The Mania of Ukraine’s Euromaidan
The already month-long unrest in Kiev has been interpreted unanimously by the Western media as a testament to the desire of all Ukrainian people to enter into the Association Agreement with the European Union (EU). However, public opinion polls indicate that the proportion of people who wish to enter the Customs Union with Russia is still slightly higher than the proportion that favor the EU (38 percent to 37 percent, respectively). Some absurdly claim that Ukraine has no other options beyond the EU, yet the agreement at hand envisions neither membership, visa-free travel nor financial aid, which many protesters and EU-propagandizing journalists naively ignore. Another issue is that some neo-fascist protesters are organizing demonstrative attacks on the police, take-overs of public buildings, and open promotion of anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia and other values fully incompatible with European values.
In the language of psychologists, the Euromaidan could be characterized as a schizophrenia in which a skewed perception of reality has caused myriad problems. At the center of this lies the pathological interaction of all parties to the conflict: the opposition, the authorities, big business, European officials and politicians, as well as their Russian and American colleagues. It’s no help that the reality of the Association Agreement has nothing in common with the dream version envisioned by its supporters in Ukraine. The proposed EU agreement for Ukraine falls patently short of any commitments to improve the lives of Ukrainians or truly give them new rights in Europe.
The Association project, for which the leaders at Euromaidan strive, burdens Ukraine with obligations to follow European directives on trade policy; technological and antimonopoly regulation; veterinary and phytosanitary control; subsidies and government purchases; intellectual rights; and the commitment to follow in the wake of European foreign policy. In the case of a signed Association Agreement with the EU, Ukraine puts itself under European jurisdiction as a unilaterally dependent colony. The Ukrainian politicians fighting for this privilege position themselves as nationalists, swear on the inviolability of Ukrainian sovereignty and declare the impossibility of subjecting it to the wishes of a supranational entity. Yet, they also demonstrate an importunate readiness to serve that same sovereignty on a platter to the European Commission on whose directives they will have no say. Even Ukrainian neo-fascists, proud of their newly acquired sovereignty, fight to make of it a gift to Brussels.
According to some representatives in Ukranian industry, even modernizing Ukraine to the standards demanded by European technological directives will cost 150 billion euro, which the Ukrainian financial system does not have. Economists calculated that as a result of the Association-envisioned free-trade area, Ukrainian goods would be pushed out of the market and suffer a $2 billion annual loss, ultimately leading to a fall in GDP by 1.5-2 percent. Up until 2020, the Ukrainian economy and government would sustain losses due to the uneven competitiveness of Ukrainian with European goods. Financial experts even predicted a Ukrainian default due to the deterioration of trade relations with Russia a mere two months after the signing of the Association agreement, which was planned for November 26 in Vilnius. Despite the obviously catastrophic repercussions for the Ukrainian economy, all Ukrainian ministers voted to approve the agreement and tried to convince everyone of the inevitability of the Association.
The motivations of the Ukrainian leadership—which came to power through support from the country’s east and south who hoped for closer association with Russia—are even more difficult to understand. In these parts of Ukraine, two-thirds of the population supports Ukrainian entrance into the Common Economic Space with Russia and opposes an association with the EU. In a number of districts, the percentage supporting the Common Economic Space and opposing the Association Agreement reaches 85 percent. The anti-Russian European-integration policy is seen as disappointing and even traitorous. At the same time, however, the nurturing by the government of the Russophobic “Freedom” and “Udar” parties via oligarchic structures seems downright painful. Those same groups also finance the government-despised “Batkivshchyna,” thereby digging their own graves.
The conductor of these manic interactions is Ukrainian big business, which tries to ensure its safety by maintaining good relations with all political powers through corruption. Unlike the politicians and bureaucrats, the business sphere has a clear reason for its double-dealing behavior: Ukraine’s oligarchy receives most profits from a preferential trade regime with Russia, including access to the Russian market and Russian natural resources. However, the oligarchy turns its money largely into property in Western Europe. This explains why the oligarchs tell Moscow they favor its Customs Union, while in Washington and Brussels they court the European choice.