Confrontation with Russia: Ukraine's chance to become the next Israel or South Korea
Ukraine signed up to an agreement in Minsk this week with an aggressor nation. What does this mean for the future of the country?
Politics is the art of the possible. Any compromise leaves all signatories feeling like losers. Assessments of the Minsk agreement must focus on Ukraine's key goals – namely escape from empire and integration into the European Union and NATO.
A lot of analysts have compared Ukraine's position to that of Bosnia in the 1990s, but I would prefer to draw a direct parallel between Ukraine and another Balkan nation – Croatia.
The war in Croatia lasted for four and a half years – from spring 1991 until autumn 1995. During that period, Croatia signed a total of 15 peace agreements similar to the document which Ukraine inked in Minsk this week. Croatia's predicament was similar to Ukraine's – the Croatians sought to separate from Serbia and leave Yugoslavia. Milosevic (the teacher and inspiration for Putin) responded by waging war against them. There were many victims and much bloodshed. Serbians created the so-called Republic of Serbian Krajina, issued calls for federation and worked to prevent Croatia from developing closer ties with the EU and NATO. Everything was funded by Milosevic who provided fighters, weapons and regular army troops.
But the cold and pragmatic West had the necessary tools and tactics to deal with such problems. They had every reason to be confident that eventually Milosevic would face trial in The Hague, while Croatia would join both the EU and NATO.
What were these tactics? They are same tactics that we are seeing applied to the current situation; namely support for the victim alongside attempts to weaken the aggressor. These economic and military levers are being pulled in tandem, albeit in different directions.
Croatia reformed its economy and, more importantly, reformed and strengthened its armed forces. In the final analysis, victory is dependent on possessing the requisite military strength. Whenever conflict flared, Western leaders would force the combatants to the negotiating table to sign yet another document, allowing Croatia to rearm and reform. The conflict was interspersed by prolonged ceasefires, which would last for six months or even a year. UN peacekeepers were deployed, although they faced opposition from all sides, including the Croatians themselves.
These long drawn-out proceedings lasted for four and a half years, during which time 15 separate ceasefire agreements were reached. The conflict continued until Croatia was strong enough and Serbia was weak enough for it to end. At that point, Croatia carried out its celebrated military operation and kicked all the militants from its territory.
It is important to appreciate that Croatia only joined NATO 13 years after the end of hostilities, and did not join the European Union for a further five years. These facts should be enough to convince Ukrainians that there is no need to panic. We are just starting out along our own path, have only now signed the second ceasefire agreement.
In the near future the IMF is expected to reveal the details of a Marshall Plan for Ukraine which will be in line with the ideas promoted by George Soros. Next month, NATO military instructors will begin flooding the country. The joint Ukrainian-Polish-Lithuanian Brigade will be launched. Our military will learn a lot in the coming year. As we grow in strength, we will be more likely to act.
Nobody should expect Ukraine to stick strictly to the rules. After all, the referees are on our side, so we are under no obligation to follow any rules which do not suit us. Is this a cynical approach? Perhaps, but it is the only way to deal with terrorists and aggressors. All is fair in love and war.
Ukraine's objectives and historic mission are even more important than the goals of the Croatians in the 1990s, because our demonic neighbour is not going anywhere. Ukraine's mission is to become Europe's vanguard against the Evil Empire. Ukraine should seek to become a military and economic tiger capable of connecting frontline nations from Azerbaijan to Belarus. The challenge is geopolitical in nature and it will take longer than a single year to achieve.
All we can do now is arm ourselves with inexhaustible patience. The road ahead is long. We have the opportunity to become a second South Korea or Israel. If Putin had not attacked, then it quite likely that Ukraine would have remained an obscure buffer zone for another hundred years. In this context, the conflict may actually be a blessing in disguise.
Also read on - uatoday.tv.