The Ukrainian crisis is a “peripheral” issue for the EU and an “optional” conflict for the US, while for the Russian speaking population of Ukraine it is an existential threat, international affairs writer Srdja Trifkovic told RT.
RT: The Russian President has asked Parliament for permission to use a limited army contingent to stabilise the situation in Crimea – how could that change the situation on the ground?
Srdja Trifkovic: In my personal opinion the Ukraine is getting closer to disintegration or at least a form of federalization to which the Russians can make a stabilizing contribution. Because any attempt by the mobocracy that has gained power in Kiev to establish its width not only in Crimean peninsula but also in other southern parts such as Odessa and Nikolayev and eastern provinces Donetsk and Kharkov can only lead to an outright civil war.
Ukraine is internally divided between the people in the center and the west who have radically different self-perception and radically different values and images of the future for themselves than people to the east and the south. And I think in the long term the Russian leaders have realized that some form of federal or con-federal order is the only way to avoid further bloodshed and outright disintegration of this somewhat hybrid country.
RT: What reaction should we expect from the new authorities in Kiev?
ST: They will scream ‘blue murder’ of course and likewise there will be negative reaction across the western world but I think the response should be – in 1999 you violated with armed aggression the sovereignty of Serbia in order to help the secession of Kosovo and to help the Albanian KLA there and now we’re acting in a similar way you regarded as both legally and morally justified.
But in fact I think the Russians have a much greater right to
intervene in Ukraine, not only because of some 10 million
Russians who live there and the further 20 million Ukrainians who
feel close to the Russians, but also because its status as a
great power is jeopardized if NATO is allowed to play havoc on
the eastern borders of Ukraine. That must not be allowed, that
would be a geopolitical disaster of the greatest magnitude.
RT: Crimea's referendum on autonomy has now been moved forward two months... what reaction do you expect from Kiev if there's a positive vote on Crimea breaking away?
ST: Well of course they will claim that it is illegal and unconstitutional referendum forgetting along the way that they reached power by illegal and unconstitutional means. Basically for the new authorities in Kiev and their handlers and aiders and abetters in the Western world, what is sauce for the goose is not a sauce for the gander but I would expect and look forward to a similar referendum to be organized not only in Kiev but in Odessa further West along the Black Sea coast and in Donetsk and Kharkov to the northeast. Because let’s face it, as I have already said Ukraine is a deeply divided country which only through devolution and through federalization can it avoid the danger of outright civil war and disintegration.
RT: Kiev's self-appointed Prime Minister promises to ruin Crimea's vital tourist industry by blocking entry from Russia, Belarus and Europe - unless Russian troops leave. What do you make of his threat?
ST: Well I think it is quite the contrary. I think that foreign tourists would far rather come to the Crimean Peninsula guarded by Russian troops than policed by the thugs of Lvov and Ivano-Frankovsk who came to Kiev to affect the regime change. If they are allowed descent into the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, and they are very gung-ho and ready for violence that would be a disaster that the Russian president was well advised to preclude by sending troops.
RT: EU powers and the US have time and again pledged support for the self-proclaimed authorities in Kiev... how do you think they'll react to the news of an attempted assault by forces sent from the capital?
ST: I think that would be a purely verbal
expression of support. I don’t expect wither the EU or the US be
willing to escalate this dispute beyond the point of no return.
Because after all they realize that for the EU it is a peripheral
issue, for the United States it is an optional crisis and for the
Russians and for eastern and southern Ukrainians, it is an
And the reactions would be accordingly different because the Russians cannot allow Ukraine to be ruled by neo-fascists from Lvov. And they cannot allow the Ukraine that would seek yet again NATO membership which will be extremely disruptive for the geopolitical balance in Eastern Europe while on the other hand for the West, it is simply a geopolitical playing field in a game of surrounding Russia and exercising what the American geopolitical expert called the ‘anaconda strategy’.
So I think that the sooner Russians react and protect both the
Crimean peninsula and the surrounding eastern and southern areas,
the better, because the quicker the action, the less of a
reaction there will be from the West.
RT: We've heard threats from some quarters calling for Ukraine to rebuild nuclear weapons, as leverage against Russia. The West was quick to condemn Iran for suspected nuclear arms, so what will it make of these almost direct threats?
ST: I think it is a bit of bravado. Neither the Ukrainian scientific community and arms industry, has the capacity to do so, nor will it be allowed to do so, if it were indeed on the cards, I have no doubt that Russian special forces would be sent not only to Crimea but to wherever these installations happened to be and also against Kiev itself. That would be an outright provocation that nobody can afford at this moment in time, except perhaps by some neurotics like US Senator John McCain.
RT: Nobody seems to be taking Yanukovich into account anymore - has he any chance of a comeback?
ST: I don’t think so because even the people that used to support him were terribly disillusioned by his poor performance. His indecisiveness, his lukewarm attempts to contain the tide, as I warned on your program some weeks ago, are the signs of weakness which only could increase the appetite of the other side. He now stands largely discredited and I think it would be very important for the Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainians to find another, more energetic, perhaps younger leader who is not tainted by corruption and who would be able to articulate their interests and not the interests of his ruling oligarchy.