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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/monde/gagnan...

by Jean-Paul Piérot

Winners and Losers

Translated Wednesday 19 March 2014, by Georgie O’Neil

“There is a very real danger of a rise in Russian nationalism in eastern and southern regions, in response to Ukrainian nationalism. We’ve opened Pandora’s box. Almost a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is a huge risk of witnessing the further breaking-up of ex-republics, which have been united until now.”

Who will prevail? Who is already losing in the Ukrainian crisis of one-upmanship, rushed into by the US and the EU on the one hand, and Russia on the other? We are currently seeing the results of the confusing lightness displayed by Western diplomacy, when they let the Ukrainian public and political powers believe that it was possible to overcome the difficult eventualities of the negotiation, and that they could impose a major geopolitical change. Bernard-Henri Lévy, a famously vocal and controversial intellectual, delivering an impassioned and inflammatory speech in central Kiev isn’t enough to change the reality of the situation in Ukraine. The reality remains one of linguistic and cultural diversity; economic difficulties; borders inherited from the Soviet era’s administrative division, and a country crossed by Russian pipelines and depending on Russia for energy… To count on a lack of a reaction from Putin makes them guilty of blindness.

Ukraine seems at this point to be an amputee of Crimea; the rejoining of Crimea to the Russian Federation should be confirmed on Sunday with the rushed-through referendum organised under Moscow’s control. This land’s membership to Ukraine, the result of a 1954 decision made by the Soviets, has taken on secondary importance. Russia and Ukraine were part of the same strategic and political space in the USSR, and a large portion of its fleet was stationed in Sebastopol’s port.

In the fertile ground of social despair, nationalism flourishes. Right wing extremism finds its feet. The French foreign minister Laurent Fabius nonetheless denied this desolate political reality yesterday morning on France Inter radio. In spite of evidence to the contrary, he assured listeners that Svoboda, which sits in Kiev’s government, is not an extreme right party. During his congress in 2004, Jean-Marie Le Pen was their guest of honour, and Svoboda’s President, still in power today, spoke out against “a Judeo-Muscovite mafia”.

There is a very real danger of a rise in Russian nationalism in Oriental and Southern regions, in response to Ukrainian nationalism. We’ve opened Pandora’s box. Almost a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is a huge risk of witnessing the further breaking-up of ex-republics, which have been united until now. This type of situation, more often than not, carries along violence and erases existing solidarities between classes, workers, against oligarchs, instead benefitting sinister unions based on language or even religion.
Will Eastern Ukraine manage to free itself from this suicidal logic? Will Crimea itself become the place of confrontations played out between Russians, Ukrainians, and Tartars? Europe has already witnessed the disintegration of Yugoslavia. We can remind ourselves, incidentally, that the capital cities that are now rising up against Crimea’s separation had previously, under NATO’s flag, bombed Serbia for three months until Belgrade abandoned Kosovo… That was just fifteen years ago.

The EU leaders and American administration are struggling to hide their failure by alluding to sanctions against Moscow. But we really need to get out of this war of words and get back to the pressing need for a dialogue with Russia to appease the current tensions in the world. It’s high time that European diplomacy came into the 21st century.

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