Expert: No non-military solution to the Russian-Ukrainian War possible

Russian occupation soldier at the devastated Donetsk airport in Donbas, Ukraine (Image: LB.ua)

Russian occupation soldier at the devastated Donetsk airport in Donbas, Ukraine (Image: LB.ua) 

2015/04/27 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Yesterday, Yuri Lutsenko, the leader of the Poroshenko Bloc in Ukraine’s Verkhova Rada, said that the probability of the renewal of military actions in eastern Ukraine was “more than 80 percent,” a statement that underscores analyst Andrey Illarionov’s argument in Tallinn that “there is no non-military solution” for the war now going on in Ukraine.

Yuriy Lutsenko

Yuriy Lutsenko, the leader of the Poroshenko Bloc in Verkhovna Rada

Speaking on Inter television, Lutsenko said that pro-Moscow forces in eastern Ukraine were now at the highest level of readiness for an attack they had ever been since Vladimir Putin launched his intervention in Ukraine and that it seems clear that “the fighters are preparing for an attack.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Lennart Meri Conference in the Estonian capital, Illarionov argued that the war in Ukraine will end only as the result of the use of force: either more by Russia or by Ukraine backed by the West.

Andrei Illarionov, Russian economist and former adviser to Putin (2000-2005)

Andrei Illarionov, Russian economist and former adviser to Putin (2000-2005)

In support of his argument, the Russian analyst pointed to the very different outcomes in Putin’s war against Georgia in 2008 and his current aggression against Ukraine. In August 2008, US President George W. Bush moved American forces toward Georgia, a step that “helped stop the Georgian war.”

But, he continued, “President Barack Obama on February 27-28, 2014, excluded the use of force when Russia began the seizure of Crimea.” That constituted “a clear signal” to Putin that the West would not act and that he could continue to pursue with impunity his aggression against Ukraine more generally.

According to Illarionov, “Putin is seeking to restore the war established in 1945 in Yalta and Potsdam,” a world in which the big powers can “ignore small states” and act according to a system in which whatever any one of the great powers can act in the same way that another great power does.

“If the US does something,” in this view, “then Russia immediately acquires the right to do the same thing. If the US uses military force, Russia can use it as well. If the West recognizes Kosovo, then Russia gains the right to recognize Abkhazia and South Osetia” – and so on, Illarionov suggests.

In his remarks, the Russian analyst made two additional points worthy of note.

  • On the one hand, he said, “Putin is dividing Europe in two: the Anglo-Saxon countries and the so-called front line states (the Baltics, Romania and Poland) who are enemies which must be subordinated, and the countries of continental Europe who are friends.”
  • And on the other hand, Illarionov said, “there is no other leader who has been using so many different means” to achieve his ends: military, economic, information, terrorist and so on. Putin has combined them all and with great success: By offering deals to the Europeans, he has succeeded in creating a situation in which almost no one talks about Crimea anymore.
Alexander Golts, Russian military analyst (Image: ej.ru)

Alexander Golts, Russian military analyst (Image: ej.ru)

In today’s “Yezhednevny zhurnal,” Aleksandr Golts suggests that the discussions at the Lennart Meri Conference may point to dramatic changes in the West’s response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, changes that Moscow has brought on itself by its actions and will have no one but itself to blame.

The Russian analyst noted that at the conference there were repeated calls for NATO to immediately make Ukraine a member of the alliance as “the only chance to stop Russian aggression.” Given that Moscow moved in Ukraine to prevent that from happening, “this nightmare” of the Kremlin is “becoming a reality.”

And that is hardly the only place where the participants in the Lennart Meri Conference pointed to more changes ahead. NATO has already agreed to put NATO forces in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on a rotating basis. At the conference, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves argued that having permanent NATO bases there should follow.

Those who think that the NATO-Russia treaty precludes this, Ilves said, are misinterpreting that agreement. And Golts said that he “suspects that the time when the alliance will agree” with President Ilves’ interpretation is “not far distant,” another way in which Moscow has produced by its actions exactly what it said it was taking them to prevent.

“Finally,” Golts writes, “in the course of the conference, some truly revolutionary ideas were expressed. For example, about depriving the permanent members of the UN Security Council of a veto when they are involved in direct aggression and thus to create the possibility for their punishment.”

“Of course,” the Moscow author says, “it is quite easy to ignore all that was said at the conference in Tallinn. [NB: He spelled the Estonian capital with two N’s, not one, as Russians typically do.] What won’t these arrant Russophobes from the Baltics say! Only I suspect,” Golts continues, “this is the first attempt to respond to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.” [NB: Here he uses “na” as Putin prefers rather than “v” as Ukrainians do.]

Note: The author of these lines presented the Lennart Meri lecture to this conference via Skype. It was entitled “Restoring or Renewing the Post-1991 Order: What are the Prospects?” I will be happy to send a copy to anyone who requests one by writing me at paul.goble(at)gmail(dot)com.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Roger Mikael Klang

    ““If the US does something,” in this view, “then Russia immediately acquires the right to do the same thing. If the US uses military force, Russia can use it as well. If the West recognizes Kosovo, then Russia gains the right to recognize Abkhazia and South Osetia” – and so on, Illarionov suggests.”
    That is exactly what I wrote in my book.

    • Brent

      Well hopefully we will start seeing Russia sending doctors and personnel to Africa to fight Ebola, start funding AIDS research, start giving aid to poorer countries (instead of just weapons), and start trying to remove murderous tyrant leaders like Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Assad (instead of supporting them).

      Russia loves the “whataboutism” game, but fails to realize how much good the U.S. also does for the World.

      • Roger Mikael Klang

        Yes! True.

  • Dirk Smith

    Slava Azov!!!!!

  • canuke

    28th largest donor? Right up there with Zimbabwe and North Korea. With it’s then vast treasury of oil wealth in the hundreds of billions of dollars, $32 million is laughable.

    • simon

      Just saying that they do donate albeit not much compared to their economy (9th largest in the world in 2013)

      Compared to a similar sized economy like Australia (13th largest) which donated 357 million in humanitarian aid in 2013 true it is lame.

      I also think you will find that North Korea and Zimbabwe are recipients and not donors.

      • canuke

        My apologies, Simon. I thought you were impressed by Russia’s $32 million contribution. Now I see that you were thinking along the same lines as me, and as for North Korea and Zimbabwe, that was my attempt at sarcasm 😉

    • Paul

      And to say nothing of the fact that their sovereign wealth fund from oil and gas revenues could have gone to improve roads, schools, hospitals, etc. across Russia, but instead it’s gone where? To fight an aggressive war in the Donbas, and how much was wasted on Sochi?? Criminal behaviour. This is ultimately the reason why Putin is fighting this war. If he allows Ukraine to become a functioning democracy, this means that Russians will want the same at home. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst gave a speech recently that says this war is not about Russia wanting to keep the West at bay but to preserve its own way of doing business, which is mired in the past: corruption, fraud, theft; a top-down system that favours the oligarchs and their cronies. Sad.

  • LorCanada

    Putin — the perennial troublemaker. Left to his own devices he will invariably come up with his own version of what’s best for everyone, with him dictating of course. Putin’s propaganda machine runs 24/7.

  • Brent

    28th place. I thought they wanted to be a ‘Great World Power”? 28th place barely gets you into the World Cup…It’s interesting to see what countries are on that list…includes the likes of Syria, North Korea, Zimbabwe…I dare you to post a breakdown of where the $32 million actually went!

    I think if Russia was really open and posted what they paid out in bribes to ‘useful idiots’ throughout Europe, we might see them higher up the rankings. Still don’t think they can afford to give Greece what it really needs unless Putin dips into his $200 personal BILLION nest egg.

    By the way, Russia also wrote off $32 billion in old Soviet debt to Cuba last year….funny thing was that Cuba was negotiating with the U.S. behind their backs right around the same time….