On December 18, 2020, the Fourth International Conference of the Intermarium Support Group, founded by Andriy Biletsky, the Leader of National Corps, the founder and the first commander of the Azov Regiment, took place in Kyiv. This year, quarantine measures prevented the event from being held live, but for almost 8 hours of online work we have managed to record a plenty of material for further reflection and planning.
Olena Semenyaka, International Secretary of National Corps and coordinator of the Intermarium Support Group, deciphered the title of the conference, “Global Turbulence and the Purpose of Intermarium,” as a combination of the “turbulent” and the “constructive” poles. The waves of global turbulence were outlined in the following order: the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the migration crisis and terrorist attacks in Europe and the world, the Russian trail in the war in Syria and now in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Belarusian Maidan and the BLM protests in the United States along with insurmountable polarization of an American society around the results of the presidential election against the background of the coronavirus pandemic (blocks “Security of Ukraine – Security of Eastern Europe” and “Era of Post-Truth and Information Warfares”).
The constructive “purpose of Intermarium” was covered in the blocks entitled “Regional Solidarity” and “The Three Seas Initiative.” Recalling the history of the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group’s establishment in 2015 and its further transformation into the “Three Seas Initiative” through efforts of the Presidents of Poland and Croatia Andrzej Duda and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Olena Semenyaka listed the positive milestones of its development: regular summits in the region (Croatia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Estonia), the visit of the former US President Donald Trump to the Warsaw Summit in 2017, where he promised to establish an investment fund of the Three Seas Initiative, the US contribution to the construction of energy projects of the Three Seas Initiative in the amount of $1 billion during the Munich Conference in February 2020, granting Ukraine the enhanced opportunities partner of NATO status and the establishment of the Lublin Triangle, which complemented security cooperation within the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade, LITPOLUKRBRIG, by infrastructure projects of the Three Seas Initiative, in summer 2020, the call of Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Andriy Taran to send LITPOLUKRBRIG to participate in peacekeeping operations in the world, which will facilitate exchange of military experience with Ukraine, initiaton of the Intermarium inter-factional association in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and a webinar on the security and economic cooperation of the Three Seas Initiative with Ukraine and Georgia as Black Sea countries (“Economic Development and Security: Three Seas Initiative in the Black Sea “), conducted by the Middle East Institute, in the fall of 2020.
Diplomats, politicians, experts and veterans from Ukraine, Poland, Croatia, Estonia and Belarus spoke at the conference. Accordingly, the range of topics discussed at the event covered issues ranging from the strategy of the Donbas’ deoccupation to the attitude of the new president of the United States to the Three Seas Initiative, from the COVID-narrative of the Russian Federation in Belarus to the EU-Intermarium relationship.
The event was opened by the conference’s guest of honor, a famous diplomat, former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland to Ukraine Jan Pieklo. His speech was dedicated to the report on Russia’s war crimes in the Donbas initiated by the Vice-Speaker of the Polish Sejm Malgorzata Gosiewska and submitted to the Criminal Court in The Hague, which was an excellent introduction to both the first security and the next Regional Solidarity block.
The topic of the Kremlin’s military aggression and counteraction to its hybrid challenges was further developed by representatives of National Corps who are well-familiar with them from their own experience: ex-commander of the “Azov” Regiment of the National Guard of Ukraine, Head of the Central HQ of National Corps Maxym Zhorin, his deputy and ex-deputy head of the HQ of the “Azov” RegimentVladyslav Sobolevsky, and ex-commander of the Skhid (East) Special Purpose Company of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, head of the Kyiv branch of National Corps Sergiy Tamarin. They covered the hybrid Russian intervention in Eastern Europe, the Ukrainian “nuclear umbrella” for the region and a police reform in the wake of the hybrid occupation of Crimea and Donbas and the smooth operation of the fifth Kremlin column in Ukraine, respectively.
In addition, National Corps is well known for close cooperation with Croatian political and veteran circles, so it is not surprising that Željko Glasnović, Retired General of the Croatian Armed Forces, was invited to comment on the challenges of the Minsk format as compared to the Croatian reintegration experience. Although he was unable to get in touch, the risks of the peace process in the Donbas, particularly in the light of a possible “Bosnian scenario,” were covered in detail by Kateryna Shymkevych, Associate Professor of the Department of Law and Public Administration at the Zaporizhia Institute of Economics and Information Technologies, Expert of the Analytical Center for Balkan Studies, PhD in Historical Sciences.
The Regional Solidarity block was opened by Marko Milanović Litre, MP on behalf of the Croatian Conservative Party (HKS) who is known to the Ukrainian public for calling to recognize the Holodomor tragedy as a genocide on the Holodomor Remembrance Day. The first fruit of the visit of National Corps’ delegation to Croatia in the summer of 2020 to plan the next Intermarium conference in Zagreb, this step promises fruitful cooperation between the new generation of Ukrainian nationalists and Croatian “sovereignists” in the political sphere. Denis Šeler, ex-officer of the 1. Croatian Guards Brigade, ex-soldier of the Azov Regiment, without whom this visit would not be possible, spoke about the Croatian-Ukrainian solidarity in a defense and a civilian sphere based on his own example.
Ruben Kaalep, an Estonian MP from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), continued the vector of geopolitical partnership of the region’s parties supporting the sovereign Intermarium launched by his Croatian counterpart. It was he who encouraged the addition of a strategic course for the development of Intermarium to the Euro-Atlantic direction of integration in the EKRE’s party program. Mykola Kravchenko, Deputy Leader of National Corps, PhD in Historical Sciences, based on the party’s international achievements, summarized in the programmatic form the areas of cooperation which were proposed by the colleagues.
The “Three Seas Initiative” block was symbolically opened by Sviatoslav Yurash, MP of Ukraine from Sluga Narodu (the Servant of the People) party, who founded the “Intermarium” inter-factional association of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The youngest deputy of the Verkhovna Rada highlighted the mechanisms of this association in the context of the challenges of the fifth column in the parliament, and his priorities of regional cooperation and integration promise to revive this field under conditions of the relevant changes in the ruling party’s policy. Jerzy Targalsky, Doctor of Humanities, historian, a security expert, an analyst of the Polish Academy of Martial Arts, who is a regular participant in the activities of the Intermarium Support Group, privately made very interesting assumptions about the EU’s unspoken confrontation with The Three Seas Initiative (especially Poland) after the inauguration of Joe Biden and derivative transformations in the US foreign policy.
Mariusz Patej, an analyst of the Center for Political Thought of Roman Rybarsky, an expert on energy market and energy security and a regular participant in the Intermarium Support Group’s initiatives, too, described in detail the existing, unfinished and promising energy corridors that will not only ensure energy self-sufficiency of the region but will also contribute to its economic recovery in general. The expert paid a special attention to the Kremlin’s economic intervention in certain economic sectors of Poland, for energy and military blackmail do not exhaust the levers of its hybrid destabilization of Central and Eastern Europe. Yevgen Bilonozhko, editor-in-cChief of PoloNews, PhD in Philosophy, who is equally well acquainted with the socio-political realities of Ukraine, Poland and Germany, developed Jerzy Targalski’s comparison of the Three Seas Initiative and the Intermarium project in the richness of its dimensions, from its geopolitical versions to rivalry and the conflict of memory policies, and hence the visions of Intermarium, of the region’s countries.
The final and crucial block, “The Era of Post-Truth and Information Warfares,” covered issues ranging from the BLM protests in the United States to the Belarusian Maidan in the mirror of the Kremlin’s hybrid manipulations. Karol Chwedczuk Szulc, Assistant Professor at the University of Wrocław, Faculty Fellow in Residence at the School of International Service, PhD in Political Sciences, having assessed the risks of a civil war in the United States as real, doubted that the new president would support the Three Seas Initiative, yet predicted the EU-US rapprochement and a more stable pro-Ukrainian course by Joe Biden’s administration. Zmicier Mickiewicz, an expert of the Belarus Security Blog Analytical Center and also a permanent partner of the Intermarium Support Group, highlighted the main narratives of Russian propaganda in Belarus in 2020, from injecting COVID hysteria to applying infamous anti-Ukrainian “Nazi” stamps to the civil protest of the Belarusians against the repression of the Lukashenko regime, in which he also took an active part.
Olexander Alf’orov, Press Secretary of National Corps, PhD in Historical Sciences, who has long worked in the diplomatic field on the development of the Intermarium project, reflected on what solidarity meant in the significant periods of the region’s history and formulated the main vectors of the common policy of memory as its information shield today. Oleksandr Chupryniuk, an education projects manager of National Corps, an expert of the Institute of National Development, de facto summed up the goals of the block and the event in general, having called for comprehensive information and economic cooperation in the region as the best counterweight to the Kremlin’s hybrid aggression. Focusing on the slowing factor of the Ukrainian oligarchic system, he put forward as quite achievable the goal of Ukraine’s entry into the Top 30 economies of the world.
While the analysis of each video performance is being prepared, watch the full broadcast of the online conference at the link:
Група сприяння розбудові Інтермаріуму (ГСРІ) – заснована у Києві громадська організація і довгостроковий геополітичний проект, що з 2016 р. здійснює помітний внесок у регіональну інтеграцію на території між Балтійським, Чорним і Адріатичним морями у відповідь на російську агресію і глобальні виклики сьогодення.