Though none actually leading the 2013-2014 Euromaidan putsch would seriously claim that the unrest was aimed at preserving Ukrainian self-determination and independence, many who took to the streets believed this to be so. They believed that Russia possessed unwarranted influence over their nation and sought to move out from the shadows they felt they still dwelt in from the era of Soviet rule.
Would the rank and file who have been led first into the streets against their own elected government, then onto the battlefield against their own brothers and sisters, have been so eager to follow if they knew they were trading in alleged Russian influence for legislated European integration and domination?
The most recent shadow engulfing Ukraine has not been cast by the Soviet Union. Instead, it is cast by the ever encroaching NATO military alliance and the likewise ever eastward-expanding European Union. Indeed, in name alone, the “Euromaidan” was the overthrow of an elected government accused of being pro-Russian in favor of one pro-European and specifically to force Ukraine into the the Ukraine-EU Association the nation had refused to sign for obvious reasons.
The arrival of the Ukraine-EU Association now, makes it abundantly clear that Ukrainian independence was not only never in the cards, but after the regime in Kiev signs it, independence never will be again. In fact, the entire story of Ukraine’s post-Soviet existence can be told as a balance between East and West versus Washington, London and Brussels’ attempts to incorporate and consume Ukraine entirely, sovereignty and all.
Ukraine-EU Association: Beginning of the End of Ukrainian Sovereignty
Europeans as of late have noted that the union to which they are subjected, has made it virtually impossible for respective states to pursue domestic and foreign policies that are in their own best national interests. So vocal has this dissatisfaction become among nations, one wonders if Ukrainians can here it from within their own borders. And despite this growing dissatisfaction, Ukraine’s leadership is moving forward toward greater integration with this increasingly dysfunctional union.
Since the 2013-2014 putsch, Ukraine has been plagued by incompetent leadership, internal conflict, war in its eastern most region, the ascension of Crimea into the Russian Federation and the circling of its economy around a blackhole of debt and dysfunction. In many ways, the EU has helped Ukraine into this precarious situation, with NATO fully encouraging Kiev in its war against its own people and the EU lending money to the regime rather than addressing systemic corruption and economic mismanagement.
Kiev’s leadership willfully, almost eagerly brought Ukraine into the most precarious position possible ahead of finally signing the Ukraine-EU Association, leaving Kiev with virtually zero leverage. Isolated from Russia and completely dependent on the EU and NATO for its very survival, Ukraine’s independence is already as good as gone.
Integration, not Association
However, once the Association goes into full effect, the over 2,000 pages of requirements aimed at rewriting virtually every law and regulation ever independently conceived in Ukraine will begin transforming the nation from a sovereign state into an extension of Washington, London and Brussels international order.
Whatever it was that the putschist thought they were saving their country from in regards to alleged Russian influence, they have ensured is fully realized, enumerated in exacting detail within the 2,000+ pages (.pdf) of the Ukraine-EU Agreement.
Everything from labor, to education, to economics, to the environment and the management of natural resources, to security, to the laws of the European Union itself, as well as “values” determined and arrived at by the EU, not Ukrainians, will be systematically imposed upon Ukraine. Reading the text of the agreement reveals the one-way nature of this process, where the “association” is more of an integration in which all things Ukrainian are expunged and replaced by terms set by the EU.
Inconvenient Incompatibility or Birds of a Feather?
Consider the lofty terms of the Ukraine-EU Association which states:
The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement replaced the EU-Ukraine Partnership and Cooperation Agreement as the legal basis and framework for EU-Ukraine relations. The AA provides for a shared commitment to a close and lasting relationship based on common values, in particular full respect for democratic principles, rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Then consider the facts that “common values,” “full respect for democratic principles,” “rule of law” and “good governance” are contradictions in terms regarding Ukraine in its current state.
Opposition parties have been all but eliminated and even among remaining parties, dissension leads to violent reprisals. Battalions of literal Neo-Nazis serve as Kiev’s most dependable and loyal enforcers, but often return to the capital over pay and political disputes, bringing their weapons and their newly honed combat skills with them. The concept of “human rights” is questionable at best in Ukraine where the government has been shelling, bombing and attacking its own population.
And none of these issues are even remotely close to being resolves since they are systemic, a manifestation of what came to power in the wake of the Euromaidan, and what must remain in power in order to oversee the implementation of an agreement no loyal Ukrainian would see through.
For the European Union to rush forward with the agreement despite Ukraine failing to represent any of the basic principles the agreement is allegedly predicated upon is no surprise. Little that the EU does actually reflects the values it allegedly stands for. It and the US’ role in the armed putsch in 2013-2014 to effect regime change to ramrod the agreement through to begin with is indicative enough of this.
It is also curious that the recent refugee crisis has helped fan the flames of racism, bigotry and many of the other unsavory characteristics in Europe that indeed can be found in vast quantities among the prevailing forces in Kiev. It is convenient that, while the EU has no hopes of bringing Kiev up to the level of civility articulated in the language of the agreement, the EU has managed to lower its population down to Kiev’s level.
In reality, Ukraine may have previously been under Russian influence, but it was also under European influence. It played both sides of East and West to its own advantage, or to as near to it as it could manage. After the putsch, this balancing act was turned into free fall. In this free fall, Ukraine finds itself grasping at anything it can before it reaches the bottom, and unfortunately for the people of Ukraine, that “something” is servility to Brussels.
Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.