A prominent Moscow analyst says that “the West would surrender Ukraine to Putin if Putin’s demands were limited to only Ukraine,” but the West understands that Putin wants far more – the restoration of the Yalta-Potsdam world and recognition of Russia as a super power like the USSR in that system.
In comments to OpenRussia.org’s Roman Popkov, Stanislav Belkovsky argues that “Putin is trying to get from the West not only concessions on Ukraine but the restoration of the Yalta-Potsdam system of international relations” in which the superpowers “have zones of influence and military force plays the key role.”
“Putin wants to don Stalin’s uniform and return to the Yalta-Potsdam world of 1945,” the analyst continues, but this is “impossible because that world collapsed in 1989 along with the fall of the Berlin wall.” Ukraine is simply the current place “for exchange and for maneuver” in these talks between Putin and the West.
The Kremlin leader has certain “tactical and local demands” with regard to Ukraine, including but not limited to autonomy for Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the survival of Russian-occupied Crimea, and guarantees that Ukraine will not enter NATO and that the pro-Moscow breakaway republic of Transdniestria will be allowed to continue to exist.
But all of that, Belkovsky says, is “only a prelude for trade around the question of whether Russia is the legal successor of the USSR in the full sense of the word or not and whether Putin is or is not the Stalin of 1945.”
According to the Moscow analyst, the West would sacrifice Ukraine to Putin if it believed that his demands were limited to that country, “but the West understands that Putin’s goal is not Ukraine.” He doesn’t care about Ukraine as such but rather wants far more than that: he wants the restoration of a world that no longer exists or can exist.
And the West further understands, he continues, that “the surrender of Ukraine would be a return to the Yalta-Potsdam system which arose in 1945 and which was liquidated at the same time with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.” The West is not interested in that and therefore, Belkovsky says, it won’t sacrifice Ukraine because that would undermine all that it has achieved.
Instead, he says, the West wants Putin to understand that he is the leader of a country which lost the Cold War and therefore cannot aspire to Stalin’s status.
One very much fears Belkovsky is exactly right about what Putin wants: one very much hopes that the West understands what is at stake and will act accordingly. But there is a very real danger that because that is what Putin wants, he will now do everything to suggest that Ukraine is his only goal and that some in the West will accept that in the name of getting a ceasefire.