Putin changing tactics in Ukraine but not strategy, Shevtsova says

(Image: UNIAN)

(Image: UNIAN) 

2015/09/14 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

The current lull in the fighting in the Donbas is “one of the tactical elements in the Kremlin’s efforts to get out of open confrontation with the West and offer the West a new deal – the idea of a global anti-terrorist coalition,” Lilia Shevtsova says; but it does not represent a change in Vladimir Putin’s strategy.

That strategy remains exactly what it was: to ensure that Moscow has sufficient leverage to block Ukraine from becoming part of the West, she says. But now that effort is likely to take the form of economic and political pressure, although the threat of military force will remain as blackmail.

“The partial ceasefire and lull in the Donbas clearly testified to the exhaustion of a particular model in Kremlin policy,” the Russian analyst says, “the model of forcible pressure on Ukraine.” Moscow has recognized this for some time and sought a way out “without the loss of face” and “with the preservation of a mechanism for influence on Kyiv.”

Shevtsova adds that she does not think that “the return of the DNR and LNR to Ukraine is something real in the near future given the maintenance of an open border with Russia and separatist control over these formations.” Moreover, “the Kremlin is hardly ready to completely surrender these enclaves.” Whether Ukraine really wants them back is another question.

What is clear is this: “Moscow wants to get out from the sanctions regime,” and it “doesn’t need ‘a black hole’ in the Donbas” which it would have to continue to put money into. Thus, she says, the Russian authorities will tighten their control of the border with Ukraine to “prevent the flow of arms and separatists with arms into the territory of Russia.”

According to Shevtsova, the Kremlin understands that it has gotten itself into a dead end and that the use of more force now would be counterproductive. But it also understands that it will be able to achieve what is wants – keeping Ukraine “in a neutral strategic zone outside of NATO guarantees” – if uses other means, while keeping the threat of force in place.

No one should be fooled by what Putin is doing, she suggests. “For Moscow, Ukraine remains a part of the domestic agenda” of his Russia. And thus “the lull means only a change of Kremlin tactics but not of its strategy.”

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Brent

    Russia should have been declared a “Terrorist” state much like Iran was. It was sponsoring and supplying the terrorists in Donbass with weapons. They also support other terrorist states like Iran, North Korea and Syria.

    Unfortunately our Western leaders like Obama, Merkl and Hollande think they can negotiate and do business with these terrorists all at the expense of more human lives, which should be our most precious commodity, and not our stock markets and trade with them.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Rarely have the US and most EU countries been governed by a more useless bunch. At least Obama will have gone in 16 months, and the dwarf knows this only too well. He will try to make a deal with the west before then- but one negative aspect for him of such a deal will probably mean a further drop in the prices of oil and gas, which is the last thing he needs.

  • Mykola Potytorsky

    I agree, anyone who thinks putin is changing is a complete fool, this war against Ukraine is only now in the early stages and will be very long and costly in blood and treasure.