26 November 2019

THE WORDS THAT CHANGE THE BORDERS

Open statement due to the publication of the map of Ukraine without the Crimean Peninsula by New York Times* and The Economist*

By Oksana Syroyid

Co-Chair of Lviv Security Forum and Leader of Samopomich Union Party, Ex-Vice Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine

We enjoy our lives in time of change of balance in the world. This is not the first time in history when humanity must survive through death and birth of geopolitical constructions. The biggest misfortune of such periods – human lives and human dignity that are sacrificed for the change of the shape. And in modern times it is not only tanks or missiles, but also the words of media that change the borders, kill people, destroy houses and undermine human dignity.

The media’s attention has been drawn to Ukraine over the years, precisely because one of the most important geopolitical battles is taking place on Ukrainian territory and for control of Ukraine. Understanding the nature of this battle and its impartial coverage can save Europe and, probably the World from the new World War as well as save the millions of lives.

Nowadays Russia is dissatisfied with its role on the world stage and doesn’t hide their desire to reshape the world security order in their favor. Its not the first time when Russia is using war in order  to increase their influence in the world. Every time during its aggressive expansion, Russia views the territory of Ukraine as a source of resources and a buffer security zone.

Since the creation of the Moscow Kingdom, its eastern and northern territories have been protected by the seas and surrounded  by mountains. However, the main human resources, agricultural lands and infrastructure has been located along the western border. In addition, the Moscow Kingdom which  had the greatest natural resources, didn’t have access to warm ports. This determined the main strategy for its westward expansion – to provide access to the Baltic and Black seas and to increase the buffer zone around important infrastructure and resources.

The defeat of the Russian Empire in the World War I and the October revolution in 1917 by no means changed the imperial policy of the Bolshevik Russia. On the contrary, immediately after the rise of the soviet state in the 1917 RSSR began the occupation of newly formed Ukrainian Peoples Republic.  The occupation began from the formation of the Ukrainian Peoples Republic of Soviets, an enclave, which was controlled by Bolsheviks (The ORDLO of that time – territories of Ukraine occupied by Russia).

During the Paris Peace Conference in Versailles in 1919-20, the leaders of three countries – the United States, Great Britain and France – distributed statehood to peoples, who came out of the wreckage of the European empires. The leaders of Ukrainian Peoples Republic sought support to oppose the Bolsheviks and waited for the recognition of their statehood. However, the offensive of Bolshevik Russia  prevented the recognition of the Ukrainian National Republic. The Western countries were exhausted by the First World War and didn’t have strength and desire to confront the Bolsheviks whose intentions were unclear to them. They decided to isolate and ignore the Bolsheviks.

Germany was the first country who broke the international isolation of the Bolshevik dictatorship and to recognize Bolshevik Russia and all its conquests. The Treaty of Rapallo, concluded between Russia and Germany in April 1922, extended its power to the so-called Union Republics, in particular to the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic. The treaty provided not only the resumption of diplomatic relations abused by the First World War, but also the establishment of close trade and economic cooperation.

The conquest of Ukraine and access to its resources opened new opportunities for the Russia Bolshevik Empire. The most valuable was the grain that could be exported in exchange for industrialization of the Soviet Union. The appropriation of  grain from the household farmers (kulaks) was a difficult process, but collectivization needed modern equipment.

German industrialists were ready to supply technologies in exchange for supplies, the most important of which was Ukrainian grain. The Hanomag WD Z 50 tractor, which in 1924 transformed into the Kharkiv Communard, obviously played its historic role in the mechanization of agriculture during the collectivization era. The German industrial magnates, the key among whom was Gustav Krupp, the main arms manufacturer in Germany, did not hide their discontent with the pacified Weimar Republic and had a commercial interest in restoring Germany’s military greatness. At their request and in exchange for their technical assistance  Stalin ordered the German Communists to support Hitler during the 1931 coup. This support brought the Nazis to power, though it killed the German Communists.

Collectivization and “disillusionment” provoked thousands of peasant uprisings across Ukraine. People demanded that land and self-governance were returned to the village. In order to eradicate the peasant rebellions and guarantee the control over land and grain- the soviet main currency in the world’s trade – Stalin killed millions of Ukrainian peasants by famine in 1932 – 1933 (Holodomor). While people in Ukraine were dying out of the hanger, the world was silent so as not to spoil relations with the Soviet Union. Even countries like the UK and the USA were buying grain from the soviets. Later on the money for the grain, sold out on international markets made on death helped Stalin to implement industrialization. The Soviet Empire, which was in isolation for decades,  returned to world’s arena as a ‘’new market’’ and a great trading partner.

The Hitler’s Germany attracted Stalin’s attention the most. . Hitler and Stalin used each other’s resources in preparing for their own wars. Stalin intended to move to the West to establish control over the seas and increase the “sanitary zone” under the banner of the socialist revolution. Hitler, on the other side, needed  Ukrainian land and human resources for building his own future empire.

Between 1939 and 1941, Germany and the Soviet Union signed five economic and security treaties. The most famous of these is the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which allowed each of the parties to move a few steps towards achieving their strategic goals. Stalin, at the same time, expected that Hitler would be exhausted by the war in Central Europe and that it would be easier for the Soviet army to “liberate the fraternal peoples.” However, Hitler’s resources began to deplete only at Stalingrad.

Ukraine, or to be more precise – its land, remained the main trophy in the war between the two dictators. Therefore, people were not sorry. About 40% of all human losses of the Soviet Union in the Second World War constitute  Ukrainians.

Athrough, the Second World’s War was resolved by both of dictators, only Hitler was ever punished. Stalin ended the war as a winner who dictated conditions. As a result, the Soviet empire in 1945 pushed its borders to Berlin. Stalin intended to move further west. Initially, he besieged the West Berlin, but later violated the conditions of maintaining the occupation zones, establishing the German Democratic Republic (another “ORDLO”). In 1952 he attempted an expansion to the West again, proposing German leader Konrad Adenauer to unite the DDR and the Federal Republic of Germany  in exchange of amnesty for former Nazis, new elections, and non-aligned status of the united Germany. Chancellor Adenauer replied that quiting German’s integration with the West will lead to control of Germany by the Bolsheviks and will be tantamount to «political suicide».

Despite unsuccessful attempts at further expansion to the west, the Soviet empire achieved the cherished dream of all Russian tsars. The control over the Baltic Sea was guaranteed by the Kaliningrad enclave – the remnant of the Kingdom of Prussia with the capital in Königsberg, as well as occupation of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the DDR. The Black Sea was under control due to control over Crimea and the Ukrainian coastline, which was guaranteed through Russian occupation of Georgia, as well as establishing socialist satellite states -Bulgaria and Romania. The sanitary zone was expanded enough to keep the empire’s “line of life” safe.

Meanwhile, Europe had to recover from the past war, defend itself against the imminent soviet military threat, and prevent the wars in Europe in the future.

After the Second World War, the European economy was eroded not only by physical, human and infrastructure losses. There were no governments, currencies, banks, productions. European countries on their own did not have the chance to quickly regain economic capacity and economic ties. Understanding the economic and geopolitical role of a democratic Europe as an ally, the US government actually funded the economic recovery of European countries through the Marshall Plan. And the newly established World Bank managed the first major project, spending over tens of billions of US dollars in the years 1947-1951 alone.

The rebuilding of post-war Europe inevitably affected the restoration of German sovereignty in territories controlled by the United States, Britain and France. Adenauer demanded “full sovereignty”, which for many, including the French, meant something like this: “the Germans will return to Ruhr again, make tanks again and start a war again.” Germany was rigorously pacified, and Alfried Krupp, the heir to the main manufacturer of Hitler’s weapons, after  Nuremberg process was sentenced in the United States for the use of slave labor during the war.

Only the genius of Jean Monnet and Robert Schumann, who offered to exchange German sovereignty for the extraterritorial management of steelmaking in European countries (that is directly related to weapons production) helped to resolve the situation. In 1951, the European Coal and Steel Community was established, giving birth to the European Economic Community. US involvement in the balance of powers was veiled, but significant. In particular, in February 1951, John McCloy, US High Commissioner in Germany, and previously the President of the World Bank, released Alfried Krupp from prison. Alfried returned to his property, personal possessions and business, which he managed until 1967, becoming a famous German philanthropist. Today, the Alfried Krupp Foundation finances, in particular, the summer Ukrainian school at the University of Greifswald.

The economic recovery of Europe had its “side effects”. “In Europe, it has become increasingly apparent our aid, though life-giving and welcome, has not uniformaly endeared us to our allies. Indeed, the growth of anti-American feeling has assumed in certain quarters dangerous proportions.” This is the experience of John McCloy in 1953. Stalin, according to McCloy, “… confidently predicted that differences between non-communist nations would grow as Germany and Japan seek to expand their markets. At the same time, “… the Soviets today is combining [political, militaristic and ideological] all these threats carry out a far-reaching policy of division among free peoples of the world. … Wherever the Communists find natural or artificial divisions they act rapidly to accentuate and encourage them. ”

In order to maintain a geopolitical balance on the European continent, a North Atlantic Alliance was created, which, in the words of its first General Secretary, Lord Ismay, was to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

The democratic world correctly assessed the aim and methods of the Soviet threat. It was mistaken only in the nature of this threat – for decades of the Cold War, the West regarded communism itself, not the imperial nature of Russia, as a threat.

That is why the Western world in the second half of the eighties became interested in the idea of democratization of the USSR, and later of Russia. That is why US President George W. Bush, speaking in Kyiv on August 1, 1991, called Ukrainians’ desire for independence “suicidal nationalism.” That is why the Budapest Memorandum became possible – the Americans sought to reduce the number of territories with nuclear status, in viewing Russia an equal geopolitical actor, instead of a threat, and Ukraine as a “small beer” in the sphere of Russia’s geopolitical interests. That is why Germany considers Russia as its partner and, forgetting history, builds the Nord Stream with Russia without any remorse or concern. That is why Russia has, over the past two decades, been able to penetrate almost unnoticed in key democratic processes in the West through election interference, media control, political party funding, participation in hydrocarbon production and transportation.

That is why, unfortunately, Russian aggression against Ukraine was inevitable. Russian President Vladimir Putin has not accidentally called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.” Without control over the Baltic and Black Seas as well as without control over Ukrainian resources, “Greatest Russia” is impossible. Initially, Russia took advantage of the fact that Ukrainians lacked the experience of statehood and the management of their resources after independence and during the large-scale privatization they freely bought strategic enterprises and critical infrastructure. Most of those who are now called “oligarchs” have monopolized the Ukrainian regional gas companies, power companies, thermal power plants, shipyards, and access to key natural resources for Russian money and in Russia’s interests. They have never had a Ukrainian identity or interest in the development of Ukraine, so they have easily withdrawn and continue to withdraw money from Ukraine, enriching offshore jurisdictions. At the same time, in order to maintain their monopolies and guarantee the movement of Ukraine in the Russian fairway, these people established control over Ukrainian politics through dependent media and political projects. After all, today, these oligarchs no longer hide their dependence on Russia, openly lobbying both in Ukraine and in the US the Russian “reconciliation” scenario.

However, even such a great control of Russia over Ukrainian political and economic life still lacks the main component. . Generations of people were born and raised in Ukraine for whom any pro-Russian sentiments is alien and who increasingly look into the West, identifying themselves with European civilization rather than with the “unified Slavic people.” Time was playing against Russia – the territory was getting out of control.

The revolution of dignity was only a pretext for the Russian invasion. The major objective of the illegal annexation of Crimea is to gain control over the Black Sea and to increase geopolitical leverage in the greater Mediterranean region. In the same way, the major reasons for the occupation of Eastern Ukraine is obtaining leverage over Ukraine in persuading Russian interest both in the internal and foreign policy of Ukraine.

Understanding the nature of the conflict shapes the reflections on it. The historical context defines the words that are used to describe reality. There is no “conflict in Ukraine”, there is “Russian aggression”, “Russian military intervention”. There are no “militants”, there are “Russian armed forces invading Ukrainian sovereign territory” and “Russian proxies”. There is no “civil war”, there is “Russian-Ukrainian war”. And the words create the world because the words you use design the things you believe. If you use the right words, there will be no mistakes in the maps.

And the last but not the least, the place you stand defines your perspective and often determines the words you use. From early post-soviet times, Moscow remains the headquarter place for major international media covering Ukraine. Notwithstanding the unbiased position of specific journalists, general coverage of Ukraine is very often soaked with Russian flavor. Considering Russian war against Ukraine, it is very high time to find better location that will broaden the perspective of respective media.

* On November 6 The New York Times corrected the map of Ukraine. The earlier version of this article published on November 3  included a map of Ukraine suggesting that it was separate from Crimea. The map should have indicated the area, annexed by Russia in 2014, with a dashed border line.

26 October 2018

Building effective army model in current security conditions

Glen Grant, Former Lt. Colonel at British Army (UK) at Lviv Security Forumon reforming of ukrainian army:

Talking about armed forces we have to accept where we are. Compared to 2014 the frontline is really good – the most of boys are still alive. We are still losing too many lives, but despite attacks boys are alive and we are also recapturing land. But my thought is that since that time the big system has not changed.

And there are three points:

  1. Operational focus. There should by focus on mobility. Russians are always beaten by mobility. They have never been beaten by full-scale warfare. When you are focused on mobility it drives other things – almost everything. Especially people who fight and command – they are getting better. Education system is still not designed for mobility warfare. It is still soviet. International partners should concentrate in this area since it will have a long-term influence.
  2. 2. Structures. Current structures were designed for soviet type of warfare. You fight and lots of people die. And that was ok. These structures are not designed for mobile warfare. There is not enough staff in general staff. We have joined headquarters for Donbas, but none for Azov, South or Kyiv. One person cannot possibly control everything and general Muzhenko as well. No person can do it. Ukraine needs proper headquarters – joint headquarters that work and analyze situation 24 hours day. And it cannot be Muzhenko. One man cannot run your system especially if he has to wait for decision of the president weather to start shooting. You cannot run army on the phone.

We should concentrate on what we have and spend our energy on improving it. Spending money generally on reforms doesn’t work. We have to ask people on the ground what they need. We have to make sure that each brigade is being supported and this support is getting better. The principle must be “Every day better!”

3.Decentralization of budget. You cannot manage, if you cannot spend money. The officer has to have money to make his job proper. If you don’t trust these people with money, then what are they doing on the frontline defending your country?

Another issue is how to get people into army. We can have a long debate on whether conscription system works. But people without equipment are not an army. You cannot make someone fight without providing them with all equipment.

And finally. If you have leadership in army – people will come.

Amb. Shota Gvineria, Senior Fellow, Economic Policy Research Center (Georgia)

Situations of Georgia and Ukraine are similar in many ways:
1) the wars going on in Ukraine and Georgia are the same war for Russia – the war for influence in the region;

2) war in 2008 was only a small episode of a hybrid war going on since the independence of Georgia.

Comprehensive approach towards security is a must as hybrid warfare is the new normal and it will not go away. We need to make ourselves resilient to this constant fight.

Since Russia is using all elements of national power against the adversary, we need to adopt a total defence approach where non-governmental sector, private sector and state work together to counteract the immense pressure coming at us.

Georgia has a very strong civil society, which in some cases is even leading the process. The private sector, however, still does not really understand the importance of joint action. More secure environment enhancing trade, capacities against cyber attacks are to name a few arguments of how the private sector will benefit from participating in a defence as they may be a target as well.

We need to stop thinking about NATO in terms of black and white, joining or not joining. The integration process itself is bringing huge benefits to the countries in terms of legislation and standards harmonization.

Pavel Rozhko, Lieutenant Colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the Lviv Security Forum 2018:

I would like to draw attention to the need to build an effective mobile army model. Mobility in the army depends on all systems, especially on the system of management.
Therefore, the reformation of the Armed Forces should not begin from the bottom or from the top, but should go in parallel – reform of the army management system, reform of the units, and also preparation the units and the system of combat training.

The current situation in the East of Ukraine is very delayed. We have to draw conclusions. There must be some kind of political decision, and, I think, the Armed Forces are ready to fulfill the task.

Mark Voyger, Senior lecturer in Eastern European and Russian Studies at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu (Estonia), at Lviv Security Forum 2018:

A reform of armed forces in Ukraine cannot exist in vacuum. It has to be a reaction on Russian war strategy. Russian goal is not to allow any neighboring country, Ukraine especially, to be economically stable and successful.

General Gerasimov, head of general staff of Russian armed forces, has named three principles of their war strategy:

– Hybrid war is a blitzkrieg of the future.

– Hybrid war allows aggressor to deprive the victim of aggression its sovereignty

– In future purely hybrid can go without conventional tools, but conventional warfare will always involve hybrid

Russian armed forces have established a new term of “integrated forces” which provide for integration of conventional and hybrid forced. Our analysis has shown that Ukraine in a testing ground of this new concept. Ukrainian armed forces is the only army in Europe fighting these new integrated forces. Europe has a lot to learn from you since you have proven general Gerasimov wrong.

When talking about Ukraine joining NATO I have no doubt that this will happen. But you have to look through experience of Baltic states. They have limited defense forces, but they have other things from which they can draw strength. In Estonia they have established Defense league where citizens and even foreigners are trained and gathered on regular basis in order to master their skills. Defense league is a strong component which Ukraine should consider.

And finally, your armed forces have to master English fluently. You cannot join NATO and be an effective member, if your military are not able to communicate freely with their counterparts from other countries.

Stepan Yakymyak, Сhair of Naval Forces Department of Ivan Chernyakhovskyi National Defence University, Captain 1st rank at Lviv Security Forum 2018:

Experience is what we should take into account when developing Armed Forces of Ukraine. A few related facts and rhetorical questions:

The Crimea was occupied from the sea. How it influenced the national security priorities?

The Naval Forces of Ukraine lost over 75% of their resources in the Crimea – human, infrastructural, other. And what impact did it have on the review of the order of resources supply of the Armed Forces of Ukraine?

Ukraine lost over 60% of the exclusive maritime economic zone. What other state in the world has lately lost as much and in the “peaceful times”?

Ineffective state policy regarding the integration of the peninsula in the all-national culture and spiritual space was the main reasons of the losses in Crimea. How is it taken account in the current activities of the state?

 

 

26 October 2018

Policy towards occupied territories: how to prevent new «grey zones» evolving

Nataliya Ishchenko, ukrainian journalist and political scientist at Lviv Security Forum 2018:

With regards to the experience in the post-Soviet area, Moldova and Georgia, one must learn from the mistakes of others. These are the two different examples of how things should not be done.

For example, in Moldova there is a creeping reintegration of this enclave. What relates to Georgia the program of peaceful reintegration of territories is being implemented there with the support of the international community. This program, which has been implemented over the past few years, has provoked even greater rejection of the occupied territories.

As soon as Georgia adopted the relevant laws, decisions and began to implement a program of approximation of these territories, Russia has taken very hard steps of cutting off these territories from Georgia. Even visually it is clear. They began to build borders. On the borders of Abkhazia and Ossetia there are no border guards. There are FSB troops, which are also Russian border guards. Their presence there is official. They did this when Georgia was allegedly trying to reintegrate peacefully. They received a reverse effect.

In Ukraine, the civil society and politicians simply did not let it happen. That’s why it did not happen. But now Russian propagandists began to write: “Why do not Ukrainians behave like Georgians?”

If we resigned in 2014 after Ilovajsk or in 2015, after Debaltsevo, this plan would be implemented. But for some reason we began to resist, and this did not happen. And, I think, now the chances of realization of this scenario are lower than in 2014-2015 years”.

Rosian Vasiloi, security analyst, Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (Moldova) at Lviv Security Forum 2018:

During 27 years of Russian aggression in Transnistria Moldova has not recognized this fact. Only in 2017 Constitutional court recognized Russian troops in Transnistria. However, the government did not adopt any acts as a reaction on this decision.

We have to recognize that Russian aggression has two components in Moldova – external and internal. Internal component consists of our domestic actors supporting separatist regime in Transnistria.
In 2017 a number NGOs in Moldova presented an analysis about occupation troops in Moldova with direct reference to international law and decisions of UN Court of Justice. However, our national authorities still do not recognize occupation.

Moreover, our government implements the so-called “strategy of small steps”, provides for re-integration people instead of re-integration of the territory. The strategy of small steps is just providing occupied territories with sovereignty which is a great trap for Moldova. Our Moldovan experience of occupied territories makes me say it out loud to my Ukrainian friends: “Do not repeat our mistakes!”

Roman Bezsmertny, politician, public figure at Lviv Security Forum 2018:

There is nothing stronger than action. Speaking about European perspectives, how many commitments have we taken on ourselves? And how many have embodied? So “the action”, gentlemen. ”The Action” at the Minsk negotiations, “the action” at the front, “the action” in the rear.

In the current situation, things are very well manifested, which can become the basis for “the action”. This applies not only to the Donbas, but to almost all the points of tension that we are talking about today.

If I were asked what I would do, then I would do two things these days – I would suggest Kurt Volker head the Ukrainian delegation in Minsk and do everything possible to make the owner of the Ukrainian GTS either “Halliburton” or somebody else.

 

25 October 2018

Propaganda – Leading asymmetric wars

Mykhaylo Basarab, political expert, analytical group «Korner Solutions» (Ukraine) at Lviv Security Forum 2018:

Everything what Russia is doing in Ukraine and in the West is enough to understand that global war is already on. Energy, politics, propaganda – Russian intervention is all over these spheres.

Russia is doing its best to more or less comply with law: it corrupts politicians, who are getting paid from Russia, so called media are using freedom of speech in order to produce disinformation. That’s the way Russia is working with minds.

Russian propaganda is intensifying confrontation in societies. Russians are using divisive topics: racial issues and gun control in the US, Euroscepticism and euroloyalism in Europe, in Ukraine – language, history and other issues that facilitate confrontation.

EU is taking some measures to confront it – media education, refutation of fake news, etc. But we don’t have time to do these things.

We have to do everything possible to destroy the center that spreads propaganda. We have to make sure that Putin has no money to spread lies.

One more thing – we have to wake up, because China is silently using Russia in order to get into our backyard. And realizing it is very important.

Veronika Vichova, European Values Foundation (Czech Republic) at Lviv Security forum 2018:

People don’t get that propaganda is not only disinformation. It is also connected to political corruption, abusing minorities, conducting acts of espionage. We have to have a comprehensive strategy in order to fight it. Not many countries take that approach.

Baltic countries took strategic approach cooperating closely with civil society and private entities in order to combat propaganda. Their governments also have political will not only to recognize propaganda, but also seek stronger support within EU.

Similar cases can be found in Scandinavian countries. Swedish government, for instance, took measures to prevent possible election meddling, because electoral process is probably the most vulnerable place.

Another group within Europe – the so-called “awakened countries”. They already were affected by Russian propaganda and started to recognize it. For example – Czech Republic. The government made solid review of security area, consulted civil society, established an action plan for fighting propaganda.

Finally, there are countries in denial of Russian propaganda or collaborating with Russia. In order to work with them more actions from EU and NATO are needed.

Victor Rud – The Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of Ukrainian American Bar Association (USA):

Russia is very good at strategic deception. We in the West are also involved in strategic deception, but we mostly do it to ourselves.

Most Western leaders continuously made a massive mistake by making the equivalent between Russia and the USSR. Putin took it and utilized it: the West always called Russia USSR, so we are gathering our lands.

Question: why do we transfer without a second thought ideas belonging to the West to Russia when it doesn’t work. The experience of the West with Russia was never acute or long enough to be embedded in the Western population. We are still unprepared to believe the unbelievable. Listen to the victims, to the truthtellers. West has historically ignored and ridiculed them. Let’s start giving attention to the criminal.

In 2000, it was clear who Putin was and what his goal was to the West. So, the notion of sending sleeping bags to Ukraine on a civilian plane not on a military is all that was necessary for Putin to understand Obama’s mentality.

The NKGB had tortured people for them to confess to a lie – “a slaughter of the mind”, a reality reversal. The Kremlin has been an expert on it for centuries, it allowed them to develop an empire and control it. In Ukraine the

Russia has reached a virtual destruction of the national ethos, a national Stockholm syndrome. Only recently an opposite process begun.

 

Nerijus Maliukevičius (Vilnius Institute of International Relations and Political Science) at Lviv Security Forum 2018:

There is an abundance of tools in countering propaganda. What we are sometimes lacking is the political will to tackle it. And it is probably more true with regard to the Western states.

Sweden and Lithuania found that the answer to propaganda is social resilience. A resilient society is knowledgeable about the existing threats, capable and empowered to act against them. Resilience is built from trust in institutions but also from trust in your neighbors.

The study has discovered vulnerabilities that expose states to disinformation attacks: low political trust, soviet nostalgia, vague representation of Russian threat in the public discourse (no practical tools delivered to society to tackle it), low level of civil participation and integration of national minorities.

What Russia does is not so much an informational warfare, it’s a war against information. Russia is trying to brake our democracy through a war against journalism and electoral systems. So, the solution is in reinforcing media competences, enriching school education with full course on informational security and social networks.

 

25 October 2018

Situation in Azov Sea – economic, security and social challenge

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Ben Hodges co-chair at Lviv Security Forum 2018:

Black sea region may be more strategically important to Russia than the Baltics. The annexation of Crimea provided Russia with a launching point to the Mediterranean and Eurasia.

Russia threatens even the Danube river, which flows through 8 European countries. Therefore, Ukraine’s maritime contribution to the security in the region has to increase.

Ihor Kabanenko, President of UA.RPA company at Lviv Security Forum 2018:

Situation in the Azov Sea will be worsening, because while Russia implements and improves its well developed strategy and we are simply not present there. At Azov Sea, there are two dozen of State Border Service patrol boats. However, their main place is near the berths. This is a completely disastrous strategy.

A principled issue of the Azov Sea is that Ukraine had to unilaterally determine its territorial waters and maritime economic zone already yesterday – nothing prevents it from doing so, these are the sovereign rights of a coastal country according to the UN Convention. Still, it remains unclear why these rights are not yet executed.

The sea is a whole different psychology, different mentality, other ways of counteractions. We are simply loosing our sea, our sovereign rights. There can be no vacuum at sea. The naval geopolitics is not a place for slogans or calls for actions, it is productive. Waiting means loosing.

Glen Howard, President of Jamestown foundation at Lviv Security Forum 2018:
A Year ago during Lviv security forum 2017 I alarmed the situation in Azov sea. Ukrainian government didn’t even consider Russian actions there as an issue.

It took 1 year to raise awareness and now government’s position is that Ukraine needs serious naval presence in the region. International awareness is also crucial. Secretary general to NATO Jens Stoltenberg recognized that Russia should acknowledge Ukraine’s rights in Azov sea.

Every country has a strategy. Some countries have strategy to do nothing. Until recently Ukraine had such strategy towards sea of Azov and Black sea. Currently there is understanding within Ukrainian government that there should be a strategy.

Ukrainian navy 1st operational mission in Azov sea that took place in Sep 2018 shows a huge development. A new generation of UA navy is born.

Oleksandr Regula who witnessed Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014 as a student of Naval Academy in Sevastopol is a great example. Now he is 23 and a captain of artillery boat in Azov.

Freedom of navigation is crucial in BlackSea region – US has to show their presence in it. However, 1936 Montreux Convention should be reconsidered. It prevents any non-BlackSea nation from staying in the sea for more than 21 days, thus US actions are much restricted.

 

16 October 2018

Will Nord Stream pipeline force Ukraine to forget about the Russian gas

The construction of the Nord Stream 2 project for the transportation of Russian gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine is a fact.

Although ideologists and opponents of this large-scale project have heated discussions, ships are building pipelines on the Baltic Sea shore near the German city Lubmin. At the bottom of the sea,  pipelines for transporting gas from the Jamal peninsula in Russia are being constructed. According to the developers of the project, all construction works should end in 2019. We are talking about 1200 kilometers of pipeline with planned ability to transfer 55 billion cubic meters per year.

The perspectives of Ukraine after the launch of the Nord Stream 2 will be one of the main topics of the Lviv Security Forum which will take place in Lviv on October, 24-26.

Information about the beginning of the construction of another gas pipeline from Russia to Germany through Baltic is, of course, important first of all for Ukraine. The Nord Stream 2 will be built practically as a parallel to the Nord Stream pipeline, which is already used to supply Europe with Russian gas from 2011. The planned transporting ability of Nord Stream 1 is also 55 billion cubic meters per year.

The danger of “zero transit” and terroristic attacks

 

When both pipelines will be fully operational, the future of the Ukrainian gas transporting system currently used to transfer most of the Russian gas to Europe will become very unclear. At the moment, Kyiv receives USD 3 billion per year for the transportation of the gas. And this sum amounts to 8% of the revenue of the state budget for this year. And this is not the only problem. The question is, what will happen next to the Ukrainian gas transporting system, which is able to transfer 146 billion cubic meters from the Eastern to the Western border yearly.

Our highest officials are openly talking about the “dangerous ambiguity of the perspectives”of the Ukrainian gas transporting system. Thus, the business development director  of the NAK Naftogaz Yuriy Vitrenko admits: “Ukraine practically does not have a chance to stop the execution of the Nord Stream 2… When Nord Stream 2 and the Turkish Stream (this is one more Moscow project on transporting gas to the Southern Europe –ed.) are completed a big probability exists that the transit of gas through Ukraine will amount to zero at once”.

And the Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin is convinced that Russia would definitely stop supplying gas to Europe through the territory of our state after the Nord Stream is launched. He believes that the termination of the Russian gas transit may happen “starting from some manipulations, such as “gas wars”, and ending with some terroristic attacks”.

“Divide and conquer” according to Russian scenario

 

“The aim of the Russia project Nord Stream 2 is the disintegration of the European Union. It is a sort of occupation of Europe from within by the Kremlin. Currently, most Europeans do not see it, though the Russian government is not hiding its goal. Putin said it openly: if you want to deal with Russian gas, you will have to deal with Russia as a state”, –Oksana Syroid, the Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is convinced.

Indeed, the Putin’s Kremlin if not openly proclaimed then did not try to conceal that the energy policy of Moscow is and will be at the center of the Russian diplomacy. This point is clearly stated in the energy strategy of Kremlin, authorized by Putin back in 2003. Since then, Russia confidently step-by-step executes its tasks. And it looks like it is has not met any resistance in its economic-gas expansion.

The Ukrainians could (and should) appeal to the European countries, saying “please, wake up, do not fall into a gas trap build by the pathologically deceitful Moscow.” The Europeans seem to hear us, however, they are probably more interested in the perspective gains from the gas deal with the Russians than in the arguments of Kyiv. Another issue is that the Ukrainian government is not able to do anything besides words (statements, appeals etc.) Or doesn’t want to?

“The situation, which will be created for Ukraine during the launch of the Nord Stream 2 is the los of our government. Itistheillegal inaction of the current government and the President, since neither the head of the state nor the government did not actually counteract the execution of this Russian gas transporting project. This is a capitulation before Russia. During 4 years the current Ukrainian government did absolutely nothing to resist Kremlin in this matter”, –Oksana Syroid stated.

According to the development plans, all construction works on the Nord Stream 2 should end in 2019

The Deputy Speaker supports her strong statement with the following: “The representatives of the Central European states –first of all Poland and Slovakia –expected Ukrainian propositions regarding the management of our gas transporting system. Our neighbors understand that the Ukrainian gas transporting system is the key to the balance in supplying Russian gas to Europe. During the years after the Revolution of Dignity Ukraine did neither propose nor develop anything at all to use our gas transporting system more efficiently both for Ukraine and with benefit to Europe.Still, our people are being told about creation of some “working groups on studying the issue”. This is mere words aimed to distract the attention of Ukrainians from their inactivity”, –Oksana Syroid says.

 

Petro Poroshenko stated that “Ukraine is having negotiations with the European Union countries on creating a group, which should stop the construction of the Russia gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. Ptero Oleksiyovych called the new pipeline project “completely political, which has no economic substance, which tries to take away from Ukraine a budget amounting to USD 3 billion.

And in early June the guarantor of the Ukrainian Constitution expressed much more optimism regarding the construction of the pipeline from Russia. “I believe that the Nord Stream 2 will not have a significant effect on the Ukrainian economy. Because there will be no Nord Stream 2. I am sure that we will be able to stop it with joint efforts”, –Poroshenko convinced during the meeting with the students of the Kyiv Taras Shevchenko University.

How Europeans have a quarrel with Europeans, and with Americans, too

 

Obviously, when speaking about “joint efforts”the President had in mind some strong consolidated position of the European countries that are not fond of the Nord Stream 2. It’s important to note that our government officials talk about an attempt to organize a joint position with the Europeans (albeit talk loudly) only now. It’s as if all the “gas”plans of Moscow became public only now, like the Nord Stream 1 has not been functioning for 7 years. Like it is a secret that Moscow will pay any price to prevent the Ukraine’s economy from growth.

However, is it realistic to count on an efficient resistance to Kremlin when the issue of new pipeline evidenced the distinct contradictions between the EU member states?

Germany was the first among the European countries to say ‘yes’ to the Nord Stream 2 construction paperwork. The German’s Chancellor Angela Merkel tries to keep a neutral stand. More precisely, she is supporting the Nord Stream 2 project but she is against the termination of the Russian gas transit through Ukraine. Finland and Sweden are believed to be in favor of the project. Finland agreed to the building of the pipeline in April and Sweden –in the beginning of June, these countries’companies are the shareholders of the Nord Stream 2.

Denmark is one of the most influential opponents of the project. This country still haven’t provided an official permission  for the pipeline construction. The Danish Prime Minister made a clear statement: we will allow it only in case Russia will guarantee the continuance of the transit through Ukraine. But how long will small Denmark be able to resist the pressure of Moscow and its supporters from Europe?

Poland and the Baltic countries sharply oppose the Nord Stream 2. The Polish, similar to Ukraine, may lose money from the transit of the Russian gas to Germany, and Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia fear not without ground that if Russia receives direct pipeline connection to Europe, it will stop taking them into account at all.

The USA are strongly against the construction of the Nord Stream 2. The White House is threatening the participants of this projects with sanctions, first of all against the shareholders from Germany. Therefore, there are all reasons to conclude that the Nord Stream 2 creates problems not only for Ukraine but also increases the tensions between the European countries and the USA. It is not difficult to assume that Kremlin is happy about it.

“Russia will build the pipeline regardless of the final agreement of all countries. For Russia this project is not economic, it’s geopolitical. And that is why Moscow will do everything suddenly and by force, in the usual Kremlin’s way. And, unfortunately, there is no diplomatic ways to stop this process, –Oksana Syroid, the Deputy Speaer of the Verkovna Rada of Ukraine believes. –Ontheotherhand, thecounteragentsoftheNordStream2 projectsareneithertheEuropeanUnionnortheEuropeanstatesbutprivateenterprises. So, on one side we have a global geopolitical interest of Russia and on the other side–a private corporate interest of the companies that think about profits in the first place. Russia provided each of these companies with a possibility to be economically successful. Moscow allowed some of them to participate in the Nord Stream 2 and gave the others the right to develop gas fields in its territory. Thus, there is no global sovereign power to stop the execution of the Nord Stream project.

Nord Stream 2 is 1200 kilometers of the pipeline with project capacity of55 billion cubic meters per year

Despite the sad perspectives of gas transit to Europe, Ukraine should not give up. Wewillnottry to propose concrete solutions to our officials. However, we would like to allow ourselves to make an observation that mere appeals and hopes for European partners are, apparently, not enough. Ukrainian government has to finally make actual more efficient steps, which would prove that it is more profitable for Europe to use our gas transporting system. It is necessary to finally make other countries interested in joint management of our gas transporting system together with Kyiv and increasing the extraction of Ukrainian gas.

Official statistic also allows no to become completely pessimistic, as it shows that even two Nord Streams combined will be not enough to satisfy European demand with Russian gas. Both new pipeline from Yamal can transport not more that 110 billion cubic meters per year. And, for instance, in 2017, the European Union countries used 194,4 billion cubic meters of Russian gas. Therefore, Russia would have to supply a significant part of this strategic resource to the West in some other way (apart from the ‘Northern way’). Why not through the Ukrainian gas transporting system?

But probably, in order for it to happen, our diplomats and government officials would have work wisely. Currently everything is working out almost without any obstacles for Russia. However, the aggressiveness of Russians may influence the countries that currently support the Nord Stream. And Kyiv should not miss such opportunities. But it is necessary to actually do “something”and not just produce statements about “hopes for support”.

Because in fact, USD 3 billion equals the current yearly defense expenditures of Ukraine used to counteract Russia. And the issues is not only about the money (albeit significant for such a country like ours). In 2019, the 10-year agreement on the transit of Russian gas to the European Union through the territory of Ukraine is expiring. Our gas transporting system has the biggest capacity in Europe and the biggest number of gas storage facilities. If our gas transporting system will not be filled with gas, the prognosis of Kremlin’s servant Nikolay Azarov (former Prime Minister of Ukraine during Yankovych’s presidency) when he suggested to “cut the Ukrainian gas transporting system to scrap metal”might come true. We do not want to believe that our highest public officials that came to power after the Revolution of Dignity would participate in making this prophecy made by an anti-Ukrainian figure, who fled to Russia, true.

 

8 October 2018

Will America help save Ukrainian gas transportation system?

Despite the active construction of Nord Stream 2 pipeline enabling Russia to transport gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine, the fate of this pipeline cannot be seen as decided. The USA may become a pain in the neck for the Russians. For Ukraine it would come in … very handy.

How the Nord Stream 2 changes the map of the world is one of the main topics of the Lviv Security Forum 2018, which will take place on October 24-26 in Lviv. And we continue our series of materials on this issue. 

How much can Ukraine suffer?

The project is pushed really hard by Moscow who does not even plan to hide that this projects is first of all a geopolitical one. The economic gains are being calculated by the European partners of the Russian Gazprom that were promised huge profits from the Nord Stream 2.

We are talking about 1200 kilometers of a pipeline, with the ability to transfer 55 billion cubic meters per year. This pipeline is a next step of the Nord Stream 1 project, launched in 2011.

According to the plan, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 should have ended by late 2019. With both Nord Stream projects combined, Russia would be able to transport 110 billion cubic meters of gas yearly through the Baltic Sea to the Western Europe.

In this situation Ukraine may suffer the most – both politically and economically. It is being openly stated that in 3 years Russia may not need the Ukrainian gas transportation system for transferring gas to European clients. Currently, Russians have to use it to transfer most of the natural gas to Europe.

The situation looked almost completely lost for Ukraine. Kyiv would lose billions of dollars from the gas transportation system and with an empty pipeline it could become very vulnerable to Moscow’s tricks.

However, the US have added some optimism when they reminded the world about their importance in most big issues in the world.

USA are threatening with a sword. Sword of Damocles

During the next few weeks, USA may announcesanctions against the European companies, which participate in the Nord Stream 2. The Wall Street Journal reported on it, citing their insider sources among the people surrounding current and former high US officials. It becomes apparent from the article that the question is not WHETHER sanctions will be introduces but WHICH EXACTLY economic instruments will be used.

The White House explains that the new pipeline aimed to transport Russian gas bypassing Ukraine will only further deepen the already significant dependence of Europe from the Russian gas and will increase Kremlin’s political influence on EU countries. The Wall Street Journal informed that it is still being decided in Washington whether to adopt sanctions only for pipeline companies or also include other companies, in particular the banks that are financing the Nord Stream 2.

The potential US sanctions against the participants of the Nord Stream 2 are already being named “the sword of Damocles”. The thing is, that back in August 2017 the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) went into force.

According to this document, American sanctions may be applied to all companies having business with the opponents of the US, Russia included. And a separate 232nd  section of this act concerns the pipelines. Since then «the sword» of American still not concretized sanctions hangs over the European companies involved in Nord Stream 2 project.

The Secretary of State Assistant on energy and resources Francis Fannon explained the essence of the future sanctions package: «Our position is to preserve the transit of Russian gas through the territory of Ukraine. In such case Ukraine will remain an important transit partner for the European countries”.

In Germany the announced sanctions have already caused fear

The European companies that may suffer from the American sanctions are known. These are the British-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the Austrian OMV AG, the French Engie SA, as well as the German Uniper SE and Wintershall AG (the last is also called a subsidiary of BASF). Together with the Russian Gazprom they are the co-investors of the Nord Stream 2, and are obliged to finance its construction in the amount of 4,75 billion Euro total. In 2017, these companies already invested 1,6 billion Euro.

The remaining amount of the construction costs – another 4,75 billion Euro – shall be provided by the Russian Gazprom. The construction of the Nord Stream 2 is planned to be finished until the end of 2019. This project already received approximately 4 billion Euro of financing.

The first to react to the news on sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 participants (and their harshness) was Germany. The German partner of Gazprom – Uniper AG holding – may refuse to participate in Nord Stream 2 in case the White House will follow through with the sanctions against the participants of the new pipeline from Russia to Europe. Christopher Delbrueck Deputy CEO of Uniper AG on finances made a following statement:

We as a company cannot risk being under the American sanctions. In such case we would be excluded from the international payment system and we would not be able to trade in US dollars. We cannot allow something like this in principle
– cited after the German Dow Jones News.

The slightly nervous reaction of the official Berlin is also noticeable. During his speech before the heads of German diplomatic missions abroad, the  German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas stated: “We will not participate in the discussion about preventing the construction of the Nord Stream 2. Instead, we support the European Commission, which is currently trying to reach and agreement between Russia and Ukraine about the long-term prolongation of the natural gas transit through the territory of Ukraine”. Mr Maas told that “the exterritorial sanctions of the USA against Russia and its new gas pipeline project are threatening the trade with the EU”.

According to his words, Germany and Europe depend on cheap prices for energy carriers in order to stay competitive at the international level. So, “if the USA want to sell more liquefied gas to Europe it would only be welcomed as a long-awaited contribution to the energy supplies and diversification, however the decision about the purchases shall be based on price and not be influenced by sanctions”.

In other words, the head of the foreign affairs of Germany accused Washington in an attempt to prevent the functioning of the pipeline, through which Germany could receive Russian gas that would be cheaper than the American gas transported through an ocean.

Profits or losses in the relations with the USA. What will convince the Europeans?

Indeed, the gas from Gazprom is significantly cheaper then the American liquefied gas transported with ships through the Atlantic. In 2017, the price of Russian natural gas in the EU did not exceed USD 170 for a thousand cubic meters. Whereas the American liquified gas was worth USD 245 for a thousand cubic meters according to the estimations of James Henderson, the analyst of the Oxford institute of energy studies.

For example, Germany buys 50 billion cubic meters of Russian gas yearly and last year it paid USD 8,35  billion for such amounts. And in case of American gas of the same amounts the total price would be USD 12,25 billion.

So, the arguments of the Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas were perfectly supporting the “Moscow’s propaganda song” about the “exceptional economic profitability” (both for Russia and Europe) from the usage of the Nord Stream pipelines. In Russia, the not yet approved sanctions are called “American blackmail” in order to prevent the increase in the amount of Russian gas sold to Europe.

Therefore the Europeans are facing a difficult choice. On one hand, the Russian gas is indeed less expensive than the American gas. On the other hand the trade turnover between Europe and the USA amount to approximately USD 800 billion per year. And the total sum of the trade with Russia is barely over 280 billion. Obviously, the EU has more partners across the ocean than in Russia, thus it is not profitable for the Europeans to go against Washington.

And for Russia the refusal from the full potential functioning of the Nord Stream 2 would be an incredibly unpleasant scenario. For Kremlin the execution of this project is a principled matter. Only if the 2ndNord Stream is completed Gazprom would be able to get rid of the transit through the territory of Ukraine and would have even more possibilities to influence Kyiv. Also the profits from exporting gas to Europe has a big importance not only for Gazprom, but for all Russia as the Russian budget heavily depends on the export of raw materials.

To wait but not remain inactive

 One more thing. Let’s not discard the option that Washington is simply delaying time. The construction of the Nord Stream 2 should have ended by the beginning of the 2020. That is when the Ukrainian-Russian agreement for gas transit is expiring. If Gazprom will not be able to build a new pipeline through the Baltic in time, it would be forced to sign a new agreement with Kyiv in order to keep the export amounts to Europe stable. Otherwise, the EU will have grounds to impose significant fines on Moscow for the lack of gas supplies.

The Russians cheerfully assure that they are ready for the possible introduction of American sanctions against the European participants of the Nord Stream 2 project. Kremlin boasts about how they would be able to finish the new pipeline to Europe just with Russian money. They are talking about budget money, which Gazprom would ask for to finish the pipeline. And the Russian government would definitely agree to it. Since the geopolitical meaning of the Nord Stream 2 is far more important to Putin’s Russia than any economic reasoning.

In any case, it is obvious that Ukraine still has chances to remain a player at the European gas transporting market. It is understood that the public statements of the officials and representatives of the companies involved in Nord Stream 2 do not give the full picture. Of course, various off-the-record negotiations and even bargains aimed at receiving the biggest political and economic gains are still taking place. And the official Kyiv should not stay behind. We should not hope that someone else will protect our interests in this situation (the perspectives to actively use the most powerful gas transporting system in Europe), since we (Ukraine) may again end as an “exchange coin” in somebody elses big geopolitical game and be left with nothing, id est, with the gas transporting system that nobody wants, but which is very important for Russia now.

8 October 2018

Oksana Syroid: Launching Nord Stream 2 is equivalent to stripping Ukraine of its nuclear arsenal

Nord Stream 2 construction is planned to be finished until the end of 2019. Major construction works are already taking place in Germany and Finland, as Russia plans to use the pipeline for supplying Europe with gas, bypassing Ukraine. This pipeline is a development of the Nord Stream 1 project, which was put into operation in 2011. By using these two pipelines Russia will be able to transport 110 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Ukraine may be left out.

The economic and geopolitical aspects of the Nord Stream 2 will be the key topics of discussion during the Lviv Security Forum 2018 on October 24-26. The main theme of the Forum is “The Economy of War and the War of Economics”.

Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline project going from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea and extending over 1200 km.

We have talked with Oksana Syroid, Vice-speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the co-chair of Lviv Security Forum 2018 about the economic and political losses that Ukraine may suffer as well as about the possible security outcomes for our country.

– Two European countries are already building Nord Stream 2. Will Russia proceed with the works regardless of whether there will be a final agreement of all countries with access to the Baltic Sea?

For Russia, this project is not about economy, but about geopolitics. And that is why Moscow will do everything insolently as always. And, unfortunately, there are no diplomatic means to stop this process.

The aim of the Russian Nord Stream projects is to disintegrate the European Union. This is an occupation of Europe by Kremlin from within through the economic instruments. At the moment most Europeans do not acknowledge this despite Russian government being pretty clear about its goal. Putin has said is directly: if you want to have Russian gas, you will have to deal with Russia as a state.

On one hand, there is “Gasprom” – or, actually, the Russian state. On the other hand, the counteragents of the Nord Stream 2 projects are neither the European Union nor the European states, but private enterprises. So, on one side we have a global geopolitical interest of Russia and on the other side – a private corporate interest of the companies that think first and foremost about profits. Russia provided each of these companies with a possibility to be economically successful. Moscow allowed some of them to participate in the Nord Stream 2 and gave the others the right to develop gas fields on its territory. Thus, there is no global sovereign power to stop the execution of the Nord Stream project.

Possibly the only way to stop Russia is the joint decision of the European Union regarding the Nord Stream 2 and the relation with Russia in general. Many people in the European Parliament understand the danger of the Nord Stream. However, a decision should be rendered by the European Council. And this is a collective body consisting of the representatives of states, who represent the interests of the citizens of these countries. It is also being said that the construction of Nord Stream 2 could be avoided by the decision of the executive body of the European Union – the European Commission. Though in fact, everyone understands that there will be no such decision or it will not be able to stop the construction of a pipeline from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. Having hopes for such decision of the European Commission means having postponed and unsupported expectations. Objectively, unfortunately, it is very difficult to change something about the current situation.

– Is there really no way to counteract the economic expansion of Russia in Europe?

It is not always possible to get quick results here and now, however, it is necessary to do something. That is why we will be talking about it during the Lviv Security Forum.

After some time passes, the Europeans will understand the danger. It will happen when Russia will keep attempting to disintegrate Europe, when the Europeans will feel the actual losses from participation in the Russian projects. These losses will be economic and political. And then Europe will start a different interaction with Russia, not like it does now. The faster it happens, the better both for Europe and Ukraine. 2

However, Ukraine has to act in this direction right now. The faster the official Kyiv starts formulating new strategies of interaction with Kremlin together with the EU member states, the better. Both for us and for Europe. Because the Europeans cannot manage it without Ukraine in this matter, since our gas transportation system may play the key role in counteracting the Russian economic and geopolitical expansion to the West. Ukrainian gas transportation system is the most powerful in Europe with the ability to transfer 146 billion cubic meters of gas from the Eastern to the Western border yearly.

– So, canwestipulatethatUkrainehas definitelylost?

Commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will deprive Ukraine of one more geopolitical shield. It can be compared to how our state was deprived of nuclear weapons in 1994. We believed in the effectiveness of the Budapest memorandum, according to which the US, Great Britain and Russia provided Kyiv with the guarantees of sovereignty and security in exchange for the abandonment of the nuclear arsenal. Everybody knows how Kremlin abides by the Budapest memorandum…

The current Ukrainian situation is not a loss for our country. The Ukrainians did not want it and couldn’t have known the meaning behind the Nord Stream project. It is a criminal inaction of the current government and the President of Ukraine. Is this a loss in a fight? Obviously, no. Since neither the President, nor the government had counteracted the execution of this Russian pipeline project. This is a capitulation of the President and the government before Russia. During the last four years the current Ukrainian government did not do anything at all to resist Russia in this matter.

 The representatives of the Central European states – first of all Poland and Slovakia – expected Ukrainian propositions regarding the management of our gas transportation system. Our neighbors understand that the Ukrainian gas transportation system is the key to the balance in supplying Russian gas to Europe. During the years after the Revolution of Dignity Ukraine did neither propose nor develop anything at all in order to use our gas transportation system more efficiently both for Ukraine and with benefit to Europe.Still, our people are being told about creation of some “working groups on studying the issue”. This is mere words aimed to distract the attention of Ukrainian from their inactivity.

– But at the same time in Europe we can hear about “guarantees for Ukraine” regarding the usage of our gas transportation system. In particular, this is the position of Angela Merkel.

This is the second important matter that concerns me. These talks about “guarantees” – is “Budapest memorandum-2”. And I have a feeling that this is not the idea of the German chancellor but the theses proposed to Merkel by our President. And she is only voicing it.

I think so because the first time Merkel spoke about these “guarantees” was after the meeting with Poroshenko dedicated precisely to Nord Stream. There were no concrete proposals from the President’s Administration regarding the usage of our gas transporting system in the new realm – namely after the execution of the Nord Stream.

And only after the first public speeches of Merkel regarding the “guarantees for Ukraine” Moscow notified that they are ready to have discussions with Ukraine about this issue. And there was an immediate reaction of the Ukrainian government. The Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Ihor Nasalyk made a statement out of the blue that it would be enough for Ukraine to transfer to the West 40 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas as a “transit guarantee”. This is why I make a conclusion that a certain combination was played in the interests of Russia. There were nothing about the actual interests of Ukraine. Our country was assigned a role of a walk-on.

We need to be aware: all our officials, who will be a part of negotiations regarding the transit of Russian gas through the territory of Ukraine, will be signing certain documents, will make it look like they trust the Russian “guarantees”, – all these people are traitors of Ukraine. If it would come to the signing of the papers about these hypothetical Russian “guarantees”– it will be the signing of “Budapest memorandum-2”. Those our officials who would agree to such an option, will doom Ukraine and its citizens to a situation where one day we may be left without gas, heat and electricity.

 And the yearly loss in the amount of 3 billion US dollars for transporting of the Russian gas to Europe after the commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 is not even the biggest problem. The biggest problem is how do we save the Ukrainian gas transporting system alltogether. I mean its modernization and the perspectives of its usage.

There is one more issue. It is necessary to stop gas theft in Ukraine, since currently 4 billion cubic meters of gas are considered to be yearly technical losses. This is almost 25 percent (!) of the gas extracted in Ukraine. 4 billion cubic meters of gas is used yearly in Bulgaria!

Our Polish neighbors actively protest against the Nord Stream project. They explain all dangers of this projects to the Germans. Unfortunately, the German government does not listen to Warsaw and desires to have close economic ties with Russia. The Polish try to help Ukraine, however there is a feeling that Ukrainian government does not need it.

  How exactly were the Polish trying to help and why does the official Kyiv ignore such propositions?

There is a terminal at the Baltic Sea shore in the Polish city of Świnoujście, where liquefied gas from USA and Qatar is being delivered. The Polish proposed our government a possibility to transport gas from Świnoujście  to the territory of Ukraine. It would require constructing an additional pipeline from Poland. All Polish initiatives were not accepted by our government officials. It has been two years, however on the Kyiv side there are only talks about some “preparation to start a working group”. So, there are no concrete results. And gas from Świnoujściecould become a real stable alternative to the dependency on the gas supplies from Russia.

– Is a pessimistic scenario possible, where after the launch of the Nord Stream 2 in full capacity the Ukrainian gas transportation system will not receive gas from Russia at all?

Unfortunately, such scenario is not impossible. If the Nord Stream would become fully operational, Moscow could completely discard the Ukrainian gas transporting system approximately by 2021.

And, let’s say, some of the winters would be very cold … Ukraine’s own gas could be not enough. And Moscow would propose our President or our government some decision beneficial for them (and detrimental for Ukrainians). In case of refusal, “Gasprom” (meaning Kremlin) would close the system on the border with Ukraine and we would not receive any gas.

This is indeed a complex problem. We are talking about how to preserve the real Ukrainian sovereignty when more than 40 million Ukrainians may be deprived of light and heat.

However, I would like to highlight that in politics (in international politics too) there cannot be any finality, meaning any hopeless situations. Possibilities to  change something are appearing and will be appearing. It is important to Ukraine to use such chances.

At the Lviv Security Forum 2017 we already discussed the topic of economic security for the country.

– In the situation where Russia increases its economic expansion in Europe, should Ukraine try to find strong allies in order to counteract together the Kremlin duress?

Definitely, it was necessary to search for such allies a long time ago. It turned out that even after 4 years of war when Ukrainians are holding back the Russian military aggression, Ukraine has no actual allies. We have partners that are ready to help us as “poor neighbors” that are always complaining and asking for something. Ukraine is not even trying to conduct a dialog with other countries on a basis of equality. Our current government did not propose any serious mutually beneficial projects to any of our neighbor countries.

Americans may be and want to be our ally and partner, but our current government is more interested in being a petitioner. Hungary, Baltic countries, Scandinavian countries could be our partners and allies. But our government does nothing to create mutually beneficial political and economic relations with these countries.

Also I would like to add as the co-head of the Ukrainian-Polish Parliamentary Assembly, I have already mentioned the Poland’s proposal to help Ukraine with the gas supply from their port in Świnoujście. Nowadays, there is an opinion in Ukraine that the Polish only want to talk about the historic memory. I asked colleagues from Poland why. And I heard in response that it is the Ukrainians who do not speak about anything else nor propose anything. The Polish are telling me that Ukrainian officials do not want to talk about any economic initiatives. Therefore, such impression is being created that the Polish discuss only the painful historic moments. The current Ukraine does not want or is unable to talk with Poland about anything else.

Ukraine and Poland constitute a strategic axis, which may be the basis for the continental security against Russian threat. And it’s a pity that Kyiv does not understand it. Probably because the current Ukrainian officials are very different from the colleagues from Poland. Regardless of political fights between the representatives of different political parties in Poland, no government in Warsaw will ever do anything to harm their country. Their highest officials do not transfer money to offshores, their politicians do not buy ridiculously expensive houses abroad and their children study and will live in Poland. We can only dream about the same in Ukraine.

But I am an optimist and I believe that the fate of Ukraine will be decided by 100% pro-Ukrainian politicians and officials, and time for inactivity or openly pro-Russian actions of the leaders of the state will remain in the past.