James Sherr on Ukrainian Foreign Policy

There’s an interesting interview in the Kyiv Post with James Sherr, head of the Russian and Eurasian program at Chatham House.  Sherr argues that Viktor Yanukovych has miscalculated the rapprochement policy with Russia, and why Europe and the United States are turning a blind eye to Ukraine.

KP: What do you think is the end-game in all of this? Do you think they are driven by national interests or gains in their personal pockets?

JS: We should not forget the historical context. In the Soviet Union, security meant, first and foremost, security of the regime. Yanukovych is part of this tradition. For him, geopolitics is the extension, and the servant, of the process of regime creation and perpetuation. That is what I think he is after. Of course, Russia is in so many ways different. It is an enormously significant geopolitical player. Why does Russia’s military doctrine define NATO as the ‘main danger’ to Russian security, when any passenger on the Moscow metro knows that the main danger is something very different? Because the NATO enemy helps to sustain a particular regime and model of development. Why is Moscow so keen to show that Ukraine’s independence is an historical aberration and that the project of its integration with the West is over? In order to reaffirm the legitimacy of the regime and its definition of Russian identity. What has happened thanks to Yanukovych has given the Moscow tandem a new lease on life, whatever the configuration of power that emerges in 2012. I fear that the latest events in Ukraine will be very bad for those in Russia who know or sense that the neo-imperial paradigm is an obstacle to the transformation of Russia into a modern and decent country.”