Moscow wants a Bosnia-style outcome for Ukraine, Oktysyuk says

For Putin, Donbas destroyed as a result of his military invasion and occupation is only a mechanism to exert pressure on Ukraine. (Image: UNIAN)

For Putin, Donbas destroyed as a result of his military invasion and occupation is only a mechanism to exert pressure on Ukraine. (Image: UNIAN) 

Analysis & Opinion, Politics

Anatoliy Oktysyuk (Image:

Anatoliy Oktysyuk (Image:

Despite its declarations about taking revenge against Kyiv for supposedly sending “diversionists” into Crimea, Moscow is unlikely to launch a major war but instead hopes to use the threat of such a conflict to force Ukraine to agree to a resolution of the conflict that would result in a Bosnia-style outcome, according to Anatoliy Oktysyuk.

But the senior analyst at Kyiv’s International Centre for Policy Studies says that Moscow’s interest in such a solution inevitably challenges Kyiv to select one of four very different strategies.

As Oktysyuk points out, “the Bosnian war ended more than 20 years ago but Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the most backward countries of Europe with massive corruption and the deepening erosion of state institutions. Local identities dominate over national ones, there is no consensus or national unity, and that interferes with the country’s development.”

Not surprisingly, he continues, Russia would like to see exactly that outcome for Ukraine because it would leave the country as “a neutral federal state without claims on Crimea and one in which the anti-Russian West and Center would be balanced by a pro-Russian enclave in the Donbas.”

Indeed, the Kyiv analyst says, “the political component of the 2015 Minsk agreements very much recalls the Dayton format of resolving the conflict in Bosnia in 1995.” The major difference is that there were NATO and then European forces in the former Yugoslavia while there are no such forces in Ukraine. Kyiv has sought so far unsuccessfully to change that.

“With the help of the Minsk agreements,” Oktysyuk continues, “the Kremlin plans to create in Ukraine a pro-Russian enclave of the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’” with its own special local administration and policies oriented toward Moscow. If Kyiv does what Moscow wants, Ukraine will get these regions back in forms that will harm Kyiv.

It is clear, he argues, that “in any case Russia will work to promote the federalization of Ukraine if not in the current circumstances then after several electoral cycles when a new ‘pragmatic’ government, like Georgia after Saakashvili, will appear in the country.”

The Ukrainian government has made Russia’s task easier, he suggests, by failing to articulate a clear policy of national unity. Efforts to promote one oriented toward the east or toward the west have failed in the past. And now Ukraine would have to come up with one while Russian forces are on its territory.

The Minsk accords are “dangerous for Ukraine” for all those reasons, but Kyiv can’t simply walk away from them without being accused by the West as well as Moscow of not keeping its promises. Consequently, Oktysyuk says, “Ukraine needs to decide what to do with the Donbas and Crimea as soon as possible.”

There are four stark choices, he suggests:

  • First, Kyiv could “agree to the Kremlin’s conditions, federalize the country, reject the possibility of NATO membership and pursue a mutually profitable foreign policy on the multi-vector principles.”
  • Second, it could “construct ‘a Ukrainian Israel’” and await better times for return of occupied territories. In the meantime, it would pursue the construction of “a successful country, a powerful army and a competitive economy.”
  • Third, it could “live under the conditions of ‘no war, no peace,’ in which corruption would continue and the country would march in place. Such a scenario,” Oktysyuk says, “sooner or later would lead either to the first or the fourth variant.”
  • Or fourth, Kyiv could attempt “to resolve the conflict by military means, which could end either with a complete catastrophe or the formation of a new state idea and mythology.”

Moscow’s latest actions do not necessarily point to one or the other of these, he suggests, but the Kremlin’s moves do make the choice clearer and more immediate.



Edited by: A. N.

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  • Cees Boogaart

    Like I wrote in dutch media February, 2014 : This can be JFK’s Cuba crisis or Bosnian War with 100.000+ deaths, your pick World!!

  • MichaelA

    ukrainians dont hate
    russians hate
    ukrainians reject hatred and russians hate that

    • Alex George

      Why would anyone enjoy that Odessa fire, when Russian agents caused the deaths of many innocent people? You really have a peculiar way of enjoying things.

      And all the worst war crimes of any Ukraine battalion pale into insignificance compared to the ghastly actions of the Russian forces in Donbass and Ukraine.

      • Alex George

        You are not very convincing are you? Nobody took selfies that gruesome and murderous day in Odessa that had anything to do with responsibility for the fire. We know it was Russian agents or sympathisers who started the fire, and who executed a number of their prisoners beforehand. They were in control of the building when the fire started. They are now wanted by the Ukrainian authorities but Putin is protecting the murderers in Russia.

        30% of Dutch voted to reject the AA, but they don’t care now. And 37% of Brits voted in a non-binding advisory referendum to leave the EU. Who cares?

        Why would any civilised European want any association with such barbarians in Putin’s Russia, or his western neo-fascist allies?

    • Quartermaster

      Most of the deaths of civilians in the Donbas has been a direct result of Russia’s invasion of the Donbas.
      Time for you to be honest. What part of Russia are you from and which of Putin’s boiler rooms do you work in?

      • Quartermaster

        Your speech patterns are not British. You’re simply lying again.
        Who cares about Rio? I certainly don’t. The Olympics have been meaningless since they were restarted in the late 19th century.

        • Quartermaster

          I’ve listened to the Beeb when I lived in Europe. That’s irrelevant Mr. Russian Troll.

          • Quartermaster

            Having served in the Military, I know Russia does make things. Why should I be as ignorant as you?

            India has bought Soviet and Russian military hardware for years. The Indians even brought SU-30s to the US for exercises, which allowed the USAF to evaluate them. They found there is little to fear from them. The F-15 still outclasses anything in the Russian inventory.

            You should know that in recent exercises the Indian Air Force did defeat the RAF. Of course, if you actually were something besides a Russian troll, you’d have known that and been crowing about it.

            You pop to many flags Mr. Russian Troll to be regarded as anything else.

        • Quartermaster

          I know about Cricket. It’s irrelevant Mr. Russian Troll.

          Post away as my lunch period is now over.

          • Quartermaster

            I don’t care for or about Cricket. My UK friends and I tease each other over our differences between Cricket and Baseball. Cricket is irrelevant to a Russian troll, and to the subject of the thread.

  • Alex George

    Of course Russia wants to federalize Ukraine. It has stated so plainly, and its internet supporters frequently push the same idea.

    But its not going to get it. In order to achieve this, Russia would need a much stronger army than it has got. So long as it is stuck in Crimea and the small sliver of separatist Donbass, it cannot force federalization on Ukraine.

    So the Ukrainians hold the line in Donbass and against the Russian forces in Crimea, while Russia slowly grows weaker, and Ukraine grows stronger.

    • Quartermaster

      So? Ever hear of “Federal France?” No? that’s good because it doesn’t exist. As a practical matter neither do those other places. The so called “federal” government really isn’t so Federal as they long ago got away from leaving to the states what belongs to them, and imposing things from the center.
      You do know about “Federal” Russia, do you not? You know, that federation where Putin appoints the governor since he doesn’t want things getting out of hand anymore. Can’t have them bucking the center in Moscow, yanno.
      Not everyone is as ignorant as you think Mr. Russian troll.

      • Alex George

        “The UK is danger of splitting precisely because it is so unitary.”

        You obviously do not live in the UK. If you did, you would know that the UK is in danger of splitting precisely because the central government is considering leaving the EU. If it is so stupid as to take such a step, the UK will break up. But it is clear by now that the UK government is not going to do it.

        You are right about federalism in some cases, however. It is exactly what the Russian federation needs – why should people in Rostov-on-Don or Perm be ruled by an out-of-touch and incompetent government in Moscow?

      • Quartermaster

        I have no Russian obsession, but I am dealing with a Russian troll. I can see why, given your limited brain power, why you would wish to insinuate that I have such an obsession, however.
        What might happen with Scotland and North Ireland is nothing like what happened in the Donbas. Unless you wish to insinuate that the English have invaded those areas to force them to stay after Brexit. In the Donbas, several GRU officers were brought north after the Crimea invasion to start things rolling with other imported people after the Ukrainians kicked the tails of the few so called “rebels” in the Donbas. Putin was trying to establish a land bridge to Crimea by taking more Ukrainian territory on the cheap and the people of the Donbas had other ideas. The so called rebels haven’t accomplished their mission yet because the people of Ukraine stood between Putin’s goons their goal.
        The people of the Donbas and Crimea both voted overwhelmingly for independence in the original referendum back in ’91. Russia invaded and imported more voters for a new referendum held under their guns and still didn’t win all that convincingly even under those conditions.
        But, if you like your lies, you can keep your lies. Just don’t expect serious people to accord you any credibility. You are a Russian troll after all.

  • Alex George

    As has already been observed, Ukraine does not define itself as “a land unit united by its hatred of Russia”. You need to stop judging Ukraine by Russian standards!

    Yanukovych was elected, but that did not give him the right to act like a tyrant – a little detail that Putin-worshippers often forget. He betrayed his country and lost the support of his people. He will never return, except in chains.

    And no, the Maidan revolution was not violent, except insofar as Yanukovych foolishly ordered the arrest, torture and shooting of innocent protesters.

    Ukraine already is linguistically diverse. Russian-speaking people are happy being Ukrainian and NOT being ruled from Moscow. Russia should come to terms with reality, otherwise more Russians will be killed and Putin’s Russia will end up in the dustbin of history.

    • Alex George

      Since the article is about Russia, why are you complaining?

      And yes, you should judge Russia by world standards – other countries can manage their diversity without killing 10,000 Ukrainians, re-starting Cold War and risking nuclear destruction of the whole world, yet Putin did all of those.

      Forget about federalism – its just a code word for Putin wanting to break up Ukraine. Everyone’s wise to you Putinbots by now, so you may as well give up pretending.

      And yes, Russia is on the way to becoming a failed state like Somalia.

      Despite all the efforts of the Russian army and the Kremlin, it has failed to beat down Ukraine which is recovering nicely and being built into a proud and courageous nation.

      • Alex George

        Since nobody said that federalism is a “Russian disease”, why are you making things up?

        You cite seven countries out of more than 100 in the world that are federalist – that is hardly evidence for why Ukraine needs to be! And it is as I said – neither Putin nor you are being sincere in this. What you really mean by “federalist” is breaking up Ukraine and subordinating it to the tyranny of the Kremlin. And the Ukrainian people just laugh at you.

        What is the Russian supremacist slogan? One nation, one language and one fuhrer???

    • Quartermaster

      Russia is going to be reduced to a rump state. Ezekial chapters 38 and 39 detail what Putin is going to bring on Russia.
      Russia is already a failed state. The government is simply a criminal enterprise.

      • Quartermaster

        So what? It makes little difference whether you ‘accept” the Old Testament or not. Every prophecy that has been fulfilled has been fulfilled in detail. So, just wait around and see if you change your mind. Given your posts here, you’ll think it’s the fault of Banderites and the Azov battalion.

        • Alex George

          You aren’t a liberal and I doubt you are a scientist in any true sense of the word. You are just another western neo-fascist, enamoured of Putin because you think he is going to give you the power in society that your own abilities cannot do.

          The evidence for why Russia is going to be reduced to a rump is already plain to see – Putin’s neglect of the economy and engaging in foolish foreign ventures that Russia cannot afford.

        • Quartermaster

          So what? Why should I care about your clownish beliefs that fly in the face of historical reality?
          You want evidence, you’ll have to do the same work I did. learn the Old Testament and study history. that will an assignment that will keep even a Russian troll busy for awhile.
          Given you are claiming to be pagan, I seriously doubt if you care about such things. No matter what I placed before you, it wouldn’t matter.

        • zorbatheturk

          Hindoos drink cow urine. You drink your own.

    • Alex George

      Have you heard about ELECTIONS where you live? Have you ever read a single fact about Ukraine or been there?

      Obviously not. If you had, you would know that Ukraine has held Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections since the Maidan revolution. And in all of them, the people abandoned those who agree with you. But then, you don’t like the people expressing their will, do you?

      In common with your hero, Adolf, you think that once a ruler is elected, he can then behave as he likes. Not so. If any EU president tried to act as Yanukovych did, he would be out of power within days. Yanukovych ordered the arrest, torture and killing of peaceful protesters. He was justly removed from power.

      And yes, Russia is responsible for the deaths of over 10,000 Ukrainians – how does that help your argument?

  • Vlad Pufagtinenko

    I want a mushroom cloud over Moscow. Everybody wants something. My birthday is coming up.

    • Alex George

      Why are you boasting about the deaths of many people at the hands of Russian agents in Odesa in May 2014? You appear to take unholy glee in the deaths of people by fire? That is a very sick obsession on your part.

      The people who were responsible for that fire (and probably for executing many of their prisoners in the building beforehand) are being sought by the authorities. They have fled to Russia, and Putin is protecting them.

      As for ISIS, it is obvious by now that Moscow is working together with them to bring terrorism to Europe. It is just like the Cold War when Moscow promoted and assisted terrorist groups in Europe, now it is doing the same with ISIS. That is why Moscow has rarely carried out any attacks on ISIS in Syria, because it always wanted to do a deal with it.

      • Vlad Pufagtinenko


  • zorbatheturk

    Ukraine far predates Russia. 500 years ago Russians were primitive forest Slavs practicing primitive slash and burn agriculture with primitive tools and eating primitive food and having primitive sexx in primitive houses. This put them at about the same level of development as a Burmese hill-tribe peasant today making 50 cents a day. Not much has changed in RoSSiya. They are still total primitives.

  • zorbatheturk

    13 January 1991 the Soviets send in the KGB death squads to murder Lithuanians in Vilnius. Russians are barbarians.

  • Mick Servian

    Bosnia…made in the US
    Too bad the US started all this imperialistic crap.
    Now Ukraine will split, only a matter of time