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​'EU doesn't know what it's doing in Ukraine'

Published time: February 25, 2014 16:06
An anti-government protestor waits in front of a parliamentary building in Kiev on February 25, 2014 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

Things have happened too quickly in Ukraine for the EU, and there are also American interests involved – the EU would be too cautious to act immediately, a former British diplomat William Mallinson told RT.

RT: The EU, IMF and US are all now pledging massive financial support to Ukraine - what are they hoping to get in return?

William Mallinson: Money, in the end, and also a lot of their money back, because a lot of their banks are worried about losing a lot of money and want to control the situation as much as possible on the one hand, they also want to prevent too much potential Russian financial interest. They want to do this over the whole country, but they know that it is going to be difficult to do in the Eastern part of the country. So they are doing what they can in the part of the country they control. It’s not entirely similar to what happened to Greece, by the way. They end up controlling as much as they can, otherwise a lot of money is potentially going to be lost, because Ukraine is in a huge debt.

RT: Any financial assistance will come with certain obligations. What are the chances the Ukrainian people will eventually find themselves in the same situation as Greek citizens, who are struggling with austerity measures?

WM: I think the chances are even greater than with Greece, because at least the Greek economy was in a strange way more integrated with the EU system than the Ukrainian one of course. Therefore, in that sense Ukraine is in a far weaker position [than Greece] because the Ukrainian politicians do not have an experience of how to deal and negotiate with the European Central Bank, with the European Commission, with the Americans. So they will be in a very weak position, also very emotional at the moment and they are in a very weak situation. Most of the people are themselves not fully aware of the economic implications of what they are doing because this is really the banks and Germany and the US trying to get as much control as they can over as much of the country as they can. Eventually, I have to say, directed against their fear of Russian responsibilities.

People walk on Kiev's Independece square on February 25, 2014 (AFP Photo / Louisa Gouliamaki)

‘Removing Russian language official status is extremely irresponsible’

RT: One of the first laws passed by the new leadership was to remove the Russian language's official status. What kind of a backlash could that cause in eastern Russian-speaking regions?

WM: Language is one of the most vital integral and emotional parts of the make-up of a nation. Therefore, to have overreacted like this possibly on the advice of outsiders is extremely irresponsible and will create anger not only among extremist people but anger among all simple Russian-speaking people. It is divisive and I think, rather childish. It goes against the grain of what they do in most countries which is more democratic. It is in fact very undemocratic because there are far more people speaking Russian as their first language than has been admitted in many cases, in Crimea, in the eastern and even western parts of Ukraine. So it’s emotionally divisive and it goes against the concept of united country. And I think they are even expecting there to be two Ukraines and that’s why they are doing this in advance, but that is speculation.

RT: Most Western leaders have been turning a blind eye to the nationalist ideas throughout this crisis. Are they prepared to face the possible consequences?

WM: They are irresponsible. At the moment they wish to cause a certain degree of chaos that’s why they are turning a blind eye to what I can only describe as a strong Nazi-style party, which is actually somewhat similar to the Greek Golden Dawn, and I think that suits them because it’s a question of divide and rule. It’s easier to control chaos than to control order. If there is a certain degree of chaos it’s easy to control with enormous sums of money that they have. That’s a very calculated sociological, political decision which has been taken, I think, at the highest level by the major banks as well, and possibly external agencies.

Flags, flowers and a helmet are left on a barricade in central Kiev in homage to demonstrators killed during last week's clashes in central Kiev on February 25, 2014 (AFP Photo / Louisa Gouliamaki)

‘A lot will depend on the Russian policy’

RT: Brussels says that it won't be signing the trade agreement with Ukraine for now - and will consider it only after the May election. What are the chances the deal will indeed be sealed then?

WM: Quite low. By the middle of May more responsible people, I hope, will be putting their heads up and I think a lot will depend on the Russian policy, which from what I have seen in recent years in relations between states is not one of shooting from the hip, it is slow and it tends to defuse crises like, for example, Russia succeeded so far in defusing the far worse crisis in Syria. So it’s a question of the least bad approach. I think it’s undoubtedly the Russian one because Russia is nearby, Russia has the power, Russia has the responsibility and a lot of money, but it’s not going to throw the money down the drain. Russia has the natural resources, the gas, and I think even the EU itself doesn’t know exactly what it’s doing because this thing has happened so quickly, and also there are the German and the American interests involved in it. There are bigger interests than simply Ukrainian interests, there are very crude geopolitical interests. I think geopolitics is a crude science because it puts business borders on natural peoples, creating tension. I think they are simply waiting to see what Russia does. To act immediately would be dangerous for them because there could be quicker reactions than they can imagine. So it will be a few interesting couple of months until May.

RT: The West continues to reiterate that a coalition legitimate government needs to be formed in Ukraine. Do you think it will be effective in quelling the political chaos?

WM: At the moment the government, to be honest, is not very legitimate. If you look at it in black and white legalistic terms, Yanukovich, whether he is a bad leader or a good leader, was elected and he has been thrown out. And he has not been thrown out legitimately. So I think if you want to have less stress you have to continue to sit down and bang heads together, and even a temporary technocratic government will be a good idea, with the parties that are already in parliament. You can’t just throw out a party and throw out a president like that, at the wave of a magic wand and say “Go away, now we have a democracy.” What we've got is something looking like a coup, a coup by stealth. Police and army are not doing anything at the moment, and I hope they won't, because they may be divided inside themselves. As for the armed forces no one has even mentioned them. But I don't think martial law is possible, because if that happens I don't think that even the army will be able to put the whole country under martial law, and again it will be divided. You can't have a government made just out of people who threw out the president, it won't be a representative government.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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