Ukraine’s civil war, their effort toward energy independence from Russia and a desire for a nationalist state might be a glimpse into the European future. Ukraine is a wreck, and there’s no easy solution, or any at all, in sight. In Syria, there are options to act as band-aids. But, in Ukraine, we see opposing sides that have little or no interest in negotiating terms. Much of Eastern Europe is both suspicious and afraid of a Russian invasion. To the Europeans, they see another Russian imperial state. To a large extent, that’s the sole purpose of NATO. A buffer to counter Russian influence.
Russia has been on their heel rebuilding the future Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted in his confirmation hearing. The Russians lay out a strategic plan – and act accordingly to implement it. They study their enemy, friends, and adversaries. They make corrections based on the information that comes back to them. They’re thoughtful and do not make a decision solely on the way they want to see the world. But, instead, based on a global reality and what they discover.
Ukraine is a fragile state, to say the least. Their efforts to join the West and unhitch themselves from Russia could send them into a freefall as a failed state at war with itself. If not, they might succumb to separatist rule and Russian influence while becoming enveloped into Russia’s sphere of influence. NATO and Eastern Europeans’ hair will stand in fear and anticipation.
Ukraine is nearing a failed state, if not already in its eastern sovereignty – the civil war. If you’re under constant artillery and threat of aggression, everyone might appear as an enemy. Nationalism has emerged across the West.
Amid the fighting, Ukraine has moved toward energy independence. Ukraine has been dependent on Russia for natural gas for years. This development is featured in an article on observer.com. But, on November 26, 2015 “after having decided not to return to Russia $3 billion loan that Russia had provided to the previous ‘corrupt’ regime, Ukraine stopped buying natural gas from her neighbor, declared “energy independence from Russia,” and even symbolically sold the last cubic meter of the Russian natural gas—nicely packaged into a shiny steel tube—on auction. In the summer of 2016, the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyett, said that “Ukraine was able to destroy Moscow’s energy weapon” for good. “Ukrainian authorities, during last few years, in fact, destroyed Moscow’s energy weapon, that used natural gas in this capacity,” he said. “The last winter became the first one in history when Ukraine got rid of this dependency.” Mr. Pyett left his post in Kiev soon after.”
War is often about resources, and other complicated and tribal reasons percolate to the surface. A primary objective for Russia, is energy monopoly of Europe and elsewhere. It’s not only a cash cow but also a vehicle to experiment with their Foreign Policy. Many Europeans advocate for the ease of sanctions against Russia because of their dependence on Russian natural gas. In the US, our dependence on OPEC and Saudi oil hamstrings our foreign policy, as well. Eventually, both of those dynamics, Russian natural gas in Europe and the American-Saudi energy relationship could be tested under stress.
A new nationalist party appears in Austria, Romania, UK (via Brexit), France (Le Pen’s National Front), Poland, and Hungary (Jobbik Party), as well as other nations. These factions and the global trend will continue to spread. In doing so, the World could be re-made and the world order re-shuffled. Each country could seek energy independence and, in the short-term at least, average workers can get a reprieve from globalization. But, with globalization, over population, limited resources and an increasing threat of violence from extremist groups something is going to give.
Featured image courtesy of Oriental Review.