Interview with prof. dr. Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV
Prof. dr. Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV, political scientist and historian, works as Head, Department of Political science and public administration, and Director of Research Institute of European Integration and Regional Studies, Chernivtsi Jury Fedkovych National University, Ukraine. He is also Professor, Department of International Relations and Political Science, University of Lodz, Poland. He is the titular Member, Group of Independent Experts on European Chapter of Self-Government, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Council of Europe.
Prof. KRUGLASHOV has been Invited Scholar and Professor to University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada), Professor of Jagellonian University (Krakow, Poland), European Humanities University (Belarus and Lithuania). He has been invited to lecture in Germany, Slovakia, Russia and Romania. He run also several European, National and Regional research and didactic projects.
He is the author of recent publications (articles and chapters in some books): “Decentralisation Processes in Ukraine: Dilemmas of Democratisation and National Security”, Vilnius 2022, “Eastern Partnership vis-à-vis challenges and doubts”, Lublin 2020, “Turbulent Neighborhood: Ukraine and the EU Relations under ongoing pressure”, Warsaw 2017, “Securing insecure: Ukraine on the margins of European Integration process”, Chisinau 2018, “Ukraine Approaching the EU: How Avoid “Fata Morgana” Case”, Chişinău-Tbilisi-Chernivtsi 2017 etc.
Vasile SIMILEANU: Geopolitics, as a science, was challenged after the World War II. After 1989, it became part of the new world order.
Please tell us about your activities in the field of geopolitics!
How do you define geopolitics?
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: If to consider geopolitics from Political Science perspective, it is an integral part of the discipline. It has certain roots in History and Politics. As a branch of science, it have developed many concepts and theoretical approaches. The interest towards geopolitics periodically raises up and falls. It depends primarily on the currents of a global situation, peaceful or conflictual it is. Geopolitics covers global space of politics, covering it with principal actors’ con-cerns, interests and actions, their cooperation, compe-tition, rivalry, and confrontation. It’s about the fight for resources, influence, and prestige. My personal working definition, with a flavor of joking is that geopolitics is the most ideological of scientific discipline and at the same time, the most scientific of ideologies. For the geopolitics the set of values, ideological prism and the very identity of the researcher means a lot…
I am mainly concern with European space and security studies, the challenges European countries face with and the way they dealt with them. More narrowly, I am interested with the interactions of Central-Eastern European states, their potential of cooperation and integration vis-à-vis actual threats and risks of national, regional, and global security.
V.S.: Geopolitics has become of impact in all analyses of political, military, social, economic, cultural and diplomatic developments.
Do you think that the classical theories of the geopolitical schools are still relevant?
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: Of course, the instruments on researching geopolitics need regular innovation and careful revision. The concepts borrowed from XIX-XX centuries are to be critically reconsidered. We tend to look at present and the future from the experience and knowledge learned from the previous times. Sure, it’s important and inevitable. Still, sometimes it makes us try to fit new events into the old dresses. Thus, for instance the point of view on Russia-China-West relations as a case of a “new Cold war” might be an example of those misguided attempt.
Certainly, the general notions and vocabulary of the discipline should not be rejected or undervalued. The heritage of Samuel P. Huntington, ideas of Joseph Nye, Zbigniew Brzezinski and many others remain actual and relevant. Still, I am more skeptical about realists and neorealism. Some of them, likewise ‘the offensive realist’ John Mearsheimer is rather apologist of superpower’s domination and unavoidable confrontation, as for me. It suits revisionists powers’ claims and make global disorder unfairly justified.
V.S.: At university level, please tell us how geopolitics is reflected in the university curriculum (undergraduate courses, masters, doctorates)!
What research institutes, NGOs and other formats are developed for geopolitical studies?
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: In my Chernivtsi Yuriy Fedkovych National University (Ukraine) we teach geopolitics together with Political geography on Bachelor level. Later students got some more knowledge from the so-called specialized courses, including on Political ideas and Theories. Finally, as MA and PhD students they have an opportunity to make closer acquaintance with some geopolitical concepts and theories in the framework of studying political regionalism and some other issues. As far as I know the practices on teaching geopolitics are rather diverse in Ukrainian Universities. However it’s a very important part of studying Political Thought and Theories as well as International Relations practically in any University I know.
Regarding the research centers, I may name National Institute for Strategic Studies, Oleksandr Razumkov’s center, NGO “Ukrainian Prism” first and foremost. The list is not exhaustive, however.
As a director of Research Institute for European integration and Regional studies in Yuriy Fedkovych National University we deal with some applied issues of geo-politics as well.
V.S.: Do you think that there is a need for a better visibility of this geographical science in research environments worldwide? Through what forms and means?
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: I see that more internationalization and cooperation is needed in that field. May be some topical International Conferences and Seminars on the hot issues of geopolitics will be an asset for the further development of the discipline. Collaborative international research projects with the wider dissemination of their results are a decent opportunity as well. Finally, more concerted efforts of University Professors with specialization on Political geography and geopolitics might be timely and perspective.
V.S.: Should geopoliticians and their theories be made more popular in the media and social media? What about in relations with partner structures in other countries?
Who do you work with to promote geopolitics?
Should an international organisation be set up to promote the interests of this science?
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: Of course, current situation in the world and regions demands public attention and discussion. The quality of them is however very different. Sometimes the so-called media experts might be lacking true professional expertise and even academic background. I mean post-soviet countries mostly but not only. Still, the populist approach towards political agenda and spread of irrelevant notions of political issues alongside with popular anti-intellectual trends and growing justification of the ignorance are very damaging for public perception of policy and politics. That’s a true profound challenge for every society and state. Thus, Political scientists have to recognize the growing lack of academic knowledge and culture in the society and work together, with Civic society and adequate politicians in order to narrow that deep gap amidst actual demands and proportion of the expertise and sustainable interpretations of politics and policies.
V.S.: In the new global constructions, determined by geostrategic actions, how do you perceive geopolitical pressures on your state?
How should state actors react to pressures from non-state actors?
Is there collaboration between geopoliticians and business?
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: In case of Ukraine, we are under unprecedented pressure of the war, which officially begun from annexation of Crimea by Russia (circa 19 February 2014) and reached a full-scaled intervention since 24 February 2022. We lost (I am sure temporarily) control of some of our territories, for instance, an access to Azov Sea. Our defenders sacrifice their lives every day, civilians suffer from Russian missiles, bombs and other attacks. Our economy is deeply damaged for now. The Russian-Ukrainian war goes on…
We are deeply thankful for our allies and partners support and aid. Romania supports us and we are grateful for that! It’s valuable and precious for us. Still, only our country pays the highest price for the Russian’ aggression containment. This fight is not only about Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty, but also about security and future of the EU and NATO countries too, the prospect of western civilization and global security by and large. For sure, such a dangerous situation requires now-state actors’ involvement. Why we witness weakness of the international organizations, like UN, OSCE etc. regarding security threats, the democratic states, global civic society actors must work together actively and intensively. Business is concerned as well. One can observe it from global grain market vulnerability due to Russia’s aggression, still there are many loopholes in the international business responsibility and engagement, only if to consider the case of Russia’s aggression. So, the space for cooperation is open but the fruits of them are not so impressive as for now.
V.S.: What are the geopolitical and geostrategic challenges of impact and how are they reflected in the strategies promoted by your state?
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: That’s too wide range of issues. First and foremost, we must defeat Russia and secure our Statehood. We are to move fast and steady towards the full membership in the EU and NATO. We are to work closely with our partners and friends on reconstruction and modernize Ukraine. Economically, politically, and culturally. It’s a very challenging task of our all-comprehensive Europeanization process. Finally, we must overcome with our neighbors the heritage of the past mistrust and conflictual issues, over historical policies as well. Those points are partly reflected in our strategic documents. Still, the priority no 1 is to defeat Russia and secure our European and Euro-Atlantic peaceful and prosperous future.
V.S.: What impact do geopolitical theories have on the decisions of your country’s leaders?
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: I am not sure, that it has been a direct impact on our leadership. Till the full-scale intervention pacifist illusions affected some of our top political leaders. Plus, we have an active pro-Russian and directly Russia’s controlled political forces (inspired with ‘Russkiy Mir’ ideas) in Ukraine even after the 2014 tragic events. Notably the revival of Russia’s Empire, warned by Z. Brzezinski and Clash of civilizations’ concept were in air for sure.
V.S.: Do you consider it appropriate to collaborate with the Romanian GeoPolitica Magazine on these approaches?
We would be honoured to publish your analyses in the magazine’s pages!
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: I am very pleased with your kind invitation and previous cooperation. We must intensify them soon. It’s of crucial importance for Romania and Ukraine to work together and find a way to our effective partnership and friendly cooperation. I’ll consider my publications in your Journal and encourage my Col-leagues to do so too.
V.S.: New technological changes have led to the emergence of new geopolitical theories such as GeoIntelligence: the geopolitics of information, which we promoted in Romania in 2014, Geopolitics of Artificial Intelligence: the fifth dimension of geopolitics (2019) and Exopolitics: the geopolitics of outer space as the sixth geopolitical dimension (2021), theories that have been presented in the pages of GeoPolitica Magazine.
How do you assess these theories?
In the environment of an academic in your country are there such concerns?
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: I guess, they are very important and relevant! We must coordinate our research and practical activity to defend our countries and citizens against information war and disinformation, originated in Russia or elsewhere. Those initiatives are timely and truly important. I see that Romania makes a lot in that direction. Still much more should be done with all parties concerned.
V.S.: Please specify the impact of geopolitics on your state’s international relations, military strategy, economy, energy resources and security!
Anatoliy KRUGLASHOV: The brief answer is as follow. Our country tries its best to survive victoriously and move forward. It makes many attempts to approach NATO standards and regulations. Some of those affords are quite successful. Some remain in the process. We broke down with the energy dependance of Russia. We try to quit with its cultural and information hegemony. Ukraine now works upon new geostrategy and military security of the State and Society. Yet that work is not completed and demands more energy and contribution from state and non-state actors.