The tragedy that has unfolded in Ukraine over the last fifteen months was entirely avoidable. There was no political, economic, or socio-cultural necessity for it; Ukraine was entirely capable of mutually beneficial relations both with Russia and the West. However, it was the EU Association Agreement, and the subsequent toppling of the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych by an unholy trinity of oligarchs, fascists, and Euro-liberals, which precipitated the conflict raging today. However, the critical point is not merely what happened, but why it happened. Specifically, what were the policies and initiatives that created the conditions for the war?
While many, especially in the US and EU, are quick to unsheathe the eternal “Russian aggression” sword, the reality is that Russia made no provocative moves in Ukraine until long after the EU (and by extension the US and NATO) did. That is to say, Russia’s policies vis-à-vis Ukraine are a product of, not a catalyst for, the continuing conflict.
Rather, it was the EU Association Agreement, a fait accompli for Yanukovych, which forced Ukraine into a Hobson’s choice – either become a vassal of Europe and spurn Russia, or accept Russian partnership and risk destroying your own government. Yanukovych chose the latter, and today he has become a historical footnote.
But of course, the story does not begin and end with Ukraine. Rather, the narrative must reflect a broader regional context within which Ukraine was and is merely one part. Included in the geopolitical agenda of Western strategic planners (read imperialists) are both Georgia and Moldova, both of which are integral to the broader Western outlook in the post-Soviet space. In all three countries, the Trojan horse of EU Association Agreements has served as the pretext for NATO expansion.