltic countries. But, Kolerov concludes, all this is in the interests only of the US and not of Europe.

Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/02/russia-and-west-must-begin-thinking.html