Staunton, December 17 – For much of the past year, many commentators have focused on the flood of refugees from southeastern Ukraine into the Russian Federation, but now, given economic and political instability in Russia, Ukraine must be prepared for a flood of refugees from the east, according to Sergey Datsyuk.
Speaking at a Kyiv press conference yesterday on “The Collapse of Russia: Threats and Challenges for Ukraine,” the Kyiv philosopher said that “no one needs the collapse of Russia, not the US nor Europe nor to a significant degree Ukraine because [it] would suffer from that first.”
But the risk of Russian instability and collapse is sufficiently high, he continued, that Kyiv “must have a strategy for what to do” should that happen. In the first instance, this concerns how it would cope with a flood of Russians fleeing from the instability and chaos of their home areas.
“When Makhno-type instability begins there” — and by this he is referring to the anarchist leader in Ukraine at the time of the Russian civil war — “this will not be like what is now taking place in the east,” Datsyuk said. Instead, in the Russian case, it would be “one without borders which would then … and create problems across the entire perimeter.”
Ukraine would need to have a policy to deal both with refugees from Russia and with the chaos on territories adjoining its borders. With regard to the latter, it would have to “take under control” of the situation there, especially in the Sevastopol-Stavropol-Luhansk “triangle” and Kursk and Voronezh oblasts of the Russian Federation.
A Russian collapse would also present Ukraine with “an enormous challenge” in other ways as well, the Kyiv scholar says. It would disorder the transportation and communication infrastructure on which Ukraine has relied and force Ukraine to re-orient its economic and energy links entirely toward Europe.
That would be a good thing, Datsyuk said, but it will be more difficult to do if it is driven by a Russian collapse than if it is developed as the result of a more considered Ukrainian policy. But Russia’s crisis is going to be prolonged — for at least the next decade and possibly several — and consequently, Kyiv must prepare itself now for the challenges this Russian crisis presents.