Putin’s military escalation in Ukraine blocked by the West, Piontkovsky says

Putin shaking his finger (horizontal)


Analysis & Opinion, Russia, War in the Donbas

Because the Western powers have made it clear that they will react harshly to any further Russian advance into Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has shifted his focus away from that at least for the time being and is concentrating on the de facto annexation of the occupied territories, according to Andrey Piontkovsky.

Andrey Piontkovsky, prominent Russian scientist, political writer and analyst (Image: kasparov.ru)

Andrey Piontkovsky, prominent Russian scientist, political writer and analyst (Image: kasparov.ru)

According to the Russian analyst, Putin’s attempt to use nuclear blackmail against the West backfired. He assumed the West would back down, “but this didn’t happen: the West responded with a display of its military might” in the Baltic countries which are members of NATO and made clear that no further aggression in Ukraine would be tolerated.

The West has given Putin to understand that “any military escalation such as a move toward Mariupol or even more an attempt to create a corridor to the straits will be met with intensified economic sanctions and the sale to Ukraine of lethal weaponry, including anti-tank missiles.”

The Kremlin, Piontkovsky suggests, “has understood this and thus not taken a decision for military escalation.” Of course, there will be clashes along the border for a certain time, “but there will be ever less sense in them because Moscow is not prepared for an escalation” and Ukraine “is not planning” to recover the occupied lands “by force” lest it provoke Putin into sending in more regular army units and gaining a decisive advantage.

Moscow’s strategy in this situation, the Russian commentator says, “is to deceive the Ukrainians with the illusion of territorial integrity” and try to force Kyiv to take responsibility for the DNR and LNR in order to “disorder Ukraine from the inside.” But Kyiv has made clear that it will not “support these bandit republics and permit them to define its political future.”

That in turn means, he says, that “Putin is gradually moving toward the actual annexation of the occupied territories,” assuming “responsibility for the economy and social sphere of ‘the republics” and not seriously expecting that their demands for Ukrainian support will be successful in Kyiv.

“In the short term,” Piontkovsky argues, “such a scenario” will satisfy Ukraine: “Moscow will take on itself the support of the separatist republics and not engage in further demands.” But only in the short term. “Moscow is not capable of supporting this region even in the middle term,” but Putin will try because this is the only way he can save face in retreat.

Initially, as the Russian commentator says, Putin “spoke about the Russian world which would extend to Estonia, Latvia, and Kazakhstan. Then when it became clear that the Russian world was not going to happen, he began to talk about Novorossiya.” But “the Russian language community of Ukraine did not support this insane idea. As a result, Putin has had to satisfy himself with a piece of the Donbas.”

And although Piontkovsky does not address this possibility, the de facto annexation of the Donbas could very well mean that that region will destabilize Russia just as Putin once hoped to have it destabilize Ukraine, yet another example of his counterproductive policies and unintended consequences.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • LorCanada

    You might say Putin’s nefarious schemes in Ukraine will now come back to bite him! He’s not a very good strategist nor a wise leader.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      The “Enclavians” will demand that the dwarf support them and rebuild the “republics” if Kyiv continues to refuse to do so as long as the dwarf occupies the territories of the so-called LNR and DNR. But the dwarf can’t because the Dwarfstan finances are already overstretched with the costs of Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and the huge burden of the Crimea. He can’t pull back his forces either because that would be seen as a betrayal by most Russians. The alternatives are cutting even more government services for the Russians, or cutting military expenditure severely. My guess is he will squeeze the Russian people even more- even less money for health care, education, and less for the protectorates- Transnistria etc. So, almost no rubles for the LNR and DNR. This won’t go down at all well with those inhabitants who supported the creation of Novorossiya and could start to cause huge problems for the occupiers, whether the mercenaries or the Dwarfstan army..
      This doesn’t even begin to take the potential Chinese economic problems into account. IF the Chinese stockmarket continues its downward trend it will start to have a negative effect on the real economy sooner or later, meaning Peking will require less gas and oil from the dwarf, who pinned the country’s future to that of China. The EU are slowly but surely turning away from using the dwarf’s oil and gas. Less income all round.
      What’s a dwarf to do in such circumstances? My guess is that he will attack regardless of the consequences, there’s nothing in his record that suggests he will back down. In his reasoning, by the time the west agree on extra sanctions and start to supply lethal weapons, he will have much of the Ukraine under control- perhaps even the whole country. I think he will attack during the 2016 Summer Olympics, as he attacked Georgia in 2008 during the Peking Summer Olympics and invaded the Crimea at the end of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

      • puttypants

        Stop your nonsense. Putin got what he wanted. He’ll eventually take all of Ukraine except the west. Ukrainians get your act together stop the infighting clean up your act or there will be no more Ukraine. I’m disgusted with the whole damn of them. USA , NATO, and europe. I hope Putin also gets Germany and France. That’ll fix them good I can’t think of a group more deserving of him.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          The dwarf did NOT get what he wanted. He wants a government in Kyiv that will do whatever Moscow wants. He hasn’t got that and the only way he will get that is by a full occupation of the whole country and installation of a puppet president, government and Rada.

      • LorCanada

        To: Dagwood — Interesting insight, thanks. I also read somewhere that if Putin has any grand plans he’ll try to accomplish this BEFORE the USA elections and change of leadership because the next president might not be so lenient towards Putin as Obama has been. I daresay McCain would only be too happy to blast Putin out of the water, lol.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          Time is slowly but surely running out for the dwarf, for several reasons. First, the slow but steady improvement of the Ukrainian army, meaning that the longer he waits, the more difficult it will be to advance further, i.e. heavier losses to the Dwarfstan army. Igor Girkin recently stated that in his opinion the Ukrainian army will be able to take on the Russian army next year. I believe that that is a bit optimistic, but the Ukrainian army is a far tougher nut to crack now than it was at the beginning of 2014 and will slowly improve further in all respects as a result of US, UK, Canadian and Polish training and advisors.
          Second, financial. Paltry as they are, the sanctions are having an effect, slow strangulation- compare it to a python or boa constrictor. Far more serious is the collapse of the oil price. With sanctions against Iran possibly being lifted and Iran desperate to sell oil because of its economic problems, the price is not likely to rise very soon. And there are other oil producers desperate to sell as much oil as they can, such as Venezuela. The war is having its effect on Moscow’s finances- wars cost money and Moscow’s reserves are being slowly drained, not least by subsidies to occupied regions such as Transnistria. Some estimates suggest that Moscow’s foreign exchange reserves will be exhausted by the end of next year. And there is also the Yukos affair with court verdicts totalling some $51 billion hanging over Moscow- not to mention the very real threat of legal action over the Crimea by Kyiv.
          Third, how long will the dwarf be able to maintain popular support for the war? There was little active support for a war against Kyiv to begin with. Ominously, there are increasing numbers of reports of Russian individual soldiers and complete units refusing to go to the Donbass. Mercenaries are returning disillusioned, especially those who fought in/for the LNR, because of reports of severe corruption of the leaderships of the so-called LNR and DNR. Despite the KGB’s best efforts, these reports will find their way to the people of Russia. And it is proving increasingly difficult to hide the casualties the Kolorads are suffering, whether mercenaries or official army. Afghanistan caused some 14,500 killed and 50,000 wounded over a 10 year period. Sources such as the Committee of Russian Soldiers’ Mothers and Cargo 200 suggest that already some 8,000 soldiers of the army have died in little over a year, to which must be added the dead mercenaries and local Donbass fighters, whose casualties are unknown. These casualties will be a major factor in undermining support for continuing the war, as they did in Afghanistan.

          The US presidential elections are another factor- apart from Rand Paul, NONE of the likely candidates will be as soft as Obama. After the inaugaration Moscow can look forward to a far tougher US policy re the Ukraine- it will be dealing with Hillary, Cruz or Jeb Bush. Rand Paul doesn’t stand much of a chance.

          So, the dwarf wil have to act and there’s nothing that suggests that he will back off. I believe he will need a major distraction and the 2016 Summer Olympics will be a “perfect” one for him to launch a massive attack.

        • Vol Ya

          Also let’s not forget the effect of lower oil prices on russia. russia is bleeding financially. putin is quickly bankrupting russia. All they produce is oil and gas. Soon they will have to start selling the czar’s gold.

  • puttypants

    This is BS..Putin got exactly what he wanted for now. He’ll slowing take the rest of eastern, southern and central Ukraine including Kiev leaving western Ukraine to go its own way. Sinful. Stupid asshole west. They too knew Putin would attack Ukraine and steal territory as soon as the right opportunity came along. Germany, France and USA. All bastards that are killing Ukraine. Ukraine get strong and don’t allow Putin another inch. STOP YOUR CORRUPTION AND INFIGHTING. PEOPLE OF UKRAINE IF THIS GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT…SEND THEM TO THE GUILLOTINE LIKE THE FRENCH DID. THAT’LL STOP THE CORRUPTION QUICKLY!

  • Vol Ya

    Good article by this Russian writer, he tells it like it is. Putin bit of more than he could chew. Putgin thouvht taking Donbas would be as easy as taking Crimea. Wrong, now let him choke on it. Hey Putin, karma can be a real bitch but you deserve it. Enjoy subsidizing the criminals in Donbas. Maybe that is why putin is afraid to let the russian rebels come back to russia because he knows they will just cause chaos there.