Russia’s Strategic Gains at Ukraine’s and Europe’s Expense

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From Stephen Blank, the Jamestown Foundation: Russia’s new deal with Ukraine on the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) and gas prices has profound bilateral significance, as well as for the CIS and even Europe. It ratifies long-term Russian gains at the expense of all the other players and continues to solidify Moscow’s claim to possess a sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. …

[I]n numerous ways this short-term deal represents a defeat for Ukraine and a massive victory for Russia. Kyiv loses because the BSF and its accompanying socio-political-economic-cultural infrastructure enable Russia to keep the Crimea, and thus Ukraine, in a permanent condition of de facto circumscribed and limited sovereignty. Moscow will retain all its points of leverage over Kyiv and gain more because the deal allows Russia to build two nuclear reactors in Ukraine and preserve its nuclear monopoly there (as an alternative to gas). Apart from this limitation on Ukraine’s effective sovereignty, Moscow also reinforces its tangible leverage over Kyiv by restoring its dependence on Russian subsidies and preserving Ukraine’s non-transparent gas economy. Third, it prevents Ukrainian democratization and market reforms. Fourth, it thereby inhibits Kyiv’s moves towards the IMF, and ultimately the EU. Fifth, given the lease’s duration of 25 years, with an option to renew for another five years, this deal all but ensures that future Ukrainian governments will be stuck with a minority controlled by Moscow in the Crimea, and will find it very difficult to move westwards towards the EU or NATO until 2042, if not later.  (photo: Getty)

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