Russia “will need generations” to recover from Ukraine campaign



2014/09/09 • Analysis & Opinion

As a result of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, Russia faces three large sets of problems with the outside world, with Ukraine, and with itself that will take decades if not generations to overcome and limit its ability to develop as many of its citizens had hoped, according to Ivan Kurilla, a professor at Volgograd State University.

Not surprisingly, most people are focusing on immediate problems, the international relations specialist writes today, and as a result are paying less attention than they should to the longer-lasting consequences which “not only the current but the next ruler of Russia” will face.

The ceasefire in the Donbas, Kurilla says, “cannot resolve the problems which underlie the Ukrainian conflict.” That will take enormous time, “possibly decades or the lives of entire generations.” And to resolve them will require “not military victory but the slow work” of social and political change.

That in turn means, the Volgograd professor says, that the Russian government will face several tasks for a long time whether it likes it or not as the direct result of what the Kremlin has now done in Ukraine.

The first of these concerns relations with the outside world, “with international organizations, with Europe, the United States and even with China.” Over the last six months, he notes, “Russia has not simply fallen under economic sanctions but cost itself the great part of the diplomatic conquests of the last two decades and awoken a new wave of distrust” toward it.

Its rulers and people should “expect a strengthening of European security structures openly directed at restraining Russia.” The creation of a NATO rapid reaction force is only the first step in which the Western alliance is going to move.

In response, Moscow must seek to “save what remains of Russia’s international ties and retain at least the level of cooperation which now remains.” There is a lot that it has retained, “but the losses are large.” Then Moscow must seek a way of integrating Russia into these structures, something some in Europe are interested in.

The second group of issues involves Ukraine, Kurilla says. There are economic, political and trust issues that must be addressed even though there is now “mutual hatred.”  Ukraine is not going to forgive or forget either the intervention or the territorial losses that it has been forced to yield, and no conceivable Russian government is going to give back Crimea.

There are many things Russia will have to do to try to improve relations with Kyiv, and it is even possible “in the distant political future” that Moscow will be prepared for “a discussion of a special status” for Crimea, one that would recognize Ukraine’s “special role” there “but only in the cultural and economic spheres.”

And “the third circle of issues,” Kurillov argues, “the relations within Russian society and between the state and society” are “both the most complicated and the most immediate.”  Russian propaganda has convinced a majority of Russians not only that fascists have seized power in Ukraine but that there is “a fifth column” within their own country.

“The search for enemies and the striving for unanimity is giving birth to archaic models in politics and culture and threatening the future of the country,” the Volgograd scholar.

The weakening of this propaganda will help, but its impact and the appearance in Russia of heroes living and dead from the fighting in Ukraine – funerals for the latter are becoming heavily politicized — and of refugees from Ukraine will continue to shape Russian attitudes well into the future, often in ways that threaten social and political stability.

The government, either the current one or its successor, is going to have to address this and introduce certain “corrections” in relations between itself and the population.  “Sooner or later,” he says, [it] will have to restore conditions for civil dialogue and return to the role of arbiter” among groups rather than pursuing its own goals and demonizing its opponents.

The leadership that will come to power after the current one, Kurilla says, will be forced to eat the dish prepared by the current one in Ukraine. In doing so, it will suffer “a portion” of popular anger as it has to acknowledge mistakes and thus appears in the eyes of the population as a denigrator of the nation’s history.

But, Kurillov concludes, “this is the only path of restoring trust in the state, not only in international politics but and this is important from the citizens” of Russia itself.

Source: (with permission)

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  • RedGA

    The West and the world need to note the actions committed by Putin here. No man of peace will continue to provoke war and hostility and distrust. Putin’s responses this entire time have done nothing but confirm the personality he has and how he treats his neighbors and partners in trade. The fact that each ceasefire is met with more hostility should show the West Putin cannot be trusted to work with in a constructive way. We are well beyond Cold War politics where leaders outmaneuver each other and when failing reposition and come back to the table. Putin has moved to the deeds of tyrants where each action is pushed beyond the brink and even in failure they are continued to be pushed even in new avenues to promote instability even more. Time for the West to come to terms with this and respond accordingly.

  • Brent

    There will also be repercussions in the West due to the inactions of the leaders. Obama will likely lose The Senate this fall and is going to be more of a lame duck President than he already was. Hopefully, this will push him to provide more than just military rations and great speeches to Ukraine. They can’t defend themselves with reheatable meals and his words.

    I think there is also becoming an awakening of consciousness in the West about what Russia has become and why we are sacrificing Ukrainian lives and freedoms in the name of economic opportunity. Very few European leaders have shown any type of fortitude in standing up to Putin and I hope they will pay for their failures in the future as well. Not dealing with the issue of Putin and his tyrannical nature and tendencies now is going to make it much more costly, economically and in terms of human lives, in the future when the West finally stops imitating ostriches.

    • Murf

      The unfortunate reality is that there is a red line and Putin will miscalculate and cross it. Then there will be hell to pay. Odds are it will be on Europe’s door step.
      Hope they are ready for it.