The well-known Russian commentator Marat Gelman writes about Putin’s ultimatum to Poroshenko, based on a conversation he had with an inside source in the Kremlin. His article appeared in the August 30, 2014, issue of the Russian Novoye Vremya (New Times) magazine. A Ukrainian translation was published by Expres.ua, August 31.
“I spoke with Vladimir Lukin. Out of Putin’s entire circle, he is the most decent. He was the one who did not sign that peace agreement between Yanukovych and the opposition in February because he considered it unrealizable. This is why instead of my own views, which are well-known, this article will be almost a literal account (of the conversation). There was one man with us, a mutual friend — close to me and to Lukin. This is why I think he said what he knows and understands quite frankly.
“Nobody in the Kremlin needs either the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) or Novorossiya. They are not needed to such an extent that Strelkov and Borodai were removed for the very reason that they, at some point, did believe in the possibility of separation from Ukraine and started moving in the wrong direction. To get Donbas and lose Ukraine represents defeat for the Kremlin. In that case, it would have been better not to begin at all. The rhetoric of all those in the government should not deceive anyone,” he said.
“After all, they did not send in the armies. But they will send as many (troops) as necessary for Poroshenko to understand and sit at the negotiating table with those with whom Putin will decide.”
When I asked, “But how do they expect to avoid losing Ukraine when the mutual hatred is so intense?” Lukin answered, “And how did the French and English agree to peace after a 100-year war? And the Russians and Germans?”
They think in terms of very long periods of time. Questions on the negative attitude of the world community and the consequences for the country and for Putin personally were in the same vein. “Marat, history is not the same as a human life, where you need to get everything done in 70 years. Today they think this way; in 50 years they will think differently. What constitution? Nobody is preparing to examine papers when history is being created,” Lukin said.
I asked, “What is the goal then? Why did they send in troops? Why are they circling the occupied territory if not for the future DNR?”
“Forget about DNR and LNR,” Lukin said. “The objective is to explain to Poroshenko that he cannot win. Never. They did not send armies. But they will send as many (troops) as necessary for Poroshenko to understand that and to sit at the negotiating table with people with whom Putin will decide. With people who are entirely obedient. These people will create a parallel political wing of today’s separatists in Kyiv (perhaps they’re already creating it. I don’t know.)”
According to Lukin, both Donetsk and Luhansk will remain in Ukraine as a guarantee of the country’s non-membership in NATO. The meaning of the demands for federalization lies in the requirement that any referendum on entry into this or that block must be conducted separately for every region, and if one region is against it, the country cannot proceed.
The EU Association, he believes, is not that much of a problem in itself. But the entire project of “synchronous Europeanization” is important. All these discussions about changing the vector are nonsense. “Russia does not want to integrate anywhere but in Europe and never will. And Putin is the primary European here. Obama needs to be ignored. However, he should not be opposed too strongly to avoid a Republican victory. Hillary is needed. And in Europe, we haven’t really quarreled with anyone,” Lukin says.
Then I ask “how long will this pressure on Poroshenko and negotiations continue?” “We’re not in a rush, he said “Poroshenko is the one who must hurry. Or else the girl with the braid will eat him alive. Poroshenko is on the hot seat; not us. Ideally, in fact, everything needs to return to what it was with Yanukovych, only without Yanukovych.”
I ask. “So people will be dying all this time?”
“No, now they won’t. All this is due to the mistaken confidence of the Ukrainians that they could win. They actively deployed ATO. Now, that everything is clear to everyone that they will not win, their fervor will diminish. They will present something right up to the elections. They will deceive the electorate. In the military sense, the most active stage is over,” he said.
After this meeting, I suddenly realized that here we are feeling sorry for the Ukrainians, but we should be the ones pitied. It is obvious to everyone that the government violated the constitution with this entire business of using the Russian military in the Donbas.
And this means that any subsequent government can start judicial proceedings against all who were involved. There is a sea of evidence, and there will be much more — “The violation of the constitution that led to the deaths of citizens.”
“In turn, this means that Putin will seek to remain in power forever. And his successor will be someone who violated the constitution along with him. Probably Shoigu more than anyone. None of the election activity has any meaning. And legal parties have no meaning. They will never give up power peacefully.”
By: Marat Gelman
expres.ua, translated from Ukrainian by Anna Mostovych