Belarus does not have any external protection from Russia, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish American political scientist, stated when speaking on a panel at the Wilson Center on June 16 titled ‘Mutual Security on Hold? Russia, the West, and European Security Architecture’.
According to Dr Brzezinski, Putin has taken the lead in steady emergence of a quasi-mystical chauvinism. It would be an error to think that Crimea and Ukraine are just the products of a sudden outrage, he adds. Understanding the doctrinal framework of Putin’s vision is an important point of departure for dealing with the Ukraine issue, he stresses. Mr Brzezinski refers to the report by the Russian International Affairs Council which has four key concepts: first, that of ‘a divided people’; secondly, the theme of ‘protecting compatriots abroad’; third and more broadly, ‘the Russian world’ or ‘Ruski Mir’ in Russian; fourth, the importance of acknowledging and sustaining, embracing and promoting ‘the Great Russian civilization’.
A divided people is the point of departure for the chauvinistic claim that Russia’s sovereignty embraces all Russians, wherever they are. And that territorial location can be altered favorably by reuniting the Russian people.
“Last but not least is the conviction that Russia is not part of Western civilization. It is also not part of China. It is not part of the Muslim World. Russia itself, it is asserted, is a great civilization. The notion of a “world civilization” emphasizes a set of principles, some of which are not unfamiliar to our society, such as, for example, a strong commitment to a particular religion, but much stronger than in the West where religion is part of a more complex social arrangement. The notion is that the great Russian civilization stands for certain basic values, not only religious, but in terms of interpersonal relationships—for example, condemning some of the changes in the relationship between the sexes and within the sexes that are now taking place in the world. In effect, Russia protects the integrity of certain basic beliefs that have characterized Christianity, but in the Russian view, that Christianity is now betraying its fundamentals. So this is a comprehensive outlook—an ambitious outlook which justifies the conclusion that Russia is a world power,” Mr Brzezinski warns.
The Ukraine issue is not a sudden pique, but a symptom of a basic problem: the emergence of the policies packaged within the larger philosophical framework, Mr Brzesinski states.
‘But also a great deal will depend on whether Ukraine becomes a symptom either of a success or a failure of Putin’s point of view. So in brief, the stakes are significant <…> That is a significant threat—and broadly speaking, an immediate threat; psychologically at least, but potentially, in view of Crimea, also militarily. It is a threat to the Baltic States, to Georgia, to Moldova. And more vaguely and directly, but perhaps potentially more dangerously than to the others, Belarus, because Belarus does not have any external protection. The others that I have mentioned do, in varying degrees,’ he says.
According to Dr. Brzezinski, the Ukrainian problem is a challenge that the West must address on three levels: to effectively deter the temptation facing the Russian leadership regarding the use of force; secondly, to obtain the termination of Russia’s deliberate efforts at the destabilization of parts of Ukraine, thirdly, to promote and then discuss with the Russians a formula for an eventual compromise, assuming that in the first instance the use of force openly and on a large scale is deterred and the effort to destabilize is abandoned.