July 29, 2014
One hundred years to the day, the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural state model received its first major blow. A few years later in the wake the first world war, the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian monarchy collapsed and was replaced by a plethora of new national states.
Not all of these states, however, were built as purely ethnic entities. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, for example, tried to uphold the model for another 70 years, with the help of the Soviet Union.
We all know the ending by now. Both countries, including the Soviet Union, imploded and new national states emerged from their ashes: Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Kosovo, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Belarus and, last but not least, Ukraine.
Alas, from its inception, the brand new Ukrainian state contained the seeds of its own destruction. As Samuel Huntington rightly predicted in “The Clash”, the faultline which separates western Ukraine from eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainians proper from the Russophones, has become the theatre of a bloody civil war.
For reasons unknown to international relations and diplomacy, current western leaders prefer to ignore the fact that Ukraine is about to disintegrate along ethnic lines and that keping it within its current borders is not only unfeasible but downright dangerous for the peace of Europe. The stupidity of singling out Vladimir Putin’s administration for the situation there and of slapping sanctions after sanctions on Russia could only make matters worse.
It is high time therefore to search for a diplomatic way out of the Ukrainian quagmire. One such solution has been offered by two American historians and geopoliticians, James D. Hardy and Leonard J. Hochberg. In a series of articles from the 6th of May, 2014 (“The Ukrainian Crisis, Part III – the Deal”), the two American specialists outlined the so-called Plan B to the current sanctions campaign against Russia:
“It is ‘Plan B’. But a least worst position is not by definition either unreasonable nor undesirable. In this case, a divided Ukraine – provided the border is along the civilizational fault line – between Russia and the west makes sense on every level. It reduces tensions, encourages economic growth, takes account of real, not artificial, cultural and ethnic borders, increases the chances for Russian-European cooperation, prevents Ukrainian disintegration, and rescues America from another foreign policy blunder. A partial win, all around.”
In truth, western and Russian politicians are well-advised to arrive at a diplomatic solution for Ukraine sooner rather than later, as the performance of the global economy has started to be seriously affected by this geopolitical tug-of-war between the US and Russia. Furthermore, no politician worth his name could these days advocate the pumping of money and military assistance into a multi-ethnic state in turmoil that has no real chance of surviving as such within its current borders.
As a Romanian historian and geopolitician, I endorse such a diplomatic solution, with the amendment that the territories of south-western Ukraine inhabited by a Romanian-speaking majority, which had been taken away as a result of Stalin’s Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, are allowed to reunite with Romania.