Supplement to Geostrategic Pulse no. 231 - UKRAINE, THREE YEARS AFTER EUROMAIDAN

Lt.Gen.(ret.) Dan PLĂVIȚU



Three years after its outburst, the Ukrainian crisis continues to represent the most important security problem to Romania’s immediate vicinity and to EU’s and NATO’s eastern flank. What interests most now is which will be the denouement, still difficult to detect,  which will be the evolution of the internal political and economic situation and, above all, which position will the global powers (Russia and the West) adopt in outlining this country’s future. Nowadays,  Ucraine is completely dependent on foreign factors and is kept under internal and external pressures difficult to cope with. The population is disappointed at the consequences of the Euromaidan Revolution and the gap between the expectations and reality keeps growing. The current political class does not succeed in raising the Ukrainians’ trust in their future while the economy, altough witnessing a slight recovery is still showing downturn. Russia keeps putting extensive pressure on Ukraine as it is determined to prevent its losing the influence and control on this space of major importance geopolitically and geostrategically. The West is still hesitating and mimics Poroshenko regime’s support while the big Chancelleries seem to have a primary interest in their relationship with Moscow. However, at least on a short run, no new upheaval of the Ukrainian people is anticipated but rather an upsurge of Euroskepticism and a more intense leaning towards the East.

General context
Three years have passed in February 2017 since the so-called Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, better known as Euromaidan began, when Ukrainian citizens started spontaneous protests in Kyiv in response to the Ukrainian Government’s decision to suspend the preparatory process for signing the Association Agreement and the DCFTA with the European Union. The violent protests and events were started on 21st November, 2013 mainly by youth who were joined gradually by other cathegories of citizens as well as by some political parties and pro-European groups and led to ousting the former, pro-Russian,  elected president, Viktor Ianukovici (22nd  February 2014).

As an independent state, Ukraine has a not so long history. In the 10th and 11th centuries, the state of Kievan Rus was one of the strong Slavic states in the region but ended up being incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and then into Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the last part of the 19th century, the Ukrainian territory was absorbed by the Russian Tsarist Empire. After the latter’s fall, in 1917, it had had again a period of independence until 1920 and was thereafter included into the former USSR until its desintegration in 1991. 

Speaking of the effects of the Euromaidan movement of Ukraine’s future in this context, the political and military analysts seem to answer with an old and famous Zhou Enlai’s phrase when asked about the impact of the French Revolution on the mankind he replied ”it was too early to say”. Actually, these experts avoid recognizing the fact that the impact and sequels of Euromaidan on Ukraine are not the expected ones neither internally nor externally even if there are some who consider the current regime moves albeit slowly towars a good direction, that some of the reforms are on track, that the anti-corruption fight starts to have results and that economically the collapse-like situation is not there. It is right that some reforms were quite successful (banking and energy sectors, health and the General Prosecutor’s Office), that the budget deficit began to diminish, that the exports started to grow and that the rule of law started to be felt. Yet all these are still at the snail’s pace and there is no clear prospect they will continue. 

The reality seems to be rather as the pesimists see it. Internally, the population’s expectations after the ousting of the corrupt and anti-European president didn’t materialize, the political, economic and social situation is extreemely precarious to say nothing of loosing Crimea for good and of  the prolonged and uncertain situation in Donbas and Lugansk regions. The difference between the Ukrainian society’s exaggerated expectations and the reality it lives now in makes that the population’s patience reach unacceptable limits and this situation, according to (James C. Davies’) J-curve (bellow) may degenerate into a new revolution or mass revolt.

At the same time, Ukraine lost its sovereignity externally being totally dependent on international financial assistance and politically dependent on the interests and wishes of the two big international players, Russia, on one hand, and the EU and the USA, on the other.  In addition, Russia controls part of its territory in the eastern side of the country and Crimea is out of the question. Thus, Ukraine is submitted to a double pressure: from top to bottom (the degradation of the political and economic system) and from bottom to top (the country’s fate is decided by the global geopolitical players) and that makes its future impredictible starting from the scenarion of remaining a unitary state, although divided between East and West, up to the scenario of its disintegration.


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