The Failed State of Ukraine

The Failed State of Ukraine

Originally appeared at Life, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront

Political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky on the fully exhausted twenty-five year Ukrainian independence experiment.

In the Western political lexicon there is a concept called “failed state”.

The Russian language does not have an exact translation of the term. Sometimes they talk about the insolvent (failed) state, sometimes about the state loser. Well, among themselves the political scientists, as a rule, will use the English term.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica gives the following definition of failed state: a government, unable to fulfill two of its main functions, protects its boundaries and exercise its authority throughout its territory.

In the 19th century, the German philosopher and sociologist Max Weber defined failed state as a government unable to keep the monopoly of legitimate application of force within its borders.

Today these definitions are considered too narrow, because in addition to purely law enforcement functions of the state it has many other tasks and obligation, their nonfulfillment will objectively make it a “loser”.

The American think tank “Fund for Peace” a few years ago created an index of “insolvent states”, which are defined by twelve parameters, from the condition of the economy and demographics to criminalisation of government structures and the degree of division of the elite. Every year Foreign Policy publishes a list of 178 countries, ranking them based on their proximity to a status of failed state.

This list has often been rightly criticised for being too subjective and politicised. Moreover, many experts considered the index of “Fund for Peace” irrelevant to the essence of the term “failed state”. For this, in 2015 the index was renamed. Today it is called the indicator of “fragility”.

It is unlikely that anyone will argue with the fact that the first position in the list is correctly occupied by Somalia.

From the end of the 20th century the term “failed state” can no longer be scientifically dismissed. On the contrary, the term is of great practical significance. With an insolvent government, other countries do not treat it as a full-fledged member of the world community. If the government is not subjective, unstable and unable to keep its word, money will not be invested in it, agreements will not be entered into and no business will be done. And even sovereignty and territorial integrity of such a government are not considered sacrosanct.

Of course in the constitution of the UNO and other international organisations there is no such understanding. And it is obvious why. Too many opportunities are opened up for abuse and unfriendly actions.

However governments and diplomats of many countries readily use the term failed state. And it is understandable why as well. After all, a failed state is not necessarily not to protect, or even to notice. And, even more so, to take into account the opinion of its rulers.

No one for the longest of time has paid any attention to Somalia, except for the rare anti-pirate raids, which, frankly speaking, the government of this much-suffering African nation does not ask for a resolution.

If any neighbouring state and group of states divided between them the territory of Somalia or introduced troops and placed there a puppet government, and it would provide stability in the region, no one would object.

In 2006-09 Ethiopia tried to so something similar but without success. Ten years previously, American and then the other divisions of the UN peacekeeping forces left. It is very difficult to help a country that cannot help itself. So Somalia was simply forgotten.

But that is far-away Africa. It seems that in 21st century Europe such a thing cannot happen.

Alas it can.

When the disgraced deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Oleksandr Onischenko fled the country and gave the dirt on President Poroshenko at the disposal of the US Department of Justice, I think, he was very well aware of what he was doing.

He in fact gave the American leadership more proof that the “young Ukrainian democracy” is Somalia in Eastern Europe.

And the timing was well chosen: in Washington the Trump transition administration already has access to all documents of all departments. In contrast to the Obama administration, to which the “young Ukrainian democracy” had an important ideological meaning, the new landlord of the White House will only need a reason to get rid of the corrupt customers of Joseph Bidden and Victoria Nuland.

Already in his election campaign Donald Trump repeatedly said that Ukraine is a European problem. If Brussels wants to carry this baggage without a handle, let it carry it. The US distraction in the failed state of Ukraine will be minimal, if at all.

The signs abound on the Ukrainian government’s insolvency.

According to Max Weber’s criteria, a variety of paramilitary groups act in parallel with official government groups, and in certain regions they were replaced a while ago.

The conditions of the economy are appalling. In fact, Ukraine is holding on only thanks to the US and IMF financial help. The Washington and IMF terms for loans are constantly violated.

Kiev is required to reform and to restrain the corruption as well as austerity measures. None of it, it seems, is possible to achieve. The fight against corruption is possibly only a sham, since all the political elite is involved in the illegal schemes. Reforms are not possible because they are unprofitable for the oligarchs that support (or tolerate) the new government. And the austerity measures lead only to growth of discontent of ordinary Ukrainians.

All this is well known in Washington. And not only from American emissaries, plying between Ukraine and the USA. It was frequently and written quite thoroughly by reputable American publication as early as 2014.

The experts were not listened to, but the matter simply did not go beyond persuading Petro Poroshenko and his ministers. In the most critical moments Nuland and Biden visited Kiev and were resolving the situation on the ground.

But nothing changed systematically. Money in the meantime to help the Ukrainian authorities was regularly allocated.

At first from Russia’s neighbouring state they wanted, it seems, to make a kind of exhibit of achieving liberalism, a billboard of some sort for the Russians. Look, they say, a similar country to yours, and how people live! See how it is important to listen to all instructions from Washington!

Afterwards, when the situation in Ukraine went sour, its power was supported more by inertia and a reluctance of “to do a favour” to Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainians failures were more frequently blamed on the “war with Russia”. However this argument is a time bomb. The fact is that even if any other country is involved in the territorial losses and economic failure, the government that is not capable of solving these problems independently, is still considered a failed state.

Not the loss of Crimea, or the civil war in the East of the country, none of it strangles the Ukrainian government as corruption.

The well-known American analyst Mark Pfeifle working in 2007-09 as a national security advisor of the US, in the pages of the journal Foreign Policy actually brought a verdict on Kiev:

“The new President (of the USA) must learn to tell the difference between real Ukrainian reformers from those who made the anti-corruption campaign their own profitable business. He will also have to work hard to distinguish true readiness to act from empty promises. If this does not happen, then the twenty-five year Ukrainian independence experiment will completely exhaust itself.”

But here is the question: will Trump engage in Ukrainian affairs? Why would he learn to distinguish between one set of representatives of the Kievan elite from others? Alter all they were all clients of his recent opponents.

In the administration of the elected 45th president of the US there is a lot to do. In his first 100-days plan there is not a word about Ukraine, especially about learning to understand the Ukrainian political and economic mess.

Isn’t it why he skilfully avoided a meeting with Petro Poroshenko in New York in September of this year?

And when among other papers on the table in front of Trump will be laid the report from the Department of Justice on corruption in the highest echelons of power in Ukraine, Big Donald, I think, will be relieved.

And he will admit the obvious – that Ukraine is a failed state, with all its ensuing consequences.

In the long run, there is only one question remaining: when it will happen, how many days or months will be needed for the new president of the USA to read the documents prepared for him on Ukraine and close the financing of the “twenty-five year experiment”.

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Ukraine is like a Detroit… it shinned only as a fixture of a greater country !! If tings are put in the propper order, it could be great again… Impose State Capitalism in the USA and Detroit will shine again !! Return Ukraine to its fatherland and Ukraine will shine again. Ukraine is Russia. Banderistas can be put in Canada, away fron New York Jews once again.

Gary Sellars

Banderites can be shot and dumped in a ditch.

Kim Jong


chris chuba

“At first from Russia’s neighbouring state they wanted, it seems, to make a kind of exhibit of achieving liberalism, a billboard of some sort for the Russians. Look, they say, a similar country to yours, and how people live! See how it is important to listen to all instructions from Washington!”

Ah yes, I have read several papers from U.S. based think tanks saying just that, declaring that Russia’s so-called ‘hybrid warfare’ against Ukraine is because the Russian leaders are quivering over the prospect of seeing a successfully, western integrated state on their borders. So these imbeciles would have us believe that all of Ukraine’s woes are because they only have 95% of their territory. Apparently, the 5% that includes Crimea and Donbas must have roads paved with gold and the rest of it is a barren wasteland.

Alexander Hardy

Ukraine was subverted, just as Russia under Yeltsin was subverted in the Nineties, because American capitalists want access to the wealth of Central Eurasia. Afghanistan was part of the multi-pronged plan. Just as the Afghanistan plan has backfired, so the Ukrainian plan has gone off the rails. But Ukraine, like Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Afghanistan, forms part of a military ring around much of Russia and no one should underestimate the importance of this to the US plan to rule the world as set out in the Plan for the New American Century (PNAC) – a New World Order and Pax Americana. Don’t believe that Ukraine was set up to be a model for anyone. The US knew how corrupt it was. That’s why it was so easy to subvert its government and turn it into an American puppet, just like the rest Europe outside of Russia.


MSM never tells anything real, why is Joe Biden’s son suddenly so successful in Ukrainian business? Just as, how did Madelaine Albright’s family get major shareholdings in former Yugoslav utilities in Kosovo? By exporting violence.

John Mason

Fund for Peace have US, UK, Spain as being ‘Very Stable” which they are not. Wouldn’t take too much notice of FFP.

Doom Sternz

The West is pretending the Ukrainian fascist putschists are democrats. Turning a blind eye to their civil and human rights abuses. After all Russia is the enemy right?

This illustrates the role assigned by NATO to Poland in Ukraine. To overthrow the government of its neighbour state, Poland resorted to neo Nazi activists in the same way that Turkey uses Al-Qaeda (Al Nusra Front) to overthrow the Syrian government.

US installed fascist putschists now run Ukraine. illegitimate, Brutal, Lawless and Ruthless. These are Obama’s new friends, a rogue’s gallery of Neo-Nazi thugs, racists and anti-semites. For the first time since WW II, overt fascists have real power in Europe. Waging war on their own people, murdering them in cold blood. Kiev’s actions are “unprecedented.” Making peaceful conflict resolution impossible.

Ross Kapernick

Another failed US project. Time the USA throws away the book written by Nulands husband they have been following since George Bush days and stays at home for a few decades. When a nation overall and its Political elite get to the stage they actually believe there own propaganda it is in big trouble. Propaganda serves a purpose but one a nation actually starts to believe it at all levels it is the beginning of the end. All rational thinking and pragmatism goes out the window. As an Aussie it does not worry me if that is the way the US goes but the millions of lives and all the nations they help destroy while the US continues down this path dies. Putin put it correctly when he said “Look what you have done.!” Yes I agree. Ukraine another disaster created by the US in the main. The EU got it a bit wrong but it was well on the way to being resolved until the US stepped in. A brainless plan they had been working on for over a decade.

Ross Kapernick

Time to line up the tanks Russia. It will soon all be over. A new Maidan. Liberate the East and South and leave the rest for the USA and Europe to look after. It will take about the time it takes to drive the few tanks you will need across those areas. The facist militias will flee in fear once confronted with a real army. About all they are good for is burning innocent civilians to death and shooting demonstrators and police with sniper rifles. When they hear you coming it will be like all your other so called invasions in Crimea and Ossetia etc. The people will be out dancing in the streets to welcome you.

Danylo Syrotynskyy

Hello from Ukraine. We never hated west, and never hated Russia, we’re just victims of modern imperialism. Please help us build modern European state