A new Munich infamy is building around Ukraine

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The EU, which until recently preferred to influence the Ukrainian crisis with expressions of “deep concern” contributed to the escalation of tensions in Europe, writes Roman Rukomeda.

Roman Rukomeda is co-founder of the Information and Analytical Centre Content and Consulting

If characterizing Russia’s actions in the Ukraine with one phrase, a saying of Fyodor Dostoevsky comes to mind: “Impunity gives birth to permissiveness.”

It seems as if Russian President Vladimir Putin is confident in the phrase's irreversible application to the foreign policy doctrine of his country. Over the deployment of the Russian troops in the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea (ARC), most Ukrainian citizens suspect that Putin is living in a different dimension, and is communicating with other-worldly defenders of Russia’s great and special mission in the world history.

The figures of Ivan the Terrible, Peter the First and, it seems, Joseph Stalin occupy a special place in the consciousness of the Russian president, and partially influence Russian perceptions of reality. No doubt there is a deep inner connection between these four rulers, which symbolizes this painful but naturally determined crisis which Russia is experiencing again. And once again, the opinions of Russian citizens are being disregarded by their leadership, which cannot reconcile the initiatives of the freedom-loving Ukrainian people with the totalitarian character of Russian statehood.

The leaders of other countries apparently took the view of the Ukrainians. As The New York Times recently wrote, Angela Merkel stated in a telephone conversation to Barack Obama that Vladimir Putin has lost “ties with reality”.

The actions of the Russian leadership have made it necessary for each Russian to answer the question, “Who are you with?,” as the call for the defense of the raditions of “Slavic brothers” depends on Vladimir Putin’s distorted perception of Russian and Ukrainian relations. In this context, a saying of Polish actor Jerzy Leszczynski comes to mind: “All people are brothers, but not all brothers are people." The mobilization of Russian troops on the border of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, and on the Crimean peninsula, the armed seizure of the parliament of the ARC, and Moscow’s declarations about simplifying the acquisition of Russian citizenship, could cause another wave of clashes and bloodshed.

Against the background of the complicated economic and political situation in Ukraine, the Russian Federation escalates the situation in Crimea, and paves the way for the loss of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The much advertised split of Ukrainian society in fact does not take place in Ukraine. Moreover, by its extremist actions, Russia has led to the unification of Ukrainian society. The statements of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about the threats to the civil rights of national and religious minorities, are not true. Nobody has ever infringed or infringes on the right of the Russian-speaking population to speak their native language.

Russia’s support for the Russian-speaking population in Crimea is likely to antagonise other nationalities, most of all, the Tatars, who with high probability will get “support” from Islamist organizations and insurgents, with terrorist backgrounds in other hot spots. Thus, there is a danger of creating another flashpoint of bloodshed in Ukraine, as well as in close proximity to Russia. Even though the escalation of violence is not in the interests of the Russian-speaking population of Crimea, who want economic and political stability.

The attitude of the European Union, which until recently preferred to influence the situation with expressions of “deep concern” contributed to the escalation of tensions in Europe. In fact, this is another “Munich conspiracy” which will lead to the same consequences: the formation of a new empire, the creation of an “iron curtain”, and the loss by the EU, and the US, of their geopolitical influence, not only on the European continent, but also globally.

Ukraine needs a new Fulton speech on the ”Ukrainian issue” on behalf of European and world leaders, followed by concrete action and support. Targeted economic sanctions against the Russian leadership will no longer be able to help Ukraine. The qualifications of “Russian aggressor” only increase Putin’s appetite. Europeans should recognise this state of affairs.

More than this, Europeans need to keep in mind that war in Ukraine will most certainly cause an economic, social and environmental disaster on a European scale. Taking stock of the Russian leadership’s rhetoric, Moscow is ready for it. But is Europe ready for it? While Europe remains inactive, Ukraine can only hope that, as the saying goes, that "Evil devours itself." Let’s also hope that Russian citizens also understand this, and that their fathers and mothers will think about it, and explain to their children the genuine historical meaning of the words “Slavic brothers."

Unfortunately, Ukraine’s transformation into another zone of  “frozen conflict” meets the Russian leadership’s interest in undermining stability in the region. The sole interest of the Kremlin in the population of Crimea, and the eastern regions of Ukraine, is as an instrument for manipulation and as an expression of outrage against Kyiv's plan for European integration.

The Russian leadership’s occupation of Ukraine could cause an irreparable blow to the concept of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and technologies. The Russian leadership is already conveying the message that the post-Cold War world order, the system of global security and the international law, no longer work. What returns is the ancient Roman principle returns – “If you want peace – prepare for war."

Thus, it seems that nuclear deterrence, and the restraint it inspires, can can protect certain countries from aggression. Nonetheless, Russia’s actions encourage the nuclear weapons race and destroys the established world order. Ukraine surrendered nuclear weapons in return for the guarantees of leading global powers. Now, it turns out, Russia understands these guarantees in its own way.

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