Friday 22 April 2022
A New And Important Space
Peter Hitchens has these extracts from The Grand Chessboard, which was published in 1997 by the former US Secretary of State, Zbigniew Brzezinski:
Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.
Russia without Ukraine can still strive for imperial status, but it would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state, more likely to be drawn into debilitating conflicts with aroused central Asians, who would then be resentful of the loss of their recent independence and would be supported by their fellow Islamic states to the south. China would also be likely to oppose any restoration of Russian domination over Central Asia, given its increasing interest in the newly-independent states there.
However if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as its access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state , spanning Europe and Asia. Ukraine’s loss of independence would have immediate consequences for Central Europe, transforming Poland into a geopolitical pivot on the eastern frontier of a united Europe.
Can Russia be both powerful and a democracy at the same time? If it becomes powerful again, will it not seek to regain its lost imperial domain, and can it then be both an empire and a democracy?
US policy towards the vital geopolitical pivots of Ukraine and Azerbaijan cannot skirt that issue, and America this faces a difficult dilemma regarding tactical balance and strategic purpose. Internal Russian recovery is essential to Russia; democratization and eventual Europeanization. But any recovery of its imperial potential would be inimical to both of these objectives.
Moreover, it is over this issue that differences could develop between America and some European states, especially as the EU and NATO expand. Should Russia be considered a candidate for eventual membership in either structure? And what then about Ukraine? The costs of the exclusion could be high – creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in the Russian mindset – but the results of dilution of either the EU or NATO could also be quite destabilizing’.