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14 December, 2013 13:49   ▪  

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Ukraine will be truly a part of democratic Europe and Russia will follow it

Ukraine will unavoidably come closer to Europe. Later rather than sooner, Russia will follow it unless it isolates itself, says Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to US president Jimmy Carter in his Op-Ed for The Financial Times.

“Come what may, the events in Ukraine are historically irreversible and geopolitically transformatory. Sooner rather than later, Ukraine will be truly a part of democratic Europe; later rather than sooner, Russia will follow unless it isolates itself and becomes a semi-stagnant imperialistic relic,” the expert says.

The spontaneous outburst of distinctive Ukrainian patriotism – sparked by the mendacity of a corrupt and self-enriching leadership ready to seek Moscow’s protection, in his opinion, – signals that commitment to national independence is becoming the dominant political reality. This is especially the case among the younger Ukrainians who no longer feel that they are linguistically or historically just a slightly deviant part of “Mother Russia”.

“Yes, linguistic divisions persist and some parts of Ukraine still feel closer to Russia. But it is striking that even some of the most outspoken espousers of a European vocation have only recently embraced the Ukrainian language as their own. Two decades of independence, of growing pride in rediscovering Ukrainian history, and of observing the country’s western neighbours economically benefiting from their European connections is creating a new mindset. That mindset is not embracing anti-Russianism but it is asserting Ukraine’s own historic identity as culturally an authentic part of a larger Europe,” Brzezinski says. That is why, one way or another, Ukraine will unavoidably come closer to Europe.

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“In the next months some sort of a deal between the EU and Ukraine can still be contrived. To facilitate it, the EU must be more receptive to Kiev’s need for economic and financial support. Ukrainians have to realise that European taxpayers are not enchanted by the prospect of paying for the misdeeds and corruption of the current Kiev elite. Belt-tightening will be the necessary precondition for an agreement as well as a test of Ukraine’s resolve in asserting its European aspirations. Kiev will also need to show that the outcome of elections is not determined by the imprisonment of political rivals,” the experts urges and reminds that the impact of this on Russia will be felt over the longer run.

As Brzezinski highlights, today’s Russia is in no position to assert a violent restoration of its old empire. It is too weak, too backward and too poor. Its demographic crisis makes matters worse. The fact that the newly independent Central Asian states favour increasingly comprehensive arrangements with China is another concern for Russia, reawakening long lingering territorial nightmares.

“It is only a question of time before it becomes evident to Russia’s social elites that Mr Putin’s heavy-handed efforts have very limited prospects of success. Sooner or later, he will no longer be president. And not long thereafter Russia – and especially its emerging new middle class – will conclude that the only path that makes sense is to become also a truly modern, democratic, and maybe even a leading European state,” the expert says.

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