Why should Ukraine listen to lame duck Boris Johnson?

A rare exposure in Western media of the fact that many residents of the Donbass prefer Russian rule to Ukrainian ultranationalist rule.

I don’t know why anyone would take advice from UK’s lame duck Prime Minister and well-known buffoon Boris Johnson seriously, but he seems to go down well in Kiev. I cannot understand why.

Johnson is telling everyone who will listen that Ukrainian president Zelensky “must not be pressured by world powers into accepting a bad peace deal with Russia.” I guess Johnson isn’t the one who is suffering the direct effects of this war, but he ignores the fact that at this stage any peace deal will be bad for Ukraine – and with time the possible peace deals will only get worse. 

Any peace deal now will mean loss of territory. At this stage, any agreement will mean the loss of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. But wait any longer and loss of more territory seems inevitable. In this situation, the best peace deal is the one you can get now.

I suspect Russia is no longer interested in a deal, but the fact is the longer Ukraine waits the worse the deal will be. In fact, if sense had prevailed, the time to take a deal was years ago, in 2014 and 2015 when Ukraine and the break-away regions signed the Minsk Agreements. This would have guaranteed the country’s territorial integrity, laid the basis for constitutional reforms and gone a long way to solving the ethnic problems of the country.

Instead, Johnson is encouraging those Ukrainians who indulge in magical thinking. People who believe a military victory is possible for them. Magical thinking based on wishful thinking and belief in one’s own propaganda about the adversary. Magical thinking ignoring the facts on the ground (I think everyone now accepts Ukraine is losing this war – and losing badly). And magical thinking that indulges the fantasies of ultranationalists who dream about a mono-ethnic, mono-lingual country where minority rights have been eliminated.

And that is the problem. Since the overthrow of democracy in Ukraine with the coup in 2014, the NATO countries have pandered to, and even encouraged this ultranationalist dream. Not because those countries supported the thuggishness and danger to democracy of the ultranationalists, but because it coincided with and assisted their own dreams about European security. Dreams about regime change in Russia, if not the destruction and dismemberment of that country.

It is the magical thinking of the Ukrainian ultranationalist and the NATO ideologues which has led to this situation. Along the way, there have been a series of possibilities which should have been seized.

  • The EU-brokered agreement between the Ukrainian President and all the opposition parties leading the Maidan demonstration provided for early democratic elections, public discussion and voting on a new constitution and guarantees of minority rights. This would have provided a basis for Ukraine moving toward EU membership.
  • The Minsk Agreements – signed by the Ukrainian and separatist leaders and brokered by the Normandy countries – France, Germany and Russia. This would have guaranteed the territorial integrity of the country.
  • The December 2012 detailed proposals of the Russian Federation to the USA and NATO provided a serious basis for a genuine discussion on the problems of European security and arms control. Important and outstanding problems needing diplomatic resolution

The recent history of Ukraine, and indeed Europe, has been one of ignoring opportunities and instead promoting fantasies of a mono-ethnic Ukraine and a dangerous NATO dominance in Europe

 

 

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