Robert van Voren
It is amazing to see how wishful thinking works. So many people are overjoyed by the turn around of Vladimir Putin that they actually believe he changed his mind. Wow, he suddenly recognizes that it is important to hold Presidential elections in Ukraine; amazing, he is in favor of postponing the referendum that was unilaterally planned by the insurgents for May 11; and super, he is now going to withdraw his forces from the Ukrainian border which either were never there or had already been withdrawn, depending on the morning mood of Vladimir Vladimirovich…
You still don’t smell the stink?
Well, I do, and I don’t believe a word of what he says. Don’t think he has suddenly seen the light and altered his course, and don’t believe that the crunch of the economic sanctions has made him reconsider. No. What has happened is that Plan A did not work and he pulled Plan B from the shelve. The objective is the same: a Ukraine that is anything but a democratic country where a Russian speaking population is able to say whatever they want and live in peace and harmony. Because if that is possible across the border from Russia, it is also possible in Russia itself, and thus his days would be numbered. He is not that stupid. That is a no go for him.
So what made him change his mind?
A few days ago a ‘general rehearsal’ of the referendum was held in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. Not many media reported on this, even though the outcome was significant: in spite of the fact that it was organised by the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’, more than seventy percent of the population in both regions voted for Ukrainian unity. Not surprising, because earlier polls had given exactly the same results. What was surprising is the fact that the People’s Republic did not manage to falsify the results, or at least not sufficiently, so undoubtedly Herr Putin received a warning: the outcome of the May 11 referendum will not be to your liking. So then there is only one way out: postpone the referendum to the moment that you can falsify the outcome enough to make it answer your needs…
But this is not the end of his subversive games. His troops that are NOT in Ukraine will NOT remain in Ukraine, and will of course NOT continue to provoke, subvert and support thugs and lost souls who joined the ‘national uprising’ (have you seen the faces of the ‘ministers’ of the ‘People’s Republic’? I would take a detour if I would meet them in the street at night). He will NOT continue to drive his population nuts with a barrage of propaganda that we haven’t seen since the days of another great Russian leader, Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin. And, of course, he will NOT threaten to destabilize other countries between him and the European Union.
But you can be sure for May 9 provocations are planned, not only in the East and the South but all over Ukraine, even if only to give his Master’s Voice Lavrov another chance to say that “of course” under these circumstances the election of a President would be a travesty of democracy. Yes, Lavrov, you very well know what a travesty is.
Plan B is off the shelve. Watch, and find out what the content is. And if need be there is Plan C, or Plan D, all nicely worked out. And all with one and the same goal.
Robert van Voren is Professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies at Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas, Lithuania) and Ilia State University (Tbilisi, Georgia).