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Tactical Moves. The Real Game of Thrones in Ukraine

By  Marios P. Efthymiopoulos (Ph.D) & Igor Okunev (Ph.D) CEO Strategy International, Visiting Scholar Columbia University, Harriman Institute & MGIMO University, Moscow Vice Dean, School of Political Affairs*

While the western world, International Organizations and leading governments try to self-organize and respond in precisely the right way, to the Russian Federation reactions, the wider international community looks upon a real game of thrones being developed in the South parts currently belonging to Ukraine.

The actors are very simple. Leading western governments such as the USA, the UK, France and Germany, having the greatest interests with Poland and Lithuania to follow and the Russian Federation being the counter side.

Some say that Russia has the right to intervene. Some say it is a true matter of breaching international law regulations. The UN Security Council is yet to anticipate a solution.

This is a tactical article on existing realities. We analyze and recommend possible ways that events will develop.

We need to stress here, that Ukraine is and was always multilingual and multinational. The majority of which are of Russian descent and living in the South and the East of the Country. There are also other minorities that are or will be affected in the current region from which the largest is the Greek Minority in the Sear of Azor, the Russians being in the Crimean region and a small percentage of Crimean Tatars.

In order to keep things short and to the point, one must now concentrate on what will or may happen following the ongoing events as they develop. The case of Crimea is not an early historical case. From any side that one sees the events, Crimea has always been in the epicenter of international attention.


Ukraine is vast and while beautiful and full of international culture, with the existing constitution and administrative methodology, Ukraine is difficult to be controlled.

Ukraine’s people are centralized around areas that are of urban interests.

Ukraine is a key hub for transport of energy, yet it was never clear what it anticipated from the energy sector in specific for the benefit of its government and people.

Ukraine never had to choose sides with which it would go. Leaders knew that there is a multinational perspective in this region. Russia was very much influential towards Crimea and a provider of land as well, when the former Leader of the Soviet Union provided the administrative control to the Soviet Ukraine, while making sure to keep a good enough military and naval presence in the black sea region.

If Ukraine and Russia upgrade their disintegrating now relation in the field of conflict, presumably Russia will aim to gain control for the south of Ukraine, which is a probability considering the incoming and constant support to Russia and the possibility of putting real troops to the ground.

Russia cannot be attacked by neither the US nor NATO nor any Europeans. It holds assurances for years proving that a closer relation with Russia and any European or over the Atlantic country can be achieved. An attack on Russian troops would prove that this argument was a lie all along. Yet it seems that a game of diplomacy and trade will be soon in effect.

The possibility of a peaceful decision with the South of Ukraine, will provide the benefit towards the new and interim to this day government of Ukraine, to reach a deal in initiating negotiations to the EU per its entrance and its entrance to NATO, as a new member state without the South of its region.

In the energy sector, Ukraine maybe able to negotiate still the control of the pipelines, yet losing the ability in the interim period to control prices or lowering the percentage of price gained passing from current lands solely belonging to Russia.

The Ukranian-Russian crisis extends further to the current local affairs in Ukraine. It will have an impact on the geopolitical affairs for development considering the need for Russia to keep a control area in the Southeast Mediterranean in the fear of losing it because of the Syria war, while making sure to provide certificates (financial and political as well as military), assurances to Cyprus if Cyprus provides not only the ability for NATO troops to disembark but also the ability to Russia to have a military naval base in the port of Lemessos. Bringing a return policy to Turkey, who not only tries to jeopardize the energy game in that region and trying to pass an energy pipeline from Israel to Cyprus and from Cyprus post-solution to the frozen conflict to Turkey and so on. But also the will of Turkey to play a key role through its Muslim-west balanced relationship in the region of the Black sea, which includes the control of the Crimean Tatars, who PM Erdogan considers them as Turks, while affecting the relations in the Black sea region and widely as well in the Balkan region.

Ukraine’s uprising cannot be seen simply as a democratic revolution. As there was never a democracy established. It was the closest thing to a democracy which needs to be re-evaluated, according to the onsite needs of the people. People are not in a good shape and there is no development at the levels that we wish. This is also why the economy has fallen apart and probably the case of economic crisis emerging in Ukraine post crisis with Russia will benefit solely the International community that will provide it with loans of help that is doubtful whether Ukraine will be able to repay back.


Time for language of power and threats has gone, now it is time for language of solutions and possible compromise. The following ideas could be seen as grounds for such compromise.

1) Reestablishment of the government of Ukraine with inclusion of representatives from the Party of the Regions and Communists party, representatives from the Eastern part of the country and Crimea. Veto on any law passing should be established for this interim government. Its only goal should be to prepare internationally recognized President and Parliament elections and prepare draft of the new Constitution.

2) International community can recognize right of Crimean population to decide on their future by themselves and support the interim government there with OSCE and CIS missions that should help to organize independent referendum.

3) A new Ukraine constitution should be instituted that will include:

– no military bloc principle – Ukraine could not be part of any military bloc (nor NATO, nor CSTO) – federalization of the country – Russian language should return as an official at least at the East and the South regions

4) No illustration should be realized. All the security forces and civilians from both parts that took part in the crisis should receive amnesty.

5) Permanent triangle EU-Ukraine-Customs Union commission should be established to find solution for integration of the country with both blocs in the interest of Ukraine economy.

6) In this circumstances Russia should save the discount for gas and Russia, IMF and EU should support Ukraine with money for this interim period. At the same time Ukraine should start negotiations with IMF on economic reforms.

*Article Re-Posted from its first presentation on CNNi.
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