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The world order should be based on the mechanisms of collective problem solving

Alexander Protsenko

PIR Center conducted an interview with the winner of the PIR Center International School on Global Security 2018, a member of the PIR Alumni Community, Associate Professor of the Department of Public Administration of Luhansk National University (LNU) named after Vladimir I. Dahl, candidate of political sciences Alexander Protsenko. We discussed the prospects for the European and world order and the situation in Ukraine as it seems from the Donbass, as well as the future of the DNR and LNR.


What do international scholars from Donbass think about a “new European security architecture”? Especially in the part that concerns Ukraine and its future in this system.

Indeed, the start of a special military operation in Ukraine was the culmination of the ongoing process of shedding the finally obsolete unipolar system, which was never really formed and normalized with some general international agreements after the collapse of the USSR and de-facto cessation of the existence of the Yalta-Potsdam world order. Now things that Vladimir Putin resonantly stated during his “Munich speech” in 2007, which was later discussed with increasing frequency in scientific and expert circles and discussed in the media, things that were by many people accustomed to the undeniable primacy of the United States in all key international issues was perceived with skepticism, become so obvious that it is impossible not to notice them anymore.

The “unipolarity” is no longer gradually crumbling but is collapsing before our eyes at cruising speed. For the outgoing hegemon, this process no longer seems unimaginable. Among the members of the American establishment and the current ruling elite, of course, there are still quite a few serious figures living inertially, thinking in the categorical “Pax Americana” terms. However, tectonic geopolitical shifts are becoming so pronounced that they must reckon with them, correcting their views and assessments.

Ukraine has become a point of collision of several such geopolitical “plates” at once, which were set in motion at the beginning of the new millennium as a result of a gradual increase in pressure from the “unipolarists” on countries advocating for maintaining their own autonomy and for sovereign competition among the world’s largest powers. If not the vassals’, then the assistants’ role, the ones who merely serves to the United States national interests, did not suit the two centers of power – Russia, as a center of military power and China, as a new center of economic power.

Both centers are united by the desire to transform the unipolar world into a format in which the world order should be based on the mechanisms of collective problem solving. There should be no place in it for the unilateral dictatorship of any state, which arbitrarily decides the fate of others. There should not be a distortion of power in the world only in one direction, there should not be a concentration of world power only in one hand, in one center.

Of course, this situation, even if it corresponds to the universal concepts and principles of justice, is resisted by the United States as the most powerful state, which for a long time uncontrollably benefited from the sole world domination.

At the same time, in pair with China Russia has been demonstrating a very interesting and demonstrative variant of interaction in tandem for many years, which should become an example of the future format of relations between the world's major powers for those who oppose the “unipolarity”. In short, this interaction can be described by the phrase: “Not always together, but never against each other.” It means that relations between Russia and China are based primarily on mutually beneficial cooperation, on the priority of their own national interests. Neither Russia nor China become fully dependent on each other in foreign policy, lose or bind their sovereignty with the priorities of others.

What are the prospects of the Russian special operation in Donbass?

For Russia, the global confrontation in 2014 resulted in interference in the political process in Ukraine, the seizure of power by the alliance supported by the West, an extremely unnatural in terms of ideology, but rather stable from a pragmatic point of view, which consisted of big pro-Western capital and radical nationalists. All of this opened a “Pandora's box”, and in fact started an artificial, openly repressive, and criminal process of reshaping Ukraine into the format of “Anti-Russia”, a state that cannot be valuable, but whose existential essence is to oppose itself to Russia, to fight against Russia and to exterminate on its own territory everything which is Russian, which had been matured and formed here for more than one century.

It is through this prism of the multi-layered global confrontation between the two geopolitical camps, through the understanding of the transformation of not only the European, but the international security system, as well as directly through the “filter” of the basic principles of Russia's foreign policy, enshrined back in 2000 in the relevant Concept, that should be understood as the essence of what is happening now in Ukraine, and the meaning of the official tasks of the Russian special operation in Ukraine. These tasks in the Ukrainian regional context serve as ground preparation for the realization of the main goal, which not only Russia, but also many other significant international actors are striving for.

That is why for 7 years Russia was ready to resolve the conflict in the most diplomatic and “soft” Minsk format, but now, after unsuccessful attempts to complete it peacefully, the result of the settlement should be an agreement that actually opens the way for signing “new Yalta”. The conflict in Donbass has become a focus, a concentration of tracks of global confrontation in a single and artificially staged intrastate conflict of regional significance. Its completion will project the general alignment of powers and the configuration of positions in the international arena for the long term.

How will the foreign policy of the DNR and LNR be formed and implemented?

For Donbass, the current aggravation of the conflict, on the one hand, certainly brings a new terrible portion of suffering and hardships of the war. On the other hand, it certainly means in the foreseeable future the end of the conflict, which for years did not allow to fully restore the usual peaceful life. Kyiv used Minsk-2 as a pause before a new round of escalation, before a new attempt to bring Donbass under its control by force, defeat the Republics and somehow force Russia to intervene. The savoring in the Ukrainian media of the future “Croatian” or “Karabakh” scenarios for the Donbass was undisguised. The same could be said about the main politicians as well. The rhetoric of Volodymyr Zelensky, who turned from the “dove of peace” in 2019 into a “patriotic hawk” in 2022 by taking over from Petro Poroshenko the baton of Russophobia, clearly reaffirmed that the peaceful scenario for the settlement would be slowed down, delayed, and brought to the point of absurdity by Kyiv, if possible, in order not to fulfill the agreements undertaken. As the French say, “drown the fish in the water.”

Of course, it couldn't go on like this forever. Children who went to school in the Donbass last year had not lived in peace for a single day. They do not know peaceful life as such, and from the very birth their childhood is accompanied by the horrors and hardships of hostilities. But since childhood, they know what it means to wait out an artillery attack in the basement after embracing and closing their eyes, how to distinguish the type of ammunition by sound, they know what it means to rush under the desk during the next shelling right during the lesson. It couldn't go on like this.

Today, Donbass is fighting for peace, to finally end its eight-year suffocation, humiliation, and destruction of its demographic, ecological and industrial potential by Kyiv. In addition, the inhabitants of Donbass, as a primordially Russian region, certainly see their future destiny together with Russia. And now it is finally possible to say frankly, getting rid of the excessive “Minsk-alike” diplomacy, – as part of a large common Russia, its civilizational, cultural, and historical homeland. Donbass rose for the right to be Russian, to be itself, endured for a long time, fought and deserved this right.


The interview was conducted by Alexey Yurk, a PIR Center intern, May 9, 2022