February 19, 2022 was a historic moment in the newest history of Ukraine. P resident Vladimir Zelensky in Munich said exactly what Ukraine has long wanted to hear.
Everyone is tired of this unbearable funeral procession of the Ukrainian SSR under name of Second Ukrainian republic.
These dull howls with tambourines, these solemn funeral speeches for the next anniversary battles under Kruty, after which officials are going to the nearest expensive tavern on Chernihiv track and chat what else they could steal from the state budget. And so on for 30 years.
In fact, we had an illusion of the statehood with the illusion of security guarantees from our "strategic partners", illusion of external politics, illusion of the armed forces, education, healthcare. In deed there was only money and topics that it generated.
Zelensky's Munich speech draws a line between reality and fiction, which does not allow a realistic look at oneself and one's capabilities. That is why it is historical for Ukraine. Zelensky's speech undermines the simulacrum statehood when we played the role which had been assigned to us.
After all, the USA and Russia imposed on us the surrender of nuclear weapons in 1994 in exchange for fictitious guarantees along with the rest participants of the Budapest memorandum. The essence of Zelensky’s message is not that Ukraine will return nuclear weapon. Of course not. This is unrealistic. At least at this stage.
The bottom line is that Ukraine demands all key players give specific and clear answer how they look at us. You say that we have a place in NATO or the EU. When will we receive it? Is there no answer to this question? And when will it appear? Is there no answer to this question as well? And which answer do you have? Do you want Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreements? And what guarantees will you give if they are implemented, to prevent Putin from demanding new concessions? Oh, you are not ready to give guarantees?
Then Ukraine has every right to pursue such a domestic and foreign policy that guarantees its survival. In this case, the US and Europe have no right to demand that we behave in a way that suits them. As if we have the prospect of NATO or EU membership, but at the same time in Washington, Berlin or Paris they look at us as if we seem to already belong to the zone of Russian influence. “Perform Minsk-2,” - they say. And why should we fulfill it if it puts an end to our statehood? Should we do hara-kiri so that we can die quietly and uncomplainingly so that someone in Washington, Berlin or Paris does not lose their appetite?
Ukraine is definitely not going to commit hara-kiri. That's why Zelensky raised question about certainty and honesty from our Western allies regarding geopolitical status of Ukraine. It is the uncertainty that is killing Ukraine today, because in various social groups of our nation it generates expectations under which there is no basis.
In Munich Zelensky demanded answers to fundamentally important questions in order to debunk the illusions. Ukraine does not need chatter that it has the prospect of NATO membership, when here and now NATO is not ready to participate in saving Ukraine. What is the point of Ukraine's hypothetical NATO membership in 20 years if Ukraine can be destroyed by Putin in the next few days? Ukraine has been suffering specific human, economic and territorial losses for 8 years for the sake of the idea of being an equal member of the Western world. However, the West's toothless response to Putin's threats calls into question the rationality of these losses. Moreover, to what extent the values of the West are really true. Is the West what it claims to be? This is by no means a rhetorical question.
In this situation, Ukraine, in the face of specific and extremely dangerous threats from Putin, is obliged to dismantle constructions that weaken its position, make it dependent and allow to be manipulated by both Russia and the West. This is the essence of Zelensky's speech in Munich.
It opens us going beyond hallucinations and fantasies about a world that does not exist and paves the way to the world where we really live and which needs to be changed so that it becomes more honest and safer. Therefore, when the German ambassador to Ukraine says that the Budapest Memorandum has no legal obligations, then Ukraine has every right to say: “OK, if so, then we have the right to withdraw from the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons and we advise all states which think that security guarantees from nuclear states mean something to do this. Now Ukraine can clearly say that the nuclear states do not give you any security guarantees.” How do you like this world, Elon Musk?
Will it be easier for Ukraine from this? No. But we now firmly know that our future depends completely and entirely on us. Only from us. And we must act accordingly.
Yes, it will be very hard for Ukraine. How hard it was for Israel in 1948. Or Turkey in 1922 after the Sevres Peace Treaty of 1920 was imposed and the country was simply dismembered, based on the interests of the winners in the First World War - the Entente countries. And, nevertheless, both Israel and Turkey, who understood that survival is the salvation of the hands of the drowning themselves, withstood a tough struggle and today they are quite prospering.
Thus, only Ukrainians can guarantee the future of Ukraine. If our people want to survive, then they must discard all sentiments regarding the fact that our actions may not please someone, irritate or even infuriate someone. For the past 8 years, Ukraine has tried not to embarrass our Western allies. However, our modesty and desire to always look into the mouths of Western democrats, who are about to pronounce the good news, did not justify themselves. All Ukraine's efforts to be convenient for the US and Europe ended up with Putin's 150,000 army standing at our borders today, threatening a large-scale invasion of Ukraine. There will be no miracle. You have to accept it and live with it.
What do we need from the West in this situation? Maximum possible help. No chatter about the prospects for membership in NATO or the EU. The West must clearly answer whether it considers Ukraine a part of its world. This answer will be closely studied in Taiwan, Eastern and Central Europe, Finland, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Because the position of the West regarding Ukraine will correct the position of the allies of the United States and Western countries in Europe on all key geopolitical platforms where the West has a conflict of interest with China and Russia. After all, China and Russia are determined to revise the balance of power established at Yalta and Potsdam in 1945. When Beijing recognizes Argentina's right to the Falkland Islands, it claims to influence the geopolitical alignment in South America at the expense of UK and US. Putin is doing the same when he demands that the US roll back to 1997 levels in Europe.
Therefore, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was absolutely right when she said that the Ukrainian crisis is, in fact, a Russian crisis. This is a crisis about dismantling and reformatting the global security architecture that has developed since the “end of the Fukuyama story.” Putin does not need the European Union, NATO and other "relics" of the Yalta-Potsdam system. He needs a concert of the great powers, where Russia will be an equal partner. This concert of the great powers will solve all the world's problems at the expense of the small and medium powers. What would such a world potentially look like? Look at the map of the world and Europe in 1914 before the fatal shot of Gabriel Princip in Sarajevo. This is the world of empires. And Putin is proposing a return to imperialist politics.
Therefore, Zelensky's speech is not about the return of nuclear weapons by Ukraine. It is about the adequacy of not only Ukraine, but also the US and Europe. The need to rationally face the truth in order to realize the burden of responsibility against the backdrop of the increased power and ambitions of autocratic powers. Joseph Biden constantly talks about the world of democracy as opposed to the world of autocracy. So, the world of democracies today is dying because of an infantile fear of dramatic transformations in the world that change the balance of power not in their favor. Exactly 50 years ago, the US President Nixon took a radical step - he made a deal with China against the USSR. This alliance weakened the position of the USSR and forced it to divert its huge resources to the defense of the Far East and Siberia. Today, Moscow and Beijing made a deal against Washington, just as Stalin and Hitler made the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact at the expense of Poland and other Eastern European countries in 1939. Like Daladier and Chamberlain in 1938 trying to save the world by surrendering Czechoslovakia to Hitler, today Western leaders are also hoping to delay a terrible final. But they risk getting endless horror in exchange. Today the West needs a new Churchill, not another Chamberlain.
In this situation, on February 19, Zelensky raised the stakes and this step is worthy of respect. In Munich, Zelensky paved the way for Ukrainian realism. And Ukrainian realism opens the way to the Third Ukrainian Republic. To a common mental space about which said philosopher Sergei Datsyuk. From Zelensky's Munich speech, there are only a few steps to the moment when Ukrainians begin to look at the world and ourselves from general understanding situations from general coordinate system, within the framework of the general goal setting. Yes, we will pay a high price for this. Yes, we can lose more territory and people. However, I will repeat the idea that I said in October 2013 - Ukraine will occupy exactly the territory that corresponds to its level of social organization. Our losses today are directly related to our weak organization and unwillingness to face the truth. It's time to do it!
Now the cards have been revealed. And all that is needed to move on is to proceed within the new Ukrainian realism.
Here is the real essence of Zelensky's speech in Munich, not funny fantasy about nuclear weapons that many heard. It's about growing up and accepting the burdens of adulthood. Putin's evil genius leaves us no other options. We must accept this challenge and give our own, hard-won and sweaty answer. As David Sakvarelidze told me, the less space we leave for illusory and virtual circumstances due to which Ukraine cannot take place as a progressive state, the faster we will move forward. May it be so.