Russian aggression in Ukraine ‘not as successful’ as Kremlin wants or needs, Borovoy says

Russian soldier by the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in the Kremlin (Image: Flickr)

Russian soldier by the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in the Kremlin (Image: Flickr) 

2015/08/04 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Vladimir Putin not only has further isolated his country from the world by vetoing the UN Security Council resolution calling for a tribunal on the downing of the Malaysian jetliner, Konstantin Borovoy says, he also now faces a situation in which his ability to blackmail Ukraine and the West is increasingly limited by the failures of his forces there.

Konstantin Borovoy (Image: Apostrophe.com.ua)

Konstantin Borovoy (Image: Apostrophe.com.ua)

In the course of an interview with Apostrophe.com.ua, the Russian opposition figure notes that “every time” Moscow needed talks as in Minsk-1 and Minsk-2 Accords, Moscow “actively used the instruments of blackmail: it stepped up its aggression, conducted offensive operations, used heavy weapons, and carried out all kinds of provocations, political and military.”

In the current situation when Putin clearly sees the need for new agreements as cover for his actions, he will likely use the same tactic. But Borovoy says, “we are approaching a moment when the aggressive measures of Russia may be followed by a very serious military response… [and] the Kremlin is very concerned about this situation.”

“Ukraine’s army is strengthening, materiel is beginning to arrive and at a certain moment the next [Russian] provocation could end with a serious military defeat” for the Russian side, he argues. That is because “Russia’s aggressive actions already for a long time have not been as successful as those in the Kremlin would like.”

At the same time, however, Borovoy adds, no one in the West wants the conflict to escalate. Instead, all are more or less satisfied with a “frozen” conflict: people continue to die “but not in such numbers as would if there were large-scale military operations.

But the question remains, he says. Can one negotiate with an aggressor who, one knows in advance, will violate anything he says or signs? “Would it have been worthwhile to conduct negotiations with fascist Germany, for example?” Or is it the case, he asks rhetorically, that the only way to stop such a regime is with “armed resistance?”

According to Borovoy, in this increasingly dangerous situation, the only way “in the final analysis” to solve the situation is via military means. “And the faster everyone recognizes this, the more rapidly the Kremlin will make concessions.”

Regime change in Russia is not going to happen as a result of domestic processes there either at the elite or mass level, the opposition figure says. Instead, it will require “the occupation of part of the territory of Russia,” and ultimately the holding of a Nuremberg-type tribunal “not somewhere in Europe or Ukraine but in Moscow.”

“Already now,” Borovoy says, “countries are beginning to recognize the danger of what Russia is doing and they are trying to solve the problem by non-military means. Everyone understands that actions are necessary, but no one wants to participate in a military conflict. The only possibility then is sanctions and an embargo.”

What has happened in Ukraine, he continues, “has demonstrated that the US and the UK are not ready by military means to defend their obligations, in particular to Ukraine. They are simply not prepared to sacrifice the lives of their citizens and fulfill their obligations.” And that has some dangerous consequences.

It has “generated a certain uncertainty among the members of NATO. In this situation, NATO and the US have been forced to show their members that they are prepared to defend their common borders and fulfill their obligations to the members of the alliance,” perhaps even more than otherwise because of what the West has not yet done in Ukraine.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • laker48

    Before starting any counter offensive action by the Ukrainian army the west should crank up sanctions and bleed all Russia’s resources dry.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Dwarfstan’s financial resources are being slowly but surely drained as a result of the sanctions, but chiefly by the sharp drop in oil price, and with a delay of 6 months or so the gas price. He has also alienated his most important customers, the countries of the EU, and they are slowly but surely reducing their dependence on the dwarf’s oil and gas. Result: less income for Gazprom, less $$$$ the dwarf and his crooked friends can siphon off, and less $$$$ for the Dwarfstan Treasury.
      Norway has taken over as the EU’s No. 1 gas supplier. The Lithuanian LNG terminal at Klaipeda, which entered service last December, supplies about 25% of the country’s gas now, though it has the capacity to handle about 90% of the gas requirements of all three Baltics. When the pipeline interconnecting all three Baltics is completed next year you can expect Latvia and Estonia to make use of Lithuania’s terminal as well. Gazprom had to slash the price for Lithuania in order to sell anything at all. Expect a repeat with Latvia and Estonia. Again, less $$$$ for Gazprom, the dwarf and friends and the Treasury.
      Poland’s LNG terminal near Stettin is almost complete and guess what- Poland too will be importing gas from elsewhere, reducing Gazprom’s income even if it doesn’t drop the price for Poland……. which it will have to.

      Add to this such titbits as the Yukos verdicts which sentenced Dwarfstan to pay a total of some 50 billion to Yukos shareholders, and that the 20-year moratorium on Dwarfstan repaying Soviet debt to the US, which Dwarfstan inherited as successor state to the USSR, has ended. The sums owed are huge- not billions but trillions. The dwarf doesn’t have the money. The economic downturn is depleting the foreign exchange reserves at an alarming rate. The 90 billion reserve fund, which was intended for covering pensions, will be almost gone by the end of next year, used to plug the holes in the Dwarfstan budget. The pensioners, one of the dwarf’s chief support groups, will love him for this. And with the dwarf insisting on increasing the budgets for the armed forces and security services there will be considerably less for health care, education, infrastructure and the dwarf’s protectorates- Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and the Crimea, and his chum Kadyrov will have to accept a pay cut as well (but will he?).
      Peking won’t help, it wants a weak Dwarfstan and furthermore now has problems of its own; one of the results is indefinite postponement of the gas deal which the dwarf was shouting about last year and was intended to offset the loss of income from gas sales to the EU.
      “Down down, deeper and down………..”(Status Quo).

      • laker48

        Gazprom also faces claims of anti-competitive behaviour filed in the EC and the Stockholm Tribunal that, if proven valid, will expose Gazprom to up to $14B fine and back charges for overpriced gas. Also eight or nine EU member states, among them Lithuania and Poland but also Ukraine, filed similar claims in the same European institutions.

        There’s another killer factor looming large for Gazprom; cheap US LNG. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/26/lng-asia-europe-idUSL4N0VN4BO20150226
        The price is now even lower, as LNG spot prices in Asia are now below $7.50 per MMBtu (some $260 per 1000 cm after regassing) and the prices at Baltic delivery hubs shouldn’t exceed $7 per MMBtu ($250 per 1000 cm).

        The Swinoujscie terminal will be able to receive up to 7.5 billion cm per year and an 11.5 billion cm per year terminal will be built in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on the North Sea shore. On top of these facilities the EU has close to 180 billion cm of annual unused regassing capacity in its existing LNG terminals. Dwarfstan pipes up to 160 billion cm per year so, with adequate cheap LNG supplies and a well-developed network of interconnectors, the EU will be able to kick Gazprom out of the Schengen zone or, at best, reduce it to a 100% price-taker lining up cap-in-hand in a bidding line.

        The shipping capacity of the global LNG carrier fleet will double by 2020 and, as of 2016, several new carriers with regassing facilities on board will enter active service, thus reducing the need for building expensive regassing terminals by smaller buyers such as Lithuania or Estonia.

        Coming back to Ukraine, shipping there such advanced weapons as Javelin missiles in large numbers is too risky now, given the level of corruption in higher echelons and on the general staff level of the Ukrainian army. The best solution seems to be shipping of a small batch of few hundred missiles and some 20-30 shoulder launchers as a pilot project and entrust them to the very patriotic and reporting to the Ministry of Internal Affairs National Guard units now being trained by the US 173rd Airborne in Yavoriv.

        They should be deployed in urban areas where the terrorists hide tanks and self-propelled artillery pieces, in contravention to the Minsk agreements, in residential quarters. Several accurate to the nearest 90 cm hits of those objects, totally destroying them and killing their crews would incite massive panic and widespread, deep demoralisation. I may be wrong, but this seems to me the game plan Poroshenko, in cooperation with his western allies, is going to implement. This struggle will end only with Russia becoming flat broke with its soldiers in Ukraine totally demoralised.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          I’m not sure whether the Ukrainian army actually needs Javelins in large numbers. The Ukrainian arms industry produces its own designs similar to the Javelin, but I have no idea of the production rate. The army had a stock of these missiles, but they had been stored in poor conditions and most were found to have deteriorated beyond repair (just plain incompetence, or sabotage by pro-Dwarfstan elements in the army?). They should all have been thoroughly inspected and those that were repairable restored to operational condition by now. If this still hasn’t been done, those responsible should be taken to the Maidan, drummed out of the army in public (there’s a lot to be said for those old traditions!) and then shot with sh*t.

          I’m surprised the dwarf agreed to the Iran nuclear deal. When the sanctions against Iran are lifted later this year the Iranians will start selling every barrel of oil they can to get cash they so desperately need, ditto for gas. Dwarfstan took over Iran’s share of the EU market and Teheran will want it back. Guess what? The price won’t be going up, but more likely will drop further as Teheran undercuts the dwarf’s prices. Hey presto, less $$$$ for Rosneft, the dwarf and cronies, and the Dwarfstan Treasury.
          The legal actions against Gazprom may take years to sort out, but the potential threat is huge. Gazprom assets abroad are under very serious risk of being seized by the courts if Gazprom doesn’t comply with any verdicts against it. The beauty is that EU courts can’t be commanded by the dwarf to produce a verdict to his liking, something he possibly overlooks. He ignores them at his peril.

          There are already signs of the dwarf’s soldiers becoming demoralised, with both individual soldiers and complete units refusing to go to the Donbass. According to NGOs such as Cargo 200 and the Committee of Russian Soldiers’ Mothers about 8,000 regular army soldiers have been killed in the Donbass since the conflict started. Add the casualties among the mercenaries (which won’t be less as they bear the brunt of the fighting) and those among the remaining Donbass inhabitants stupid enough to fight for the dwarf and the number of killed already equals the number killed in the 10 years the Soviets were in Afghanistan. The dwarf can make the figures a state secret, but word gets around….. as it did in Afghanistan. And how will he hide those that have lost limbs or suffered other injuries? Have them secretly shot and cremated? Sooner or later they will hit the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Pskov, Ekaterinburg and many other cities, towns and villages.

          • laker48

            The Ukrainian army doesn’t have anything that even comes close to the Javelin striking the target at 500 m/s (1.5 mach) with a tandem warhead able to penetrate explosive reactive armour up to 1100 mm thick. Only the Russian Kornet is comparable, but it’s much larger and needs larger crews to launch it. The Polish-made under the Israeli licence Spike hits the target at 150 m/s and can penetrate reactive armour up to 700 mm thick. The Javelin’s kinetic energy at contact with the armour is over 10 times larger than the Spike’s. Ukraine does need Javelins and Hellfires if it wants to use its attack helicopters.

            As far as the Iran deal is concerned, the Dwarf didn’t have too much a choice, as the last thing he’d want would be a rogue Islamic state neighbouring his Islamic Caucasian backyard and having access to the Caspian Sea. He knows Iran’s capabilities, as all nuclear devices in Iran are Russian-made. No wonder that Russia left the negotiating table holding the bag. The Dwarf’s bargaining power is close to nil, as he’s already lost all his credibility and goodwill by persistently lying and reneging on all his commitments. The conflict will likely drag past the 2016 US elections unless Putlerreich goes belly-up sooner.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            State design bureau Luch in Kyiv has two antitank missile designs, the Skif and the shorter-range Corsar, as well as the Bar’er which can be carried by helicopters. See their website at http://www.luch.kiev.ua for details. If these missiles still haven’t entered service in quantity with the Ukrainian armed forces then Heads Should Be Rolling. Poro needs to appoint a tough-as-nails Minister of Defence who won’t compromise or accept any excuses, someone who will boot out any incompetents PDQ, someone like Jackie Fisher, the RN’s First Sea Lord a century ago.

            The dwarf can’t wait until the US elections. He knows only too well that ALL likely presidential candidates will be a lot tougher with him than Obama, no matter who wins. So he has less than 1.5 years to bend Kyiv to his will, but he can only do this by a full-scale invasion. However….. does he have the military strength to do that? And what will the consequences be if he does invade? Even weak-kneed Merkel will have to bring REAL sanctions into play which will accelerate the collapse of the Dwarfstan economy. He can, with difficulty, find a way to work round being kicked out of Swift, I think- but a boycott of Dwarfstan oil would be devastating.
            The current situation is not to his advantage, as he will have to prop up the so-called LNR and DNR financially; Kyiv refuses to do this as long as it doesn’t have full control over these territories. But with money slowly but surely running out he can’t afford to- the Crimea is already a huge drain because of the collapse of tourism, its main source of income. He doesn’t want two devastated territories to drain even more money from the Dwarfstan treasury. Yet at the same time he will be vilified by the extremists such as Zhirinovsky if he doesn’t help them. So what’s a dwarf to do?

          • laker48

            I cannot agree more with most of your analysis, nevertheless the Javelins would be of a tremendous help in urban areas where the top attack mode would be very useful (the missile climbs 150 m and attacks the tank from the top, right behind the turret, what usually detonates the ammo in its ammo compartment (the terrorists have Kornets on the occupied by them territories). Javelins are also ECM jammer resistant, as the jammers don’t work if launched after the Javelin was fired.

            The Dwarf will be under fire after the October elections in Canada and Poland, two staunchest supporters of Ukraine and opponents of Russia, where the closely associated with the US conservatives are expected to win and form governments, albeit Canada may end up with a minority Conservative-NDP one.

            Merkel isn’t weak-kneed; she’s got a pacifist upbringing, as her father was a Lutheran pastor from West Germany who voluntarily moved with his family to East Germany in order to serve its Lutheran congregations there. She seems to be a very ethical person with impeccable morals. I have a lot of respect for her.