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How to solve the security problem of Ukraine?

Author : Andreas Umland

17:19, 15 April 2016
How to solve the security problem of Ukraine?

Author : Andreas Umland

Kyiv might join "Intermarium," a block of countries located between the Baltic and Black Seas - Umland

17:19, 15 April 2016
gazprom.ru

Read the original text at NV.UA.

The main cause of the recent escalation of tensions in Eastern Europe is the lack of an effective security structure that would cover such weak militarily countries as Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. Despite the fact that recent public opinionof  Ukrainians dramatically shifted from rejection to the approval of NATO, in the foreseeable future, the North Atlantic Alliance is ready to expand its commitment to the east. Quite the contrary: the more aggressive in recent years Russia becomes, the less likely NATO will open its doors to new members that are in conflict with Moscow.

What options has Ukraine on this background? While many in the West believe that this is a purely Ukrainian question, actually, it affects the basic issues of European security. At worst, escalation of Moscow's confrontation with Kyiv, for example, the fate of the four Ukrainian nuclear power plants, one of which is the largest in Europe, will be of interest not only for the Ukrainians. In addition, millions of citizens of Ukraine may become refugees in the EU, if the Russian hybrid warfare continues to undermine the Ukrainian government. A stable solution of the fundamental problems of Ukraine's security, which is often considered as not relating to the West, it would be beneficial to the whole of Europe and deserves the full support of the West.

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In these circumstances, the best option for Ukraine could be the resumption of work on the old Polish project called "Intermarium," an alliance of countries between the Baltic and Black Seas. After the First World War, Poland and the other new independent states found themselves in an extremely precarious position: on the one hand was Russia / USSR, on the other was Germany. This led to the idea of ​​a coalition of land, which in Germany is sometimes called Zwischeneuropa or "intermediate Europe". Intermarium, which was not embodied in the twentieth century, today could help Ukraine to be integrated into the international security structure. This idea is popular not only in Ukraine, but also in Poland, where she was recently again reminded by President Andrzej Duda.

It is necessary to clarify that the original Intermarium plan, developed in interwar Poland, today is not only impossible, but also unnecessary. At the time, he called for a federation of Central and Eastern European countries in areas including trade, infrastructure, economy and so on. Most of these issues have already been resolved by EU enlargement, the EU Stabilization Agreements in the Western Balkans and association agreements with the Eastern partners of the European Union. Recent agreements became a new type of international treaties, which envisaged the creation of a deep and comprehensive free trade area. Despite the fact that they have not spoken about the prospect of inclusion in the EU Association Agreement implies a gradual process of ever deeper inclusion of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in the economic, political, regulatory and value space of the European Union. Thus, the new scheme of the Brussels association, as well as the Eastern Partnership, as well as other special programs for the European neighbors of the EU has united or will soon join, Kyiv, Chisinau and Tbilisi with the EU member countries, including Poland, home to Intermarium.

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However, these EU programs and other international organizations do not solve the security problems of Ukraine and other Eastern countries that are not members of NATO. Therefore, it is necessary to add Intermarium countries can act as a regional organization for the mutual defense of the Russian hybrid war. On the basis of bilateral or trilateral cooperation it is already taking place between, for example, Ukraine, and Poland, and Lithuania. Understanding common risks and threats is very deep in Central and Eastern Europe. For most people in the west of South Ossetia, Transnistria, or Donbas are distant or unknown regions. But people of Intermarium always had a sense of a common destiny because of the danger posed by Germany and Tsarist / Soviet empire, and now because of the revenge of Putin's Kremlin.

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The attack on Moscow's annexation of Crimea and Ukraine not only strengthen existing predisposition to mutual solidarity in Eastern Europe. They also entered the game in Turkey, as the Crimean Tatars are closely linked with the Turks and determined to resist its incorporation into Russia. The fate of the indigenous Crimean Turkic population not only affects the problematic point in the history of Russian-Turkish relations. Crimean Tatars in the last 25 years have been strong supporters of Ukraine as a sovereign state, and consider it their homeland.

According to various sources, the number of Crimean Tatars living in Turkey varies from 150 000 to 6 million. German-Azerbaijani historian Zaur Gasimov writes that "a substantial portion of Turkish historians have Crimean Tatar origin. (...) As a best-selling authors and intellectuals, they often comment on Turkish policy issues, historical interpretation and religion."

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These and other factors even before the recent escalation has led to the appearance of cracks in the Turkish-Russian relations since the spring of 2014. For some time, the negative effects of the new adventures of Moscow were relaxed by Turkish economic interests in Russia. Since autumn last year, the cleavage increased, especially after Turkey was hit by a Russian bomber November 24, 2015. As a result of the Kremlin's invasion of Syria and Russia's economic sanctions against Turkey, relations between Moscow and Ankara seriously deteriorated. The fall of the Russian economy has also contributed to a further change in the perception of Russia by Turkey as a prospective partner.

Against such a background is not surprising that Ankara's sympathy to Kyiv recently increased. The scope of the new cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine deserve attention. Not only that, the Turkish leadership, starting in December 2015, became actively supporting Kyiv - for example, it has started deliveries of military hospitals in Ukraine. In March this year, the two countries have an extensive declaration on cooperation in various fields, from trade to security and education. Turkey and Ukraine are hoping to finish in 2016 ongoing negotiations to establish a free trade zone.

Block states of "Intermarium" should be for Brussels not a competitor or an irritant, and a chance to finally create some kind of security framework for the countries of Eastern Europe and the Black-Sea region.

Intermarium Entente countries will also help to reduce the existing tensions in the relations between the West and Moscow. This new alliance will distract Russia's attention from the US and the EU. It will fundamentally restructure the system of pan-European international relations. Intermarium clearly demonstrated not only the Kremlin but also the population of Russia that Moscow's growing adventurism will be detrimental to the national interests of Russia.

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