On the anniversary of Maidan. Should we have waited for 2015?
First, I think that Maidan as we know it began with the savage and senseless beating of the students on November 30. The widespread (in Russia especially) viewpoint that people took to the streets for European salami and American cookies has nothing to do with reality.
Second, I would like to linger on one of the arguments that are frequently heard from Russia. Particularly, couldn’t we have waited until 2015 and simple reelected Yanukovych? Russians find it hard to grasp the concept of a popular and non-bunker-controlled movement, though many of the Russian leaders have studied thoroughly and even published historical publications. For example, about the part a person plays in history. However, another thing is what is really important: Ukraine was very, simply unbelievably lucky that Maidan happened in 2013. The matter is that it is absolutely clear that the elections of 2015 would have been falsified, and Maidan would have still happened in 2015. Moscow understood this, and, judging from some details, they were preparing for this. The Crimean operation, for example, was not improvised. And the growth of military purchases Russia made in Ukraine in 2013 is unlikely to be accidental – they were accumulating reserves.
Maidan in 2013 caught both Moscow and the West unawares. They did not understand back then that Ukraine is not Russia, and the models that work for Russia cannot be applied to Ukraine. There are many reasons for this. Putin and the rest, it seems, believed in their own propaganda about the ‘single nation.’ Western media and analytical centers have been based in Moscow for ages and are more or less subject to Moscow’s influence. There are other reasons as well. The most important thing is that planning everywhere accounted for a possible Maidan in 2015.
And let us see now, what would have happened by that time.
- All the intelligence services would have been totally cleansed of Ukrainian patriots. The process was swift, under Yakymenko’s leadership, and was almost finalized in 2014. But only almost, not until the end.
- The army would have been rendered completely incapable. The process of destruction was also swift, but some things remained. Nothing would have been left by 2015.
- Propaganda against “all parties without exception” was progressing successfully. In 2015 Maidan could have only been done without any parties, without control. The experience of the November 30 dispersal shows what happens to protests without parties. An uncontrollable, mass Maidan would have been easily dispersed, and the rest of the opposition would have gone to jail.
- Ukraine would have been stuck in a 15 billion debt to Russia, become part of the Eurasian Union and possibly the CSTO, not to mention other wonderful ways Russia gains control over the military industry and the gas transportation systems.
- Non-family businesses would have been ruined completely.
All of this means that Maidan in 2015, after the falsified election of Yanukovych, would have no chances. If Maidan of 2015 had won after all, it would have been unable to defend itself, as the army and intelligence would have been rendered completely incapable, and political leaders would be in jail or marginalized. This means that Ukraine would be on the brink of losing its sovereignty, and Maidan of 2013-2014 deferred this threat. In essence, it was not only the removal of rancid thieves, it was a way to save statehood, and this happened at the last historic moment. In 2014, the leaders of Maidan were ready and, most importantly, able to take charge of the government; the army, intelligence could still be restored.
Ukraine was very lucky that Maidan happened in 2013-2014. It would have been too late in 2015. What is more, the West was lucky as well. In the past year, Putin’s real plans became absolutely clear. Without Ukraine their execution is much more complicated and barely possible, first and foremost, on part of the military. In a year or two (and possibly earlier), the Russian military equipment would start falling apart without Ukrainian spare parts. Only Rogozin and paid propagandists can still claim they can replace high-technology import from 280 factories within two days. Another year or two and time and the sanctions will have done their job. If Yanukovych were still on the throne in Kyiv, the situation would have been completely different.