Merkel's Intimidation, Humiliation and Failed Subjugation of Ukraine

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Merkel at the Lowy Lecture, Sydney, Australia, 17 November 2014. Courtesy: Open Source

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 29 November 2014

On Monday 17 November 2014, the day after the G20 Heads of State had finished their mutual appreciation fest in Brisbane, Australia, Angela Merkel gave the annual lecture of the Lowy Institute in Sydney. The address, mostly a vacuous diatribe for the assembled functionaries gathered therein, detailed her regimes proposal, in the guise of the European Union's (EU) approach, to the issue of Ukraine:

First of all, we are supporting Ukraine both politically and economically.
Secondly, we will make every effort to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict by talking to Russia.
Thirdly, we have imposed economic sanctions on Russia on the necessary scale and for the requisite duration.

The irony that a German Chancellor, in the 100th Anniversary Year of WWI in which German intransigence, lack of communication and a complete failure of diplomacy prevailed, should proffer an approach calling for dialogue and yet fail to take every opportunity to do just that almost beggars belief.

But of course, this was intentional.

In early 2010, at the behest of Merkel, both Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the (European) Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Štefan Füle, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, sought to expand the European Union (EU) into Ukraine upon the inauguration of Victor Yanukovych to the Presidency. In their brief meeting on the 25 February 2010, Ashton and Füle handed Yanukovych a multi-point plan detailing both the steps the country should take and the monetary rewards it would accrue if he should lead it down a path to accession to the EU. It was not so much an offer but more of a command with an implicit ultimatum.

Thus began Merkel's intimidation that has prevailed to this day: she had no intention of communicating in a respectful and diplomatic manner to Yanukovych.

Merkel's approach, considerably more direct than her predecessors interventions in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, was predicated, to some degree, on the knowledge that she was dealing with a Russian speaking businessman and a pragmatist: usually, there is little need for a verbose dialogue or diplomacy in such situations when a simple cost-benefit analysis can convey the salient points to be considered. Nonetheless, Yanukovych, the newly minted President of Ukraine, was not at all enamoured with this brusqe and dictatorial approach.

Naturally Yanukovych was interested in the benefits on offer but baulked at the EU's requirements which if enacted would see him ousted from office. The issue simmered for almost a year until Füle reappeared in Kiev in January 2011, this time to counsel the president on the Ukrainian judiciary's pursuit of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Prime Minister of Ukraine charged with numerous crimes including theft, embezzlement, tax evasion and abuse of power. Yanukovych and Tymoshenko had been political rivals for many years but Tymoshenko and Merkel had become good friends since 2009 and so Füle went on to warn Yanukovych against the implementation of perceived politically motivated justice. Yanukovych was not going to be intimidated by Füle's representations, having now become accustomed to western hypocrisy and duplicity, and simply chose to reassure Füle that the judiciary were independent of the executive.

Merkel's attempted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation flouted one of the basic principals of diplomacy: mutual respect and an understanding of each others interests are paramount.
Merkel and Tymoshenko at the 45th Munich Security Conference, Germany on 7 February 2009. Courtesy: Kai Mörk

Tymoshenko was subsequently found guilty and imprisoned, much to Merkel's displeasure, who actively campaigned, along with the EU, the UK and the US, for her release. Not long thereafter, Yanukovych, who had since become wary of the Western cabal, opted for the Ukrainian-EU Association Agreement, drafted in March 2012, as a precursor to joining the EU Eastern Partnership like the other former USSR satellite states, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova. Full EU membership was now a distant objective to be courted if appropriate conditions were agreeable. Meanwhile, Merkel, and her Western cohorts were now focusing on Tymoshenko, insisting upon her release from jail and, when it did not materialise, facilitated protest groups and subversive activities in Ukraine in a push for her release while using a call for Ukraine's immediate accession to the EU as an excuse for their destabilising activities. Yanukovych was now being directly intimidated and humiliated by an intransigent Merkel and a belligerent Western cabal whilst the nation was on the brink of slipping into economic chaos because of the uncertainty over its future direction.

Merkel's focus on Tymoshenko was intentional as she sought to intimidate and then humiliate Yanukovych into acquiescing.

Again the situation simmered for almost another year as negotiations for funds from both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Russia competed for influence until Yanukovych announced in February 2013 his intention to work closer with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), a political and economic union being established by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia to create a single economic market, similar to the EU. Moscow subsequently proposed that the EEU and the EU should directly negotiate on market integration and liberalisation issues but was rebuffed by the European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso on instructions from Merkel. For Ukraine, the refusal of the EU to countenance dual membership was catastrophic, both politically and economically, as internal rival political factions began to squabble over its future direction. By November 2013 the situation had reached crisis proportions: neither the EU nor the IMF, on which Ukraine would rely for funding if it joined the EU, were willing to compromise.

Merkel's humiliation of Yanukovych had reached its peak and the subjugation of the nation state of Ukraine was now within reach.
Yanukovych meets Merkel in Vilnius, Lithuania on 29 November 2013. Courtesy: Rainer Jensen

By late November 2013 there were simply no other options on the table for Ukraine: the EU had refused to compromise on its proposed dual membership of the EEU and the EU while the IMF had turned down its application for transitional funding in joining the EU. On 29 November 2013, in Vilnius, Lithuania, Yanukovych refused to sign the EU Association Agreement, one of the precursors to joining the EU. In response, Merkel, the EU, the UK and the US immediately began the subversive activities that led to the Euromaidan wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine. While the gestation period of their activities could not be exactly determined the results were preordained: Yanukovych would be ousted in a coup d'état, Tymoshenko would be released from jail and an EU centric puppet would be found and installed so that the country could swiftly complete its accession to the EU.

If there was a point when Merkel, the EU, the UK or the US could have changed their mind it was in Vilnius on the 29 November 2013 but they had no intention of deviating from the script that successfully subjugated the other Baltic states. Their objective was to intimidate, humiliate and then subjugate Ukraine into becoming another one of its vassal states, a NATO buffer state between Europe and the Russian Federation.

However, the subjugation of yet another former USSR satellite state into the Western sphere of influence did not proceed as planned. Unlike Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania who were subsumed by the EU on 1 May 2004 by Schröder, the ethnic Russian Ukrainians were determined they were not going to be marginalised, disenfranchised and ethnically cleansed from their native homelands.

That Merkel, akin to Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938, was about to repeat the process carried out in the other Baltic states many years earlier is a sequence of events that cannot be disputed. This time, the ethnic Russian Ukrainians and their brethren throughout the region are not going to let it happen again.

Despots are synonymous with Empires.
Ann-Marie de Veer