Scenario 2: Agreement on Ukraine, Renouncing the Idea of a “Eurasian Union”

Scenario 2: Agreement on Ukraine, Renouncing the Idea of a “Eurasian Union”

By Rumen Kanchev
Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Scenario 2: Agreement on Ukraine, Renouncing the Idea of a “Eurasian Union”

In this article, we will focus on the second scenario out of four possible ones, which is in continuation to Scenario One published earlier. Our main goal, however, is to use the scenario tools in order to “describe” a hypothetically possible development of the Russia-Ukraine crisis in the context of the relations between the Kremlin and the Western liberal democracies. But the geostrategic focus of study will remain the same: the Ukraine-Russia crisis represents an attempt to redefine strategic relations a quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War.

Scenario 2: Agreement on Ukraine. Renouncing the idea of a “Eurasian Union”

Despite the sharp deterioration of Russia’s relations with Europe and the U.S. in connection with the annexation of Crimea, and despite the Russian president’s sharp, frankly confrontational tone with regard to American policy in his speech at the Valdai Discussion Club meeting (Sochi, 24 October 2014), Russia’s return to European values and European integration continues to be an open strategic opportunity for the Kremlin. Let us recall that in 2007, likewise at an annual conference in Sochi, Putin said the following with respect to Russia’s European choice:

“In its spirit and culture, our country is part of European civilization… Today, in building a sovereign and democratic state, we fully share those basic principles and values that build the worldview of the majority of Europeans… We view European integration as an objective process that represents a component of the emerging new world order… The development of many-sided ties with the EU is the general choice of Russia.” ([1], p. 9)

Of course, after the annexation of Crimea, the return of Russia to Europe and the European road of development will be a slow and difficult process. Under this scenario, the Russian leadership will have to consent to an agreement with Ukraine, the EU, and the U.S., in which all sides will have to make compromises. The compromise that the Kremlin must make in order to restart relations with Europe is to acknowledge the right of the Ukrainian people to choose its own historical destiny. In other words, Russia must accept as a political reality that Ukraine wants to be a member of EU. Secondly, Russia should unconditionally recognize the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, stop destabilizing the southeastern part of that country and renounce its intention to fight for the autonomous status of Donetsk (with about 4 million voters) and Luhansk (1 million voters) in eastern Ukraine. Though these two regions have a predominantly Russian population, they are part of Ukrainian territory and Russia has no right to say how they should be governed. In fact, if the attempts to destabilize southeastern Ukraine continue, this will permanently drive Russia off the course―still a possible one―of a return to Europe. In addition, Moscow must expect, and accept as something normal, that Ukraine will become an EU member sometime in the period 2022-2025.

The second supporting element of an agreement between the Kremlin and the liberal democracies with regard to Ukraine is related to the security of Russia itself. In this respect, it would be fair for NATO to guarantee that Ukraine will not be accepted in the Alliance so that NATO will not deploy elements of its military infrastructure in Ukraine.

The adoption of this second scenario by the leaders of Russia has the following advantages:

1) Russia would avoid it's geopolitical, economic, etc., isolation, which can be expected to grow under the first scenario.

2) The Kremlin would continue to have the option of renewing dialogue with the U.S. as regards the American global anti-missile defense and the further enlargement of NATO.

3) Russia would avoid the spiraling increase of confrontation with the NATO and EU countries, which are considerably more developed in various aspects - industrial, technological, economic, financial, etc.

Recognition of the realities of the early 21st century requires pointing out that Russia is much less prepared for such a confrontation today than it was during the Cold War. In this perspective, the idea of the Russian political elite as to the creation of a “Eurasian Union” can be qualified as a dangerous geopolitical illusion. Russia does not possess the economic, financial or diplomatic resources to implement such a large-scale project. The gross national product of Russia amounts to one-tenth that of NATO, and the country’s share in the world economy is about 2.9%. Experts from the well-known Peter Peterson Institute for International Economics, based in Washington, D.C., have made the categorical assessment that “Russia does not possess the economic potential to wage a war” ([2], p. 1).

First of all, such a project could be realized in not less than two or three decades, which would require a much more powerful economy than Russia can expect to have today and in the next decades.

Second, in order to realize such a large-scale project, the country requires a favorable military-strategic environment, such as would permit reducing defense costs to a minimum and rechanneling the free resources to spheres like the economy, education, and healthcare.

Third, the realization of the “Eurasian project” requires a lasting peace and mutually profitable cooperation with the developed liberal democracies, hence, a sharp reduction of confrontation with the centers of global economic, financial, military and technological power.

Fourth, the fulfillment of such a grand strategic project is not possible in the context of escalating military confrontation (in this case, with NATO) and a new cycle of rearmament.

Fifth, if the Kremlin is really aiming to increase Russian influence over the post- Soviet area, it must minimize the international conflicts in which the country has become involved (such as the Ukrainian one now, or the one with Georgia in 2008).

Sixth, the more Russia tries to create division in Europe, the more obvious it will be for Europeans that they need the EU and should strengthen their collective defense with the U.S., as well as revitalize NATO. Russia will have time to make up for its high tech and industrial lag behind the world of the liberal democracies.

Russia will keep the perspective of being perceived and treated as part of Europe, and not as an Asiatic country.

This version, or a similar one, would be the beneficial scenario for Russia in view of the requirements of the strategic context and the geopolitical realities and trends after the Cold War and in the early 21st century.

Cite this Article:

Kanchev, R. (2016) “Krimnash”: Is the Cold War Over?. Open Access Library Journal, 3, 1-22. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1102766.


Copyright © 2016 by author and Open Access Library Inc.This work is an excerpt taken from a research article which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY 4.0).


[1] Arbatov, A. (2014) The Breakdown of the World Order. In Which Direction Will Russia Turn? Russia in Global Politics, 3, 9.

[2] Aslund, A. (2014) Russia Is in No Economic Shape to Fight a War. The Moscow Times, April 22, 2-3.