The war around and in Ukraine will be long. Russia, already in a hurry, may not win this war, but neither will it emerge defeated from the battlefield.
Suffering serious material and human losses, Russia has already created a land bridge between Crimea and Donbass (Donetsk and Lugansk), turning the Sea of Azov into a Russian lake.
Moscow underestimated the strength of Ukraine’s defences, just as the West failed to anticipate the well-documented resilience of the Russian people to endure hardship. Nor was it foreseeable that the inclination sanctions imposed for the current war would cause, beyond energy shortages, a secondary, but no less serious, crisis between societies through bottlenecks in the supply chain of vital staples, such as wheat, maize and sunflower.
Havoc is already wreaking havoc on developed Western societies that depend on Russian gas, oil and coal. EU countries are being forced to abruptly break the unbreakable “Catholic marriage” with Russia and replace that dependency with new dependencies, even with Iran, struggling to keep people happy and industries afloat – but to much higher cost to taxpayers. Pandora’s boxes are opening.
The seemingly ill-conceived and poorly coordinated Russian “special operation” is stagnating. kyiv, Odessa, and perhaps even defeated Kharkiv, will not be taken. Priceless historical monuments and shrines of our Byzantine heritage in kyiv and symbols of Greek national revival in Odessa, and perhaps the venerable churches of our Orthodox co-religionists in Kharkiv, will be spared.
Russia will be cut off from Europe for a while. Bad for Europe, bad for Russia. We need the vast expanses of the Russian steppe, west and east of the Urals.
On the other hand, the Russians, beyond their veneration for the Holy Mountain, are perhaps even more in need of the sources of their modernity in Europe. German pusillanimity, Russian impudence and the American spirit once again prevailed over the spirit of Rapallo (1922), that is, the spirit of harmonious balance between the interests of Russia and Western Europe.
The double-headed eagle of Russia will turn to the East, increasingly dependent on the Asian giants, despite the antagonisms between China and India. As for Ukraine, its fertile plains and natural resources, insofar as they will not be consolidated with Russia (mainly the Donbass), will be invaluable for Western (and Chinese) industries.
It is difficult to conceive of a viable future for independent Ukraine other than as a state enjoying a status of permanent neutrality under international guarantees, also enshrined in the constitution. It is unfortunate that this idea could not catch on in the years leading up to the current war.
The Ukraine crisis evoked the issue of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Strait, a central issue in the historical and national consciousness of Australians and New Zealanders. During the Gallipoli Campaign (1915), thousands of Australians and New Zealanders (ANZACS) fell for the poorly executed plan to open the sea route to Constantinople and relieve the armies and people of Russia from hardship .
It should also be remembered that Australia is one of the signatories of the Montreux Convention of July 1936 governing the regime of the straits.
The international community, especially maritime nations like Greece, abide by the terms of the Convention. A revision of its terms to allow an extension of its management, within the framework of a multilateral scheme of which the States bordering the Black Sea and the signatories of Montreux would be members, is not for the moment the subject of a particular attention.
Euxinos Pontos (the Black Sea) has been from time immemorial and the second sea of destiny for the Greeks. Odessa, Sevastopol, Feodosia, Mariupol and Taganrog are familiar places.
There is none better than the Greek sailor as they are in command of the secrets of the stormy waters of the Black Sea. Our history and our interests converge. Beyond the vicissitudes of this war, the ties of friendship with Russia and Ukraine, in our view, are not mutually exclusive.
We pledge to respect international law, as we must support our communities on the northern shores of the Black Sea and Azov, as well as to safeguard trade, energy interests, uninterrupted grain supplies – without the political circumstances do not pose obstacles to our undertakings.
The decoupling of Russia from Europe must not become permanent. It is a grave geopolitical peril for the North Atlantic to force Russia to sever its hereditary ties with Europe and turn to China instead. The need to avoid the creation of an alternative world order centered on the Pacific Northwest should be a high priority, guiding all efforts to find a viable peace formula between Russia and the West over Ukraine, allowing a way out of the current devastating quagmire.
Who likes to keep the fire of war going until the last Ukrainian?
There is still time to avoid the unthinkable.
Doctor Georgios Poukamissasah Ambassador and co-founder of the Greek Society for Geographical Studies STRABO.