By Borys Lehkar
Recent events in Crimea, and south-eastern Ukraine prompted me to write this article. The overall situation in those regions is more dangerous, and unpredictable, than in centre, or west. This is the result of the toothless policy of the central authority in Kyiv. For 22 years of independence, the government has not developed the pro-Ukrainian ideology, which would unite Ukrainians from east to west, sort of the national common goal. There are three major problems that Ukraine is facing today.
Political: all that time during independence, most Ukrainian politicians continued living with their soviet mentality, and soviet myths; they just changed the red flag to blue-and-yellow one. The political leaders neglected, or ignored regional problems, and applied to their electorate just before elections when they need votes. They set off eastern Ukrainian against Ukrainians from west, playing on religion, historical, and language differences. Many of those politicians are still very skeptical or even deny holodomor, as the crime against Ukrainian nation, and they did not become self-sufficient, independence players, but rather conductors for the politics of Russkiy Mir (Russian World). Party of Regions, Communist Party, and other smaller, marginalized pro-Russian parties, and political movements are paying respect to Russian, and soviet oppressors, who were destroying Ukraine for years, or even centuries, and if someone tries to protest, those patriots have been immediately portrayed, as Nazi, fascist, or “banderovets”. Deliberate disinformation by the controlled Ukrainian and Russian media led to the perception that Maidan is gathering of extremists, and radicals, that have been orchestrated by US, and EU. As a result of that, we now have thousands, and thousands in Donets, Luhansk, and Kharkiv, who are storming the government buildings, working intentionally to benefit the neighbor from north. We could see the same elements were preventing the Ukrainian military from moving to the Ukrainian-Russian border to protect country. Some could argue about Russian provocateurs coming from Russia as the destabilizing factor, however, there is another question, why do we not see such separatist escalation in other regions, for instance, Sumy, Chernihiv, Poltava, or Dnipropetrovsk? There is no question that we have very patriotic Ukrainian citizens in east, and south, but unfortunately they are in minority. In addition to it the law enforcement agencies in Donbass, and Kharkiv are very passive in cracking down separatist movements.
Economic aspect: Most our presidents, prime-ministers, members of parliament, businessmen, and local elites considered Ukraine not as the country they want to serve, but as the place to make money. They have been exploiting country’s natural resources, forcing state enterprises to bankruptcy, and then privatizing those companies, receiving money from budget, and then this money disappear somewhere in offshore. Basically, during Ukrainian independence was formed the new separate class of politico-oligarchs, who has earned their capital at expense of country, and common people. Consequently, these politicians had luck of desire, and will to restructure Ukrainian economy, to make it more efficient and lucrative for western investors. The new Ukrainian government now does not have much time for economic reforms, but it has strong support from western countries, and global financial institutions, such as IMF, and World Bank, and this is the advantage compare to situation before.
Military aspect: It is readiness of the Ukrainian Army, and its ability to fight against Russian occupants. Was our army prepared for such turmoil? No. Unfortunately, the moral and military conditions were on the low level. According to the last news, around 80 percent of Ukrainian troops in Crimea switched the side, and became traitors. Interesting fact mentioned by Henadiy Moskal, that vast majority of defectors, was born, or lives more their life in Crimea, while almost all soldiers from mainland remained allegiant to Ukraine.
It’s not something new, that the previous Ukrainian government, particularly ministry of defence is responsible for deliberate weakening of military forces, pulling out the pro-Ukrainian officers from Crimea, and deploying instead soldiers, and officers who were often Russian spies. It was not isolated incident, and in fact all levels of military, law enforced, and intelligence agencies in Ukraine were, and still are penetrated by FSB. Now this error must be fixed quickly, by straitening military power on the south, east, and Transnistria borders, with most committed troops from western and central Ukraine. In the future, those policies, relocating recruits from west to east, and wise versa, should be in place permanently.
After months of fight against Yanukovych regime, more than one hundred killed, and more than thousand injured, Ukrainian elites must realize that the nation is different now, and without structural political, economic social reforms, and eradication of corruption Maidan could happen again.
Hopefully, Russian troops will stay, where they are, and not cross the Ukrainian border, but for future, Ukrainian leaders should realize that instead of spending billions on repressive apparatus, Ukraine needs strong, professional, and patriotic army, that could be able to defence country.