George Gamkrelidze

Only few could predict that Ukraine’s last minute refusal to sign the Association Agreement with EU at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on November 28-29, 2013 would have caused such kind of anger and protest in Ukraine. The President Victor Yanukovych, cabinet of ministers and the parliamentary majority – “Party of Regions” felt confident in their power and decisions. It seemed that they didn’t expect storm of protest and believed that they had enough power for dealing with situation. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian march, negotiations over multibillion loans and gas price revealed Ukraine’s aspiration towards the Customs and Eurasian Union. The West did not seem to be ready for such kind of development and it linked sudden U-turn of Ukraine towards Europe to Russian influence. EU leaders broke silence and accused Russia of imposing pressure over Ukraine launching a new “gas war”. Jose Manuel Barroso, the EU Commission’s president explained situation as colonial ruling and accused Kremlin of treating Ukraine like a Soviet-era colony. In response Russia criticized the West for taking Ukraine forcefully closer to EU and warned about consequences of it. “We are not putting anyone under pressure … this is a sovereign choice for any state”, said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. President Victor Yanukovich started unjustified bargain on financial aid with EU and proposed to hold a referendum in order to decide whether Ukraine would join EU or the Russian-led Customs Union. It became clear that there was necessity of some power which would stop Russian expansion in Ukraine. Kremlin always considered Ukraine as pivotal for its imperialistic ambitions. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski Ukraine has geostrategic importance for existence of the Russian empire – “without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire”.

Ukrainian political crisis clearly indicated necessity of the action which would have changed political scenario in the country and contain a domination of pro-Russian policy. It became clear that the Ukrainian government was not going to make a compromise with its own people and started to test how long they could stay at Euromaidan. The government was sure that it would easily break resistance of protesters during the severe Ukrainian winter. But when the government analyzed that time was working against them, it started using more and more brutal measures making process violent. Protesters who were left to face and experience the bloody suppression of police riot demanded from EU and USA to interfere into political processes. Cautious statements of the Western leaders were encouraging the government to use disproportional power against protesters and it seemed that the West left Euromaidan to deal with crisis by itself. Yanukivich tried to bring opposition leaders to a negotiation table and dismantle Euromaidan by their support. But all attempts had zero effect as Euromaidan showed that it was run by people and not by a particular political group. Euromaidan waves spread over regions and it paralyzed key governmental institutions. It increased among people patriotic feeling and believes for new and free Ukraine. There was a feeling that people was regaining independence once again. End of the system was appearing in horizon. President Yanukovich and his close surrounding panicked and tried to save their positions and property. They put an end to their legitimacy on February 20 when snipers were given order to shoot protesters which took life of many civilians. That bloody day became the last drop in Brussels and Washington. The West understood that they could not have business with Yanukovic and brokered agreement to exclude him from political power. Euromaidan showed uncompromised attitude towards the bloody regime and took power in its hands.

Euromaidan played an important role in the modern history of Ukraine and generally of Europe. Like the Polish Solidarity movement it mobilized people against system and overcame brutality of it. Unfortunately it became too costly as the price was paid by people’s blood. Euromaidan gave a birth to new Ukraine and as Zbigniew Brzezinski said it should be translated into an effective political tool. Now Ukrainian people are in an expectation of changes. New political establishment should not repeat mistakes of the “Orange” leaders and therefore should do their best to avoid disappointment of its people which may once again revive pro-Russian political course.

Euromaidan is an important achievement of the Ukrainian people which will have positive impact on the Easter Partnership states to advance their freedom and move forward towards EU and NATO membership. It’ll also show to Washington and Brussels that there is a need to revise its political and economic relations with Moscow and act more openly with post-Soviet countries. Euromaidan seriously upset Kremlin’s plans and aggression of Russian politicians and military officers is quite well reflected in their furious rhetoric. Now Russia as never is confused and does not know what kind of tools to use against Kiev in order to keep its foothold in the South-East part of Ukraine. Moscow threatens Kiev to repeat the Georgian scenario in Crimea and ensure Ukraine’s partition. Russia knows well how to insight separatism and involve states in military conflicts. But the main dilemma for Russia is the size and military power of Ukraine and use of military component should have devastative results. In order to achieve global security the West does not have to leave Ukraine face-to-face with Russia, it should support Ukraine to become a full-fledged member of the European community.

 

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