In an exclusive interview with FNA, professor Yakushik said, “Ukraine played a bad game with Russia, and did not understood it was not the way to act with a great political power; you should not disturb a big player, then the results on you will be much worse than on whom you offend.”
Valentin Yakushik received his Ph.D in Law. He is a Professor of Political Science at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine. His research interests include interdisciplinary studies in the fields of general theory of the state in transition, comparative political and legal systems, national reconciliation and peace-building.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: How do you view Ukraine’s periodic policy shifting of leaning towards the West or Russia?
A: After the 2013 and 2014 revolution, majority of Ukrainians had the idea that the West will come and help Ukraine, and they would just by miracle receive European salaries and work conditions; but it turned out that they could go to only Poland and other Eastern European countries where there are at least two million people working hard labors. So, there was a picture that Europe is heaven, and it was spread among people as not very patriotic people were ruling the country at that time, even though they used nationalistic ideological clichés. Now it is the time to change the ideological approach and technics by getting closer to people and understanding their needs. All our budget is spent to repay our debts; it is necessary to find ways to improve the economy, which is impossible to do by isolating Ukraine from its neighbors. Isolation is an old-fashioned approach; we need creative approaches. Mr. Zelensky in his pre-presidential activities as an actor showed a lot of creativities, boosting the chance to adopt a creative approach. Instead of seeking help only from Europeans and other aliens, he can have real friends from its neighbors; real friends who can cooperate with him and advise him on regional affairs. Again, only pro-western approach is a limited one.
Q: In your opinion, what position should Ukraine take on the international scene? How far is it from its desired international position?
A: Some of the prominent American consultants and thinkers like Henry Kissinger have said Ukraine should have a position in the world to bridge the West to the East, between NATO and Russia, and not to join any of these alliances. The West thinks Ukraine should be a part of the West, but the West and Ukraine will understand neutrality and balanced position are the best possible solution.
Sometimes in the history of each nation is the favorable conditions when you can use this situation for your own development. It was in Taiwan and Japan after the World War II when they could make the best possible economy in their quite balanced political systems, because they were seen as possible competitors of powerful communist China. But the last king in Pahlavi dynasty in Iran did not make a balanced power system, and leaned toward the US and finally collapsed. Ukraine can learn from these technics to have an efficient civil servant, instruments and vision of its real position in the world. But I acknowledge a lot of these possibilities were lost due to corruption. The 2013 and 2014 revolution was anti-Russia and anti-China, and it tightened the ties with China. Ukraine therefore closed the ways to be included in China’s Belt and Road Initiative to be a bridge between China and Europe. Ukraine played a bad game with Russia, and did not understand it was not the way to act with a great political power; you should not disturb a big player, then the results on you will be much worse than on whom you offend.
Ukrainian authorities were unable to use Russian-Chinese way proposed in 2013, nor the US-Western way. We saw the West did not help us, and we became isolated. Now we should develop ways to connect not only to the West, but also to Russia and China, and Muslim countries including Iran.