Saturday, March 30, 2013

Security Issues in the Black Sea - Annotated Bibliography

Sanders, D. (2012). Between Rhetoric and Reality: The Decline of Russian Maritime Power in the Black Sea? Mediterranean Quarterly, 23(4), 43-68.

Russia’s interests in the Black Sea, Sanders argues, can be explained by the historical importance of Crimea and the port of Sevastopol. In particular, for Russia, the Black Sea provides means to advance, protect, and demonstrate its power status. Russia also maintains its preeminent position as one of the most powerful states in the Black Sea, and extends its powers into the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and beyond. 

The author examines Russia’s maritime power in the Black Sea region by analyzing the prospects of Russian government’s recent plans to modernize Russian Black Sea Fleet and increase its military and technical capacity. Maritime power is defined as the varied military and nonmilitary means required to advance the diverse array of political objectives that states seek to achieve in the maritime domain. Since maritime power is a subset of military power, the military assets and capabilities a state has will affect and shape its ability to use the sea for political effect. Nonmilitary assets in this particular case include Russia’s access to maritime infrastructure in Sevastopol as well as the relations with Ukraine and other countries in the region. Such qualitative indicators as personnel training and morale serve as important predictors of Russia’s maritime power, alongside with the quantitative measures of the maritime power. 

The author’s analysis of quantitative and qualitative factors of maritime power demonstrates that Russia’s maritime power in the Black Sea region is unlikely to increase. According to Sanders, Russia not only will have significantly fewer maritime platforms in the Black Sea, but its ability to use the maritime domain will also be compromised by ongoing qualitative problems and poor relations with key regional actors, such as the United States and littoral states such as Georgia and Romania. The Black Sea Fleet will continue to have significant gaps in core capabilities, such as air support, despite the efforts to modernize it. Even if Russia operates a relatively small but powerful navy, its maritime power could still be compromised by the lack of investment in support elements, such as air and land forces. Additionally, resupply and upgrade of the Russian fleet are greatly dependent upon its relations with Ukraine, which introduces a degree of uncertainty. Finally, the low pay, inadequate pensions and lack of housing options for navy personnel are significantly lowering the morale of the personnel. All these issues have a negative impact on the overall Russia’s maritime power and hamper the prospects of its expansion. 

Sanders, D. (2007). Rhetoric and Reality: Can Ukraine Create an Effective Navy to Protect its Interests in the Black Sea? European security, 16(2), 143-161.

The paper argues that an efficient and well run Ukrainian coastal navy that is inherently defensive in its orientation can maintain good order at the sea and protect Ukraine’s security as well as the stability and security in the region. Although since the Orange Revolution Ukraine has been developing a balanced, flexible and deployable coastal navy able to engage in a full spectrum of defense activities, the continued progress is likely to be hampered by the high cost of naval transformation, the challenges of democratic consolidation and friction between Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea. 

Ukraine has several strategic interests in the Black Sea Region including commercial, energy and security concerns. The Black Sea serves as a transit route for Ukrainian goods to European and international markets; Ukraine has an interest in protecting and exploring drilling rights in the continental shelf; and an effective coastal navy would allow Ukraine to protect its coastal waters from the consequences of “frozen” regional conflicts (the rise of terrorism, organized crime, trafficking). Thus, Ukraine is not seeking to compete with other naval powers, instead its aims are to develop an efficient and effective coastal navy that is inherently defensive and can maintain its international obligations. In this respect, Ukraine’s participation in naval exercises and peacekeeping missions with NATO members is important for Ukraine’s political and military goals. 

Ukraine’s naval reform pursues three main goals: developing coastal capabilities; developing and training naval personnel; and developing an adequate naval support infrastructure. However, as this paper argues, there is likely to be a gap between these objectives and the reality of the reform. Firstly, the ongoing friction between Russia and Ukraine over the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol is likely to slow down the naval reform. Secondly, substantial progress in naval transformation is dependent on Ukraine’s successful transition to a market economy, and poor economic progress in Ukraine will constrain the ability of the government to engage in naval reform. Thirdly, the challenges of democratic consolidation after the Orange Revolution are likely to hamper the naval transformation.

Sanders, D. (2012). Ukraine's Maritime Power in the Black Sea— A Terminal Decline? The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, 25(1), 17-34.

This paper uses the literature on maritime power to explore how Ukraine’s ability to use the sea declined significantly over the last five years. The author argues that chronic underfunding of Ukraine’s military transformation, recent decisions taken by the government to extend the Russia’s lease of Sevastopol and to declare its non-alignment status, and ongoing domestic political instability have all damaged Ukraine’s maritime power. Poor military assets is only one contributor to Ukraine’s problems; such non-military factors as Ukraine’s ability to use and control its maritime infrastructure in Sevastopol and the continued Russian military presence also worsen Ukraine’s prospects to enhance its maritime power in the Black Sea Region. The paper also discusses the importance of international military exercises that make up almost a quarter of military training in Ukraine. Although the number of exercises increased over time, political instability diminishes the prospects of conducting such exercises on a systematic basis and thus limits Ukraine’s ability to take a full advantage of these opportunities. The slow process of state building and domestic instability are the major internal structural obstacles to successful military and navy reforms in Ukraine. 

The paper concludes that unless the Ukrainian government revisits its foreign policy goal of non-alignment or invests significantly in the Ukrainian navy over the next few years, both of which are unlikely, it will lose its capability to independently operate in and protect its maritime domain. Even the improved relations with key players on the Black Sea such as Turkey and the United States will not fully compensate for the decline in Ukraine’s maritime power. 

Japaridze, T. (2010). The Black Sea - a Key Strategic Corridor In F. Houston, W. D. Wood & D. M. Robinson (Eds.), Black Sea Security: International Cooperation and Counter-trafficking in the Black Sea Region (Vol. 74, pp. 17-23): IOS Press.

The chapter highlights the strategic importance of the Black Sea region as a strategic corridor between Europe, Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East. According to the author, the region is not just a distinct locale with its own strategic identity but rather a junction point where the convergent vectors of strategic dynamics originating outside the region come together and could significantly alter the way the Black sea countries and other states view future security challenges and opportunities. In this region history, culture, politics, prejudices, psychology, collective and institutional memory are deeply intertwined. At the same time, there are a few notable problems in the region that require collective action to be resolved. These problems include frozen conflicts, loose or even nonexistent customs and border controls in many of the post-Soviet territories, and the role of the region as a transit zone for the illegal movement of goods and people. Hence, tackling these issues is an important precondition of establishing and maintaining the regional security. 

Wood, D. (2010). Executive Summary: Prospects for Black Sea Security Cooperation. In F. Houston, W. D. Wood & D. M. Robinson (Eds.), Black Sea Security: International Cooperation and Counter-trafficking in the Black Sea Region (Vol. 74, pp. 3-8): IOS Press.

The Black Sea Region is a critical strategic corridor between East and West with major security challenges including energy supply, illicit trafficking, unresolved regional conflicts in Georgia with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia with Chechnya, Moldova with Transdnistria, Turkey with the Kurds, and neighboring conflicts in areas such as Iraq and Iran. The author argues that security in the region is no longer just a military issue, as it has been characterized by the uncontrollable proliferation of technology, a growing gap between rich and poor countries and the information revolution. Some of the specific issues requiring urgent address include: East-West energy traffic characterized by political instability; East-West smuggling of counterfeit goods; East-West illicit drugs traffic and West-East drugs persecution traffic; East-West human traffic; radiological and nuclear materials traffic; and North-South improvised explosives devices traffic.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Perhaps it is time to reconsider the domestic mindset of “Putting the American jacket on Russia”

            A closer examination of Russia’s economy reveals glaring weakness that will hamper growth in the future. Of particular concern is the nation’s astounding inefficiency in labor productivity. The average productivity in most major sectors is a mere 26% of what the United States produces. Inefficient business processes and obsolete capacity and production methods are the main culprits of this issue that plagues the Russian economy, much of this stemming from under investment in Soviet times. As a comparison, it takes on average 704 day to obtain a building permit in Russia, as compared to 40 days in the United States. Two types of innovation can improve the inefficiency of Russia economy. Firstly, technological innovation will allow the nation’s industrial sectors to be more productive by using innovative machinery to produce goods at a faster rate while getting the most out of an employee during a standard workday. Secondly, Russia has a need for managerial innovation that will introduce new business processes and increase efficiency in the office place.
            One of the primary reasons that Russian companies have not felt a need to increase their productivity is because of the rate of economic growth over the past ten years. This has encouraged companies to focus on expansion rather than efficiency in production. As we saw in America during the 2008 financial crisis, when economic growth fails the first course of action is to determine how to make the enterprise operate more efficiently. This begs the questions of why should Russia care; growth continues to be steady because of the high price of oil and natural gas and there is seemingly no end in sight.
            Such concerns are certainly valid. On March 22, 2013 Rosneft signed a deal to increa its oil supplies to China, effectively tightening relations between the two nations. This seems like a perfect match considering Russia is the world’s largest energy producer and China is the world’s largest consumer. Furthermore, China extended a $25 billion credit to Rosneft and the Russian pipeline operators OAO Transneft and Chain National Petroleum Corporation will partner with the Russian corporation to exploit resources on the Artic shelf. This is an alarming development – though not unforeseen – that will further intertwine these two nations both economically and politically. Considering the interests of these two powerhouse nations are not always aligned with the interests of the United States perhaps it is time to reconsider how we evaluate the situation in Russia.  
            It is common to hear concerns from America that Russia’s inefficiency, corruption and seemingly authoritarian rule will cripple the country’s economic development in the years to come. Yet, as the title of this article suggests, you cannot apply the factors that affect one countries will have the same result in another country. Put otherwise, you cannot assume that the same factors that typically indicate growth and prosperity in America will have the same results in Russia and China. What is interesting in the Rosneft deal with China is that on the same day the deal finalized, British Petroleum (BP) sold its 50% stake in TNK-BP to OAO Rosneft. It seems to be evident that Russia is shifting, its reliance on western companies to fuel its growth and focusing on China to provide it with the capital it needs. This is a clear sign to western countries and to assume that the same factors that drive growth in America apply to Russia would be unwise.

BP Launches $8 Billion Share Buyback After TNK-BP Sale

McKinsey Global Institute, “Learn Russia sustaining economic growth through improved productivity” April 2010.

Rosneft Signs Deal to Increase Oil Supplies to China

World Bank: Russia's Economy Loses Momentum, Needs Structural Reform

Путь «Роснефти»: от распада Союза до покупки ТНК-BP -

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Magnitsky continues to scare investors

In this week’s blog post I will examine a particularly troublesome issue that has become a sad reality of doing business in Russia. While the death and ripple effect of Mr. Magnitsky’s death in 2009 has been widely discussed, this example is only a microcosm of Mr. Putin’s control of Russia. This week Russian authorizes have announced new fraud charges against U.S.-born investor William Browder. He is the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management, a fund that had made millions by investing in Russia. Some of those investments included owning 131 million shares in OAO Gazprom, Russia’s most prized possession. Mr. Browder was once one of the largest foreign investors in Russia, but in 2005 he was stripped of his Russian visa on the typical charge of unspecified national- security reasons. After this, he promptly pulled most of his funds out of Russia. This week the Kremlin accused him of illegally acquiring those shares of Gazprom and the allegations state that his “illegal” acquisition has damaged the Russian government to a tune of $97.5 million. Moreover, the allegations state that Browder sought not only ‘personal enrichment’ but sought to penetrate and influence Gazprom.
            Mr. Browder acquired his shares between 1999 and 2004, at a time when special permission was required to purchase the shares and they were selling for far below their valued price. While he was a shareholder, he sought to improve transparency and the financial performance of the stock by rallying shareholders to take an activist position. He even attempted to win a seat on the board of directors, which was unsuccessful. These actions resulted in the revocation of his Visa. During the next few years the Moscow police routinely raided the offices of Hermitage capital and confiscated documents and computers. One of the lawyers who worked for Hermitage was Magnitsky.
            While all of these actions by the Russian government seem unjustified, Browder himself undoubtedly had to break the law at some point to attain a substantial number of shares in Gazprom and successfully invest in Russia. To infer that the “special permission” he had to obtain required paying certain official is not beyond the bounds of reasons.  Moreover, tax laws are routinely breeched by Russian business, creating an environment where if all the other companies are doing it Browder’s companies would not be able to remain competitive if they did not.
            This is precisely how Putin is able to control the business environment in Russia. It is quite simple and rather ingenious, he has created a system where everyone must pay bribes to officials a violate tax code to remain competitive. The catch is that people must not step out of line, such as Magnitsky in reporting the $230 million fraud. If one does decide to report officials with violating the bribery the Kremlin has a simple solution, charge the individual for a crime. This has been routine practice for Putin’s government and examples are not hard to find, such as the imprisonment of Khodorkovsky, one of Putin’s fiercest opponents. The beauty – or hopelessness of the situation depending on which side you are coming from – is that to do business in Russia an individual must toe the lines of the law. Many laws can be circumvented, and when one attempts to move out of step with Kremlin policy, Putin has the power to legally reprimand investors. As twisted as this may seem to American investors it is the present reality in Russia and will keep Putin in power for the foreseeable future.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review

Zayavka na samoubiystvo. Zachem Ukraine NATO?/An Application for Suicide. Why Ukraine needs NATO?/Dmitriy Tabachnik, Petr Simonenko, Sergey Grinevetskiy, Georgiy Kryuchkov. - Dovira, Kyiv: Folio, ?Kharkiv, 2009. – 445 pages. (ISBN 978-966-5-0-249-2 and 978-966-03-4735-9. (In Russian).
      The book is a collection of analytical articles composed by five Ukrainian academics and politicians representing a range of political parties of the left and central orientation. The main subject is Ukraine’s relations with NATO and the broader outcomes of a potential NATO membership for Ukraine’s foreign policy identity and its relations with Russia. In addition to the main collection of in-depth articles composed by five main contributors, the book also contains the Russian translation of the North-Atlantic Treaty (Washington DC, April 1949), and several smaller commentaries by other Ukrainian scholars, journalists, and politicians. When reading the book it is important to consider the political context in which it was published, -  a year before the upcoming presidential election of 2010, and several years after the Orange Revolution and the election of Victor Yuschenko as the President of Ukraine in 2004. Hence, the tone of the discussions and analysis is often too politicized and propagandist. Nevertheless, the book offers a good perspective regarding the political views of a significant part of the Ukrainian political community and, perhaps, a significant part of the Ukrainian population. After the 2010 presidential and parliamentary elections that followed the publication of the book, most of the political forces whose opinions are presented obtained political representation and direct access to power. Not surprisingly, as of today, many of the foreign and domestic policy proposals discussed in the book have been implemented.

The title of the book “An Application for Suicide. Why Ukraine needs NATO?” speaks for itself. Hence, all the expert opinions portray a very negative opinion about NATO as an organization of international security and a very negative view regarding Ukraine’s potential membership in the Alliance. All the authors seem to agree that not only would Ukraine not benefit from such a step, but NATO membership would also jeopardize Ukraine’s political future, violate its territorial and political integrity, and fundamentally worsen relations with Russia. The latter seems to be the most important argument against membership. Instead, the book recommends that Ukraine should seek for a policy of non-alignment that would imply improving the relations with its most strategic partner (Russia) as well as keeping good relations with the West. This balanced position is considered the most appropriate foreign policy vector for Ukraine. Additionally, of particular concern for many of the book authors, is the involvement of the United States in Ukrainian domestic and foreign affairs, which in their opinion has had negative outcomes for Ukraine.
The first major contributor is Georgiy Krychkov – the member of the Communist Party of Ukraine. His analysis starts by criticizing Ukraine’s distancing itself from Russia and other Soviet Republics after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was an unwise political choice. Moreover, Ukraine’s foreign policy and its relations with Russia were proscribed by the U.S. House Committee Resolution 120 “In support of Ukraine’s independence” adopted in 1996. The resolution focused on Ukraine’s sovereignty and its distancing from the former Soviet satellites as well as distancing from Soviet-style political institutions. In Mr. Kryuchkov’s opinion the very fact of such a resolution is the example of the outright interference of another state in the internal and external affairs of independent Ukraine. Hence, further actions of Ukraine’s government, such as the dismantling of Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal, only weakened the country’s military capacity and did not produce any of the desired political outcomes. The development of the Ukraine own military has also suffered from the repeated economic crises and worsening social problems. Hence, current conditions of the Ukrainian military complex are unsatisfactory.
Mr. Kryuchkov argues that Ukraine has special significance for Russia-U.S. relations, and President Yuschenko’s pro-NATO position on this issue appears to have been very harmful for Ukraine. Moreover, it does not reflect the opinion of the majority of the Ukrainian population that has held a generally negative perception of NATO. Alternatively, Mr. Kryuchkov argues, Ukraine should develop a more balanced foreign policy approach. The closest foreign policy model was under former Ukraine’s president, Leonid Kuchma. At the same time, president Yuschenko’s policies significantly worsened Ukraine-Russia relations, as evidenced by gas conflicts, the situation with the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and the worsening of Ukraine’s exports to Russia.
According to Mr. Kryuchkov, NATO’s interest in Ukraine includes using Ukraine’s soldiers for the Alliance’s military operations; using Ukrainian military aviation; and taking advantage of Ukraine’s territory and its geopolitical position. At the same time, Ukraine’s benefits are unclear. Since the Ukraine-NATO ten-year partnership has not really resulted in substantial achievements in the military sphere, the question is whether we can expect anything to change in the long-run. Moreover, although the government has spent significant amounts of time and efforts for pro-NATO propaganda, public opinion remains negative. Finally, Mr. Kryuchkov argues that Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance will not strengthen its independence. If anything, it will worsen Ukraine’s relations with Russia, which will negatively impact Ukraine’s economy. Hence, instead of partnering with NATO, Ukraine should take a closer look at its internal affairs and concentrate on such issues as the deterioration of industry and scientific research;  energy dependence; environmental issues; utilization of  old military equipment; and too much foreign investment in the strategic sectors of Ukraine’s economy and  large-scale privatization.
The second contributor is Dmitriy Tabachnik, a historian and the current Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine. Dr. Tabachnik starts his essay by analyzing early relations between Ukraine and NATO established by Leonid Kuchma. Thus, a balanced foreign policy and partnership with NATO were justified at the early stages of Ukraine’s independence because Yeltsin’s Russia was a politically unstable partner. However, the situation changed when Russia got a new president, who managed to achieve political, economic and military supremacy in the region. As a result, Russia stopped being a threat to Ukraine. Therefore, in his last months of office, Leonid Kuchma removed Ukraine’s goal of NATO membership from the country’s military doctrine. At the same time, NATO itself, mainly the United States, had started displaying growing interest in Ukraine.
Dr. Tabachnik argues that from then on, both Ukrainian politicians and their Western partners have been covering Ukraine-NATO relations with numerous lies. This includes the massive campaign to discredit the image of Leonid Kuchma, the substitution of the goal of European integration with the goal of joining NATO, and spreading wrong information about NATO’s goals. The latter misinformation includes portraying NATO not as a military organization but as a humanitarian organization; portraying the Alliance as a club that each country needs to join if it wishes to join the European Union; falsifying NATO’s impact on military expenses and exaggerating military benefits; portraying NATO as an instrument for democracy and anti-corruption reforms; denying the fact that NATO will eventually locate its military bases in Ukraine (and thus denying NATO’s impact on Ukraine’s relations with Russia); denying Russia’s right to express its opinion; and saying that NATO would guarantee the destiny of Crimea, as a territory that would otherwise be captured by Russia. Dr. Tabachnik attempts to refute these stereotypes, by showing that if anything it is the United States, not Russia that tries to exert a destructive political influence on Ukraine by involving the country in political and military conflicts and worsening its relations with its immediate neighbor. Like the previous author, Dr. Tabachnik says that NATO membership benefits for Ukraine would be minimal; however, negative outcomes would be significant. He further uses the example of France and its relations with the satellite countries on the eve of World War II. While France supported the formation of the Small Entente, when it came to the real German threat, the country did not stand for its smaller European satellite countries. Thus, the destiny of small satellites (like Ukraine) is not necessarily determined by their alliance with the bigger partner (NATO). Additionally, Tabachnik uses the example of the expansion of Nazi Germany, and shows how this analogy could be applicable to the expansion of NATO – the dangerous process that might have negative long-term outcomes.
Finally, the author discusses the role of Sevastopol, as a strategic city that ensures control over the Black Sea Region and access to the Caucasus. Control over Sevastopol is important not only because of its naval capacities but also as a symbol of independence, freedom, and Ukraine-Russia unity – the symbolic role that Sevastopol gained over the course of its history. Particularly, the Russian Black Sea Fleet is the only capable naval agent that protects Ukraine’s security (Ukraine’s own fleet is weak). One potential threat comes from Romania, and in this regard the role of the Russia Fleet is crucial. Moreover, Sevastopol’s economy is so dependent on the Russian Fleet that it would completely collapse in case of its permanent withdrawal. Lastly, Dr. Tabachnik argues that Ukraine’s involvement in Georgia-Russia conflict in 2008, including both the political support of Georgian president and supplying the military equipment, significantly worsened Ukraine-Russia relations. Overall, Ukrainian foreign policy carried out by all its Presidents had been the policy of lost opportunities – a tendency that is both harmful and dangerous.
The third contributor is Petr Simonenko- the leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine. He starts his essay by discussing the events of Russia-Georgia War of 2008, as an event that should force Ukrainian society to think more carefully about the historical roots of the war and its modern causes. Learning a lesson from Georgia’s negative example is important for Ukraine. Simonenko’s analysis is based on the premise that the presence of too strong nationalist political forces in any country is likely to lead to negative and even dangerous outcomes. One such example was the triumph of the National Socialist Party in Germany. Another example is the case of the Soviet Union dissolution, where radical nationalist movements made sure to destroy the strong political, economic, and cultural ties existing between the Soviet Republics. Hence, Mr. Symonenko is not surprised that the United States and the transnational corporations are supportive of the nationalist right-wing movements in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
He further analyzes two major vectors of the American foreign policy (Pax Americana endorsed by Republicans and Pax Globalist endorsed by Democrats). He says that although these doctrines have slight differences, they nevertheless have the same goal – the construction of a new world order. Symonenko uses the example of the color revolutions in Eurasia and their failings to illustrate the weakness of the American doctrine and the problem of foreign influence on domestic political affairs. In fact, recent frozen conflicts in Kosovo, Tibet, Georgia are not single events; they are rather a system of well-planned actions aimed at supporting the economic and political dominance of the American system. Thus, like the previous author, Mr. Symonenko condemns Ukraine’s political and military support of the Georgian government during the war of 2008. In summary, he offers several suggestions from the Communist Party of Ukraine on what to do in order to improve Ukraine’s domestic situation and foreign positions. These include: changing the foreign policy approaches by reducing the power of one leader –the President – in making all important foreign policy decisions; to adapt the comprehensive law “On the Foundations of Foreign and Domestic Policy of Ukraine”; to once and for all ‘close’ the issue of NATO membership and to adapt  a non-alignment doctrine; to rely on Ukrainian military forces for  defense needs versus  a foreign military; to strengthen and develop Ukrainian military capacity; to advance the idea of “new socialism” by creating a global socialist organization; and finally, to publicly condemn the politics of nationalism.
The fourth contributor is Sergey Grinevetskiy, the representative of a centrist party Lytvyn’s Block. He also starts his essay by drawing  the reader’s attention to the Georgian conflict. The main argument of Mr. Grinevetskiy’s essay is about the value of the non-alignment philosophy as the best foreign policy doctrine for Ukraine. He first analyzes the history of the non-alignment doctrine as an institution of international law and discusses particular cases of non-alignment (such as Belgium, Austria, Moldova). Then, he talks about three types of non-alignment: permanent, war-related, and internationally sanctioned and only later domestically instituted non-alignment – like in the case of Turkmenistan. The author further discusses specific political conditions conducive to the permanent non-alignment of Ukraine. Of particular importance is Ukraine’s position in the Black Sea Region and the presence of ‘frozen’ conflicts in that region. Mr. Grinevetskiy recognizes that Russia has crucial interests in the region, and therefore is interested in keeping her influence by all means possible, including military actions. Hence, Ukraine as a country is captured between Western and Russian interests in the region, and therefore, for its own best interests, Ukraine should adopt a non-alignment doctrine. Mr. Grinevetskiy further analyzes public opinion polls that signify Ukraine’s public general disapproval of a particular alliance (either with NATO or with Russia), with 36.6 per cent of people directly supporting non-alignment. Hence, there are objective preconditions for adopting this doctrine at the political level. Among other, Mr. Grinevetskiy mentions the negative impact of Ukrainian politics on Ukraine-Russia relations, particularly evidenced by Ukraine’s military support of Georgia that directly violated the Ukraine-Russia partnership agreement signed in 1997.
The fifth contributor is Petr Tolochko – a former member of Tymoshenko Block and a current member of the independent civic organization “New Ukraine” since 2009. Dr. Tolochko’s essay is dedicated to the social and humanitarian issues pertinent to Ukraine’s relations with NATO. He starts by discussing a negative portrayal of Russia and Russian interests in Ukraine by the Ukrainian media, which sounds more like anti-Russian propaganda rather than objective information. Then he moves to discuss the issue of the Russian language in Ukraine that is spoken by 8.5 million people, and yet is being forced out of the public schools, media and other social institutions. The other problem described by Dr. Tolochko is the situation with history textbooks used in Ukrainian public schools. In his opinion, these new textbooks deliberately misinterpret several important historical events to form negative perceptions about Russia and its role in Ukrainian history. Finally, the separation of the Ukrainian Orthodox church and the idea of granting this church a special national status, as suggested by the President, contradicts the flow of history.
Dr. Tolochko argues that independence is good for Ukraine; however, he also supports stronger ties with Russia, as a brother country that shares with Ukraine common history, language, culture and other important social attributes. In fact, he argues, in some aspects the histories of Ukraine and Russia are inseparable, and it is not wise to push the boundaries. In fact, the push of Ukraine towards NATO is another problem caused by Yuschenko and the Orange government. It only worsened Ukraine’s relations with both Russia and West. He concludes by saying that national radicalism is the worst ideology for Ukraine, and Ukrainian leftist parties are the only political forces in Ukraine that would support a right policy towards NATO and protect the interests of all Eastern Slavs. Therefore, Dr. Tolochko is hoping that Ukrainian public support of the leftist parties would grow in the future.
Generally speaking, the book “An Application for Suicide. Why Ukraine needs NATO?” is a good read for scholars interested in the internal political dynamics in Ukraine, and the relationship between domestic forces and foreign policy outcomes. It does not offer insights regarding political theories; however, it does provide some good historic analysis and a pretty accurate portrayal of the leftist and some centrist Ukrainian ideologies. The major weakness of the book is its political bias due to the absence of representation of various political opinions outside of the left-central political spectrum. Although the arguments presented have merit, the analysis is very much one-sided. Therefore, although the book is meant to serve the educational purposes for the Ukrainian public, political elites and academics, the lack of critical analysis and unbalanced arguments make it more suitable for political propaganda. Part of what explains this is that the book was sponsored by the opposition parties (when the Orange Coalition was in office); hence, the opposition’s opinion of the Ukrainian governmental relations with NATO was particularly negative. Since the return of opposition parties to the political mainstream, these parties have managed to alter Ukraine’s foreign policy objectives including the adoption of a non-alignment status and a significant reduction of Ukraine’s relations with the NATO Alliance.