UKRAINE VITAL TO EUROPE – GEOSTRATEGIC THINKING OF PYLYP ORLYK, HRYHOR ORLYK AND SIR HALFORD MACKINDER

The borderland, Ukraine, was always the key to Russia and to the defense of the West against aggression by Moscow.

It is important in the 21st century to return to the strategic thinking of Ukrainian Hetman Pylyp Orlyk (1672 – 1742) and that of his son Hryhor Orlyk (1702 – 1759), general of the French Army.

Pylyp Orlyk was Ukrainian hetman-in-exile from 1710 to 1742. He and his government-in-exile resided in Sweden from 1715 – 1720. Later Pylyp Orlyk travelled to Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Poland and the Ottoman Empire in support of Ukrainian independence. At the end of his life Orlyk resided for 12 years in Salonika, Greece, then part of the Ottoman Empire.

The hetman’s son came to reside in France (the castle of Dinteville), a trusted councillor of the king of France, Louis XV, and general of the French Army.

Hryhor Orlyk travelled extensively in Eastern Europe for the French Foreign Ministry. In a secret mission to Constantinople in 1730 he on his return to Paris presented a memorandum to Cardinal de Fleury, the prime minister of France, and the minister of Foreign Affairs, Chovelaine. Here he argued for the emergence of an independent Ukraine to preserve European balance. When preparing to go to the Crimean Khanate in 1732 he received from his father in Salonika a Polish version of the document “Project of Peter”. This document revealed a Russian plan of 1711 to expand southward and conquer Crimea.

These were the beginnings of the geostrategic thinking related to the three countries of Ukraine, Poland, Turkey and then independent Khanate of Crimea. These countries could provide a protective shield against expansionist ambitions of the Russian czars.

After World War I the leading British geopolitician Sir Halford Mackindewr (1861 – 1947) believed that it was crucial to set up independent nations from the Adriatic and Black Sea to the Baltic Sea: Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, the Balkans, Bulgaria and Greece. Mackinder added that supervision of the area should be entrusted to the League of Nations. Unfortunately the plan was turned down by the British government.

With growing signs of a New Cold War in Europe the advice of the two Orlyks and of Sir Halford Mackinder ought to be studied once more, as it is vital to the defense of the West.

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