Click here for part 1.
Player #3: Ukrainian nation
Starting with a first-in-the-world Constitution, Cossacks’ traditions, and a strong civil society, Ukraine has always had a rich democratic background. However, due to never-ending oppression from its northern neighbor, as well as rampant corruption (supported by this same neighbor), Ukrainian democracy has been historically suffocated, sabotaged, and limited in its development.
While never posing a threat to the Russian people, Ukraine is now forced to pay with the lives of its people for the inability of its elites to take a strong stand and end its “common history” and “one people” narrative once and for all. “Sitting on two chairs”, flirting with both the West and Russia, the sober truth is that Ukrainian elites have contributed to their country falling into the biggest bloodbath since World War II.
Ultimately, had it not put up a forceful resistance, Ukraine could have instead opted for the role of an eternal smaller brother, one whose identity is destroyed and whose fate is forever limited to being a mere Russian “enclave”. But that is not who the Ukrainian people are. Fiercely independent, possessing of uncommon dignity, it is the people of Ukraine who – having been given no choice – must now fight to the end. And, ultimately, it is Ukraine that can reap the highest reward.
Ukraine won’t simply be fashionable as it is today but, more importantly, will finally become relevant to the world as an independent and reliable partner in not only the world’s technological development, but, remarkably, as a guardian of liberal global democracy.
Ukraine has all the potential for becoming a key regional player if its economic and ideological dependency from Russia is severed for good. Consider that Ukraine:
- Has ample natural resources (both fossil fuels and agricultural lands);
- Offers a vital crossing point for world commerce, connecting Europe and Asia;
- Has (since 2014) created and trained one of the strongest armies on the continent, and, possibly, the world;
- Has an educated population, many of whom have travelled, studied abroad, and speak foreign languages;
- Has a strong industrial base and history of first-rate engineering and military, including industrial equipment production;
- Supplies key parts for most car makers and about 50 percent of the neon needed worldwide to produce microchips;
- Has a strong IT capability, technical literacy, and the highest-in-the-world rate of crypto adoption;
- Is a multinational, tolerant country where any person can easily assimilate and feel comfortable.
If the Ukrainian army manages to drive Russians out of its land, and the Ukrainian people succeed in rooting out the corruption that has stalled development for decades, there will be no barriers to its growth. Ukraine will take its rightful place among the geopolitical elite.
Player #4: Post-Soviet states
Having successfully integrated into the world economy, be it through Europe, China, or the U.S., most post-Soviet states have managed to use the three decades of their independence wisely. Still, the lingering influence of their Soviet past, as well as never-ending Russian interference, hangs over their future like the sword of Damocles.
Some of them stayed totalitarian and corrupt, like most of the “stans”, while others managed to become economically and politically relevant members of the European community.
Yet, considerable Russian-speaking minorities, unwilling to play by the rules of their host states, have always represented a threat to these countries’ national interests. “Business as usual” prevents these countries from undertaking the action necessary to safeguard national survival.
Fortunately for the post-Soviet states, Russia has unwittingly presented them with a chance to remove the ghost of the Soviet past legitimately and irreversibly. Just like the West, all post-Soviet states have received an unprecedented chance for a reset button.
It is never a good idea to discriminate against people based on their culture or language. Suddenly, however, it becomes a great idea if the “discriminated” people become a post hoc reason for a potentially genocidal invasion of your own nation – as is now happening in Ukraine.
To be clear, no one would ever touch Russian speakers had the Russian leadership not decided to “liberate” them in these sovereign states. The entire notion of “persecuted Russian-speakers” is a Kremlin lie designed to give flimsy cover to Russia’s long-standing goals of imperial conquest, again, having nothing else with which to achieve Russian “greatness.”
While largely unconcerned about the fate of Ukraine and Ukrainians, these other post-Soviet states now recognize this war as their fight as well, providing a welcome and urgent opportunity to throw off a yoke that has slowed their progress for decades.
Player #5: China
China is the biggest unknown in the game. Historically, China has been very close to Russia. In fact, the modern Chinese state is the result of China successfully revising a Communist ideology originally created in Bolshevik Russia. As such, Communist China has always been a close ally of the Russian leadership.
Accounting for widespread human rights violations and ubiquitous surveillance of its population, China, nevertheless, has managed to create a strong economy and a viable middle class. Equally, China has decided to achieve world domination by playing by the rules of the international community: China is not interested in nuclear blackmail or open territorial conquest; it can achieve its goals with the help of its robust technology and the consistent accumulation of land and resources around the globe.
China today is a reasonably strong Capitalistic society, so much so that it has too much to lose by breaking the rules of the game. On the contrary, China has much more to gain by patching its relations with the West and securing a position of a trusted exporter and technology partner – the position, largely at risk since the Trump presidency.
Being a rational actor (so far), China has no interest in joining Russian leadership on its desperate and morally destitute adventure.
In fact, a destroyed and disintegrated Russia will be of far greater interest to the Chinese state, who will play the role of “savior” and legitimate investor, opportunistically taking the break-away regions of Russia under its protectorate, finally developing far-away Russian lands, and giving the Chinese people much-needed territorial breathing room. No nation will be spared the ravages of mass climate migrations.
The map below is all you need to know about what China perceives as the eventual grand prize in this war.
Russian Roulette is a game defined by chance. Unlike other games, the initiator does not usually stand in a better or worse position compared to other players. However, for the player firing last, after the other players have all survived their turns, the odds of survival are grim.
So far, no one has been eliminated. However, Russia seems to be nearing its last, nuclear, shot, with no way to back out of this reckless game.
In the absence of any real technological progress, educated modern society, or substantial military gains, Russia and its elites look much more desperate than before they started. Moreover, Russia’s war has pulled the curtain away from its vaunted propaganda machine to reveal the rot behind.
Russia is not a superpower, but instead a disintegrated relegate outcast, led by corrupt leadership, with a backward society, and failing to achieve any of its announced military goals.
On the other hand, Ukraine has not only proven its right to exist, but has also shown an unprecedented ability to mobilize its resources, defeat enemies on the battlefield, and maintain a functioning economy and a resilient civil society – all of which have become examples for the whole world.
Kate Levchuk was born and raised in Odesa. A Futurist with a background in International Relations, Geopolitics and Venture Capital, she is a frequent guest lecturer advocating for science and progress. Kate lives in London.
David Dodson is an American film director and editor. He has edited ten Volodymyr Zelensky movies and directed Zelensky in three, including his last film, the most successful movie in the history of cinema in independent Ukraine. He lives in Los Angeles
The views expressed are the authors’ and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter