Putin’s perfect trap for Ukraine

Photo: Donbass.comments.ua

Photo: Donbass.comments.ua 

Analysis & Opinion

Article by: Vitaly Portnikov

Why the Kremlin wants peacekeepers in the Donbas

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to actively seek support for his initiative to send UN peacekeepers to the Donbas zones of conflict. After his telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he had a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron. Obviously, Putin’s efforts will continue, if only because of the attendance of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the UN General Assembly.

Of course, it is easier to try to convince oneself that all these actions by Putin are just another maneuver designed to legitimize the presence of Russian troops and mercenaries in the Donbas. And that no decision on deploying peacekeeping forces will be taken because, at a critical moment, Putin will inevitably “insist” on something. And in the best case scenario, everything will remain as it is– with permanent shelling of our territory and sanctions against the invader. And in the worst case, Putin will launch another war just before elections in Russia. After all, it is not by accident that Russia has organized the Zapad-2017 military exercises right by our and Europe’s borders.

In this situation, everything is absolutely clear. We have already become used to the current conditions, and war must be prevented, or if it begins, it must be won. Nevertheless, I propose that we consider a more likely development — that Putin really is preparing to “withdraw” from the Donbas. But he will do so in way that prevents the restoration of Ukrainian control over the occupied territory. So far, nobody is preparing for such a development in Ukraine, even though this could turn out to be the perfect trap for our country’s future.

However, let us just try to imagine a likely development: a compromise is reached on the issue of peacekeepers. They are placed throughout the occupied territory, including that part of the border that is currently under Moscow’s control. Shooting stops. Russian troops and mercenaries leave the area. The “people’s republics” self liquidate, giving way to the interim administrations of the  “separate districts.” Russia ends all aid to the Donbas, but, at the same time, the financial support of the region, including the payment of salaries, pensions, and infrastructure maintenance, falls on Ukraine. Does this mean that Ukrainian control has been restored?

Not at all. I would like to point out that all the efforts to introduce the UN peacekeeping force, to protect the OSCE observers, and, in general, to ensure security are linked to the desire to begin implementing the Minsk agreements. Actually, this is what the leaders of the member countries of the Normandy format have been discussing during their consultations. This is precisely what Merkel and Macron are requesting, not only from Putin but also from Poroshenko. And the Ukrainian president quite rightly keeps responding that there can be no discussion about implementing the Minsk agreements as long as there are occupation forces and shelling in the Donbas.

And then the occupying forces leave and there is no more shelling either. Of course, we can imagine that, at that moment, Ukraine could ignore any agreements and liberate the occupied territories — all the more so, if the occupier is gone. But this is an illusion. The residents of the “separate regions” will be under the protection of the UN peacekeepers. After all, their presence, no matter what we may think, will legitimize what is no longer an external but an internal conflict.

Any offensive by the Ukrainian army that is not approved by the West could lead not only to conflict with our allies but also to the return of the Russian contingent — to protect UN peacekeepers and the civilians, of course. We already know the outcomes of similar adventures from the consequences of the Russian-Georgian war. But Mikheil Saakashvili in not in the leadership of Ukraine — in any case, not yet. And I don’t really believe such a voluntaristic  order for an offensive would be issued. But I also do not believe that the parliament will vote for the Minsk agreements because there is no political logic in granting autonomous status to ordinary districts of eastern Ukraine.

But the paradox lies in the fact that, in the absence of a clearly defined legal status, the ” separate districts” would still acquire the character of  self-proclaimed autonomy under an international protectorate.

This is the fate that may await the “separate districts.” Their status will not be established, but the West will demand integration efforts from Ukraine. New players will appear in the territories and, of course, the old ones will return, starting with Rinat Akhmetov. The Russian influence will not vanish; it simply will be supported not by military force but by propaganda, financial infusions, and support from pro-Russian political forces in the region.

The question of how to integrate the Donbas will become one of the most important and complicated issues in the political life of the country — a trigger for constant instability. Any action by the authorities that resembles the implementation of the Minsk agreements will trigger an immediate patriotic reaction and likely divisions within the government as well.

Furthermore, there will be attempts for the “independent” return of the Donbas. If there are no Russian troops in the region, and the Ukrainian army is “afraid,” then the Ukrainian people will have to  return the Donbas with “volunteers.” And the Ukrainian army will find itself in the position of having to protect the region — and the UN peacekeepers — from these very volunteers. And as a result, we may find ourselves in the same situation as the supporters of Irish independence a hundred years ago, who began a civil war among themselves not because of different views on how the new state should evolve, but over Ulster, which remained in the United Kingdom.

And that is the perfect trap.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Gazeta.ua

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  • veth

    The views about Russia must be changed by the locals after years of nazzi-terror from Russia.

  • Ihor Dawydiak

    To begin with, when the Russians finally withdraw from Eastern Donbas and if they are replaced with a UN peacekeeping force, then it must be understood that the process of gradual reintegration into Ukraine will not be cheap nor will it be easy. There will undoubtedly be a number of Kremlin sympathizers, possibly collaborators and agent provocateurs that the Ukrainian Government and its security organs will have to deal with. However, those minorities, while problematic, will not by any stretch of the imagination pose as the greatest challenge to Ukrainian authorities. The fact is that a significant part of this region will have to be rebuilt with a concentration on the economy and infrastructure. This rebuilding process will also have to take into consideration the return of displaced persons who may want to return to their former communities. In addition and in the interim, this area should not be allowed to conduct any elections to public office until stability and peace has been restored as well as visible improvements in the every day lives of the general public. This may also require a restriction of traffic to from Russia, the securing of the border with the Russian Federation and the jamming of media outlets from Russia. Finally, it must be understood that these undertakings will take some time to complete and that major Western assistance coupled with direct aid in the areas of social, economic, political and military affairs will be critical in the integration process. As for the UN peacekeepers, their role should not be as administrators but as peacekeepers and their presence should only be viewed as temporary and not permanent. It can be done.

    • veth

      DONETSK – There has been an assassination attempt on the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DPR) Revenues and Duties Minister, Alexander Timofeyev, the DPR said on its official website on Saturday.

      “There has been an assassination attempt on Deputy Chairman of the DPR Council of Ministers, Revenues and Duties Minister Alexander Timofeyev at the intersection of Myru Avenue and Ulrikh Street at 08:30 a.m. today, September 23. According to sources, Alexander Timofeyev has been hospitalized in grave condition,” the website said.

      Well done, who-ever did it……………

      • Ihor Dawydiak

        The fact that there was an attempt but not an actual assassination could only mean one of two possibilities, including; 1) The attempt was botched which could have included any number of parties, or, 2) It was sent as a warning to either the victim or to Zakharchenko’s terrorist Administration, or both. Moreover, if it was a warning, then in all probability the Kremlin would have been involved. On that note, it should also be mentioned that both Zakharchenko of the “DNR” and Plotnytsky of the “LNR” have been unusually quiet as of late. While there could be several reasons, many political pundits have noted that there have been considerable indications that Putin has become fed up with his Donbas fiasco and has been preparing to “throw in the towel”. If so, better late than never.

    • Screwdriver

      “Everyone imagines himself a strategist, seeing a fight from the side”
      Shota Rustaveli – “The Knight in the Panther Skin”

      • Ihor Dawydiak

        Everyone? Perhaps you are correct since that would also include people with clinical brain damage. Now, if you had stated “many people” or “certain people”, then that might have been a much more credible statement in defining those who might view themselves as strategists.

  • Eolone

    With UN peacekeepers and the absence of rebels along the demarcation line it will be easier for those in the occupied zone to emigrate to government controlled areas. Many students and people without property or jobs might do so. But how would emigration affect local elections called for in the Minsk agreement? And decentralization also in the agreement? Would those remaining have strong ties to Russia? Or be disillusioned?

    • Ihor Dawydiak

      There could be a number of different scenarios including those who will seek safety and prosperity outside of the Donbas area. As for those who have “blood on their hands” and especially those who could be identified as Putin’s puppets such as Zakharchenko and Plotnytsky, they are essentially murderous cowards who would never even entertain the thought to remain and then face justice for war crimes. In regards to decentralization, the Ukrainian Government had made it perfectly clear on previous occasions their total rejection of Russia’s model of “federalization” which would have splintered Ukraine into several regions. The Ukrainian model of “decentralization” would allow for some increased autonomy for Oblasts (Provinces) (ie. a similar framework as could be seen in France or Germany) but the major power center would remain in Kyiv. As for defining the loyalties of the people in Eastern Donbas, that might remain for the time being as a developing project. Therein will lie the importance of rebuilding the lives, the social fabric, the infrastructure and the economy of Eastern Donbas. If successful, any notions of separatism or joining Russia would fade away accordingly.

      • Eolone

        Thank you. This is a difficult subject, with all the scattered pieces.

        • Ihor Dawydiak

          Your welcome. It will indeed take some time and considerable effort to rejuvenate this region but peace will be restored and its population will benefit as Ukraine progresses to once again rejoin the European Family of Nations.

  • zorbatheturk

    Beware Putins bearing gifts.

    • veth

      The anti Russia bullet!

      Ukrainian engineers made super bullet piercing APC
      20-mm steel can now be pierced with a shot from the rifle, Kanal 24 reports Sept. 22.

      The testing of a new Ukrainian Stiletto bullet first included firing a deadly 12.5-mm Utyos machine gun. The bullet damaged the piece of 20-mm steel but did not pierce it.

      Then a 7.62-mm Stiletto bullet with a special core was fired and easily penetrated the steel.

      Stiletto rounds have already been tested in Donbas.

      Says Michael, a Swede, sniper and legend among Ukrainian servicemen,

      “We first got Stiletto rounds in 2014. The results were mind-blowing,” he said.

      Another serviceman, aka Bilorus, confirmed the bullet pierced the enemy APC 350-400 meters away, killing the driver and setting fire to it.

      Bullet developers say they have documentation and a small production line in Great Britain. If Ukraine builds an ammunition plant, they are ready to participate in the project. Читайте більше тут: http://zik.ua/en/news/2017/09/22/ukrainian_engineers_made_super_bullet_piercing_apc_1172301

  • veth

    Court decision to seize $200M of Yanukovych mafia took effect, – Lutsenko

  • Turtler

    Reason’s probably pretty damn obvious. Putin’s proxies are slowly getting ground down and pushed back. “Novorossiya” is falling apart inside and to a lesser extent on the outside, and that can only be salvaged one of three ways. Some catastrophic collapse of the Ukrainian side, the direct overt intervention of Russian forces like Crimea only larger, or a freeze.

    The first one has been eagerly anticipated by Kremlin animals, but has not been forthcoming. The second seems to be more or less ruled out due to the staggering cost and risk it would involved.

    Which leaves the last one.

    UN Peacekeepers have the added benefit of being dismal at actually keeping the peace, especially against terrorists. So they can limit Ukrainian loyalist attempts to eliminate Putin’s Fifth Column, while allowing relatively free room for maneuver and bad behavior by Putin.