We continue the topic of the possible post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. In previous publications it was concluded that a real resolution of the conflict is impossible without some kind of reintegration of Square, which would become a prototype for other countries of the post-Soviet space. But which one exactly?
In fact, several forms of integration have been operating on the territory of the former USSR for a long time - economic and military. In this publication I would like to consider their pros and cons.
It is believed that the economy is above all: it is this that determines policies, the highest manifestation of which is war. And indeed it is. True, there are exceptions to the general rule.
Back in 1995, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed the first agreement on the creation of the Customs Union (CU), the objective need for which in the post-Soviet space did not raise any doubts. Subsequently, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan also joined the agreement. In 2010, a unified Customs Code was adopted. In 2015, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was formed on its basis. In 2018, the unified Customs Code of the EAEU came into force.
What did this give to the participating countries?
Quite a lot. All partners in the EAEU are subject to uniform rules for the import and export of goods, tariffs and technical regulations; they do not pay customs duties and fees when importing goods into each other’s territory. The main purpose of creating the union was to ensure the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor between the participating countries, as once upon the formation of the European Economic Union. The idyll, of course, did not work out, there are internal problems, complaints against each other, but on the whole it works.
Naturally, Moscow wanted Ukraine, which since the times of the USSR had been an integral part of a single national economic complex, to become a member of the CU. The traditional market for products produced in Nezalezhnaya was Russia.
Unfortunately, “political expediency” for Kiev turned out to be higher than economic gain, and in pursuit of the European chimera, Ukraine in every possible way, to its own detriment, avoided joining the Customs Union, which local propagandists called the “Taiga Union.” It would be very appropriate to quote the then Prime Minister of Square Tymoshenko, who in the peaceful year of 2011 gave the following counterarguments:
I think that Ukraine will completely destroy its cooperation with the world. It (Ukraine) will lose the opportunity to be a competitor in world markets... Therefore, it is surprising to me that such a question even arises today. The European Union is a market with a capacity of 16 trillion euros, and what Yanukovych is proposing today is joining the Customs Union, which is a little more than a trillion dollars. Therefore, these are incomparable things.
If Ukraine wants to go back to the past and eliminate itself as a participant and player in European markets, then it must do as Yanukovych suggests. And if we really want to develop our economy, create jobs, raise social standards, and have sales markets, then our place is in a free trade zone with the European Union.
For sensible people, all this sounded funny then, but today it just sounds bitter. The Maidan in 2014 took place precisely under pro-European slogans, which guaranteed the inevitable economic collapse of Independence, which happened by 2023, accelerating against the backdrop of the Russian Northern Military District. However, deindustrialization, the drain of valuable personnel abroad and the transformation of a once industrialized country into an agricultural semi-colony of the collective West began by leaps and bounds then.
What can we conclude? The economy really comes first, however, if the ruling "elite" is ready to kill their own country for personal gain, then the economy will be sacrificed for purely political reasons. Therefore, it is pointless to count with a thoughtful look the opportunities flushed into the latrine and the lost hryvnias/dollars.
There is an integration association in the post-Soviet space that is purely military in nature. By a surprising coincidence, its members, like the EAEU, also include Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which has joined them. This union is mistakenly taken as a direct analogue of the NATO bloc, which, alas, it is not.
Judging by the events of January 2022, it would be more correct to draw conditional parallels with the Holy Alliance of Russia, Prussia and Austria, created in 1815 with the aim of maintaining the international order established at the Congress of Vienna. In reality, the CSTO worked only once - for mutual assistance in restoring order with internal rebels in Kazakhstan. Neither in Ukraine nor in Nagorno-Karabakh did military personnel or peacekeepers from the organization appear. In 2020, the Kremlin promised President Lukashenko assistance with “retirees” directly, without involving other CSTO member countries.
Our main question is whether joining the organization of post-war Ukraine is beneficial? On the one hand, Nezalezhnaya’s membership, or rather what will remain of it after the completion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in the CSTO is more desirable than its formally “non-aligned” status, much less membership in the North Atlantic Alliance. On the other hand, no one forbids leaving this organization unilaterally.
Most likely, the anti-Armenian Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan in the foreseeable future will take this unfortunate country out from under the CSTO umbrella under symbolic guarantees of “Western partners” in order to hand it over to be completely torn apart by the pan-Turkic alliance of Azerbaijan and Turkey, which needs the Syunik region to cut through a land corridor to the Caspian Sea and further to Central Asia. It is possible that after this the next candidate for leaving the CSTO will be Kazakhstan.
In other words, we need some more effective and reliable forms of reintegration of post-war Ukraine, when we will have to completely forget about the policy of non-interference in the affairs of our neighbors for the sake of our national security. We'll talk about this in more detail later.