HANGING ON A THREAD
Ukrainians should certainly not forget their deep, European interest in energy resources from Russia itself or via Russia from Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as our even more profound interest in security on the continent and Ukraine's independence. For Ukraine itself, much depends on Russia, above all on whether the Russian political elite wants to incorporate Russia into the European project or intends to isolate it to pursue its neo-imperial dreams.
Finally, a calculation of the power relations inside this geopolitical triangle. Russia is tightly connected with European energy markets. The U.S. continues to try to control Russia's key oil and gas resources, but its attempts have so far been unsuccessful; Russia's Far Eastern energy exports remain low, although Moscow is talking with China and Japan about boosting them. The EU market remains the primary buoy of the Russian economy. Russia depends on the EU, just as the EU depends on Russia.
Where does Ukraine come into this equation? The politically inert Russian elite sees "orange" Ukraine as an unnecessary obstacle in the way of exploiting energy resources and a threat to the neo-imperial state model offered to Russia. That is why Putin's regime will never accept Ukraine's independent position, even when it is very friendly. According to the Russian constitution, Putin's present term in office is his last. What model will Russia select for the future?
Suspended between these three force fields, Ukrainians must try to answercertain questions if we are to make our choice consciously and deliberately.
What is important to us? Independence? To what degree is it possible?
Arguably, the U.S. is the world's only truly sovereign state. Others delegate at least part of their sovereignty. Delegated sovereignty lies at the foundation of the EU. Is proud and independent Ukraine prepared to delegate a part of its sovereignty?
The no less proud French and Poles have done as much, handing over part of their sovereignty not only to the EU but also to NATO, where Washington does
not play second fiddle. Wouldn't membership of NATO be enough to guarantee the political independence of Ukraine? Probably.
Maybe we see economic success as primary. But what does "success" mean? Is it only the standard of living? Or, better put, the conditions that enable people to prosper? Such a goal is unreachable without integrating into the international community, on terms and conditions set by this very community.
None of the states of the Common Economic Space is able to rescue either Russia or Ukraine. We might, of course, stagnate as Belarus and Cuba do. But
for how long? No, we must accommodate to world standards and without delay.
But not at any cost. The EU's new Central European member states have exploited the EU's resources to upgrade their societies and economies.
This, rather than gaining access to EU structural funds, is their major achievement. I do not believe that Ukraine will be unable to modernize these two key spheres without a deep integration "with" the EU, and in due course "into" the EU.
Without question, the chief political decisions made by the present Ukrainian government are correct. We can argue about the ways of their implementation. We can also argue about the stages of integration "with" the EU, which we cannot avoid, and the merger "into" EU structures.
On this we are even more uncertain, because Ukraine's membership of the EU will greatly depend not only on Ukraine itself and the feelings of Ukrainians, but on the large-scale geopolitical game in the U.S.-EU-Russia triangle.
ANALYSIS: by Taras Voznyak, Editor in Chief I (Yi), a Lviv-based journal of politics, philosophy, and culture
Transitions Online (TOL), Prague, Czech Republic
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