To treat the disease you need to know its causes. What is the nature of the Ukrainian and Russian conflict in Donbass.The head of the Ukrainian strategy NGO, one of the main informal communicators of Ukraine with the military and political establishment of the US Anatoliy Pinchuk discusses these issues for OstroV.
- Anatoliy, how would you characterize the position of Ukraine on the international arena? On the one hand, we hear that there is "anti-Putin bloc" and "anti-Putin coalition", but, on the other hand no weapon is given to us, and the steps we are made to do according to the Minsk agreements, in the opinion of many people, only harm Ukraine. What does the West want: help or harm us?
-Firstly, there is the concept of the West. There are European countries, the so-called countries of "Old Europe", such as France and Germany. There are countries of Eastern Europe and there is a separate position of the United States. Yes, there is a certain "anti-Putin coalition", but only in the context of the global condemnation of Russia's actions and the Putin regime in relation to Ukraine, violating every possible rule of international law.
As for the direct process of resolving the conflict in Ukraine, it takes place in the so-called "Norman format" and the format of the talks in Minsk, where the main role was played by Germany, a key negotiator. In fact, Russia is partially a subject of negotiations, which take place between Ukraine and terrorists through the mediation of France and Germany. Through it would be logically if the negotiations were conducted solely between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, as the so-called "DPR" and "LPR" are nothing more than a puppet in the hands of the Kremlin. And mediators should be represented separately by Europe (which would express the position of the whole Europe, not just the "old" one) and the United States. Such a format is correct in terms of achieving a balance of the world interests.
Unfortunately, the current situation is the result of frankly weak foreign policy of Ukraine, which is not engaged in lobbying its interests in Western countries. Our President may communicate well with the leaders of Germany, France, the United States, but this fact doesn’t affect public opinion in these countries. Those leaders, with whom he communicates, make decisions under the influence of many factors, primarily, their internal ones. Ukraine does not work with these internal factors, unlike Russia, that runs massive propaganda campaign in Europe and the United States. There is also no needed coordination and cooperation between Ukrainian central authorities with their Western counterparts.
The second point is the lack of understanding of the essence of the confrontation between Ukraine and Russia, because a considerable part of people in the West consider the conflict between Ukraine and Russia to be a conflict between the two countries, in which Russia is a "country of the aggressor and abuser" and Ukraine is a "victim country". It is considered as a local conflict or conflict of some territories or resources that is fundamentally wrong. I do not think that Crimea or Donbass in general need Russia. The Kremlin needs Ukraine which would be in its sphere of influence or Ukraine as a failed state (collapsed or turned into a "gray zone", as Somalia). The most important thing for the Russian Federation is that Ukraine will not become a strong successful state based on fundamentally different social and philosophical values.
The cause of the conflict is that Ukraine began the process of transformation in the direction of actually established civil society. A society in which citizens are conscious figures of the social process and form together the rules for their cohabitation as a nation, and employ the authorities to implement, protect, serve their interests. This process is characterized by the formation of the system of authorities "from below" by hiring, and then in the case of dissatisfaction dismissal of the authorities. This happened in particular to Yanukovych and his team.
The situation is completely opposite in Russia. Authoritarian group of people rules there. Ukraine had previously had the power of the oligarchy, which led to the emergence of Yanukovych, but when he attempted to usurp absolute power, Ukrainians demonstrated the ability to reject authoritarianism.
You could say that the conflict is of civilizational nature, because if Ukraine is be able to build an effective successful state, which will fulfil the interests of Ukrainians, exactly the same process will begin in Russia, which will lead to its transformation, which is equal to death for the current regime in Russia.
- But why did this civilizational war break out on the territory of Ukraine, because Russians have the same experience of the Baltic Republics, which yesterday were still a part of the USSR, and now are undergoing transformations and moving to the West...
- Population of the Baltic republics was never identified as citizens of Russia as a fraternal people, on contrast, it was always perceived as a foreign one. The attitude towards Ukraine is absolutely opposite. Not without a reason there are now from the Russian side that we are fraternal nations and they react painfully on the statements of Ukrainian leaders, who claim that we cannot be brothers, if there is such aggression. However, if Russian citizens see positive experience of those whom they call "native", of course, they may want to repeat it.
The historical roots of Ukraine and Russia are different. Ukrainians have longing for individualism and freedom in their blood. To begin with, Slavic peoples who inhabited the territory of Ukraine and became the basis for the Kievan Rus, hired princes, convoked the council, council of elders, which formed the government. Even then the notion of government appeared which can be dismissed. With the emergence of Kievan Rus Vikings brought authoritarian tendencies into society, although elements of the same council democracy remained.
After historical transformations and emergence of Muskovy, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rzeczpospolita, the population of Ukraine was free enough in this framework due to the fact that it wasn’t pressed, it was self-sufficient. Some cities had a much greater level of culture advancement and the level of internal management trends than in Russia at that time. It was like that until power of the king, the nobility was strengthened in Rzeczpospolita as well as transformations towards the aristocracy and authoritarianism began. When the influence of Parliament in Rzeczpospolita was weakened there were processes that led to the emergence of the protest movement against the nobility, for example Zaporozhye Sech (ancient Cossack unit), as a certain formation, in which classical democratic civilian principles dominated. Ataman was elected, his activities were assessed and in general he could be killed for bad results. So, Ukrainian love for freedom has its historical roots.
Therefore, this is a civilizational conflict. And no matter what people say the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has no diplomatic solution. In fact, as well as, a purely military one. Russia may bring all its army, and even capture Kiev, but they will not be able to control the Ukrainian territory. Of course, we are also unable to defeat numerous Russian army.
The conflict in Ukraine cannot be "extinguished", as provided by the Minsk negotiations. This conflict can end in absorption of Ukraine by Russia in one form or another (including the option of the collapse of the state as such), another variant is transformation or disintegration of Russia itself, because it is a conflict of public management systems on a national scale.
Here one or another system of values will overtake. It means either an authoritarian system presses down the nascent civil or the civic one shows an example of its effectiveness, and thereby leads to the transformation of the Russian Federation. What will it be? - a military coup or a revolution - it does not matter, but it will be a kind of transformation of Russia. Trying to resolve the conflict by diplomatic means is to achieve a truce, only a temporary stop of the conflict escalation, which is not its essential resolution.
- Doesn’t the West understand that? Why do they insist on the Minsk agreements, which do not solve but perprtuate the conflict?
Germany, France, and the US perceive Ukrainian conflict in a different way. "Old Europe" is interested to hush up the conflict not to harm its economic interests. In the US, at least, part of the government, except the closest surrounding of Obama, the vast majority in Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, systematically understand the conflict and to a greater degree support Ukraine. In their turn, the Eastern European countries, that are located near Russia, have a huge experience bordering with it and understand what it is, and are interested in the system resolution of this conflict. Actually, I consider it to be a diplomatic mistake when Poroshenko in favour of Berlin refused to review "Norman format" negotiations, which were initiated by the President of Poland. It, on the contrary, makes sense to consolidate with the closest allies, not only to look at Berlin. Moreover, according to the laws of geopolitical interests of the countries of Eastern Europe and the so-called "sea" countries (the USA, Canada, England, Australia) are the same, but contrary to the interests of continental countries (Russia, Germany, China). By the way, they understood that in England back in the 30s.
Another key point is the perception of our internal processes by the West. If we have effectively implemented reforms that meet the actual request to change the management system, the elimination of the essential causes of corruption, demonstration of readiness to resist Putin's aggression, perhaps then they would support Ukrainian more, and help us. And when we try to one and another, of course there are questions. Those economic sanctions is mutually common, they are aimed at Russia, but also affect the economies of countries that impose them.
In the context of sanctions there arises a question to Ukraine- "why do we impose sanctions, and you don’t?". In January, there was talk about joining the EU sanctions against Russia, although the decision, in terms of economic interests of Ukraine, is rather controversial. After an active position concerning this question of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Supreme Council, there has recently appeared the government's decision and held a meeting of NCDCU on sanctions, but only personal sanctions were introduced but with a huge scandal. There is still no formal decision on the introduction of one or another sector of sanctions. The experience of our government already had examples when it seemed that government-level decisions were made, but never entered into force, and official documents from the respective offices never appeared.
- But how can we impose sanctions against Russia if our President’s factory is there, his business partner Grigorishin has got a Russian citizenship ... They cannon introduce sanctions against themselves.
- Grigorishin is a citizen of Cyprus, but it does not change the essence of your question. There are enough of those who hinder the process of imposing sanctions, and all of these people, consciously or not, are in fact agents of the Kremlin's influence in Ukraine.
The existence of Roshen factory in Lipetsk has uniquely negative impact on the degree of external support towards Ukraine. We ask our partners to make politically motivated decisions, despite the detriment of their economic interests. We should show the same approach, at least personally. This issue requires an urgent political decision by the President. If you cannot sell it, then just close and remove equipment. They closed Roshen factory in Mariupol, although this decision is wrong in terms of the political and socio-psychological point of view.
- How can this situation be extrapolated to our domestic policy? Will Poroshenko continue to put pressure on the deputies to adopt the amendments to the Constitution in favour of the Minsk agreements, that lead nowhere? Where are we going?
- Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell where we are going, nowhere except to the social and economic crisis, it is really incomprehensible. Ukraine is a kind of battlefield, as history shows. The society has got a request to effective authorities, the adoption of anti-corruption laws, laws that increase the transparency of the system. The problem is that they can’t change the system to the end because of the resistance of the people in the authorities, as it harms their interests. Skirmishes in the political and economic elite as well as fights are nothing but as a demonstration of conflicts of interest, requests. But the fact that these skirmishes become public and the public can judge who is right and who is not is also a positive trend. Gradually, society becomes more informed, and as a consequence, more aware, and moves to the level when less oligarchs or politicians can mislead them.
- People understand that a politician is a scoundrel, but he still keeps his position. For example, Opposition bloc. "Boyko Towers" did not prevent him to stay in politics as well as Levochkin who is the former head of the AP of Yanukovych.
- How many votes did Opposition bloc receive in the elections? Just then a part of society expressed a desire to support it as a representative of the certain system. This part of society includes people who are oriented against the Ukrainian national idea and at corrupts, that promote paternalism, and they constitute a clear minority.
Another thing is that ineffective actions of the government can contribute to improving the rating of the Opposition bloc in next elections. Risk of a serious social and economic crisis in the autumn and winter is quite high. The reason is the insufficient level of corrupt schemes elimination, and a desire to do both things that are mutually exclusive.
- But there is a fight against corruption in the ranks of the opposition personally to the President. What do you think about Mosiychuk’s situation?
It is really an example of selective control. And it is also the consequence of the monopoly of the intelligence services on the operational activities. If we understand that corruption is now the main evil, you need to give citizens the opportunity to fight against it. It is necessary to legalize the provocation bribes, to introduce a rule that any videotape, the authenticity of which was confirmed, is accepted by the court as evidence, regardless of the way it was obtained. Maybe then Mosiychuk will be accompanied by some "friends" of the Prime Minister and President. Free citizens should be armed, but what I said is the weapon against corruption.
- But the President Poroshenko, referring to the sociology, rejected the petition on the right to arms?
This is his another mistake. I would recommend him to consult not only the court sociologists but also the Constitution of the United States, a country where citizens are hiring authority. This is a continuation of the first part of our conversation. In addition, it is possible to prevent the crisis only due to mobilization of the active part of society. People may (and now they have to) not trust the government, but not the government to the people. The government must serve people.
- What role do the events happening in the east of Ukraine plane in this possible crisis? And how will it affect the domestic policy? Could there be a trigger for the explosion the final voting on the "special status" in the Constitution?
- The trigger for this could be anything. Unfortunately, we have enormous problems in the energy sector, and I believe that today its leaders must not only be dismissed, but also take responsibility for their actions, which led to such consequences. I will not go deep into the details, but currently Ukraine has got much worse position in terms of energy independence than they were when Yanukovych ruled. This is a consequence of criminal negligence and criminal inactivity of leaders of the energy sector and the government, as well as corruption schemes. The accompanying sectors may be full of package of social and economic problems, so that patience of people may just come to an end.
Plus we have a situation of real disintegration of state apparatus. We must respect the state apparatus, in the end. The people who serve us and manage millions and billions cannot have a salary, which does not allow them to properly support themselves and their families. If you do not have enough money to pay them a salary, there should be less of them but who do more work. We need radical reforms of the central authorities system, the revision of the powers and functions of these central bodies, reducing unnecessary and duplicative functions, increasing the functional load on the specific officials, and radically increase salaries. As a person who receives a salary of 3, 4, 5 thousand hryvnia will not work effectively.
This is truism; I have a question to the leaders of our government, who boast of a salary of 6000 UAH. In order to carry out any reform in fiscal, social, power sectors, you need to have effective tools. As a result of the latest jump in inflation and the absence of systemic administration reforms, we now have in the government children, mistresses and other people that someone patronizes and that's not the worst option, because simply they have a low level of competence. And the rest are corrupt officials, who are forced to steal because they cannot exist having salary of 3 thousand UAH. To reach the level of 2-3 thousand dollars, they are looking for sources of enrichment
- Is everything that bad?
No, there are also positive aspects. Simply, they are associated with the development of civil society. Most of the anti-corruption laws were adopted under direct pressure from the civil society. Remember voting for the law on the tender procurement in 2014 when deputies were not allowed out of the building as long as they did not vote.
Taking into consideration that the system hasn’t changed radically, though corruption becomes smaller, it takes more sophisticated forms. We need a totally transparent system, which provides the right motivation and effective tools. There should be a new feature of the government, not only eliminating the duplication of powers but optimizing them.
For example, tax reform. All attempts of the tax reform by the Ministry of Finance actually increase fiscal pressure, and lower suggestions for the public and the Ministry of Economy. Because the Ministry of Finance is trying to bring a balance of income and expenditure, and the Ministry of Economy deals with development. If these functions are combined, there will be a common understanding. Another example is the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. Environment influences the security and human health, and effective use of resources is the economy.
Resistance system, the Minsk agreements, Russia's actions in fact brought the country to a standstill. You can get out of it by breaking the system and reconstruct the state. A number of public organizations have already presented this initiative. Recently there was an idea of Constitutional Convention. At some time at a national forum of civil society there appeared an idea of a Constitutional Assembly. But then Yanukovych discredited the name itself. The point is that the basis of the management system is defined by the Constitution. Accordingly, if we want to build an optimal management system, its foundations must be laid down in the Constitution. Instead of carrying out some local changes (though decentralization is needed), it is necessary to completely change the system. Parliament and the President do not have to change the Constitution. Everyone there has an objective, sometimes unconscious, subconscious interest in the redistribution of powers in their favour. Therefore, a new Constitution of Ukraine should be adopted, and adopted by the Constitutional authority which is the body that is elected only for establishing or re-establishing the state and the Constitution.
The voting for delegates to this body will have the character of social integration. Options like buckwheat, money, road ... won’t work. The delegate is elected to lay the groundwork for future statehood, in addition, loses the right to hold a position in the government for several years, which is provided in this Constitution. Effective states such as the United States, Estonia have passed this way. We need to adopt a new Constitution instead of changes. And the President can still be remembered in the history as a father of the new Ukrainian state, not as a person who sells Ukraine if he initiates or at least supports this process. By the way, the adoption of a new constitution more accurately meets the requirements of the Minsk agreements. And the requirement of special status can meet the requirements to ensure the right of Donbass residents to participate in the election of the Constitutional authority and uphold this status through their delegates. But for this you need to ensure that the current Ukrainian laws and the administration are capable of organizing such elections. Adoption of the Constitution is a sovereign right of the people.
The procedure itself can be implemented quickly by amending the articles of the Constitution that regulate it, or the adopting a special law, which, in fact, introduces such a body. In the second variant the parliament and the President take a formal obligation not to make any changes to the text adopted by this body. Formally, this authority would be half consultative, but it means that the constitution that this body adopts will be voted in the parliament without changing, put to the referendum and signed by the President without any changes. It's a gentle way to accelerate the process of legitimization.
During implementation of the constitutional reform there should be created anti-crisis government (on the principles discussed earlier), and the national inventory commission that would conduct a real inventory of all national resources and assets. If all this does not happen, and slowdown or failures to carry out political reforms take place, we should expect social and economic upheavals. And authorities will be swept away. Or, worse, it can start an individual political terror that will lead to chaos.
Considering fact that the degree of presence of the Russian intelligence services is much higher than American, German or French, and unfortunately our services are weal, we have a huge risk that the Kremlin may take such an advantage of the destabilization implement different scenarios for our defeat, when Ukraine will not establish as an effective state. Ukraine cannot return to the Russian sphere of influence, but it may just fall apart and become chaotic territory. Not to let it happen we should consolidate all the healthy forces, and the people who have power should overstep their personal ambitions for the sake of public interests and the interests of the nation. Only in this way we will win this war.
Interviewed by Lina Ostrovskaya, OstroV