Article by: Vitaly Portnikov
In light of the mass renewals of combat in he east of Ukraine, the retreat of military units from what used to be Donetsk Airport today seems to only been one episode in the endless conflict with the Russian troops and their mercenaries in Donbas. However, in reality, this conflict will become part of history. Throughout many weeks, the small, constantly fired-upon, badly-armed, almost entirely besieged group of servicemen maintained a strategic object in their hands, warding off the army of a nuclear state which constantly received reinforcements from the east. It is not important how the attackers called themselves, the ‘DNR’ army, the ‘liberators,’ armed forces of Novorossiya or otherwise. We understand very well whom our men were fighting against: the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. And they only managed to beat them after the complete destruction of the ruins of Donetsk Airport.
Political and military observers are yet to spend a long time thinking why Moscow needed to spend so much manpower on capturing a completely strategically useless point. Some will say they tried to straighten the front line, others will talk about the ‘viability’ of the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR,’ some – about the first stage in Vladimir Putin’s new advance. However, I would not look for a lot of sense in the actions of the Russian President. Why did he need to occupy Crimea? Why start a war in Donbas? Why take the airport by storm? For the ratings? To put pressure on Ukraine? For equal standing with Western leaders? Putin’s ratings were high even before Crimea. He had more than enough triggers of influence on Ukraine after Yanukovych’s flight. And Putin rid himself of equal standing with the Western leaders after starting the war in Ukraine – he was simply shown the door.
No, the reason for everything are Putin’s fear and rage. Fear in the face of the possible infection with the virus of civil consciousness and dignity by the people in his own country. And rage because he was unable to keep a marionette ruler as head of Ukraine, who had sold himself to the Kremlin for several billion dollars.
Donetsk Airport is also rage. The madman, Zakharchenko, is Putin’s rage, pulled out from the master and aimed to rampage across the blood-flooded Donetsk steppes. If you want to know what Putin really feels, and how he behaves when there are no cameras or Lavrov and Medvedev, just watch what Zakharchenko does and says.
The Ukrainian heroes angered Putin with their readiness to oppose him and fight to the death. He simply cannot understand: why? He doesn’t want to understand. A fearful bureaucrat who merited power with his want to please and readiness to execute any wishes of his former master Boris Yeltsin, he doesn’t even know that there is something more important than power and money in the world – dignity and heroism. For Putin, these words are empty, but they are the lives of Ukrainian servicemen and volunteers.
Today, Putin is balancing not between war and peace, but between fear and fiasco. It is very difficult to say which scenario he will choose and what his rage will decide. But what is already clear today is that there is no room for Putin and his eternal fear in history. But there is room for the defenders of Donetsk Airport.