Ukrainian conflict. The history of failed state. Part I
However, existence of Ukraine as a geopolitical historical subject was highly doubtful, a role it never played, and was at best a "no man's land", sandwiched between Russia and other European players at every stage of history. The peripheral position at the junction of the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Russian empires and Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth significantly affected not only the specifics of state traditions of the peoples within the borders of present-day Ukraine, but also left its mark on the specific small-town mentality of much of the population of that state. To a large extent the current political agenda of Ukraine is determined by the identity of the intermediate zone of geopolitical Rimland'a – as the remote periphery of Sea power and a weapon against the continental power of the Eurasian Heartland.
Granularity and specific eclectic of cultural and religious character was superimposed upon the absence of a national statehood and based mainly upon the post-Soviet institutional legacy. Undoubtfuly, the attempts to construct a unitary nation-state on the basis of specific Galician cultural code with the filing of geopolitical enemies of Russia, without taking into account the interests of a large part of the Russian population, are the ones that led to the current war, tragedy and civil confrontation in the South East of the country.
The existing conflict is, of course, caused largely by domestic factors, and in particular - the conflict within the interests of the elites, pushing in their own interests a forced "Ukrainization" of the population of Ukraine which accidentaly happened to be in the borders of this state after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Recall, that the Ukrainian post-Soviet (and Russian or Kazakh) economic elites tried all possible ways to consolidate the power of on the territory they've inherited then.
And for the newly formed Ukrainian elite the task was to unify the cultural and, consequently, the political space of the state, culturally and historically gravitating towards an alliance with the eastern neighbor. However, an alliance of Ukraine who has inherited a significant part of the Soviet industrial infrastructure with Russia was not benificial to them. Any influence of Russia undermined their own economic influence and political power.
Let us briefly recall what Ukraine received from the legacy of the Soviet empire. In this territory, there were up to 40% of capacity of the Soviet military-industrial complex and up to 60% of heavy industry. Developed agriculture allowed both to ensure food security of the state and to actively export products of the agricultural sector. The network of railways and highways, main pipelines, several large ice-free ports, not only met the needs of its own foreign trade, but also had virtually unlimited transit potential. 52 million people were living according to positive demographic trend of 1991-92 in Ukraine. The country had highly qualified human resource, the training system for industry and agriculture with highly developed scientific base. All this was protected by millionth grouping of the Soviet Army - the largest in the Soviet Union, armed with the latest weapons, as it was located on the edge of the main intended impact of geopolitical foe.
Ukraine at the time of independence had much more than was necessary for the successful construction of the state. Moreover, it also had a favorable geopolitical situation. Ukraine did not have powerful enemies or even serious competitors. On the contrary, in 1992 Ukrainian political leaders noted with satisfaction the absence of external threats. The relations with all the neighbors were friendly, and the world's major players themselves sought to establish good relations with Kiev. I recall that in 1994-1996, was born a format G7 +, which is used exclusively for the relations with Moscow (G7 + Russia) and Kiev (G7 + Ukraine). However, the Russian format later escalated into a full-fledged G8, and Ukrainian dissolved in time and space, but in the mid 90's they were still the same.
There was a small problem: Ukraine does not have enough energy to meet the needs of the industry. However, not all, but oil and gas. Despite the relatively high level of domestic production - 4.5 million tons (as much as in Romania) and 20 billion cubic meters of gas per year (more than Azerbaijan) - Ukraine covered only a fifth of its needs for oil and gas in the fourth . The theoretical possibility to increase its own production existed, but wasn't used. As well ability to significantly reduce the industrial energy consumption. However, the missing volumes of gas and oil was traditionally supplied by Russia. Given the fact that 60-80% of the transit of Russian energy supplies to Europe in the 90's was done through the Ukrainian pipeline system, it was not difficult to agree on mutually advantageous conditions of supply. Which was exactly what Kuchma concluded in 2002, signing the ten-year contract with "Gazprom" on gas supply at a fixed price - $ 50 per thousand cubic meters. The contract was supposed to operate until 2012 and provided the Ukrainian industry a huge competitive advantage on world markets, which every year (taking into account the rapid growth in prices of oil and gas) was to increase. Significant foreign policy and economic potential of Ukraine is determined by the fact that most of its foreign trade, and the efficiency of its industry was dependent on Russian energy and Russian markets and in cooperation with Russian subcontractors. Russia for 1992-2002 years has experienced a political crisis of 1993, nearly fell deeply into full-scale civil war and split the society for a long time, two Chechen wars, as well as the default of 1998. Being immersed in its internal problems, compounded by geopolitical contradictions accruing to the Euro-Atlantic partners, Moscow needed a minimum of political loyalty of Kiev (upon more than neutrality was not insisted from the Russian side) and was ready to pay for it (and did pay) serious economic concessions. Throughout the period of Ukrainian "independence" Russia tried to bribe the Ukrainian elite and negotiate friendly relations with the western neighbor. Russia made gratuitous gifts in the form of reduced energy prices, as well as soft loans and investment in joint projects. Russia's losses from the provision of most favoured goods to Ukraine are impossible to calculate (experts call the amount of 200-300 billion dollars, but it's a speculative estimate).
In other articles of the cycles we will talk about overall architecture and the quality of Ukrainian elite, geopolitical orientation and its probable settlement of the conflict.