Between Scylla and Charybdis: Ukraine, Russia, and the EU

by Pawel Styrna  |  December 19, 2013  |  KOSCIUSZKO CHAIR

In an article for the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research, Kosciuszko Chair Research Assistant and IWP student Pawel Styrna discusses the current situation in Ukraine.  Read the full article here.  

Between Scylla and Charybdis: Ukraine, Russia, and the EU
by Pawel Stynra

Ukraine-like so many of the other former "captive nations" of the Central and Eastern European Intermarium-faces a choice between Scylla and Charybdis: an increasingly bold and aggressive post-Soviet Russia, and a socialist-liberal EU hostile to the sovereign nation-state. Meanwhile, Obama's America is indifferent to the region, and visions of a CEE geopolitical bloc are stalled and obstructed.  

Ukraine's decision to forego the signing of a "free trade" agreement with the European Union in favor of the Russian-dominated Eurasian Customs Union came as a shock, but only to those who haven't been paying attention to the larger geopolitical trends in Central and Eastern Europe. Not surprisingly, supporters of European "integration" are irked and disappointed by this admittedly significant setback to the EU's heretofore smooth eastward expansion. In the large Central-Eastern European country, dismayed and angry pro-EU Ukrainians protested in the capital of Kyiv, even demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, while the pro-Moscow, post-Soviet government resorted to unleashing hundreds of hooligans-bussed in by the ruling Party of Regions-on the pro-European demonstrators.

The situation has now spiraled into a full-blown political crisis-the biggest in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution of 2004-with the masses of pro-Western demonstrators turning Independence Square-now dubbed Euro-Square (Euromaidan)-into a de facto fortified camp and repelling attempts by the regime's riot police (the elite Berkut unit) to disperse them. In response, the post-Soviet government sought to erect a tent city of its own supporters. However one views EU "integration," the determination and fighting spirit of theEuromaidan protesters is quite impressive, no doubt because they are fueled by nationalism. The crisis may quite easily become a second Orange Revolution and lead to regime change; unless the Yanukovych-Azarov oligarchy is willing to spill much blood to crush it. As Homini Sovietici they might not be at all averse to such brutal measures, but they are also aware that it would further weaken their bargaining position vis-à-vis Putin's Russia.

Read more