Article by: Mark Solonin
A wonderful text by historian Mark Solonin regarding Donbas.1. On April 21st I posted a text on my website in which I formulated the three possible scenarios of how the situation in Ukraine would develop and offered my readers to evaluate their probability. The collective conscience (despite my personal prognoses) chose Option #2 (“a silent betrayal”), which was described as follows:
“The Kremlin goes from the setup of direct deposition of the “Kyiv junta” to the search for compromise and acceptable collaborationists. The separatist rebellion in the east is cancelled. Donbas nominally remains part of Ukraine but pay the price of a significant increase in the autonomy of the local criminal and oligarch “elites.” In such conditions the current government holds power until May 25th, after which it is given to the elected candidate of the old oligarch group (Timo-Poro-shenko). The Verkhovna Rada quietly forgets all about the early elections. The Kremlin returns to Ukraine as at least one of the most important participants of the undercover war for another re-division of property and power.
The structures of the radical people’s self-organisation (Maidan) are consequentially (and not always peaceful) shifted to the side of the political road, and then are totally destroyed (all of this is garnished with the sauce of “enough protests, the time has come to work!”). Lustration is de-facto suspended without even having begun (“we have to keep qualified human resources, the time of sailors with machine guns has passed”), though talk regarding the necessity to investigate the crimes of the old regime in court is still relevant. Overall, by the beginning of 2015 the situation in Ukraine becomes a caricature of 2005 (“Orange Revolution 2.0” with an ageing Yulia without the braid).2. Today, on June 28th, it can be concluded that the collective mind turned to be right. Some instances of coincidence between the prognosis and reality are simply staggering in their pertinence. The surname of the “candidate of the old oligarch group” has been determined, Poro- (not Timo-) shenko it is. The “sauce,” however, turned out to be spicier: instead of “enough protesting, it’s time to work” we have “if you are such patriots – go fight in Donbas.” So far the prognosis regarding the cancellation of the early Verkhovna Rada elections has not confirmed, but the date of the elections has not been appointed yet (and over 4 months have gone by since the victory of the armed rebellion in Kyiv!).
As to the separatist rebellion in Donbas, the decision has been made and even delivered to the thinking public (I mean the repeated unilateral ceasefire, the multilateral “consultations” in Donetsk, the cancellation of the decision of the Russian Federation Council regarding the use of the army on the territory of Ukraine). The decision was well described by the Ukrainian publicist Kyrylo Sazonov:
“As a result of the agreement that has de facto already been reached but not published yet, Donetsk and Luhansk oblast will remain part of Ukraine. With very wide autonomy rights, the Russian language and other attributes… Budget federalisation, their own police, which will be most probably formed based on the current rebellion, practically allowance to do anything for the local leaders. The de facto owner of the region will be Viktor Medvedchuk (Putin’s buddy), and the status of the local landowners will be re-examined based on the loyalty they have shown… Formally it is Ukraine, de facto – an independent territory…”3. “Everything is really reasonable” (Hegel). The decisions and actions made accord with the interests of the main participants of the events – though not fully (for each one).
3.1 Putin, of course, wanted much more; he wanted to take all of Ukraine or at least rip away a huge piece of it from eastern and souther oblasts, from Kharkiv to Odesa, with the main industrial regions and the coast of the Black and Azov seas. Alas, the reaction of the West turned out to be harsher than the one predicted (and the situation in the Russian economy is probably worse than our amateur minds imagined). Nonetheless, the compromise will allow to make the Russian layman happy (“the fascist-Banderite genocide of Russians in Donbas has been prevented”) and, what is most important, the “governable wound” in Donbas will give Kremlin serious leverage for long-term influence on the policies of the central Ukrainian government.
3.2 The criminal-oligarch clans of Ukraine de facto remain at their posts and with their money; only the political title is changed (most likely, the Party of Regions will be replaced by Medvedchuk’s “Ukrainian choice” with a powerful electorate in Donbas of 7 million). Yes, they will have to share (and share a lot) with the people from the President’s circle, but after February 21st they have to thank fate for such a compromise option.
3.3 Poroshenko himself should not be discerned from the group mentioned about (“the old criminal and oligarch clans”), but he will personally get good “bonuses” in the chosen tactic in the shape of good attitude on part of the European leaders. And money plus power, of course.
3.4 Euro-bureaucrats are simply ecstatic (which they do not hide). They really didn’t want to interrupt their sweet slumber because of problems in some “fourth world” country (Ukraine). And fighting with “our friend Vladimir,” a wonderful employer (let’s remember Schroeder’s work biography) and a generous sponsor, is not something any of them wanted. But they had to – the people were becoming restless, the newspapers were shouting, the electorate was in displeased confusion. And this is where the wonderful “our friend Petro” appears and explains in detail that “we don’t need any sanctions against Russia for the sake of sanctions themselves,” and his Minister of Defence reports that “there are no Russian tanks on the territory of Ukraine, otherwise I would have been told.” Peace, friendship, Geschäft.4. Essentially, there is another figure here. Millions of voters that voted for Liashko, Grytsenko, Bohomolets (in sum, 16% of those who participated in the elections) on May 25th. Hundreds of thousands that went out in the winter of 2013-2014 to protest against Yanukovych’s criminal regime. Tens of thousands that fought on Maidan in February. Armed thousands that constitute the volunteer battalions which are located in Donbas today. What do they want and what can they do? This will become known in the nearest days (not even weeks).