Putin’s desperate attempt to legalize “Krymnash” (our Crimea)

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2015/09/23 • Analysis & Opinion, Crimea

Article by: Andriy Zaremba, Crimean political commentator

The war in Syria is the Kremlin’s last hope to achieve recognition, albeit informal, of Russian-occupied Crimea and partial easing of sanctions without withdrawing Russian troops from the Donbas region of Ukraine.

On September 28, Vladimir Putin will mount the rostrum of the UN General Assembly and urge the West to start a joint fight against terrorism in the Middle East. Even if he does not focus on Ukraine, the meaning of his message is clear: “Let’s forget what happened in Crimea and the Donbas and join forces to fight ISIS”.

The Russian tactical plan for Syria is seemingly logical. The Kremlin wants to stop the ongoing disintegration of the Syrian state, remove Bashar al-Assad as president or at least urge him to retire calmly from the political scene, and ensure Russian influence in the region. Russian authorities believe that by providing technology and help from the Russian Special Forces to the Syrian state they will be able to push ISIS into Iraq and let the United States deal with the terrorists on their own. The Kremlin would like to create a certain scenario for that region, namely that Washington “has let the genie out of the bottle” and can no longer cope with the consequences. Vladimir Putin is trying to demonstrate to the “vile” West, which has not welcomed Russia into the bosom of the family, that the United States is not the only country willing to assume the role of global policeman, ready to bring order to the world.

On the quiet, Russia will try to negotiate preferential treatment for Crimea and the occupied regions, without withdrawing its troops. Putin needs to prolong and postpone the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. The “DNR” puppets have already voiced such proposals.

Putin’s “cunning plan” looks good on paper. In reality, it is somewhat flawed.  The main argument has to do with the war against ISIS. We know that this group is fighting against the Assad regime and the opposition. If the Kremlin decides to wage a real war against the Islamists in Syria, it may indirectly help other oppositionists. They, in turn, can destroy the government forces without fearing that ISIS will attack them from the rear. If Moscow starts military operations against everyone, it would be a direct military challenge to the United States. After all, back in August, Barack Obama authorized the use of US aircraft to protect the moderate Syrian opposition. Russian military officials do not fully understand against whom and how they will be fighting in Syria. That is why John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, recently stated that he does not see a military solution to the Syrian war.

It is useless to search for a deeper meaning in the Kremlin’s plans. After the Russian authorities officially called Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk  a “mujahidin”, even the most naive “vatnik” should understand that basic intelligence is missing somewhere.

The Kremlin is desperately trying to break out of international isolation and shed its international pariah status.

The entire Russian propaganda machine is currently working towards that goal: the lull in the Donbas war, the “fake coup” in the “DNR”, the pathetic and meaningless state visits to Crimea, the attempts of Russian diplomacy to portray Russia as an important player in the war against ISIS, the behind-the-scenes agreements on Bashar al-Assad’s resignation, etc.

We have noted many times that the Kremlin has no coherent foreign policy strategy. Putin and his team operate tactically, according to the situation at hand. The Kremlin basically wants to stop the expansion of sanctions and does not care to look after the losers in the Donbas. The Russian president is guided by “kid logic” – if you don’t make them bend, they will destroy you.

In the medium term, Moscow hopes that oil prices will bounce back, that the “people’s republics” of the Donbas will be co-opted by Ukraine under Kremlin terms, and that “Krymnash” (our Crimea) will be formally recognized by the West. Then, having built up its military forces and gathered more funds, Putin will again start playing dirty in Ukraine. His constant ravings about “one brotherly nation” (Russians and Ukrainians) has to be understand as a complete denial of Ukraine’s right to independence and statehood.

The Ukrainian government and the members of parliament should have no illusions. The Moscow “Frankenstein” will not stop. It does not need a reason to interfere in Ukrainian affairs. Lavrov and Churkin will quickly come up with something or other.

In the meantime, the attention of Europeans is focused on the refugee problem. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that it is impossible to solve the Syrian problem without Moscow’s participation. These “discrepancies” in official statements made by the U.S. and Germany should come as no surprise. The West has chosen to act against Putin’s Russia by installing a strategy of slow economic strangulation. The ultimate goal is to demoralize the Russian kleptocratic elite and persuade it to revise the policies of the regime.

A priori, Europe cannot forgive the Kremlin for militarily redrawing its borders, but it refuses to put too much pressure on Moscow.

Washington and Brussels are seriously worried about a sudden collapse of Putin’s vertical, which might lead to Russia turning into one big “DNR” fully armed with nuclear weapons.

The “Russian bear” has both feet trapped in Crimea and Donetsk, and now he’s sticking his paw into another hive of evil Syrian “bees”. Why should we interfere with his plans? Let him get stuck in another foreign conflict, wasting both resources and lives. In the eyes of the Russian public, “Krymnash” was legitimized by Putin’s third presidential term, but the Syrian gamble will put a damper on everything.

It is one thing to kill Ukrainians, thus protecting the local population from mythical right-wingers and banderites, but another to send Russian soldiers to a foreign country for who knows what reason. “Vatniks” are now puzzled why the “Russians” in the Donbas do not need more protection, but Bashar al-Assad does… Even TV “magicians” like Sergei Kurginian and Vladimir Solovyov cannot explain such a political volte-face.

So the Kremlin is loudly silent about sending troops to Syria, while the Russian Ministry of Defense continues to chant that “we’re only providing military equipment and specialists”.

Moscow is slowly but surely repeating the mistakes of the Soviet Union in the last years of its existence.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was originally meant to protect important installations and the state borders of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The Soviet authorities “suddenly” discovered that Afghanistan was not a monolithic state, but a country inhabited by warring tribes. The Soviet Union was gradually drawn into a war of attrition with various tribes and clans. It was a war for which the USSR was neither technically or morally prepared. Afghanistan became a shameful defeat for Moscow, foreshadowing the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Source: Radio Liberty

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  • Dagwood Bumstead

    If the dwarf wants to fight in Syria so much, let him. The US and allies should quietly stand aside and watch Dwarfstan’s troops suffer the casualties, both human and material. What the west should NOT do is send in ground forces. The deeper the dwarf is sucked in,the better. He will find it very difficult to fight a two-front war i.e. in Syria and against Kyiv. His war in Syria will only weaken him and give Kyiv more time to improve the Ukrainian forces.

  • Brent

    How I long for Western leaders with spines….it’s sad to see Kerry mimicking the mantra of Merkl, Hollande and Obama that ‘there is no military solution’ to any conflicts while thousands die at the hands of Russia and its terrorists. I hate war as much as anyone else, but when we won’t even provide defensive arms to countries being invaded so they can defend themselves, and are more concerned with ‘doing business as usual’ with war criminals like Putin, we’ve lost our focus as a civilization. Human lives should still be worth more than stock values.

    It will be interesting to see how all the Europeans who felt this wasn’t their conflict in Ukraine and were willing to appease Putin and Russia will now have to deal with the Syrian refugees on their doorstep. Yes, the same Syrian refugees driven from their homes by Putin’s backing of their murdering tyrant President, Assad. If the West had insisted Assad be removed two or three years ago when he was using chemical weapons and barrel bombs on his own people, INSTEAD OF LETTING PUTIN CONTINUE TO SUPPORT HIM, then those same refugees wouldn’t be in Europe now. (ARE YOU LISTENING “CALIBRA”???)

    The only good thing about all of this is Russia’s terrorists are now fighting ISIS terrorists and not killing innocent civilians.

    • laker48

      RuSSia’s misadventure in Syria will likely become Afghanistan 2. This will drain Putler’s shrinking resources and give Ukraine a break needed to fight endemic corruption, push for the reforms and rebuild its armed forces. NATO keeps increasing the number of its advisers and trainers with simultaneous widening the scope of the training, and this process goes well so far.

      This will also create a situation where local Donbas street thugs, drunks, gangsters and other louts masquerading as “rebels” find themselves corralled up and sealed off within the perimeter they control like spiders trapped in a jar. It won’t take long until they start infighting and killing off each other without any intervention from outside. The present Tatar blockades of Crimea and Transnistria may just be trial balloons before a blockade of the terrorist-held Ukrainian territories.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        According to Tatar leader Refat Chubarov, electricity supplies to the Crimea will be cut off next month:
        http://zik.ua/en/news/2015/09/23/blockade_of_crimea_to_be_tightened_up_in_october_refat_chubarov_says_626866

        While Chubarov may be optimistic, cutting off the electricity would give the dwarf another headache: how to supply the Crimea with electricity- and quickly, with winter approaching. He can ship mobile generators across Kerch Strait and also hook up the generators of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet to the Crimea’s network, but that takes time as it is no simple matter to do so. Furthermore, doing so would immobilise the BSF’s ships and their total capacity would be totally inadequate. His only alternative would be to seize the Ukrainian powerplants that supply the Crimea, but that would mean offensive action, a new front which he doesn’t need and possibly further sanctions- certainly from the US and Canada.

        I don’t see Kyiv going so far as to actually cut the power supply, but what do I know?

        • laker48

          A new round of US sanctions is right behind the corner, as the US Congress has just passed a resolution demanding the release of pilot Nadia Shevchenko. She may become another Magnitsky case. I concur with everything else you’ve brought up. The rat-faced dwarf is cornered.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            That means new sanctions as Nadya Savchenko has become a prestige matter for the dwarf, unless useless Obama vetoes them. But as I inderstand it, if there is a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress then the President’s veto is overruled- correct me if I’m wrong.

          • laker48

            “No drama Obama” only vetoes arms transfers to Ukraine, but he’s quite swift in slapping economic sanctions of Dwarfstan and was even boasting about them in his most recent “State of the Union” address to the nation. He must have decided to destroy Russia economically by means of attrition and he seems to succeed. The US has time and helps Ukraine buy more time for proceeding with reforms and fighting its Byzantine corruption, but Russia is running out of time rather fast. If the dwarf doesn’t change course, Russia may become bankrupt again by 2020.

    • rgb

      In my humble opinion, I believe Putin will avoid ground troops fighting against ISIS. Those ground troops are for fighting the opposition of the Assad’s regime. Although Putin may join the air raids against ISIS. Remember, Putin wants chaos in the EU, so many more refugees will be arriving.

      • laker48

        You may be right on the money.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        IS are part of the opposition to Assad, and it’s hard to tell IS fighters from Al-Nusra fighters at a distance, or any other group for that matter. IS has its separate agenda and that is TOTAL control over ALL Syria (in whose interest?). So the dwarf may INTEND to limit his actions against IS to air strikes, but ground combat with IS will be forced on him sooner or later, whether he wants it or not.
        And as ally of Assad’s, the dwarf’s troops will be fighting against ALL of Assad’s enemies, be they secular liberals, Kurds, Shia muslims, or radical Sunnis. Iran’s role will be interesting. Teheran has its own agenda in my opinion and while the dwarf may be an ally for now I don’t see it as longer-term. The alliance of the ayatollahs and the dwarf isn’t a natural one.
        As for the refugee crisis, sooner or later the EU will close its borders for the very simple reason that even an idiot like Merkel or Juncker will realise that if it doesn’t it will be flooded. Already the mood is changing in Germany and other countries. Orban is merely a pathfinder.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      The dwarf is sending Kolorads from the Donbas to Syria for a reason: he doesn’t want a bunch of trigger-happy extreme nationalists running around at home. Many of them will blame him for not supporting the Novorossiya venture enough, or even for not swallowing all of the Ukraine by a full-scale invasion. Already mercenaries in the Donbas (and the Crimea) are being told “We want some volunteers for a secret mission to a warm country: you, you and you just volunteered. The rest of you will volunteer later.”
      The US/EU/Canadian sanctions, paltry as they are, may be causing far more damage to Dwarfstan’s economy than the dwarf is willing to admit and he may be preparing to wash his hands of the Donbas for now, while he sorts Syria out. He can control corrupt figures such as Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky who will listen to His Master’s Voice, but Ataman Koznitsky and others like him are another matter. Best way to deal with them is to ship them to Syria in small batches at a time; once there it won’t be easy for them to get back to Dwarfstan en masse. And if they get killed there doing the dwarf’s “good deeds” so much the better.
      If he is successful in Syria quickly he can then give Kyiv his full attention so there’s no reason for Kyiv to drop its guard. But if he is dragged into a long conflict like Afghanistan? He will be forced to choose eventally: drop Syria and lose his only ally in the Middle East including his only bases there, plus a huge amount of face and continue his aggression against Kyiv, or give up trying to force Kyiv to join his Eurasian Customs Union in the hope of saving his bases and face. He doesn’t have the economic strength to do both for very long. My guess is that, important as Syria is, he will abandon Assad if he has to choose.

      • laker48

        He is known for doubling down and having no exit strategies. Syria may become Afghanistan 2 for Russia and Putin himself. We need to watch him very close, as he’s running on empty and punches way above his weight.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          I don’t think he is running on empty militarily just yet, though he has just withdrawn troops from Abkhazia. But will they be going to Syria, or to the Donbas to replace the Kolorads who “volunteered” to go to Syria?
          He still has huge stocks of guns and ammo so he doesn’t have to hold back on that score. Economically it’s a different matter, however and I don’t think he can afford a drawn-out war in Syria in addition to the Donbas.

          • laker48

            It takes time. A lot of irreversible damage has been already done to Russia’s economy, international reputation and credibility. It’s been set back by at least a generation. The embargo on over 2000 parts made in Ukraine and necessary for keeping Russian military gear in good repair has set some Russian military industries back by up to three years.

    • Calibra

      Yeah sure, yo do know that under the refugees there are very much Afghans, Iraqis and Yemenis, you know conflicts our governments are responsible for.

      ISIS could rise thanks to our policies regarding Iraq

      Are you listening Brent, yes we are just as much responsible for the mess that is called the middle east, like it or not, Assad still is the legitimate President of Syria, not ISIS, nor are the other rebels (which we support with weapons which end up in the hands of ISIS)

      If you could maybe just half as critical about your own governments actions as you are of Putin the world could be a lot safer and Putin would have far less conflicts he could stir his fingers in.

      • Brent

        Got any refugees camping out in your neighborhood yet? Guess you should have ‘got involved’ and been more critical of your hero Putin early on instead of idolizing him and justifying his war crimes.

        Ask the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Europe how legitimate of President they feel Assad is. Just because he is backed by Putin doesn’t legitimize him.

        Curious, what of ‘my government’s actions’ are you referring to?

        • Calibra

          Nope, no refugee’s here, and there aren’t going to be any also.
          And the rebels also aren’t legitimate just because they are backed by us.

          Your government backs the rebels, rebels that also cause refugee’s.

        • Brent

          Thanks for showing your true colors….my gift to you to update your avatar….

  • Kruton

    Surrender Bolshevik savages and we will give you vodka and dried fish?

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Vodka is too expensive to waste on Dwarfstanians. The cheapest samogon is all they deserve, if that.