Vladimir Putin may organize short-lived ceasefires for various reasons, few of which have anything to do with Ukraine, but with regard to that country, Igor Eidman points out, the Kremlin leader has no interest in achieving peace there on any terms, a tragic reality no one must delude themselves into believing is not the case.
Putin’s participation in the Minsk talks was nothing more or less than a continuation of his strategy of blackmail against Ukraine and the West, the Moscow commentator says, and it is clear that he has no intention of living according to the provisions of that agreement or any other.
What he did at Minsk as he has done so often with success in the past is to give “the imitation of a step backwards” for which he will be rewarded by the West as someone with whom it can do business while proceeding to take two more steps “forward along the path of aggression.”
As a result of Minsk, Putin got two things he wanted – a delay in any imposition of more serious sanctions and an end to talk in Western capitals about arming Ukraine. But “Putin of course wants more” including that Ukraine should “pay for aggression against itself,” that oil prices should go up, and that he will get “a breathing space” to prepare for new aggression.
One extremely sad result of Minsk and a demonstration of what Putin is about concerns Nadiya Savchenko. Her position has “radically deteriorated” after what happened in the Belarusian capital. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said she would be released with other prisoners and then Putin’s press secretary said that she wouldn’t be.
This pattern reflects Putin’s desire to discredit Poroshenko by showing him to be incapable of defending his own, Eidman says. The only thing that could help the jailed Ukrainian flier now, would be “an energetic ultimatum for her liberation” from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Putin would have to take her words into consideration.
Putin’s primary goal in Minsk this time around, the Moscow commentator continues, was not that by rather “the legitimation of the bandits” as an independent part of the negotiating process. Merkel fell for that when she suggested that Putin had put pressure on them, something she wouldn’t have said if she saw him as a crime boss speaking to his underlings as they are.
When Poroshenko first walked out and said there would be no agreement, the ruble fell. When he returned, the ruble went up, an indication that “the economic weakness of Russia forces Putin to maneuver, to do everything in order to stabilize the economic situation in Russia.”
In allowing for the legitimation of these entities as part of the negotiating process, the Germans and the French in fact have allowed Russia to maintain its false claim that it isn’t entirely responsible for their actions. But everyone should take note of the fact that “not one organization” In the Donbas “demanded independence before the start of Russian aggression.”
The pro-Moscow militants will not disarm except possibly in limited contexts for show, Eidman says. “They may not even reverse their formal decision on independence, although this would be complete schizophrenia – at one and the same time to declare oneself part of Ukraine and to declare one’s independence.”
Despite his gains at Minsk, Putin was anything but a free actor. When Poroshenko first walked out and said there would be no agreement, the ruble fell. When he returned, the ruble went up, an indication that “the economic weakness of Russia forces Putin to maneuver, to do everything in order to stabilize the economic situation in Russia.”
Unless the West is bamboozled into lifting the sanctions, the situation inside Russia could reach such a boiling point, and that in turn could lead to the salvation of Ukraine in the first instance, of Russia’s other neighbors as well, and ultimately of Russia itself.
But once he is able to do that, he will “hit Ukraine with redoubled force” not to seize the Donbas which he doesn’t need but to use it as a “gangrenous” limb to infect all of Ukraine with its fever by “provoking military clashes and destabilizing the situation in the country. This will be a slow-acting bomb,” Eidman concludes.
What Putin wants in Ukraine and how he is acting there is an exact copy of what Hitler did in Czechoslovakia, Eidman says. Putin took Crimea as Hitler took the Sudetenland. Then, Putin provoked a split in Ukraine just as Hitler did between the Czechs and the Slovaks. And Putin hopes to achieve complete control of Ukraine just as Hitler did of Bohemia and Moravia.
Ukraine and its friends must be prepared to fight on, but they must also hope for the rise of a revolutionary situation in Russia, one in which “those on top will not be able to run things in the old way, and those below will not want to live as they have before.” That could happen in Russia if sanctions and the economic crisis there both deepen.
At some point, the Moscow commentator suggests, unless the West is bamboozled into lifting the sanctions, the situation inside Russia could reach such a boiling point, and that in turn could lead to the salvation of Ukraine in the first instance, of Russia’s other neighbors as well, and ultimately of Russia itself.