November 16, 2013
Recently I have read the statement of the minister of one of the European countries who said something like, the European Union can wait if Ukraine isn’t ready to fulfill the arrangements. I’m convinced that Ukraine’s leadership and all Ukrainian politicum have to fulfill the undertaken obligations and remove all the obstacles on the way to signing of the Association Agreement. But thus I would like to make one small remark.
What for do the EU countries need to sign the Association Agreement with Ukraine? A thesis that the European Union countries are interested in Ukraine as the sales market of goods is popular, especially in Russia. The similar argument is not so convincing for me. The Ukrainian economy excessively dependent on external factors is in the recession. And the process of recovery of the economy will be difficult and will stretch in time for several years at the best. And only in case of conduction of reforms which will promote the growth of efficiency of the Ukrainian economy. Otherwise, the economic depression can stretch out for the uncertain period.
Due to the economic crisis foreign economic activity gets reduced. The total amount of import to Ukraine following the results of 2012 made up 84,7 billion dollars. Import from the countries of Europe was equal to 27,6 billion dollars. It is about one third of all the import. Another one third of import was formed by means of deliveries from Russia (27,4 billion dollars). 9,3% of import goods came from China. Therefore, less than a quarter of deliveries coming to Ukraine falls within the commodity import from all other countries of the world.
Thus, the peculiarity of the Russian import is in the fact that it is made up of raw materials for over 70 percent.
With such geographical and commodity structure of import, in case of signing of the Association Agreement, in the coming years the deliveries to Ukraine from the EU countries will grow by 5-7 billion dollars per year in the best case. Considering that GDP of the EU countries following the results of 2012 made up nearly 16 trillion dollars, the importance of Ukraine as the sales market for the next decade is scanty.
Therefore, as the matter of fact, the EU countries are interested in Ukraine not as the sales market. The assumption that business of the European countries wants to take control over the Ukrainian agricultural lands is also wrong.
I will dare to express an opinion that the EU’s interest in Ukraine is connected with another factor, and that is geopolitics.
The European Union countries will be able to escape the economic crisis only in case they increase economic efficiency and reduce expenses on energy carriers. This same dilemma, in fact, is also faced by the US. But they will be able to cut down expenses on energy carriers only in case of the essential reduction of their consumption and considerable long-term reduction of their prices.
At the same time the economy of Russia extremely depends on the income which comes to the state budget from oil and gas export. And this year there occurred a situation when, despite the steep prices on energy carriers in the world markets, the growth of the Russian economy has stopped. Even Russian experts are compelled to acknowledge that the Russian economy has exhausted the opportunities for the extensive growth which was based on the income from energy carriers export. There are all bases to think that it crawls into the line of a long-term depression. Under such circumstances all social and economic, national and ethnic, administrative and territorial disorders of Russia, which nobody was working on and which were covered by the rain from petrodollars till this time, will start getting out to the surface. Therefore, there are bases to assume that Russia enters a zone of destabilization which can result in its disintegration. And it looks like Europe has already forgotten what the Russian insurrection is like, and that it can only be senseless and ruthless.
Certainly, it is possible to deny the reality of the similar scenario of development of events.
But if we realize that exactly this scenario will become the most probable, then the question of formation of a buffer zone around its European borders already now becomes the main challenge for leaders of the EU countries and the US. Because the territory of Russia can become the area of extreme instability with nuclear, chemical, bacteriological weapon available there. Under such circumstances Ukraine will be able to carry out the function of such buffer zone only in case of functioning of stable democratic institutes, with predictable policy and cooperative government, with a comprehensible system of law enforcement and judicial bodies independent from political influence, with effective control over the armed forces of the country. There is not much time for the formation of such model of functioning of the state institutes in Ukraine, possibly 5-7 years, but maybe we don’t have even that much. And the leaders of the EU countries will have to put themselves a rather difficult task to help Ukraine – so that it could bring the economy and the system of public administration at least more or less to the European standards.
Signing of the Association Agreement is necessary exactly for this purpose. Its format allows to solve this task. If such a decision about the formation of the buffer zone together with Ukraine isn’t made, then rather difficult if not to say tragic times may subsequently await Ukraine, and the European Union countries.
Because in case of the beginning of Russia’s disintegration, Russian radical nationalist forces will see their main, though weird, hope of the renewal of the Russian empire in connection with the return of Ukraine to its structure. Thus, it is necessary to consider that radical nationalist views are extremely popular now in Russian intelligence services and army. And therefore economically and politically weak Ukraine will become the main object for aggression. And it is far from being the fact that Ukraine will be able to independently resist the chaos which will come from Russia wave by wave. And then the chaos can already pop up close to the Central European countries.
So, guys, we have already no time to wait. If certainly, there is a capability of predicting the development of events at least for the next decade.