Saturday December 20, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
17o C
10o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Putin's mistake and Europe's response

By Ian Bremmer*

Emotions are running high this week--in Ukraine, in Russia, across Europe, and in Washington. It is said that no one should make an important decision in the heat of anger. Putin has already made that mistake. Europe's leaders should not follow his lead.

First, consider the scale of the Russian president's miscalculation. Putin's grand dream and the prime directive of Russian foreign policy is to create something that he calls the Eurasian Union. From Moscow's point of view, Russia is far too important a country to simply join the EU, as if Russia were Poland or the Czech Republic. Putin means for Russia to create its own union, a reconstituted Russian empire founded on the political and economic system now in place in Russia. The grand dream is off to a slow start. To date, Russia has managed to assemble only a customs union involving Kazakhstan and Belarus, both of which are reluctant to deepen political ties with the Kremlin.

This is the importance of Ukraine. In 1991, Russians understood that without Ukraine, these was no Soviet Union. Today, without Ukraine, there is no Eurasian Union, no empire worthy of the name. Herein lies Putin's mistake. No one in Ukraine under the age of 28 can remember the USSR. Four months ago, even four weeks ago, many younger Ukrainians might have had mixed feelings about Moscow. They might not have liked Putin personally, but Ukraine's need for inexpensive Russian natural gas and other forms of subsidy might have created a pragmatic attitude toward Kiev's need for good relations with Moscow.

Not anymore. From the moment that Russians wearing ski masks and carrying automatic rifles arrived on Crimean streets, Putin alienated an entire generation of Ukrainians, the very people he needs to see the value of membership in a Russian-led political and economic union that might counterbalance the EU. More than 75 percent of Ukrainian citizens are ethnic Ukrainians. Less than 20 percent are ethnic Russians. Putin can impose his will in Crimea. He can frustrate Kiev's ability to maintain firm control of the country's eastern provinces, those areas where there are as many ethnic Russians as Ukrainians. He can try to use natural gas supplies as a diplomatic weapon. But he will not persuade the vast majority of Ukraine's citizens that their future is not in Europe but with Russia. Putin's determination to assert himself in the short term will have the most serious long-term consequences for Russia's ability to achieve its most important foreign policy objective.

How should Europe (and America) respond? Not by targeting Moscow but by helping Kiev. If Ukraine is to one day realize its European potential, it will have to undertake the far-reaching economic reforms that successive Ukrainian governments have avoided. European governments, the United States, and the International Monetary Fund can help by providing the financing needed to help the most vulnerable of Ukraine's citizens to weather this transition. A promised $15 billion aid package from Europe represents a solid start. But this is a long-term commitment, one that will strengthen Europe by helping Ukraine reach its potential. In 1990, Ukraine's economy was larger than Poland's. After 23 years in Russia's cold shadow, Ukraine's per capita income is less than one third that of Poland. This country of 45 million people has unrealized potential that can one day bolster Europe. In the nearer term, Europe can help Kiev prepare for free and fair elections on May 25.

Europe needs pragmatic relations with Russia. No one benefits from a deepening antagonism between the two sides. But there is much that Europe's leaders and institutions can do to help Ukraine and all its people. Perhaps that's the key to bringing about long-term change in Russia itself.

*Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group and author of Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World. You may follow him on Twitter @ianbremmer.

ekathimerini.com , Monday March 10, 2014 (15:37)  
New weapons of diplomacy
Oblivious to change
Europes drama in Greece needs final act to avoid tragedy
A pointless battle
Tsipras admits there could be hard days ahead
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said on Friday that he is determined to implement his partys economic program if it comes to power but admitted that it would experience a challenging period. ...
Public medical centers keeping up despite shortages
Despite having just 1,050 doctors, medical centers belonging to Greeces public health system (PEDY) saw more than 200,000 regular and emergency patients, made over 3,500 house calls and iss...
Inside News
Workers rush to get early retirement
Nine out of 10 workers who retired in the last four months who had belonged to the former special funds of banks and state corporations that have now been incorporated in the Social Security...
Piraeus Containter Terminal goes from strength to strength
Piraeus Container Terminal, the local subsidiary of Chinese giant Cosco Pacific, is expected to handle a total of over 3 million containers in the January-December period of this year. The J...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Explosive Barca unfazed by Panathinaikos, bomb scare
Panathinaikos lost 80-67 at home to Barcelona on Friday in a rather meaningless game at the end of the first group stage of the Euroleague, but the encounter will be remembered for the bomb ...
SOCCER
Abidal cuts short playing career at Olympiakos
Former France and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal announced his retirement from football on Friday, a day before his last match. Abidal said he will finish after playing for Olympiakos agains...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Explosive Barca unfazed by Panathinaikos, bomb scare
2. Tsipras admits there could be hard days ahead
3. Public medical centers keeping up despite shortages
4. Workers rush to get early retirement
5. Piraeus Containter Terminal goes from strength to strength
6. Moscovici: Creditor inspections to become less frequent and lighter
more news
Today
This Week
1. Ship with 200 migrants off Pylos towed to Italy after passengers refuse to stop in Greece
2. Independent Greeks MP Haikalis claims attempted bribery for presidential vote
3. Independent Greeks leader backs MP's bribery claims, threatens to release video [Update]
4. Greek PM Samaras confronts peril putting his Greek transformation to vote
5. Former premier Mitsotakis to meet President Papoulias to discuss political upheaval
6. Gov't spokeswoman says bribery claims 'badly-played charade,' heralds legal action if evidence not produced
Today
This Week
1. Juncker warns Greeks against voting 'extreme forces' into power
2. Romanos and the dilemma
3. Samaras summons bond vigilantes with euro exit talk
4. A friendly yet firm message from Pierre Moscovici
5. Europe's drama in Greece needs final act to avoid tragedy
6. High stakes
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.