Ukraine to figure in Trump-Putin talks

Ukraine to figure in Trump-Putin talks
Ukraine continues to be an essential element of discord between Russia and USA despite the Russian President Vladimir Putin apparent happiness at Donald Trump's victory. While the 45th US President seeks better bilateral relations with Russia, he also nurses ambivalent approach towards the role of the anti-Russian ultra-nationalists in Ukraine.

Vast sections of the American establishment continue to view Russia as a major threat to its hegemonic policy and its control over the world economy. The USA is not eager to allow space to Russia as they fear that it would eventually regain its past glory and emerge as a counter force.

Behind slapping sanctions, USA's objective was to drive Russia out of the European economy. Europe was becoming too integrated and dependent on Russia. Not only its gas and raw materials but trade relations and money capital flows were deepening on many fronts between Russia and Europe in general before the Ukraine crisis. Talk of more sanctions is all the West has been able to come up with its response to Russia's fourth offensive in Ukraine.

Russia's growing economic integration with Europe threatened the long-term economic interests of US capitalists. The fact of the matter is the US strategically precipitated coup in the Ukraine as a mechanism to provoke Russian military intervention. The Obama administration was instrumental in pitting Ukraine against Russia and making it announce its independence. The US wants to separate the continents, "prevent the emergence of a new rival" and establish itself as the guarantor of regional security. The US State Department and CIA toppled the elected government in Ukraine and ordered the new junta regime to launch a desperate war of annihilation against its people in the East.

NATO has been extending moral support to Ukraine's action against Russia, but no NATO leader of worth advocates that NATO launches a military mission in Ukraine. The USA has made Ukraine vulnerable to the geopolitical pressures. Ukraine is grappling with an almost impossible set of tasks: preventing its economy from collapsing, reforming its state, and defending its territory. NATO possesses virtually no ability to defend Ukraine. Russia has 270,000 troops and 700 jet fighters positioned on Ukraine's southern and western borders. And as Russia demonstrated in 2015 when it sent 150,000 troops to surround Ukraine, Moscow can quickly mobilise its military in the event of a conflict.

Moreover, as Russia's recent Syrian campaign demonstrated, its military now possesses the same type of advanced missiles used by the United States. In the present situation, Moscow could deploy against NATO if a war around Ukraine and the Black Sea broke out.

Ukraine will never be as important to the EU as it is to Russia. The Eurocrats who pushed the agreement in the first place miscalculated and stumbled into a confrontation with Russia for which they were not prepared. The limitations of European support for Ukraine are becoming ever more apparent. The manner in which things are moving the Ukrainians will begin to lose faith in the EU and NATO.

An insight into Ukraine's aggressiveness would reveal that it has been howling at the command of West. In fact, the USA has been working on this plan for long. Dick Cheney was a strong advocate of Ukrainian independence. Since the days of the failed coup in the Soviet Union, the Ukrainians were preparing for staging a revolt.

Obama rose to power through left-progressive lofty rhetoric, but as the President of USA, he never reposed his faith in the left ideas and ideals. He preferred to follow the defined set of politics practised by the political establishment. He made Ukraine's pro-Western ruling class support the rightist policies. The USA has been using Ukraine as a pawn to weaken Russia. Ukraine has not been more than a colony for the USA.

Though the Ukraine government claimed to launch reforms, it was quite not impressive and correct. Broad-based recovery and growth have been held back by many factors, including weak external demand, the continuing conflict in the East of Ukraine, and limited reform momentum, all of which have held back a sharp turnaround in investor confidence and productivity. Poverty is estimated to have increased significantly in 2015 due to declining real wages. Disposable incomes have contracted significantly from the deep recession. Inflation peaked at 43.3 per cent at the end of 2015. Furthermore, unemployment increased to 9.1 per cent by the end of 2015 compared to 7.2 per cent at 2013. As a result, the rate of poverty rose from 3.3 per cent in 2014 to 5.8 per cent in 2015.

In the first half of 2016, revenues declined by 5.4 per cent in real terms (compared to the first half of 2015) mostly due to lower social security contributions (SSC). Exports and imports have continued to decline in the first half of 2016 due to lower commodity prices. The outlook for economic growth remains weak due to the challenging global economic environment, the ongoing uncertainty related to the conflict in the East, and whether reforms on multiple fronts can be advanced in a complex political climate.

The World Bank had predicted that Ukraine's economy would grow by one per cent during 2016, just half the growth projected by the country's government. It mentioned that the growth was dependent on "geopolitical tensions", meaning that if the war with Russia escalates into a full-blown conflict once again, Ukraine's economy will begin to backslide. Surprisingly, the West in spite of being aware of the ground situation has been pushing the country deep into the quagmire of the ethnic violence.

Instead of finding an amicable solution to the crisis, America has been consistently pushing Ukraine into war with Russia. Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have escalated again. Russia has accused Ukraine of trying to stage armed incursions in the southern peninsula. In eastern Ukraine, sporadic clashes continue in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, where pro-Russian rebels face Ukrainian government troops. President Trump can help in solving the Ukraine crisis by delinking the US from the ultra-nationalists of the country.

(The views expressed are strictly personal.)
Arun Srivastava

Arun Srivastava

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