Destroy the enemy in Donbas immediately and live a normal life? Isolate the region from Ukraine? No illusions needed, all of this won’t work.
One can understand the Ukrainians’ weariness. For over half a year now the country has been living in a state of constant stress. Maidan which ended with Yanukovych’s bloody reaping. The clash in Crimea. The escalation in Donbas which they managed to localise with titanic effort. And now, when the mercenaries control a relatively small part of the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, one wants everything to end as soon as possible. What ceasefire? What talks, and with bandits too? Destroy the enemy immediately and live a normal life.
We have already forgotten how two months ago, when we de facto had no army, we awaited the advance of the Russian army from Crimea, the occupation of Kherson and Odesa oblasts, an invasion into Donbas and Kharkin. There was enough power accumulated at our border for an operation in the entire southeast, and even to hit Kyiv – as is known, the Kremlin had such plans. Yes, these plans were influenced by the reaction of the world community and the bravery of our soldiers which proved that the crusade of the soldiers from the new Reich to the West would be no parade. But the Russian army did not go anywhere – it retreated from our borders, however it might regroup and return. And our goal, as well as the goal of the international community, is to make such an intervention impossible. We have to grasp one simple thing: Putin is doomed to fail if he does not deploy the army. But this defeat will not be immediate.
The format the talks regarding the peaceful regulation in the east are held it shows that during the talks in Normandy, Hollande, Merkel, Poroshenko and Putin managed to find some framework of an agreement regarding conflict regulation. One should not think that Putin needs this agreement less than we do, because it is impervious for him to avoid sectoral sanctions and achieve a final military conflict in the east of Ukraine. One should not think that the regulation of this conflict will not necessitate leeway on our part. We are interacting with politicians for which giving leeway is life: Merkel is part of a “big coalition” with the social-democrats for the second time, and nothing, she’s alive and well. By the way, one should understand that the emergence of one former social-democrat as a mediator for communication with Putin’s saboteurs, and on Merkel’s proposal – it is not even leeway yet. It is an instrument, which is quite logical: if they have to make it look like they are handing over the results of consultations to the mercenaries and recount their reaction, who’s better for the job that someone who has the trust of the person who sent these mercenaries in the first place? So don’t waste your breath. There will be more leeway. Nobody ever managed to achieve territorial integrity and peace just so.
Alternatives? They exist. The continuation of the military operation – and we have to understand that Putin will not step down and will continue sending “volunteers” and machinery to the east (one shouldn’t suppose the border is so closed that the machinery won’t pass, it is our border, after all). I don’t doubt that sooner or later we will be victorious. But this whole story may last not even months. We can resort not to a “cleanse” of the territory, which under today’s conditions means battle in living quarters and serious victims among civilians, but an isolation of the unfortunate region – so the transfer of the border. But this border will not be a border of stability. We will construct a Gaza sector with our own hands and will have to fight against it – besides, the Russian border in other areas will not go anywhere. And now imagine this “black hole” of sorts, what kind of reservoir of instability the isolated districts will become, this entire union of Donbas bandit republics. And how this may influence the rest of the country.
Therefore our main goal is to achieve the re-establishment of territorial integrity, cessation of the armed rebellion of the saboteurs, creation (with the help of Obama, Merkel and Hollande) of a reliable international mechanism to prevent Russian invasion – with the stick and carrot method for Mr. Putin. And then start the battle for the people’s minds, those that have been drugged by the nazi propaganda of the new Reich. We have to bring Donbas to Europe together with all of Ukraine and create conditions to return Crimea to our country and demilitarise Sevastopol. This is a task for years. Long and hard battle between good and evil, the past and the future, humanity and hatred and cruelty. And this battle doesn’t allow for simple solutions, we cannot go without compromise, chess moves and temporary retreat. And we definitely should not be subject to emotion and hysteria in this battle.
Otherwise we will lose much more than Donbas.
Vitaliy Portnikov, journalist
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina