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Lopullinen totuus: Federal state would be the best solution in Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine is often represented as a conflict between Moscow and Kiev. How­ever, the events of the last six months are a direct consequence of two other major sources of instability of the Ukrainian state. The first is related to a deep internal political crisis. As is commonly known, the Ukrainian population is quite clearly split into pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian parts.

Nevertheless, it would be wrong to say that the Ukrainian people are completely divided and cannot coexist in the same state. They are united in a common desire to see Ukraine as a strong and prosperous state ensuring the rights, safety and welfare of its citizens. This desire drove people of different views to the streets of Kiev in a bid to change the corrupt regime of their country. But the irresponsible actions of some politicians who took advantage of the social unrest and sought power for powerÂ’s sake and their own financial enrichment are pulling the country back to the same position as before.

Another source of instability is the external geopolitical environment. The roots of the current crisis took place in 2009, when the Eastern Partnership initiative of the EU was launched, and as opposition to it the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan began emerging. These two mutually exclusive integration projects were aimed at Ukraine and promoted by the two main international partners of the country - Russia and the EU. In such a situation Kiev faced a difficult choice, which was superimposed on an unstable political and economic situation inside the state. Whichever

choice Kiev made, it would have ended up in a similar position. Today, Ukraine has lost part of its territory, it is on the brink of economic collapse and the internal political struggle is still far from completion, whilst Russian and Western politicians cannot agree on the fate of this country.

Stabilizing the political situation requires constitutional reform that would ensure a broad representation of all regions and the entire spectrum of political parties in the decision-making process. The best solution would be to transform Ukraine into a federal state with a parliamentary form of government. But the reformÂ’s success depends on agreement of external players that have direct influence on the events now taking place in Kiev and in other parts of the country.

A solid and active role in this process must be assumed by the EU. That is from Brussels, and not from distant

Washington, who should build a dialogue with Moscow and encourage it to normalize relations with Kiev. Following the aspirations to punish Russia over the accession of Crimea by any means may result in a prolonged rupture of relations between the EU and Russia. And it is fraught with negative consequences not only for Russia but also the EU, and especially those of its members, whose economies are closely tied to the business cooperation with Russia but at the same time much smaller than the economies of Germany or France.

In this situation, Finland, which - knows firsthand how much time and effort it takes to establish a profitable relationship with Russia, may suffer serious economic losses.

Helsinki should not succumb to the emotional aspirations of some ambitious world leaders to introduce the next package of sanctions against Russia. In contrast, Finland should clearly state its concerns about the consequences of worsening relations between Russia and the EU.

Most likely, the crisis in Ukraine will be settled for the time being, but without a constant and trusting dialogue between Russia and the EU on how to conduct their policies in Eastern Europe new conflicts will continue to emerge.

Vadim Romashov

Tampere Peace Research Institute

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