The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and Its Provision on Security

Ukrainian military exercises in Mykolaiv (Nikolayev), southern Ukraine (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukrainian military exercises near the city of Mykolaiv (Nikolayev), southern Ukraine (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

Today Ukraine has signed its Association Agreement with the European Union. It was emphasized that only the political portions of the document were signed and not the ones dealing with economic a trade issues, i.e., Titles IV, V, and VI as well as the three annexes and the three protocols of the deal.

This leaves the remaining portion of the agreement, which includes the controversial provision on “security convergence” that some commentators have interpreted as “NATO expansion through the backdoor.”

The specific provision in question is Title II, Article 7, Part 1 (see here).

To quote the text in full:

The Parties shall intensify their dialogue and cooperation and promote gradual convergence in the area of foreign and security policy, including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), and shall address in particular issues of conflict prevention and crisis management, regional stability, disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control and arms export control as well as enhanced mutually-beneficial dialogue in the field of space. Cooperation will be based on common values and mutual interests, and shall aim at increasing policy convergence and effectiveness, and promoting joint policy planning. To this end, the Parties shall make use of bilateral, international and regional fora.

As you can see, NATO is not mentioned here, but the CSDP is.

What is the CSDP?

It is the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union. It was founded in 1999; France and Germany were its biggest proponents. The idea at the time was to develop a pan-European security alliance, independent of NATO.

However the US, under the Clinton administration, objected very strongly to this. They did not want to see NATO decline in its relevance. The 2002 Berlin Plus agreement was able to iron out points of disagreement between the EU and NATO and it led to closer cooperation between the two.

To this day, the CSDP technically remains its own independent institution, subordinate to Brussels. It includes countries like Finland, which is an EU member, and does not include non-EU members of NATO like the United States, Canada, and Turkey. At the same time, the cooperation between the CSDP and NATO is very close, so close in fact that NATO structures are even utilized by the CSDP. This complex relationship has been described as “separable, but not separate.”

Regardless of whether or not this provision indicates a direct pathway for future Ukrainian membership in NATO, it is still likely to raise serious concerns in Moscow.  From the Russian perspective, the possibility of a potential Ukrainian membership in any Western military structure excluding Russia, whether it is the CSDP or NATO, will likely be viewed with great suspicion, apprehension, and unease.

How the Russian Hand Was Forced in Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Presidential Press and Information Office of the Russian Federation)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Presidential Press and Information Office of the Russian Federation)

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted Crimea as a subject of the Russian Federation. It was the West, as he specified it in his speech to the Duma, that compelled him to make this decision. Earlier, Putin indicated that he was not interested in bringing Crimea into the Russian fold. However, pro-NATO sentiments among the interim Kiev government in Ukraine proved too much for Moscow. The potential expansion of NATO into Crimea, and the threat to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, became a clear “red line” that Washington had crossed. In Putin’s own words:

… we have already heard declarations from Kiev about Ukraine soon joining NATO. What would this have meant for Crimea and Sevastopol in the future? It would have meant that NATO’s navy would be right there in this city of Russia’s military glory, and this would create not an illusory but a perfectly real threat to the whole of southern Russia. These are things that could have become reality were it not for the choice the Crimean people made, and I want to say thank you to them for this.

But let me say too that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO, for this is certainly not the case. For all the internal processes within the organisation, NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round.

In Russia, the decision was greeted with euphoria; the vast majority of Russians (over 90%) agreed with the Crimean referendum. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed with it too, saying that the people of Crimea “corrected a Soviet mistake” and that the West should celebrate this as a victory of self-determination and should not place any sanctions on Russia. Indeed, for many Russians, Putin’s move in Crimea has cemented his place in history as a truly great Russian leader and patriot, alongside the likes of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.

On a less celebratory note, the events in Crimea will also have the long-term effect of further discrediting liberal voices in Russian politics who promote more partnership and cooperation with the United States. Washington’s efforts toward NATO expansion and democracy promotion have only served to discredit the US in Russia. As Putin pointed out in his speech, Washington has too often violated international law and worked without any consideration for Russian interests in the world:

Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.” To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall.

This happened in Yugoslavia; we remember 1999 very well. It was hard to believe, even seeing it with my own eyes, that at the end of the 20th century, one of Europe’s capitals, Belgrade, was under missile attack for several weeks, and then came the real intervention. Was there a UN Security Council resolution on this matter, allowing for these actions? Nothing of the sort. And then, they hit Afghanistan, Iraq, and frankly violated the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, when instead of imposing the so-called no-fly zone over it they started bombing it too.

There was a whole series of controlled “colour” revolutions. Clearly, the people in those nations, where these events took place, were sick of tyranny and poverty, of their lack of prospects; but these feelings were taken advantage of cynically. Standards were imposed on these nations that did not in any way correspond to their way of life, traditions, or these peoples’ cultures. As a result, instead of democracy and freedom, there was chaos, outbreaks in violence and a series of upheavals. The Arab Spring turned into the Arab Winter.

The question now is: what next? What will happen in the post-Crimea crisis era?

In an analysis that I wrote last week, I highlighted five reasons why absorbing Crimea would be detrimental to Russia. Of those five, the first three are arguably not major points and are effectively moot. Ukraine will not seek nuclear weapons, the markets did not react badly to Putin’s move, and the impact of sanctions has been (and will continue to be) marginal. On the latter point, the West knows it can only do so much. If they would implement full-scale sanctions, it would hurt them (especially Europe) as much or more than Russia. Moscow has very good relations with Beijing and has already been looking eastward anyway (today it has indicated as much). If full economic sanctions were put in place, it will be the EU, not Russia, that will suffer. Heavy sanctions would potentially have the effect of compounding the already-unstable situation in the Eurozone. Further, if the EU remains committed to the Kiev government in Ukraine, they will be obliged to give money to them too.

That said, my last two points still remain concerns. I mentioned the domestic response in Ukraine. My impression has been that, out of a sense of national feeling, many Ukrainians throughout the country would feel hurt by Crimea’s accession to Russia. This is still arguably a concern for Moscow, which ultimately still seeks to bring Ukraine into its Eurasian Customs Union at the end of the day. In his speech to the Duma, Putin sought to mitigate the potential fallout from his move by emphasizing that it was forced by geopolitical circumstances and that it had nothing to do with the Ukrainian people:

I also want to address the people of Ukraine. I sincerely want you to understand us: we do not want to harm you in any way, or to hurt your national feelings. We have always respected the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state, incidentally, unlike those who sacrificed Ukraine’s unity for their political ambitions. They flaunt slogans about Ukraine’s greatness, but they are the ones who did everything to divide the nation. Today’s civil standoff is entirely on their conscience. I want you to hear me, my dear friends. Do not believe those who want you to fear Russia, shouting that other regions will follow Crimea. We do not want to divide Ukraine; we do not need that. As for Crimea, it was and remains a Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean-Tatar land.

I repeat, just as it has been for centuries, it will be a home to all the peoples living there. What it will never be and do is follow in Bandera’s footsteps!

Crimea is our common historical legacy and a very important factor in regional stability. And this strategic territory should be part of a strong and stable sovereignty, which today can only be Russian. Otherwise, dear friends (I am addressing both Ukraine and Russia), you and we – the Russians and the Ukrainians – could lose Crimea completely, and that could happen in the near historical perspective. Please think about it.

Another serious concern that I discussed was the possible impact that Crimea’s accession to Russia would have on further NATO expansion, and that it may give credibility to those Cold War lobbyists and Russia-bashers in the West who want to bring NATO to Russia’s doorstep. Fortunately for now, it seems as though the West has relented on bringing Ukraine into NATO. Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister, Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk now seems to be emphasizing that Kiev does not seek NATO membership and that it supports a possible federalization of Ukraine (ideally on an oblast-by-oblast level), two things that Moscow wants to see.

Still, influential far-right forces in Kiev such as Svoboda and Right Sector may force Yatsenyuk to reconsider these positions. Right Sector especially seems intent on provoking an open conflict with Russia, something that the West, Ukraine, and Russia do not want or need. Already yesterday, Ukraine’s national security chief, Andrey Parubiy (the co-founder of Svoboda and the former leader of the paramilitary far-right Patriots of Ukraine) has issued a statement declaring Ukraine’s intention to leave the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), to have Russians apply for entry visas, and to declare Crimea a “demilitarized zone.”

Yet, efforts toward NATO expansion seem to continue unabated in the Caucasus. Here Washington has shown a clear interest in granting Georgia an MAP (Membership Action Plan) by September this year. The Russian daily Kommersant said as much last week, though for those closely watching developments in Georgia, this was nothing new, especially after Irakli Garibashvili’s trip to Washington last month. Significantly, yesterday NATO announced that it will be sending a delegation to Tbilisi next week. Meanwhile, French President François Hollande, a friend of Washington, has also announced a future visit to Georgia in May.

Having Georgia as a NATO member would be a major strategic victory for Washington over Moscow and would pave the way for NATO military bases within close range of Sochi, Grozny, Vladikavkaz, and Makhachkala. Moscow will never accept this and, as I have previously written, Moscow will work to strike some sort of a deal with Tbilisi before autumn. Already this week Moscow made two strategic moves: they reopened the Georgian Military Road fully for the first time since 2006, and Grigory Karasin, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister and representative for Russo-Georgian relations, held discussions on the Abkhaz and South Ossetian borders with Georgia with UN representative Antti Turunen, OSCE Special Representative for the South Caucasus Angelo Gnaedinger and Permanent Representative of the European Union, to the OSCE Thierry Bechet.

Karasin is due to meet with his Georgian counterpart Zurab Abashidze next week, a very significant meeting that may pave the way for a direct meeting between Putin and Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and/or Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. The Karasin-Abashidze meeting has already been delayed twice, and it remains to be seen how this situation will finally develop.

Addendum (21 March 2014): Dr. Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University, has informed me that “calls to bring Ukraine into NATO have not diminished among NATO reps and advocates in Europe.” I agree and I must emphasize that I do not think Ukraine has left the NATO agenda. However, I do think that Washington has advised Yatsenyuk to “cool it” hence why he is now saying that he does not want to Ukraine to join NATO. Yet, this is only for the time being and I still suspect that the ultimate objective is to bring Ukraine into the alliance anyway (though Moscow will never allow this).

This is why I wrote “Fortunately for now, it seems as though the West has relented on bringing Ukraine into NATO.” Instead, for the present time, Georgia appears to be the focus for more immediate NATO expansion.

Again, though, I must emphasize that I certainly do not think that Ukraine has totally vanished from the view of NATO expansionists. In fact, I am still concerned that, in the aftermath of the Crimean crisis, NATO expansion is now being viewed as a “wise move” among many circles. NATO expansionists, Russia-bashers, and Cold War hawks will be seen as correct in their predictions that “the Russian bear was always a threat” and that “we need NATO to counter Russia.” Their foolishness, irresponsibility and arrogance is now being viewed as “wisdom” and “foresight.” It seems to somehow reaffirm and vindicate the notion that “poking and antagonizing the bear” was a “well-informed move” and that it enhances the security of the United States and the West. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A Brief Note on Citizenship in Ukraine

Ukrainian Passport (RIA Novosti/Sergei Venyavsky)

Ukrainian Passport (RIA Novosti/Sergei Venyavsky)

In light of the recent Ukraine crisis, much has been made about the issue of Russian citizens in Ukraine, especially as Russia has stated that it may employ the “right to defend” its citizens.

This made me consider: are the people of Ukraine able to hold the citizenship of both Ukraine and Russia, including both passports?

The short answer is technically no.

According to the present Constitution of Ukraine (Title I, Article 4) and the Law on Citizenship of Ukraine, it is illegal to hold dual citizenship in Ukraine. However, there are still many in Ukraine who hold dual citizenship anyway. Understandably (and perhaps not surprisingly), a good number of Russians living in Crimea held dual-citizenship up until the recent referendum (it is unclear how a future status of Crimea outside of Ukraine will affect the citizenship status of these people).

However, there are also significant numbers of people in Ukraine proper who hold dual citizenship as well.  According to a 2008 New York Times report:

Gazeta.24 [a Ukrainian news service] reports that in one oblast [likely Chernivtsi], many Ukrainians have Romanian passports; in another Polish, and in many of the eastern oblasts, Russian passports.

According to the article, about 70% of the residents in Chernivtsi (North Bukovina) hold dual citizenship with Romania. It is also probable that many Hungarians living in the southern portion of Zakarpattia Oblast hold dual citizenship with Hungary. In fact, Budapest has recently opened up the door to granting citizenship to their co-ethnics abroad, including in Ukraine. The majority of applicants are ethnic Hungarians, though it is possible that some Carpatho-Ukrainians native to Zakarpattia have taken advantage of this as well.

More significantly, it is worth noting that the article states that dual citizenship with Russia also extends to the “many of the eastern oblasts.” This likely includes the southern oblasts too and probably even significant portions of some central oblasts (especially the Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kirovohrad Oblasts). Overall, it can be deduced that the vast majority of those in Ukraine with dual citizenship share it with Russia more so than any other country.

5 Reasons Why Absorbing Crimea Would Be Detrimental to Russia

Pro-Russian Demonstrator in Sevastopol (ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Pochuev)

Pro-Russian Demonstrator in Sevastopol (ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Pochuev)

As I expressed in an earlier post, I do not think that the Kremlin is interested in absorbing Crimea.  However, that being said, I would like to point out five reasons why absorbing Crimea would be detrimental to Moscow:

1. It would undermine the terms of the 1997 Russia-Ukraine Friendship Agreement.  In this treaty, Russia recognized the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  In return, it received substantial benefits, including Ukraine giving up its Soviet-era arsenal of nuclear weapons for destruction.  If Russia reneged on this treaty by absorbing Crimea, then it could leave the door open for Ukraine to seek nuclear arms.  Nobody wants nuclear proliferation and it certainly would not be in Russia’s interest.

2. Financially speaking, annexing Crimea comes with a huge price tag.  Putin has already seen the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis on Russia.  It brought thousands of middle class Russians out into in the streets of Moscow and seriously hurt Putin’s approval rating.  Annexing Crimea would bring about a substantial financial reaction that would do more harm to Russia than good.

3. Russia would be isolated from the West.  Annexing Crimea would seriously damage Western-Russian relations which are especially crucial to both sides.  One could argue emotionally that relations with the West are already tense, so why would Russia care?  Indeed, Russia would care because it has strong economic connections to the West, especially the EU.  Likewise, the West (and the EU in particular) has strong economic ties with Russia.  To severe these ties would create serious problems for both Russia and the West that neither side can really afford.

4. It would seriously damage Russia’s credibility in Ukraine.  Opinions about Russia vary in Ukraine.  In Western Ukraine, especially Galicia, there is a strongly anti-Russian sentiment.  However, the attitude becomes more positive in Central Ukraine and especially in the Russophone South and East Ukraine.  Arguably, it is also positive in the distinct westernmost oblast of Zakarpattia where pro-Russian sentiment can be found among many of the Carpatho-Ukrainians.  As I wrote earlier, Putin’s primary aim is not to annex Crimea or to annex Ukraine in part or in whole.  Rather, he wants to see Ukraine in its entirety join as an equal partner in his Eurasian economic Customs Union.  Such a move would be impossible without domestic support and if Crimea is absorbed by Russia it would alienate broad segments of the Ukrainian public, from Uzhgorod to Luhansk, who regard Crimea as “their turf” even if it is an ethnically Russian-dominated region.  Further, by annexing Crimea, Russia would also lose a significant point of geopolitical leverage over Kiev which, if not keeping the country within its orbit, would at least ensure that it does not join the NATO military alliance.

5. It would give license for further NATO expansion, right up to Russia’s frontiers.  By absorbing Crimea, Russia would be giving a clear justification for the expansion of the NATO military alliance deep into post-Soviet territory.  Cold War lobbyists and anti-Russian hawks in the West would feel vindicated and justified in their efforts, dating back to the 1990s, to bring NATO right on Moscow’s doorstep.  These NATO expansionists would play on popular Ukrainian disillusion with Russia in the aftermath of a potential Crimean absorption and would work to bring Kiev into the alliance.  Suddenly, Russia may find itself faced with NATO military bases in Sumy, a mere 98 miles away from Kursk and 404 miles from Moscow!  Further, NATO expansionists would also speed up a potential Georgian membership in NATO in the south (something that is already being discussed).  As it stands now, Moscow still has some cards to play with Tbilisi, as I have discussed in a previous analysis.  However, an absorption of Crimea would potentially threaten any advancements in Russo-Georgian relations and it could also plant Tbilisi firmly in the Western camp, making potential Georgian membership in NATO a real possibility.  This would mean that NATO bases could potentially be on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus range with missiles aimed at Chechnya, Daghestan, and Sochi.  This would also give the West a perpetual outlet to Eurasia as Georgia now serves as a corridor to Western access to resource-rich post-Soviet Central Asia and the Caspian basin.  If Russia annexed Crimea and the West reacted by planting Georgia firmly in its camp, then Moscow’s influence in Central Asia would also be undermined.

Given these five reasons alone, I must state again that I think Moscow is not interested in annexing Crimea and instead seeks to use it as a bargaining chip with the West in the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Ukraine: What Will Happen Next?

Pro-Russia Demonstrators in Crimea (ITAR-TASS/EPA/Zurab Kurtsikidze)

Pro-Russia Demonstrators in Crimea (ITAR-TASS/EPA/Zurab Kurtsikidze)

There has been much speculation over where the Ukraine crisis will go next.  Here are my thoughts on this issue.

Moscow will likely not accept the unification of Crimea with Russia.  As Russia scholar and former diplomat Jack Matlock has stressed, this is not in Russia’s interests. Instead, the Kremlin will relent and allow Crimea to remain part of Ukraine. However, Putin will only agree to this on three very significant conditions:

  1. Crimea must have true, maximum autonomy and perhaps some sort of “special relationship” with Russia that ensures this.
  2. The Black Sea Fleet will remain in Sevastopol indefinitely.
  3. Ukraine as a whole, must never join NATO.

All are very real concerns for Russia.  Many in the present interim government in Kiev have advocated for Ukraine’s NATO membership and for canceling the Black Sea Fleet agreement with Moscow.  One of the government’s coalition members, the far-right Svoboda party, has even advocated abolishing Crimea’s autonomy altogether.  At the same time, Russia is not interested in annexing Crimea, but rather in having Ukraine (in its entirety) as an equal partner in its Eurasian Customs Union and not as a member of the EU and certainly not as a member of NATO.

Given this, the Kiev government, already faced with an impending financial collapse and a potential Russian gas shutdown, will have no choice but to agree. The Europeans, led by Germany and the UK (since France under Hollande is increasingly losing its international standing) will back the agreement. Washington will not have much of a say.

After this, Ukraine will implement harsh austerity measures to help save the national economy with the help of the West and the IMF. The effects of this austerity combined with other factors, such as the presence of the far-right in the government, will lead to rising public discontent and the downfall of the present government.

12 Points to Consider on the Ukraine Crisis

Ukrainian Navy servicemen onboard the ship "Slavutych" (from ITAR-TASS).

Ukrainian Navy servicemen onboard the ship “Slavutych” (from ITAR-TASS).

1. Contrary to widespread Western media reports, Russia has not actually invaded Ukraine. The use of the term “invasion” evokes images of the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. This is not the case. Rather, the ethnic Russians in Crimea have revolted against the interim government in Kiev due to very real concerns (such as the abolition of the regional language law) and Moscow is supporting them politically and militarily. Moscow is likewise interested in protecting its Black Sea Fleet as well as access to the port. Several contingents of the Ukrainian Army and Navy have also defected to the side of the Crimean rebels. The head of Ukraine’s Navy was among those who defected. Given this, the “Russian invasion” narrative, while dramatic and eye-catching, is misleading. The actual situation is much more complex and not as black-and-white as the Cold War-style “invasion” narrative sounds.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (ITAR-TASS)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (ITAR-TASS)

2. Putin dislikes ex-President Yanukovych, primarily for the poor, indecisive, and incompetent leadership he has exhibited and because he played the geopolitical contest between Russia and the West to the brink. If the current government in Kiev falls, Putin will likely back somebody entirely new to take its helm, but not Yanukovych.

3. Putin is not just interested in Crimea or in Southeastern Ukraine. He also has no ambition to annex Ukraine. Rather, he would ideally like to see Ukraine as a whole join as an equal partner in the Moscow-backed economic Customs Union.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Yulia Tymoshenko

4. Yulia Tymoshenko is not the savior of Ukraine and neither are much of the rest of Ukraine’s oligarchs and political elite who have plundered the country and its people since independence.

5. If not close to bankruptcy, the Ukrainian economy is totally bankrupt. It presently needs around $50 billion. They will have difficulty even paying their civil servants in the next few weeks.

6. If Ukraine goes bankrupt, it will adversely affect the availability of food. The interim government in Kiev will lose its credibility if the people of Ukraine have no bread.

7. The EU has still not recovered from the Eurozone crisis. It can barely bail out Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Meanwhile, unemployment is rising in France where President Hollande’s popularity is at an all-time low. Given all this, the EU will be unable to provide the funds that Ukraine needs to avoid default.

8. The US economy is also in very bad condition and will probably get worse. It too cannot afford to bail out Ukraine.

9. The IMF can give limited financial support to Ukraine, but this requires adhering to IMF regulations and austerity that would put the situation in a tailspin. People in Central Ukraine who are mixed Russian-Ukrainian speakers and whose support for the protest has been mixed (in contrast to the West which was pro-Maidan and the East and South which were anti-Maidan) would turn decisively against their government.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

10. The West has limited options for retaliating against Russia over Ukraine. Sanctions are impossible. The US still needs Russia on important issues like Iran and Syria and the EU, and especially Germany, cannot afford to severe its ties with a major trade and energy partner. The best that the West can do, if they can obtain agreement among themselves, is to expel Russia from the G8, which would not phase Moscow. Putin is far more interested in Ukraine than in the G8 which has become increasingly irrelevant in recent years.  To note, Germany has voiced its opposition to expel Russia from the G8.

11. By encouraging and supporting the anti-government movement in Ukraine, the West has made democratic development in the former Soviet space more difficult. Authorities in Russia and other ex-Soviet states will begin to associate genuinely peaceful protests and free expression with the violent unrest and extremism of the Maidan. Jack Matlock, the former US ambassador to the USSR in 1987-91, echoed this sentiment on a recent blog post, quoting an American friend who is a resident of Moscow:

People won’t demonstrate, and not just because of fear of the police. It will simply seem unpatriotic and remind everyone of violence in Kiev, which no one wants. Even people who dislike Yanukovich do not like how he was kicked out of office. I think it’s a fair question to ask why elections couldn’t take place as agreed, and why he had to be forced out of office immediately.

Svoboda Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok

Svoboda Party leader Oleh Tyahnybok

12. The interim government in Kiev, whether one likes Yanukovych or not, came to power through illegal means and is an uneasy marriage of pro-EU liberals and far-right fascists. The far-right groups include Svoboda, Right Sector, Patriot of Ukraine, and the Ultras, all of whom make no secret of their antisemitism, Russophobia, and love of Ukrainian collaborators from World War II. This has been an anathema for most of the South, the East, and much of Central Ukraine who lost many family members in the Great Patriotic War. Overall, all of these issues – the inclusion of fascists in the government, the potential challenge for the availability of food, the impending economic collapse, the implementation of IMF-style austerity, and the inability to solve the Crimean situation – will seriously undermine the credibility of the Kiev government very quickly unless it gets massive financial support and backing from the EU and the US, which is unlikely. The loss of the present government’s credibility may, ironically, serve to also bring the country together.