This video is a great, accessible discussion by Michael Hudson on the Real News Network about how the widely-touted EU deal with the Ukraine is actually an exercise in looting by kleptocrats. Hudson explains that unlike earlier pacts, the EU is making no investment in Ukraine, nor is it allowing Ukraine, which has an agricultural producing region, to have the benefits of the CAP that French farmers enjoy. Hudson point out that the supposed benefit of Ukraine having access to the EU for exports is a smokescreen, since Ukraine is going to lose its main export market, Russia, and the Europeans don’t want to buy Ukraine’s products. Hudson contends that this deal is a de facto takeover, with kleptocrats to be installed in key governmental positions. He anticipates that the result will be mass unemployment and unrest.
This portion of the transcript caught my eye:
HUDSON: Well, I’m going to begin by putting it in the big picture, and then I’ll get to the details. The big picture is that this is a form of colonialism almost identical to what Europe did in Africa and Latin America and the Near East. What it did in the 19th century in Africa, where property was owned communally, was it would go to the chieftains of a given tribe, as it did to the Saudi Arabian chieftains, and it would say, well, to make an agreement, you have to register all this oil of your country, but you register it in your own name. And once they registered it in their own name, then Britain or France or the other European powers could make a deal that the chieftains could then sell this property or make contracts on behalf of oil or minerals with the European colonial powers. And that’s how the colonial powers pried away all of this property from what had been tribal possession or communal possession.
Well, as you know, what happened in the Ukraine and the rest of Central Europe after 1991 was all of this public property that was the legacy of the Soviet domination was simply registered in the names of the factory managers. So Ukraine has been called the Nigeria of the North for a good reason. The factory managers and all the leading kleptocrats simply registered their factories in their own name and took it over. And now it’s time for stage two of the process, and stage two is basically the agreement that was signed last Friday.
And stage two:
WORONCZUK: But, Michael, when I’m reading the mainstream press here, it’s telling me that Ukraine is going to now have an export market of 28 nations, and that the economy is going to grow by 1 percent, and that this is especially going to make up for the loss of Crimea. How does this not equate to an economic gain for the nation?
HUDSON: Well, absolutely right, they’re going to have an export market of 28 nations. The problem is: what are they going to export? Right now what they’re exporting is largely military and other goods to Russia from Soviet-era factories in the Eastern Ukraine. But essentially part of the deal that was made with Europe is in Kiev they say, okay, we’re going to appoint governors of the Eastern Ukraine. It’s as if there was a military takeover of the United States and the military said, okay, we’re going to make Donald Trump governor of New York, we’re going to make the Koch brothers governors of Kansas and Missouri. They appointed kleptocrats to be governors to essentially loot the Russian regions. This guarantees that there’s going to be continual fighting as the Eastern Ukraine says, wait a minute, we’re being robbed, we didn’t vote for this, this agreement was not made under a legal Parliament, which is what Putin and what Lavrov were saying over the weekend.
So there’s guaranteed to be labor unrest and strikes in the East.
There’s not going to be any exports to Europe, because Europe, the last thing the Europeans want is any competition from the Ukraine, until such time as the Europeans can buy out Ukrainian agriculture, kick the Ukrainians off the land, and turn them into mechanized farming, and then take all the food and the land rent and the value of the food to the West. ….
WORONCZUK: Well, the terms of the economic association agreement also–from what I understand, the stipulation is that Ukraine now cannot join the Russian customs union. From what I understand, Russia is still Ukraine’s biggest export market. So how will this affect the Ukrainian economy?
HUDSON: Ha! That’s what nobody can figure out. Russia has already said, look, under the terms, if we were to let Ukraine continue to trade within the Russian Union, that means that we would let all the European goods go through the Ukraine and into Russia duty-free. And Russia’s already said that it has no intention of doing that. And it’s going to now have to raise the tariffs against Ukraine.
So in practice what’s going to happen is the goods that Russia used to get from the old Soviet-era factories in Eastern Ukraine–Russia’s going to build new, modern factories in Russia to make its own military goods and steel and the other things it got from Ukraine. So Russia’s going to become very quickly independent of Ukraine, leaving mass unemployment in the Eastern Ukraine and mass unrest. So you’re going to have Ukrainians without jobs and with nowhere to go, and it’s going to look like Greece or Ireland or Latvia without any of the European money that has gone into these associated countries.
Nice to see that Europe can take the colonial playbook off the shelf. And they haven’t lost a step, either, have they?