Power&Politics World – Bucharest – Romania/www.powerpolitics.ro
Gordon Hahn: – Everyone right now has lost something. The big loser so far is Ukraine. It has lost Crimea, is at risk of further destabilization and even Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine, has an unstable government, and its constitutional system lacks legitimacy at least until the May presidential elections. Russia has gained Crimea which will have some economic costs, and the sanctions will add to those. Right now a mitigating plus for Moscow is that historical justice has been restored, since Crimea was always part of Russia until the totalitarian internationalist communist regime which sought to destroy nationalities and nation-states in order to evolve the new ‘Soviet man’ and identity and establish a global communist regime. The US and the West have lost by making a regional and semi-global power, Russia, something close to an enemy and thereby damaging their own national security. They did this through their policies of expanding NATO without Russia and against its will and of coupling that threatening policy for Russia with efforts to support democratization and therefore, wittingly or unwittingly, anti-Russian opposition movements and de facto ‘color revolutions’ in states near or neighboring Russia. Moreover, the West’s sanctions and possible Russian counter-sanctions are going to put at risk the global economic recovery, which is weak to begin with. Perhaps, the only winners are countries like China and India, which come off as paragons of reason compared to their Russian, American, and European counterparts – all engaged in ‘19th century thinking,’ as they say.
– What do you think: was an error of Mr. Putin (and his stuff) or a long awaited rematch?
GH: – I think Putin overreacted to the long-standing series of slights Russia has experienced since the end of the Cold War. Georgia 2008 was the first sign that Moscow would no longer acquiesce in what it perceives as threats to its national security and ‘fait accomplis’ imposed on it by Washington and the West. Another color revolution with neo-fascist elements occurring during Putin’s big moment at Sochi and accomplished through a betrayal of the Western-sponsored February 21 agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition pushed him over the edge.
– There is a usual confrontation between Russia and US (look, they are speaking about a new Cold War), or is a shift of paradigm of international relation system?
GH: – There is no doubt that the geostrategic systemic aspect of the crisis features a West in some sort of decline, in particular that of a hegemon in a unipolar system – with regional and semi-global powers like Russia and China counterbalancing against the hegemon. So this could be the beginning of a shift to a more multipolar and less stable international system. The international law aspect is also important. When great powers see it in their interests to claim international law as the standard of international political conduct, they are operating under the rather false assumption that international law usually sticks and that it is a reflection of a democratic order. However, there is nothing like a democratic international political system in place. This should be evident from the inordinate power that the five permamnent members of the National Security Council enjoy. Hence, when there is disagreement between the council’s members the system is likely to breakdown and needs to be supplemented with timely international conferences and negotiations. This was not done with regard to Ukraine until it was very, very, indeed too late, because the crisis had been in the making with NATO’s nearly two decade march east to Russia’s borders.
– Sometimes it seems to me that in the media battle between East and West has lost something essential: the simple Ukrainians from Euromaidan, all those people unemployed political and ideological. Can you to distinguish them in this melting propaganda?
GH: – No, not very clearly, unfortunately. It is hard to make generalizations about something as grand as the ‘international media’. I can only speak to the media I watch. I have found the U.S. independent media to be nearly as one-sided and hysterical as Russia’s state media. Russian independent media – Ekho Moskvy and others – have done a superb job, and Aleksei Venediktov should win a Nobel or Pullitzer for what he has done there. Oddly enough, the radio station is funded by the Russian state-owned GazProm’s media holding company. If the Kremlin could make its state media as all-encompassing and objective as Ekho, there would be no complaints about media freedom in Russia.
– Already Crimea situation is quite clear. Although many assumptions are made, yet no one dares to answer the question: will stop Russia here or there is the next stage, at least for the Eastern region of Ukraine?
GH: – I expect that if there are no unforeseen circumstances, provocations, or Western missteps, Russia will not invade Ukraine, east or west. I do not think the plan is to conquer Ukraine or Poland or Europe as much of the biased US media and analytical community claims. Nor do I assume that Putin’s original intent was to annex Crimea. Rather, he might have sought to ensure security there and retaliate against the West’s meddling only, but the local population’s immediate calls for reunification with Russia and perhaps other considerations informed by the unfolding of events led Putin to support the reunification movement and referendum. After all, once those demands emerged, Putin would have paid a heavy political price domestically if he ignored them, especially if violence developed in Crimea, or eastern Ukrainian neo-fascists infiltrated and began provocations, or Kiev sent troops, which would have led to war.
– As it stand the things at the moment, and calling to you expertize: the globalization helps or entangles when it comes to managed a crisis of this kind?
GH: – Need more time to think about this question.
– Jens Stoltenberg most likely appointment to the Secretary General of NATO changes something in Russia’s perception about NATO plans? See you a better mediation of differences of opinion between the two parties? Do you think it’s a wise choice – Norwegian instead of Polish – we remember that previously was mentioned the name of Radoslaw Sikorsky (artisan of discussions between Yanukovich – opposition)?
GH: – I think selecting a Pole and one who has clear anti-Russian sentiments would have added additional animosity to the Russian-West relationship. This explains the appearance of possible new choice.
interview made by Gabriela Ionita
Gordon M. Hahn is analyst and Advisory Board Member of Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, Senior Researcher – Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies, Akribis Group, San Jose, California and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, Calif. Also Dr. Hahn is author of the well-received books ”Russia’s Islamic Threat” (Yale University Press, 2007) and ”Russia’s Revolution From Above, 1985-2000” (Transaction Publishers, 2002), the forthcoming The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014), various think tank reports, and numerous articles in academic journals and other English and Russian language media. He has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and has been a senior associate/visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Kennan Institute in Washington DC and at the Hoover Institution.