Monday, February 24, 2014

The geopolitics of the Ukraine crisis - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

The geopolitics of the Ukraine crisis - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

The geopolitics of the Ukraine crisis

How the power vacuum will reshape the balance of power in the region
between Russia and the European Union.

Last updated: 23 Feb 2014 13:29

Remi Piet is Assistant Professor
of Public Policy, Diplomacy and International Political Economy Department
of International Affairs College of Arts and Sciences Qatar University,
Doha, Qatar
Ukraine experienced the most dramatic weekend in European
history since the fall of the communist regimes. Twenty-four hours after
unprecedented violence in the streets of Kiev, which claimed the lives of 80
demonstrators and more than a dozen policemen, the situation remains uncertain.
The Ukrainian president, Victor Yanukovich, has fled the
capital, leaving behind him a power vacuum that will potentially reshape the
balance of power in the region between Russia and the European Union. As
governmental forces disappeared from the streets of Kiev, several key questions
remain: Who can claim legitimate authority?  Is there a future for a
united Ukraine? How will the current evolution impact Russian and European
presence and control over their shared neighbourhood?

The fall of Yanukovich and the future of Ukraine
Although contested by Yanukovich's supporters, the immediate
political next steps have been swiftly and overwhelmingly agreed on by the
Parliament: A return to the 2004 Constitution that reaffirms the authority of
the Parliament (the Verkhovna Rada) over the president and new presidential
elections in May. If this ensures a return to a well-known institutional
framework established 10 years ago after the first ousting of Victor Yanukovich
- a president that now has on his record not one but two destitutions - it does
not ensure long term stability by any means.
None of the opposition parties can claim to legitimately
represent the popular uprising by itself. "Fatherland", a coalition
of parties behind former president Yulia Tymoshenko and led by Arseniy
Yatsenyuk during her imprisonment, has traditionally been at the forefront of the
contestation to Yanukovich.
However, the party was rejected by the population during the
2010 elections and the return of Tymoshenko - a polarising figure in Ukraine -
on the forefront of the political stage comes with its fair share of
liabilities in the attempt to reunite the country. Although it is the largest
opposition political force in the Rada, "Fatherland" is also flanked
by two other opposition parties who took a central part during the popular
revolt on the Maidan: "Svoboda" and the "Democratic Alliance for
"Svoboda", a nationalist party led by populist
leader Oleh Tiahnybok, was at the frontline of the resistance to Yanukovich's
Special Forces (the Berkuts) during the last weeks of the contestation and its
momentum culminated yesterday when police forces from Lviv (the birthplace of
"Svoboda") joined the movement. Similarly, former heavyweight boxing
champion Vitali Klitschko, who heads the Democratic Alliance for Reform,
emerged as a key opposition leader and gained credibility over the last weeks.
It remains unclear how each opposition force will manage to
govern the country in coalition until the next elections or with which
legitimacy since more than a hundred parliamentary members supporting
Yanukovich did not take part in the most recent votes.
On the bright side, recent attempts by the recently deposed
president to divide the opposition by proposing governmental positions to
Yatsenyuk and Klitschko were unsuccessful. This tends to show the capacity and
will of opposition leaders to work together during the conflict. Yet, now that
the conflict seems to have tipped in favour of the opposition, agreeing on a
common political platform including "Svoboda" will be another
challenge. The opposition to the lavish lifestyle and corruption of Victor Yanukovich
cannot be the only common denominator to agree on a sustainable political
From instability to geopolitical
The political instability in Kiev is limited however in
comparison with the ever-growing rift between the Eastern and Western parts of
Ukraine. The country is deeply divided between two regions which have very few
in common. One is resolutely turned towards the European Union and advocates
for a liberal market economy. Its majority Christian Catholic and well educated
population speaks Ukrainian and has supported opposition leaders throughout the
Yanukovich end of reign.
On the other side of the country, Crimea and the Eastern
provinces still firmly back the former president. The population there is in
majority orthodox, speaks Russian and looks confidently towards Moscow for the
stability and economic security it provides to Ukraine thanks to its discounted
gas prices and its strong presence in the national economy.
The division of the country is nothing new. The Western part
of Ukraine has long been under Polish control while the Eastern part was
governed by Russia. The very existence of Ukraine as a unitary country has been
contested throughout modern history, as shown by the treaty of Riga in 1921
dismantling the country, and the emergence of a common Ukrainian identity only
gained momentum in the 19th century.
The result is that while half of the country cheered
yesterday over the destitution of the president, advocating for an alliance
with the European Union and away from a corrupted Russian influenced regime,
the other half of the country, which followed the Kiev uprising through Russian
media, still calls for a return of Yanukovich and protection from the Kremlin
against fascist forces.
This division also answers a wider geopolitical fracture
between the European Union and Russia. What is at stake in Kiev has
ramifications in the fields of energy security, regional integration and
international balance of power. Ukraine is a central card in Putin's hand to
revitalise the Russian strategy, hoping to renew with its status of leading
geopolitical power in Europe and Asia.

What is at stake in Kiev has ramifications in the fields
of energy security, regional integration and international balance of power.
Ukraine is a central card in Putin's hand to revitalise the Russian
If Ukraine drifts towards Europe, the political project of
Eurasian Union defended by Putin will be strongly challenged. More importantly,
Ukraine also controls most of the transit of Russian gas towards the West and
thus Putin's energy grasp over the European Union. A day after the Russian
hockey team, which concentrated the hope and pride of the whole country, faced
an embarrassing elimination in the Sotchi Olympic Games, Putin suffered a
salient geopolitical defeat underestimating the European Union capacity to
Indeed, the current evolution in Ukraine has shown that the
European Union could finally lead an effective common foreign policy. After the
stammering and hesitations shown over the last few months and the incapacity to
agree on an ambitious European support to Ukraine, the visit to Kiev of the
foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland has been essential in stopping
the violence and in drafting a truth agreement between both parts of the
By agreeing on common sanctions towards Ukrainian oligarchs,
who had much more to lose than their Belarussian counterparts three years ago
in a similar situation, the European Union isolated Yanukovich from its
domestic support.
As a conclusion, if the future of Ukraine remains uncertain both
in terms of the sustainability of its political transition and its capacity to
remain united, what this crisis has demonstrated is that when united, the
European Union is able to be an effective foreign policy actor and stand in
front of Russia.


entire world should be mobilized except India, a trusted poodle of Russia. It
does not deserve to be respected any longer because of doing the same as the
Russian is doing  with its neighboring
country in three steps. 

help to gain trust and divide the country with the help of the same DNA people
of the first agent then put it in political and economical difficulties and
then annex it. What a clever way to do it by the (INDIA) the RAPISTAN.

is what PUTIN is trying to do. The best is why not follow the same principle and
help the  Russians and teach
them to learn to fight for the right of self determination and keep PUTIN in right
track to withdraw its support from India and itself from Ukraine. Otherwise
PUTIN might see very soon red light within the country instead of building br /> the destroyed castle with the help of Nazi's children of Israel's
criminals as desired. might be more catastrophe befalls.

do not step in the fire as fire would not show any mercy particularly to the helper of
the Genocide criminals of SYRIA specifically Assad the killer least to speak of the innocent Ukrainian..


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