While the present violence in Ukraine is fanned, fuelled and attempted to be exploited by world's politicians vying to capture the High Moral Ground, the violence has genuine causes resulting from a simple, obvious and undeniable fact that the administrative and geographical area known today as “Ukraine” contains areas with predominantly not Ukrainian, but Russian population.
So, even, if the “super powers” (USA/NATO and Russia) would stop all their involvements in the events in Ukraine, the government of Ukraine would still be left with the problem of parts of Ukraine having predominantly Russian population, who, unless successfully “integrated” into Ukraine, will seek to separate from Ukraine, and to become either a separate state, or part of the Russian Federation.
This problem of “multi‐ethnic” demography is not unique to Ukraine, but is common to many other countries. And, wherever such multi‐ethnic demography exists, it tends to produce conflicts, unless the governments concerned take appropriate measures to prevent them.
So, we shall look at examples of other countries with multi‐ethnic demography where this problem has been successfully resolved, and see whether and how this problem can be resolved in Ukraine.
Switzerland is a country the native population of which is composed of different groups speaking different languages, the main ones being French, German, and Italian. It also happens to be situated on the borderline between the “East” and the “West” of the 19th/20th centuries, who in those times were waging wars against each other, the “East” being Germany and the “West”, France and its allies. And, yes, Switzerland was between these two “enemy” camps, who fought the two of the hottest wars in Human History (WWI and WWII).
So, how could “French‐German‐Italian” Switzerland preserve its “territorial integrity” and “national unity” at the time of the most bitter wars between France on the west of it and Germany on the east? What “foreign policy” and what “internal policies” of the Swiss governments enabled Switzerland to survive as an independent multi‐ethnic state?
On the “foreign” side the solution was “neutrality”. By adopting and pursuing strict neutrality Switzerland was able to keep out of all the wars and political intrigues of its surrounding neighbour countries.
On the “internal” side the solution was federal government presiding over local ethnic areas who kept and used their own languages and had equal status.
Similar developments can be observed in the United Kingdom (Great Britain), where Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, ethnically different from England, which used to dominate the rest, are moving to increasing “autonomy”, “devolution”, and in case of Wales, recognition of Welsh as the “official language” of Wales. Also, when the UK joined the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, there was a noticeable surge in separatist tendencies in Scotland and Wales.
So, the examples of countries with multi‐ethnic demographies show that neutrality at the international level and federal governance in which the ethnic groups have equal representation allow to preserve “territorial integrity” of such countries. While involvement and taking sides in wars, and attempts by one ethnic group to dominate other groups give rise to “separatist” movements, which ultimately lead to conflicts and disintegration of such multi‐ethnic entities.
This is clearly seen in the present conflict in Ukraine. The emergence of a nationalist Ukrainian government, seeking to join a military alliance hostile to Russia, has resulted in the predominantly Russian areas of Ukraine seeking to separate themselves from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
What can the government of Ukraine do in this situation?
Attempts to suppress the Russian separatist movements by armed force can only strengthen the separatist tendencies. And, even if the Ukrainian government succeeds to suppress the active resistance by superior force, this will merely drive the resistance “underground” and lead to “terror‐style” underground movements. Although, due to the adjacency of Russia, such level of suppression of active resistance by the Ukrainian government is very unlikely.
Can the Ukrainian government follow the Swiss example?
Can the Ukrainian government offer the Russian areas autonomy, participation in a federal government on equal terms, and recognition of the Russian language as the “official language” of the Russian areas with equal status to the Ukrainian?
Can the Ukrainian government adopt a position of total neutrality at the international level?
Even, if the Ukrainian government wanted to follow such “Swiss” way, it would take some time and considerable patience and effort to change the present situation. But, if they did persevere in this direction, eventually it would lead to success.
There is, however, very little sign of the present Ukrainian government wanting to move in such direction. Nor is there any sign of the “western” backers of the Ukrainian government wanting to abandon their “strategic” drive for “Euro‐Atlantic Integration”, and to prod the Ukrainian government to a “Swiss” solution.
And this means that the Ukrainian “crisis” will continue, and the Russian areas of Ukraine will continue to be a burden and a liability for the Ukrainian people.
But, if the Ukrainian government wants to be a nationalist Ukrainian state and a part of the USA/NATO block, but without a chronic crisis or a civil war, then there is another solution. They can simply give the Russian areas back to the Russian Federation. This will put an end to the “crisis”, and will rid the people of Ukraine from the burden of trying to keep the hostile to them Russian areas under control.
Once upon a time the present day's Republic of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, and the British wanted to keep it that way. But, after some uprisings, terrorism, and a civil war the British had to let it go, and this has resolved the issue. Have the British lost, or gained, by letting the Republic of Ireland go?
Not only the Irish became free from Britain, but Britain became free from the burden of keeping the Republic of Ireland under control.