The head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, has written a column for the Azerbaijani news and analytical portal Haqqin.az. The article is focused on and addresses Central Asian countries. The same article was published in English by the Turkish Daily Sabah.
Andrei Yermak draws parallels between relations between Russia and Ukraine before 2014 and the Central Asian countries in his article, noting that a country wishing to break away from the influence of its metropolis has to pay a high price.
“Russian aggression against Ukraine became another step in an attempt to get international relations back to the 19th century, to the times of the Vienna system, when Russia employed the right of conquest to become the leading „conductor“ of the „Concert of Europe“ and successfully played the „great game“ in Central Asia. The north-south dividing line passing through the northern Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and abutting the Altai, remains critical to the implementation of the Kremlin’s plans even now. Strictly speaking, it has been a pillar of Russian imperial policy,” Andriy Yermak wrote.
However, for the nations that resumed their independent state-building after the Soviet Union dismantling, Russia lost its appeal as a regional center of gravity.
“Not least because it failed — did not try, actually — to offer its neighbors any integration project that would provide for an equal partnership and prevent Russia from gaining the position of the primary, or even the only beneficiary. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) — all these formats of multilateral cooperation in their current form are aimed at preserving this exclusivity,” stressed the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office.
Andriy Yermak highlighted that for the Central Asian states, historically, multi-vectoring is a natural way of communicating with the outside world. “Ukraine also aspired to be a multi-vector — until Russia’s imperial swagger forced it to make a final choice,” he wrote.
“Not only Ukrainians face Moscow’s territorial claims as revenge for the lack of piety towards its ambitions. Both the former and the latter are known perfectly well to our friends in Kazakhstan. Both Ukrainians and Uzbeks experienced gas blackmail in dead of winter. Besides Kyiv, Bishkek is perfectly aware of the bad odds to get the Kremlin’s proteges extradited and tried. In both Dushanbe and Ukrainian Crimea, they know what a powerful tool of pressure the Russian military base may be,” Andriy Yermak wrote.
He pointed to “a joke about Moscow’s habit of burying the logistics and energy transport projects created without Russia does not need to be explained to anyone living anywhere along the ancient Silk Road”.
“There is much more in common between Ukraine and the states of Central Asia than it seems,” he stated. He expressed special thanks to countries of the region for voting on Ukrainian resolutions at the U.N. “We realize that in certain circumstances even „abstaining“ is a manifestation of courage, not to mention a systematic voice „pro.“,” the author stressed.
Andriy Yermak added that information about events in Ukraine often reaches the states in the region with huge distortions due to the overwhelming Russian presence in their information field. “What is happening in Ukraine is not a proxy conflict between Moscow and Washington, as presented by Russian propaganda. We are the people, not proxies. Everything is simple in this war: There is an aggressor and there is a victim of aggression. The victim has the right to defend himself in all ways available. In particular, seeking support abroad. But we would not need it if Russia were not obsessed with „greatness.“ In the modern world, greatness is measured by the level of medicine, the quality of education and cutting-edge technologies, and not by conquests. However, people from the past cannot comprehend this benchmark”.
The head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office remarked that as a result of military aggression and sanctions Russia has already irrevocably lost its place in the superpowers league. “It means that further degradation of the international security system is imminent. In particular, in Central Asia. Moscow consistently interferes with integration processes within the region to retain its decadeslong role of arbiter. This is nothing but a continuation of the imperial practice of drawing borders without taking ethnic maps into account,” Andriy Yermak highlighted.
The author emphasized that Moscow has established close relations with the Afghan Taliban, despite the fact that Russia designates it as a terrorist organization. He reminded that “Russia repeatedly resorts to the racketeering strategy: The Kremlin tends to create a problem, and then offers its (by default — non-alternative and very expensive) services to solve it.”
Andrei Yermak stressed that Ukraine is fighting for the restoration of a world living by the rules. “We strive to build an international relations system ensuring safety for all and not just the premier geopolitical league members. We aspire to a reliable peace where the right to determine one’s future is guaranteed by effective security mechanisms, and the aggressor is certainly punished,” he wrote.
The head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office thanked all the countries, including those of Central Asia, that “block the terror state’s attempts to restore its military strength undermined in Ukraine,” and as a conclusion of the article he on behalf of the country offered an “open platform to reform international relations”.
“We would appreciate the Central Asian countries joining the sponsors of a new, fairer and safer world order for the common good,” Andriy Yermak concluded.