The events in Donbas, in particular the scenarios of their development, are reminiscent of those that unfolded in the winter of the current year during Euromaidan. It would be foolish to say they are identical or a repeat of one another, but there is some significant similarity between them.
Kremlin and Euromaidan
Now, after the publication of key data and information from journalists, we understand that the conflict on the Maidan was escalated on purpose. The first stage of escalation started unfolding after the cruel dispersal of the students on the night between November 28 and 29, when it was already known for a fact that the opposition was ready to stop the protests. After this, there were several more instances of purposeful stoking of the conflict, and again, at the moments when the situation was headed towards a ceasefire of sorts.
The arbitrary point of no return was the “passing” of the draconian January 16 laws. Few may remember that a great majority of these laws was pushed forth by the Kremlin at the hands of their former mouthpieces in the Ukrainian Parliament, in particular Vadym Kolesnichenko, and they started doing it immediately after Yanukovych took the presidential steering wheel, so back in the year 2010.
Among the bills of the Kremlin marionettes were various regulations regarding the purchase of SIM cards with passports, the financing civic organizations exclusively through resident (non-foreign) funds, anti-extremism, the behavior of fans on stadiums (and this is back in 2011, 3 years before the ultras became one of the strongest protest powers and came up with the famous song about Putin), as well as the so-called libel law, penned by Vitaly Zhuravsky. In other words: a full list of what was later approved manually in the session hall on January 16 of the current year.
As we see, planned-out attempts to turn Ukraine into a copy of Russia, an authoritarian police state, were being carried out. It was supposed to happen gradually, just like in Russia itself. However, a lot was not done at the early stages, as Yanukovych was mindful of civic resistance and tried to be cautious. This lasted up until January 16, when he beat himself at his own game and backed himself into a corner that only had one way out. His all-in was supposed to push us away from the West and into the eternal embrace of the Kremlin, which was what Putin was betting on.
Now we have at our disposal some semblance of information regarding the scale of Russian special service involvement in the SSU and the army. Now we understand why Yanukovych would disrupt talks with the opposition when it seemed that the parties had reached an agreement.
Kremlin scenario in Donbas
The Kremlin is not interested in the end of the war in Donbas in the slightest, save for Ukraine’s capitulation. And as Ukrainians will not consent to such a scenario, they have to be “forced into peace,” or exhausted militarily.
Putin has not dared doing the former yet, however everything possible is being done for the latter. While Poroshenko announced a unilateral ceasefire, reasons for this ceasefire to be cancelled by the Ukrainian government itself constantly emerged.
Having seen that Ukrainians would not be provoked, he decided to “burn the Reichstag,” shooting at his own territory, by the hands of terrorists or his own army.
It seems Putin does not comprehend that, having launched the Crimea-Donbas events by the same scenario he used during Maidan, he risks suffering Yanukovych’s end. Sooner or later the situation will be out of control and turn against him. The increase of escalation of the conflict will lead to unexpected consequences.
It is already noticeable how the Maidan scenario is being repeated in the east of the country. The evolution there is notable by what kind of weapons Russia is supplying to the terrorists – automatic weapons, man-portable air-defense systems, heavy armored equipment and “Grad” systems. The unfolding of the conflict can also be seen by the level of drivel that keeps pouring in from Kremlin TV news.
Kremlin ukrainization of Donbas
Donbas is taking its time (remember how the Eurorevolution went from a peaceful disco to the murders on February 18-20); however, not only are new volunteer battalions of local residents being created, but attempts civilian attempts to kick the separatists out by are constantly happening. In the near future, we should expect the emergence of pro-Ukrainian partisan troops of Donbas citizens in occupied Donetsk and Luhansk. The success and speed of the operation to free the oblast centers of the region depend greatly on their participation.
More and more people are becoming involved in supporting Ukrainian soldiers, more and more are willing to show their patriotism, if not by searching for and buying medicine, bulletproof vests, thermal vision devices and other necessary ammunition, then simply painting road signs yellow and blue in Donbas cities, which is also quite a risky thing to do in the area.
The public is organizing itself. It is easier for Maidaners to enter this rhythm – they have, de facto, not had the time to forget it – meanwhile the locals had to examine the situation closely and make sense of who is “us” and who is “them.” This is not easy to do when one is in an information vacuum or in a space where all one can hear is Russian propaganda.
However, the experience of cities which had already been freed by the Ukrainian army shows the citizens that death follows the separatists and condemns everyone who is close to them. Therefore the anti-separatist movement in Donbas will only become stronger. Thanks to this, even at such a terrible cost, Ukrainian patriotism in the East will become stronger too.
This is definitely not for Putin’s benefit. If he continues destabilizing and decides not to meet Ukraine’s demands, Putin has to remember that he will get nothing from the scenario he has launched. The situation is coming full circle. It is repeating, but now it is more tragic. Putin is risking becoming not Yanukovych, but something much worse. In the end, where does he have to run? Syria or North Korea, perhaps.Source: Radio Svoboda
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina, edited by Andrew Kinder