Ukraine Reforms, Putin's Fascism & Abandoning Donbas. A Talk With Professor Motyl
7 July, 2015

What You Need To Know:

✓ Ukraine has completed an impressive amount of reforms but fails to communicate this to the population
✓ Putin's authoritarianism closely resembles that of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy
✓ It is in Ukraine's best interest to blockade the Donbas separatists and cut off the struggling local population

Prof Alexander Motyl, from Rutgers University-Newark spoke to Hromadske about the situation with ongoing reforms in Ukraine, the Donbas separatists, as well as discussing Putin’s Russia.

“You talk and everyone will tell you that there has been no reform, that the country is at a dead end, its virtually on the verge of collapse… that is just not the case.”

Dr Motyl is very impressed with numerous reforms that have taken place, especially: the macroeconomic stabilization, fulfillment of most of the requirements of the International Monetary Fund, the reform of the police in Kyiv and in education. He also extends praise to the reform of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

“It has an army, it never had an army, at least not for the last 25 years.”

However, despite significant progress, Motyl feels that the Ukrainian government has done a poor job of communicating the successful reforms to the people. By this inability to communicate, the Ukrainian government only adds to the growing frustration of the populace.

When discussing Putin’s authoritarian regime, Dr Motyl was one of the early commentators to mark his regime as fascist. The longer Putin stayed in power the more he was able to develop his strongman rule and engrain fascist elements into Russian political structure.

“It occurred to me that it was decidedly similar to Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.” “Fascism is highly authoritarian state with a macho style leader.”

“In 2007 he was only in the process of forming that macho image, now it is full fledged. I used to say it is a ‘fascist-oid’ system, now it is fully fascist.”

One point of comparison drawn was the Kremlin’s use of rhetoric during the annexation of Crimea and Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric in annexing the Sudetenland in 1938.

At this point, Prof Motyl discussed the implications and logic behind Ukraine’s ‘cutting off’ of the Donbas from the rest of the country. Motyl recognizes that many people will suffer, but elucidates an argument based on the democratic utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number.

He continues: “It’s a country as we know that is virtually bankrupt, it doesn’t have the economic resources, it has to embark on extremely complicated and systemic reforms in order to become pro-Western and maybe to survive.”

According to Motyl, Ukraine will have a difficult time reforming the country if it becomes bankrupt fighting in a war that it cannot win and that the situation comes down to having hardships for the 3 million Donbas inhabitants or the remaining 40 million in the rest of Ukraine.

Hromadske International's Nataliya Gumenyuk and Ian Bateson spoke with Alexander Motyl on July 5, 2015.