H.G Wells' last words to this world seem most appropriate, when one considers the reason I started this blog--when events in Ukraine came to a bloody and tragic resolution, which started a global realignment of such a scale and speed that we can not still grasp all its ramifications. Enter last weekend and my family visiting our very close friends from... West Ukraine. Yes, yes, the ones who not only could be called Bandera's sympathizers but who welcomed, despite initial reservations, a chaotic coup in Ukraine in 2014 and till recently were repeating most (with some important, and, probably, personal relations with us driven, exceptions) of the tired talking points about Russia and Putin personally being the culprit of this all. It was a hard time in our relations. Yet, things eventually returned almost to normal. We love our friends because they are simply good people and we saw and, as the last weekend demonstrated again, what a difficult task it is to face a reality.
While chatting with their very close relative I was faced with what I feared and didn't want to talk about. This old man just asked me how could it have come down to this--Russians and Ukrainians--hating each-other. The question sounded almost desperate and was, in no small measure, inspired by the fact of our decades long very close friendship, which, for the lack of better word could have been compared to family relations. Of course, it is Putin, of course it was Russian side but still, compared to three years ago, those statements sounded almost pro-forma and unconvincing. And then he brought up Yuzmash. "Russia still depends on it", he said. He needed the positive response to this, one could sense it. I couldn't oblige, I do not lie--a lesson I learned in my life a hard way. A good man, good father, man with golden hands--I hated to see him suffer and I saw this coming in him, so, I, with the help of my wife, changed the subject and convinced him to go join the party.
This, seemingly unimportant, anecdotal evidence of some turnaround, even in minds of people you would never expected to change their mind, suddenly found a much more public (and coincidental) continuation today with the interview of the second President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, formerly a General Director of this very Yuzhmash, to Ukrainian TV Network 112 (in Russian, no less). The title of the interview is grim and correct: Neither US, nor Europe Will Help Ukraine. We Are Alone.
It is very strange to hear this realization from a man who defined Ukrainian national identity in 1990s as "Not Russia". He also was a man who supported a rabid Russophobe and Ukrainian chauvinist Victor Yushchenko in 2005 Ukraine's Presidential Elections. In other words, Kuchma was the man who is responsible to a very large degree of plotting the path of Ukraine to ruin. This lucidity is especially remarkable from a man who lied most of his political life. He also continues to lie even in this interview--you can't teach an old dog new tricks, I guess. Yet, today once mighty Yuzhmas barely exists as a viable entity and once mighty industrial and agricultural heart of the Soviet Union, after getting its independence, is being reduced to nothing more than a third world black hole right in the middle of Europe. Of course, these will be Russians, again, who are guilty of that, since refuse to depend on a highly unstable, hostile Russophobic puppet of foreign masters, next to their borders and decided to produce what Russia used to buy from Ukraine, thus supporting her high-tech industry. Those times are over. But then again, Russians are also guilty of Hurricane Katrina and Global Warming.
Yet, Kuchma still found it in him to blare out a correct diagnosis:
Мы становимся сырьевым придатком. У нас металлургия осталась, химия, сельское хозяйство. Высоких технологических производств практически нет. Куда мы идем? Мы радуемся свободной торговле с Европой. Чем мы торгуем с Европой? Посмотрите статистику. Пшеница. Кроме сельского хозяйства практически более ничего нет. Квотирование идет жесткое. За первый квартал мы практически все квоты выбрали. А теперь вы смотрите, как европейцы ставят нас на колени – "давайте лес рубите и везите к нам". Где какая-то конкретная помощь Украине, чтобы мы становились на ноги?! Если мы будем бедными, как сегодня, мы никому не нужны!
We are becoming a raw materials appendix. What's left is metallurgy, chemical industry and agriculture. We practically do not have any high tech industries. Where are we going? We rejoice at the free trade with Europe. And what do we offer for this trade with Europe? Look at the statistics. Wheat. Other than agricultural products there is nothing more to offer. Quotes are rigid, we filled practically all of our quotes in first quarter of this year. And now observe how Europeans put us on our knees--"harvest your forests and bring timber to Europe". Where is any concrete help to Ukraine, to put her on her feet!? If we remain poor nobody will need us.
Get it, boys and girls? Everyone owes it to Ukraine to "put her on her feet". Russia owes her gas transit, buying everything Ukraine (less and less) produces. And, of course, Ukraine's main idea about Europe, as even her former President still thinks so, is to get to EU, get a truck load of free money (aka investments) and start living as European upper middle class. I am not exaggerating. Of course, the fact that Ukraine became what it became by 1990 was largely thanks to the Soviet economic system somehow got lost on such people as Kuchma, not to speak of very many average Ukrainians. The scale of de-industrialization and of de-modernization Ukraine achieved in short 26 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union is nothing short of mind-boggling and unprecedented. The same as the scale of de-Sovietization, which is a euphemism for de-Russification. Yet, the more the scale of the failure to utilize even a small part of a remaining Soviet industrial, scientific, military and educational potential was becoming evident, the more hatred of everything Russian was growing. In the foundation of this hatred, coupled with a bizarre sense of entitlement and self-proclaimed Europeanness (after all, Ukrainians preceded ancient Greeks in developing... everything) were simple envy and jealousy of those dirty backward, dramatically not-European, Asiatic Russians.
Ukraine wanted to be "independent", she got it. Obviously, nobody explained to Kuchma, let alone other "Europe-oriented" politicians that it is advisable to be careful with what you wish for, since some desires may come true and that there are no free lunches. Ukraine is needed for Europe (and US) merely as raw materials source and as a ram against Russia, through fomenting troubles at her borders, no matter how many Ukrainians may die from war or even starvation. And it is true that Ukraine doesn't have anything to offer to the world other than some raw materials and wheat. Nobody in Europe or US, or, for that matter elsewhere, needs anymore anything produced in Ukraine and many Ukrainians begin to understand this, especially when they begin to look at those backward Asiatic Russians and their Russia, where millions upon millions, including from this very Western Ukraine, Ukrainians travel to each year in hope to find a seasonal job to sent some Asiatic, dirty Russian money home. It is a sad end and it was predictable, too bad very few listened, including in the US who financed and, together with Germany, and others, unleashed a bloody coup in Kiev. Did they even know what they were getting themselves into? Did they read what I wrote almost three years ago?
it is not going to be "another fall" (c) of the Ukrainian Government. It is going to be the end of Ukraine, which, so far, exists mostly because the forces of Novorossya are being held back by Kremlin.Today, Ukraine is finished as a modern industrialized country. Short of hundreds of billions of dollars (or euros) given to her, a scenario which can only be called ludicrous, and even then under the assumption that those funds will not be stolen, there is nothing Ukraine can do to return to the rank of even moderately developed nations. What is, probably, most disturbing for Ukrainians is the fact, that Russia doesn't care that much about Ukrainian feelings anymore. Eventually Nord Stream-2 will be built and Ukraine's blackmail of Europe by gas transit will be over. She will become even more grim and desolate place but surely free from those ghosts of Soviet and Russian past. It is a sad end, but in this cynical world of ours, real power is the only commodity which makes one a real player globally. I think every reader of this blog by now knows Correlli Barnett's superb definition of national power. Ukraine made her choices and it will not get any better. But it was predicted, it was this Wellsian "Goddamn You All: I Told You So" moment from the get go.
Couple of years ago, Russian delegation to one of the world's large air shows (don't remember which) gave interview in which they talked about the embarrassment they felt for their former colleagues from once great, in fact, legendary Antonov's Design Bureau, which was purged of everything Soviet and Russian so thoroughly that, instead of continuing with manufacturing world's largest cargo planes, was reduced to producing trams and obsolete small aircraft such as AN-178. This contrasts dramatically with what today was presented by United Aircraft Company in Le Bourget, that is after MS-21 flew for the fifth time yesterday.
I guess it is true as they say in Russia--Those born to crawl can not fly. Too bad it took so long and so many lives to figure that out.