Ukrainian analyst and researcher Alexander Valchyshen gave an interview to Ismail Okan. He expressed his opinion about the Russian-Ukrainian relations and Ukraine’s future in European Union (EU) and NATO.
“UKRAINE SELECTED AS USEFUL TARGET”
Valchyshen says, “There has been profound change in the country since 2014”, as tied Maidan Revolution in Ukraine. He reminds Russia’s role in region and uses the following statements:
“First, once a largest single-country trade partner Russia turned from tacit influencer into domestic political and economic affairs to an open military aggressor, de-facto annexing sizable parts of the territory on the south and east (respectively Crimea and parts of Donbas ). There is a dominant belief why Russia has been doing this (allegedly, it is because of NATO and EU expansion threats). In my opinion, it is mistaken. According to my observation, it is because Russia’s leadership since 2012-13 has been solving two domestic threats (first, risk of protracted and costly recession, which would negatively affect the living conditions of the domestic general public, a much heavier outcome than it’s seen now; and second, high social discontent with authorities that had been already in place in 2013). Ukraine’s usually financially-fragile economy and politically dependent on whims of external powers was selected as useful target (especially, its Crimea part, for which Russia has been eyeing a land grab since 1990s), which if put in flames would become a side-show for the very domestic public in Russia to distract from domestic economic problems, which inevitable in the face of coming crude oil price collapse as US dollar was to appreciate as back in 2012 there was consensus in the international financial markets that Federal Reserve would soon withdraw from post 2008 monetary stimulus and take the path of ‘normalization’. This stance of Russia onto Ukraine is not going to change dramatically anytime soon.”
“VISA-FREE ENTRY TO THE COUNTRIES OF THE EU, A LUXURY NOT SEEN BEFORE”
“Second, Ukraine economically came through a deep recession in 2014-15. The leadership of the country opted for an International Money Fund (IMF) supported stabilization program, which produced 2-3 percent growth rates in the real GDP in the past couple of years. With prolonged dependency on external credit, the economy is run by quite strict mix of fiscal and monetary policies of the central authorities. This is a kind of domestic austerity regime which is enacted due to the fear of FX rate devaluation. With EU association, the general public obtained a right to have a visa-free entry to the countries of the EU, a luxury not seen before. This allowed many Ukrainians to seek employment in the Central European countries. This also underscored that domestically ordinary wage-earners are left to enjoy quite low income level. This particular feature, in my view, fuelled weak support for the incumbent leadership of the country. In very early June 2014 I was in Istanbul for a business trip. I gave a presentation on Ukraine’s economy to a group of managers of a Dutch-based private equity group which was an investor in a number of businesses in the Black Sea region, including Ukraine. So, their interest was in the near-term future of Ukraine. With some details on the main macroeconomic indicators, my conclusion was that at the beginning of 2014 it was clear that Ukraine’s general public (the voters) have developed very demanding and critical stance on the incumbent leadership, whoever it happened to be. That is why today Ukraine’s elections, expectedly, are highly competitive contests.”
“THERE IS NO SOLUTION BEFORE RUSSIA’S WITHDRAWAL FROM UKRAINE’S LEGITIMATE BORDERS”
Valchyshen reminds Russian military presence in Ukraine soils and points out, there is not a possible solution before Russian army withdraws from Ukraine’s borders. He also thinks Ukraine is closer to EU and NATO membership than before.
“In the present day of geopolitics, nuclear threats, which are the ways of international conversation in present-day Russia, are an effective influencing tool of the West restrain. For the solution of Ukraine territorial integrity there is no other solution than Russia withdrawing its military presence beyond the perimeter of Ukraine’s legitimate borders. And (about the NATO and EU membership), it is close in the sense that it is closer than it had been 5-10 years , when Ukraine’s economy could have never been as close as today. For the future, it is clear that there are prospects of reforms inside these blocs. EU is destined to major economic reforms despite of postponing them now. Ukraine has to take part in those reforms, contributing with accumulated experience of the past 5 years, including military experience of re-building army under invasion.”
This interview published in Intell4 Strategy Channell on April 24, 2019