Victory than can turn into disaster!?
program article of the IISWU:
Russia has already lost the war plan from the strategic point of view. It happened when the Russian troops had to be withdrawn from Kyiv after it had become clear that the Ukrainian society was not going to greet the invaders and is ready to fight them. Therefore the Russian government had to realize that its main goals are completely unachievable. It is impossible to establish in Ukraine a pro-Russian puppet regime or to make Ukraine cease its pro-Western geopolitical drift. So the Kremlin had to abandon its previous ambitions and start to pursue more limited aims. Now Russia just wants to seize the part of Ukrainian territory mostly because of Putin’s need to appear strong and successive in the eyes of his own compatriots.
But nowadays there are some reasons to believe that Russian troops might fail even in carrying out this task. The Russia risks to face the defeat in the battlefield. And Ukrainian strategic victory is eventually converting into the national triumph.
Of course it’s first of all the result of the efforts of the Ukrainian society that has shown readiness to fight and make sacrifices for the victory. But we should not forget about the role of the president and members of his cabinet who managed to make unite the country against the invasion and overcome the pro-Russian propaganda that had had a great influence on the public opinion in the south-eastern regions before the war.
Naturally the president to achieve this had to suppress (at least partially) the political opposition especially parties that can be suspected in pro-Russian sentiments. Besides the Ukrainian presidential office succeeded in establish control over the media activity in the country. In the time of war such steps seem to be inevitable. But unfortunately there is no reason to expect that the president and his inner circle would give up such ways of governing when the war is over.
The military victory of Ukraine would have a great significance for the European security. It would mean that the Russian threat would be finally eliminated and the Europe would obtain the opportunity to create the regional security system that might even include the post-war Russia if it refuses from its geopolitical ambitions and establish the democratic political system. But all these promising gains might be lost if Ukraine maintains the current political system in which the president is the only political leader who cannot be criticized by his possible rivals. The lack of the political competition would pave the way to the authoritarian rule. And even this attempt to establish it proves to be successful Ukraine would eventually become socially unstable.
It would male impossible the implementation of the system of the European security that might emerge after the war. And it means that Europe would have to face new dangerous threats that could come not only from the defeated Russia but also from other directions.
The Ukrainian victory is one of the most important conditions of ensuring long-term European security. But the victory can turn into disaster if the previous efforts to create working political democracy in Ukraine come to nothing. The Europe needs the democratic Ukraine and it needs to do everything possible to assist the developing of Ukrainian political democracy after the war is over.
There seems to be three main steps that should be made to achieve this goal.
First, the president and his political allies should be prevented from maintaining the traditions of the period of war in the time of peace. The presidential office might try to use the military victory over Russia for changing the political landscape and establishing new political traditions based on war-time practice. And these traditions might be completely incompatible with the democratic procedures.
For instance, one of the main postwar problems will certainly be connected with the elections in the liberated Ukrainian regions. There can be no doubt that their results will be disappointing for the presidential office and many of influential Ukrainian politicians quite well realize that. So there are a lot of reasons to be worried about the possible postponing of the elections. The presidential office is expected to cancel the regional and local elections in liberated territories at least for five years.
If such a step is taken the long-term political and social stability in Ukraine will be seriously undermined.
Second, the Europe should support the rise of political activity and the emergence of new political players.
Nowadays political life in the country has come to a standstill due to the hostilities, and many politicians and journalists are holding back their activity in order to preserve the national unity. In a period of war, this certainly makes sense, since criticism of the supreme commander demoralize the society and helps of the enemy.
But after the war comes to an end, an unrestricted political life should return and the players with different political positions (even those inimical to the president) should obtain the opportunity to participate in it. And the political process should be covered by media affiliated with various political forces, as it had been before the start of the presidential election campaign in 2019.
The fears that the presidential would not refuse office from “military management” after the war is over have been spreading now both in the Ukrainian and in the European political circles. This threat should be considered to be very serious and strong effort needs to be taken to prevent such a course of events.
Third, the European community should assist the appearance of new political leaders who can compete with the president. And without help of the European politicians it cannot be done because the presidential office will try to its best to preserve the current political system. Therefore the possible rivals of the Ukrainian president should be granted access to the European media and supported by the European political circles. It will help to balance the Ukrainian political system especially if the main opponent of the incumbent president comes from the top military staff.
The European political circles need the preservation of political democracy in Ukraine no less than the Ukrainian victory on the battlefield.
And Europe has all the necessary capability to achieve both goals.