The main goal of Russia in the Ukraine crisis is to block a NATO and EU membership of the country, says Wallerstein. If this condition was realized Russia would be satisfied. But there are powerful forces in the US trying to sabotage such a solution. At the same time nobody is willing to pay for the costs of the economic collapse of the Ukraine. With lip services, France and Germany support the US positon; however, they actually do not want a membership of the Ukraine, because they see their close relationships with Russia threatened. Since the conflict cannot be solved militarily, given nuclear armement of Russia, there is only one way foreward: a "Finlandization" or neurality of Ukraine.
Immanuel Wallerstein, senior research scholar at Yale University, USA. Co-founder of the world-systems analysis. From 1994-1998 president of the International Sociological Association. Author of numerous books, including "The Modern World-System".
Scheidler: The Ukraine has become a big hotspot of hegemonic fights between the US and Europe and Russia. What is that conflict about in your view in a geopolitical perspective? What are the interests of the US, of Germany and the EU and Russia on the other side?
Wallerstein: First, let’s start with Russia. I think Russia’s single primary interest is not to have the Ukraine in NATO or the European Union. And if you gave Russia that, she would be happy. Now, what is the United State’s interest? The United State’s interest at this point is defined in terms of a lot of domestic pressures to support the virtuous Ukrainians. The Ukrainian government’s interest is to establish itself as a member of the European institutions and NATO. Germany’s interest, France’s interest is not to have the Ukraine in the European Union, for very good reasons, because they don’t want to cut their ties with Russia. So, they make a pretence of supporting the US position, but they drag their feet on everything that is essential about the attempt to pressure Russia and its position. So we have got a stalemate there and it will continue to be a stalemate. Furthermore, of course, aiding the Ukrainian government economically is an extremely expensive proposition, because they are in a really bad shape economically, and nobody wants to pay that bill, not even the United States. So, there is only one solution and no-one less than Henry Kissinger suggested a long time ago, and that is the Finlandization of the Ukraine, that is: Let them have whatever they want in terms of their verbal ideologies and so on, they can be as European as they want, but not in any European institution and in not in any Soviet institutions, so they are kind of a de-facto neutral power, and this is the solution. There are people in the United States who are trying to sabotage that solution, they could conceivably succeed, that is not impossible, but it would be disastrous.
Scheidler: Do you think the USA would go to war with Russia about the Ukraine in an extreme case?
Wallerstein: We cannot go to war with Russia. You know, we are in the same situation in respect to war, that we were in twenty or thirty or forty years ago, I mean, neither side can afford a war, because a war would be too destructive. It would be catastrophe. Now, there are some people who would risk that, but I don’t think they are in control of the situation – either in the United States or in Russia. So, no war, absolutely. And that is of course a limit to the power of the United States. It can’t go to war over this.