Expert opinion
13 March, 2014
Interview with Austrian researcher and analyst, Eugene Kogan

What’s going on in Ukraine, what is Crimea’s destiny and how will the Ukrainian events influence Georgia? We discussed these questions with Eugene Kogan, Austrian researcher and a Realpolitik expert who is currently in Georgia and cooperates with Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.
Q. – What, to your mind, caused everything that has happened in Ukraine?
A. – Yanukovich decided to walk on the hairbreadth bridge between the European Union and
Russia, but in the end he couldn’t manage to keep balance.
Q. – So, you don’t see Yanukovich as Russia’s man?
A. – Yanukovich wasn’t Russia’s stooge as he is considered to be now. If he ever was a lackey, first of all he was a footman of those oligarchs who brought him to power. From the very beginning, Yanukovich wasn’t planning to sign the agreement because it would be the end of economic independence for his protégé oligarchs.
Q. – Let’s move to the Euro-Maidan… What conditioned the rally-participants’ victory?
A. – I think it was the hatred accumulated in people towards the political elite and universal corruption that reigned in the country. Yanukovich found himself facing a dilemma: either to yield to the raging people or order manslaughter. He chose the second despite the fact that, as he declares now, he didn’t issue such an order. But nobody but the President was authorized to make such a decision.
Q. – Is there any chance for Ukraine to get Crimea back?
A.– I rule it out. It was a pre-planned, detailed military-punitive operation. It’s difficult to believe that Putin, a ruler with such an instinct of a predator, will let such a chance of territorial expansion slip through his fingers.
Q. – Cannot Ukraine with its 50-million population and 140 000-strong army oppose such a development?
A. – Ukraine can’t oppose these processes because it has no political, economic or military resources to do so. Ukraine has no chance to win the war against Russia.
In the case Ukraine starts a war, it will be against its own people. They will sit shivering from cold because Russia will stop the gas supply.
Q. – What will be the position of USA and Europe on this?
A. – At this stage, the Europeans aren’t going to shed blood over Ukraine. A confrontation between Ukraine and Russia is still considered to be a part of the internal policy of Russia. As for the US, it’s too far away from all of this. They unswervingly pursue the policy of non-intervention and Obama only wants to have as little problems as possible during the remaining two years in order to fit a deserved cult image by the end of his presidential term.
Q. – But there are economic and diplomatic levers…Do you think the sanctions imposed by the EU and the US on Russia will deliver any result?
A. – I don’t think so because these sanctions aren’t spread on the spheres that are vital for Russia (i.e. economics and energy resources). They won’t even be enacted because the EU, with Germany as its engine - which has rather close economic relations with Russia, will harm itself. They aren’t ready for this.
Q. – What would you say about Turkey?
A. – When speaking about Turkey’s military potential, we have to remember one thing: the elite of the Turkish army, which was “brought up” at expense USA resources, was sent to prison by Erdogan. The Turkish army is demoralized. Higher and lower echelons don’t trust each other. Under these circumstances Erdogan’s declaration that he intends to assist the Crimean Tatars is simply funny. Besides, 65% of Turkish gas supply comes on Russia. Thus Turkey now, as during the 2008 war, will keep a neutral position.
Q. – To your mind, how the Ukrainian events will influence Georgia? After several months we’ll have to sign association agreement with the EU. What threats should we expect from Russia?
A. – The Crimean episode is very alarming for Georgia. We can draw parallels between the Crimean events and the 2008 war with the unfortunate difference that within these five years Russians became more mastered in gaining the maximum by losing the minimum. Whatever is going on in Crimea is Russia’s signal for Georgia and Moldova – if you take upon the Ukraine’s path and don’t abandon the idea of signing the agreement with the EU you will have the same fate. So, be careful and think well about what you are trying to achieve. Measure a hundred times – are you ready to fully endure this and take upon yourself the pressure from Russia and the burden of results that will follow your aspiration to sign the agreement? I emphasize – aspiration, not signing, because in this case I don’t think you’ll come up to signing. I’ll remind you about the aircraft that flew over Georgia several days ago. It’s only the beginning… I hope you won’t lose your nerve and respond to Russia’s provocations; but Russians don’t lack inventive minds either…
I’m only expressing my suppositions in order to make you stay alert. First of all, you have to expect this because Putin wants to control every transit point in the region from where oil and gas is supplied to Europe and Turkey.
Q. – Following your judgment, we shouldn’t, like Ukraine, count on outside assistance...
A. – If the West accepts the fact of Ukraine’s fiasco, it will swallow Georgia as well. Don’t expect anything serious from the West.
Q. – Experts with the pro-Russian orientation often discuss the following scenario: Russia offers us to set up a federal unity with Abkhazia and Ossetia and we return to the Russian flock… What do you think about this?
A. – It cannot be ruled out but in case Russia succeeds, it won’t swerve from its policy and will at most disperse the region. In the triumvirate of Abkhazia, Ossetia and Georgia it will use every means to make it so that the decisions will be taken by the majority; I believe you can guess what this means…