Portnikov: Putin has four Donbas scenarios and will choose worst one for Ukraine

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst, journalist and writer (Image: Darya Davydenko / Apostrophe.ua)

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst, journalist and writer
(Image: Darya Davydenko / Apostrophe.ua) 

More, Peace to Ukraine, War in the Donbas

Moscow completely controls the situation in the occupied Donbas, Vitaly Portnikov says; and consequently, one should not view what is going on there in recent days as any threat to its ability to dictate outcomes but only as an occasion for Vladimir Putin to choose among four possible scenarios for the region.

According to the Ukrainian commentator, the Kremlin leader will choose the one that is worst for Ukraine over the longer haul even if what he says may appeal to some Ukrainians and the West in the short term.

The fighting among the leaders of the occupied regions may reflect differences of opinion within the Moscow elite, Portnikov concedes in an interview with Kateryna Shumylo of Apostrophe; but that shouldn’t distract the attention of Ukrainians because it doesn’t change the overall ability of the Kremlin to decide on the general course of development.

And thus it is important to view the four options Putin has not as an element of some “solution” of the crisis but rather as being about objectives the Kremlin leader wants to achieve.

The first scenario for Putin, Portnikov says, “is to begin a new war” much as he did in Georgia to “’restore the territorial integrity … of ‘the republics’ of Abkhazia and South Ossetia” and seek to conquer all of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and incorporate them into the unrecognized republics in the region.

Portnikov says that “this variant is now unacceptable for Putin because it will lead to new sanctions from the European Union, a new deteriorating of relations with the Americans, and — in both places — new and serous problems with the future of Russian capital and the Russian president.”

“This means,” the Ukrainian analyst says, “that he will not begin a new war either before the Russian presidential elections or afterwards.”

The second scenario would involve “a complete withdrawal [of Russian forces] from the territory of the Donbas.

This also is an impossible variant because a complete withdrawal would mean for Putin a capitulation before the West. “‘The Russian world’ would thus have turned out to be incapable of defending its supporters.” And Putin “will not be able to move in that way.”

The third scenario, Portnikov continues, is “the preservation of the status quo.”

That isn’t a good option for Moscow, because it will do nothing to prevent continued sanctions or Ukrainian resistance.

For the time being, however, Putin may, as he did with his telephone calls with Donbas “separatist leaders,” seek to transform their region into a Transdniestria. And thus it is the fourth scenario, at least after the elections, that Putin is most likely to select, Portnikov says.

This involves “the replacement of Russian forces on the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts with UN peacekeeping forces without the restoration of Ukrainian control over the territories.”

“For the US,” he says, “it is possible that this will seem a triumph” because Washington will view it as a development in which Russia will be forced to withdraw its forces from these territories. “But the Ukrainian armed forces, law enforcement structures, and state structures will not go into this territory.”

And as a result, it will represent for Ukraine the most dangerous outcome of all, the Ukrainian commentator says.

That is because this will not transform the situation into “a frozen conflict” as some imagine but rather become “a real trap for Ukraine” because after this occurs, people will start talking about a transitional period, Russia will stop bearing the costs of supporting the people there, and Ukraine will have to pay for everything but without having control.

That burden, however, is not the worst of this, Portnikov says.

The worst is that residents of a region Ukraine doesn’t control will nonetheless elect people not only to local offices but to the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada – and there is thus the dangerous possibility that their votes will create “a stable pro-Russian lobby” that will take Ukraine back to before 2013, thus “converting all of Ukraine into a zone of influence of the Russian Federation.”

This is no fantasy, the analyst continues. Moldova shows how this could work. There voters in Transdniestria helped install a pro-Russian president in Chisinau even though the rest of the country was opposed. Igor Dodon is “a product of Russian political influence,” of a majority created by the addition of voters from Transdniestria which Chisinau doesn’t control.

To create a similar “pro-Russian majority in Ukraine is not as difficult as it seems” if Moscow with the agreement of the West simply follows the same strategy. The limiting factor is whether Russia – and that means Putin – will agree or whether he thinks he can get even more under the circumstances.

The current situation is much more favorable to Ukraine than the fourth scenario would be. It gives Kyiv room for maneuver: “We can consider these territories occupied” and thus not allow people there to vote in Ukrainian elections. But if there are UN peacekeepers rather than Russian forces, that will be far harder to do.

In such a case, Kyiv will “not have any chance for maneuver.” And that may be Putin’s chief goal for the coming months and years.

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Edited by: A. N.

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Comments

  1. Avatar veth says:

    Scenario 5: Ukraine goes into the Donbass and fight the Russkies out.

    1. Avatar laker48 says:

      Not with its present, myopic leadership holding under the table hands with Germany and RuSSia.

      1. Avatar veth says:

        Scenario 5 is the best, most logic option….despite the many casualties.

      2. Avatar MichaelA says:

        you say 99% of ukrainians don’t speak or read English …. sure if you yell at them or act like an arrogant foreigner

        try just talking to people or even asking them

        plenty of young people have some facility in english and they usually have knowledge of what is happening outside ukraine too

        your last sentence is really weird – since uki language media is mostly sponsored by oligarchs what has being in english language got to do with it?

        1. Avatar laker48 says:

          I visited several high end hotels and restaurants in Volodymyr Volynskiy, Kovel, Lutsk, Rivne, Lviv, Stryi, Drohobych and Sambor last October, and English-speaking personnel could be counted on the digits of your hand. Do you need statistics?

          Yes, I believed that English is much wider known in Ukraine, as I have dealt with many young Ukrainians in Canada who are not only well-educated, burt also fluent in English, but my last visit was an unpleasant reality check. I also had many contacts with healthcare professionals and, unfortunately, none spoke English or spoke very few basic words. The infrastructure in Western Ukraine resembles south-eastern Poland from the 1960s. You don’t have to like what I’m writing, but it’s not my problem.

          1. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

            While it would be true to state that most citizens of Ukraine are not presently conversant in the English language, this pales in importance to the fact that the English language is currently being promoted as a second language (instead of the Russian language) in colleges and universities throughout Ukraine. Why? There are two primary reasons including; 1) Fluency in the Ukrainian language is an expression of a) the dominant culture and sole official language of Ukraine and b) a de-Russification of a language that was imposed upon Ukrainians as a whole by hostile successive regimes based in Sankt Peterburg/Moskva. 2) The knowledge and fluency in the English language has been strategically chosen as a primary conduit for communication in the international fields of business and commerce as well as allowing for easier communication with others for various purposes on a global scale. Therefore, while the promotion of the English language in Ukraine may not have many immediate positive results, this has not been the intent of those who have organized language courses in post secondary education. It is all about the youth of Ukraine and therein lies the future of a prosperous nation.

          2. Avatar laker48 says:

            A very wise approach. We spoke Polish and they spoke Ukrainian that is not too hard to understand by speakers of Polish. We didn’t come across a single hostile person.

            Our trip lasted only 15 days and we covered a lot, but even quite young people didn’t speak English. We asked the marketing manager of a posh Lviv hotel about the inability of his personnel to communicate in English, and his answer was that over 60% of their business comes from poland and Slovakia.

            We also noticed a significant improvement in policing the nation. All police officers we met were well trained and professional, a stark contrast to those uniformed thugs trying to gauge fake fines from us during our transit to RuSSia in the fall of 2008.

          3. Avatar MichaelA says:

            its not a matter of my not liking what you are writing
            i thought you were claiming that 99% of ukrainians dont speak or read english
            which is not correct
            if you go outside the major cities I am sure there will be a lot less knowledge of it

          4. Avatar laker48 says:

            One percent of all Ukrainians living in Ukraine is almost half a million, and I’d be happy to know that so many of them, still permanently living in Ukraine and not working in Poland, Slovakia or Hungary, can speak, read and write even basic English. It’s not for sure the case in Western Ukraine where we always started our conversations in English and used our Canadian passports.

          5. Avatar MichaelA says:

            i was referring to people still living in ukraine
            “99% of ukrainians don’t speak or read English” just doesnt equate with my experience nor with people I know who travel there a lot more than i do

          6. Avatar laker48 says:

            We don’t have any credible statistical data, but in the cities and towns we were visiting, hardly anybody could speak even basic English. I shared your believes until I went there. In two large Truskavets sanatoria and a posh hotel in Lviv, employing over 500 staff each, most of them young people under 35, we spoke with their sales and marketing managers over very good Ukrainian Black Jack vodka. All three were fluent in Polish and I asked all of them why they didn’t facilitate any English courses for their staffers who mostly had a postsecondary education. The answers were the same, that between 45 and 60% of their business comes from Poland and the balance from Hungary, Slovakia and former Soviet republics such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. We also asked about RuSSians, and the answers were the same: They don’t come. Perhaps there are clusters of a better saturation of local population with speakers of English in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Black Sea port cities, but outside large urban agglomerations speakers of English are very few and far between.

          7. Avatar MichaelA says:

            not my beliefs
            my observations
            and those of others

          8. Avatar laker48 says:

            What Ukrainian regions and cities/towns have you recently visited?

          9. Avatar MichaelA says:

            kyiv and dnipro for me
            friends have visited other places

          10. Avatar laker48 says:

            Last time I was in Kyiv in 2008 and in Dnipro and Odessa in 1997, so I cannot say anything, but I covered last October quite a bit a of western Ukraine and exactly described my experience. I did mention that there might be clusters of English-speaking Ukrainians in big, university cities, but a lion’s share of ordinary folks cannot speak the language. Most people in Poland don’t speak English either.

          11. Avatar MichaelA says:

            as i wrote above “99% of ukrainians don’t speak or read English” just doesnt equate with my experience nor with people I know who travel there a lot more than i do

      3. Avatar focusser says:

        Not sure where you get your information from. In April 2017 full production stopped in the Lipetsk factory of Roshen; leaving 700 people jobless.

      4. Avatar Tony says:

        This website is sponsored by Renaissance foundation(bottom right) which is basically Soros, he has a bone to pick with the old communist zombies.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Renaissance_Foundation

      5. Avatar Микола Данчук says:

        1 – Your offer of the present leadership as myopic would be shortsighted on your part. They have cut corners on too many reforms and regress in judicial / rule of law issues has made for friction as to how the country shall move forward.

        2 – Holding hands under the table with Germany and RuSSia can imply many thing, what do you have specifically?

        3 – Making chocolate as a political premise would sower only in the production of policy. (Not that I approve of the issue)

        4 – As to Ukrainians knowledge of English, well there you have gotten your % out of a Russian Cracker-Jack box. You should spend some time with University students and check which businesses are operating in Ukraine.

        5 – Do you consider this site or any other Ukrainian site as sponsored for propaganda purposes?
        I find Ukrainian websites, as well as news sites, offer open debate of issues confronting the national interest.
        Can you show me different?

    2. Avatar Screwdriver says:

      Even if this wet fantasy comes true, per Portnikov – “votes will create “a stable pro-Russian lobby” that will take Ukraine back to before 2013”

      1. Avatar MichaelA says:

        if that were true putin would be encouraging peace in donbass
        but he dare not
        because he knows that people everywhere turn against him

  2. Avatar MichaelA says:

    does putin have full control over what happens in russia even?

    if not then how is he going to control events in ukraine?

    1. Avatar Dave Ralph says:

      Like Portnikov said, Ukraine needs to prevent voters in the Donbass from taking part in national elections or sending any representatives to Kyiv. We already saw what happens when pro-Russians get influence over the Ukrainian government.

      1. Avatar Screwdriver says:

        We were told by many Ukro-Galician “patriots” that locals in Donbass are very much pro Kiev regime, there is no civil war, just Russian occupation…… and you suggesting to deny to those lovers of Ukraine, Donbass locals , they constitutional rights ?

        1. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

          Define “lovers of Ukraine”. There is not so much as a single independent country on our plant earth that has any desire to entertain “Quislings” in their own backyard and that includes Russia. Therefore, when the Muscovite occupiers of Ukrainian lands leave then they are more than welcome to take the “Quislings” with them if that has not already become a foregone conclusion. “Trojan Horses” are not welcome in Ukraine or in any other sovereign state.

          1. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

            P.S. It would be safe to state that a strong majority of the residents of Russian occupied Eastern Donbas are not “Quislings”. As for those who are and wish to identify themselves as Russian compatriots (mostly ethnic Russians) to the exclusion of Ukraine and/or wish to live under Russian rule as a part of Russia then their departure for Russia would be more than welcome even if Ukraine is their country of birth. However, this does not by any means signify that people cannot take pride in their own ethnicity or celebrate their ancestral traditions which should always be considered as a basic human right. What it does boil down to is a matter of loyalty to the state where one has citizenship. As such there cannot be two opposing masters or a foreign master in a household. In that scenario, loyalty flies out the window.

          2. Avatar Brent says:

            Well said, Ihor! Those still stuck in Russian occupied Donbas have seen first hand what life in the “Russian MIR” is really all about…..murder, theft, bribery, loss of basic human rights, loss of work and having to abide by the Kremlin Mafia’s everchanging narrative of history.

        2. Avatar Brent says:

          That’s what Russia did when it restricted who could run in their farcical referendum and votes they oversaw in the regions of Ukraine they invaded.

          ALL RESIDENTS of Donbass as of the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should be allowed to vote. Including the 1.6 million who chose to stay in “Free Ukraine”. Yes, you’re fixated on “Galician Ukraine” but too stoopid to understand cities like Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Cherkassy, Poltava, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kirovrohad, Zaporizhia and many others ARE NOT IN GALICIA, and DO NOT WANT TO BE PART OF YOUR “Novorosisya”, “Malorussia”, or whatever fictitious state of delusion you Russo Nazzi a$$clowns think you’re going to rename Ukraine this week.

          Cowards like you who ran and hid in the U.S. prior to this would not get a vote. You have no rights. You’re clearly mentally incompetent from years of inhaling too much toilet cleaning fluids. “Givi” also doesn’t get a vote because he’s been “liquidated”. “Motorola” was a Russian, but now he’s dead too.

          1. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            “cities like Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Cherkassy, Poltava, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kirovrohad, Zaporizhia and many others ARE NOT IN GALICIA, and DO NOT WANT TO BE PART OF YOUR “Novorosisya”, “Malorussia”
            Really ? 🙂 This is what they wright in Toronto newspaper ” Noviy Shlyakh” ?

          2. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

            So what’s your point? The mass media in Ukraine have reported the same news as could be found in press reports from the Ukrainian emigre community. In particular, the vast majority of Ukrainian citizens support Ukraine’s integration with the European Family of Nations and this integration does not include Russia. And as for Russo-Ukrainian relations, there is no love lost between the fox and the hound.

          3. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            I already posted the study about Maidan, will repeat specially for you.
            “two thirds of Maidan protest events occurred in the Western and Central regions outside of Kyiv. In the East and the South of Ukraine (without Donbass and Crimea), 8% of protests occurred in each region; in Donbass (3%) and Crimea (1%)”
            https://euromaidanberlin.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/the-real-face-of-maidan-statistics-from-protests-that-changed-the-country/

          4. Avatar MichaelA says:

            and we already pointed out your basic ignorance
            the maidan wasnt that popular
            until putin foolishly tried to use armed force
            he singlehandedly destroyed the long relationship between ukraine and russia
            through his own incompetence

          5. Avatar Brent says:

            You really are one stoopid toilet cleaner. You are so fixated on “Galicia” and “Western Ukraine” and too much of an idiot to understand how many other regions do not want to be part of the Russian MIR you admire and love so much.

            Here’s a more recent and relevant “study” for you. Over 92% of Ukrainian citizens consider themselves “ethnic Ukrainiains”. Even 55% of ethnic Russians consider themselves to be citizens of Ukraine.

            https://www.unian.info/society/2208576-over-92-of-ukrainian-citizens-consider-themselves-ethnic-ukrainians-survey.html

            Kind of blows a big fat hole in your lies and propaganda about “Galicia” and “Western Ukrainians”, doesn’t it you moronic toilet cleaner?

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1579dc41347eee07997325d3a4e410dc998b10d0ab471145e18ed86040aa18da.jpg

          6. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            Looks like you did not read the whole thing, only the header, which is understandable considering that your head got stacked in your beloved toilet.
            “However, the fact that residents of the occupied areas, which are mostly Russian-speaking, did not participate in the survey could have significantly changed the final result”

          7. Avatar Brent says:

            MORON. Are you you really that much of an idiot?
            1) How many people are there left in the Russian occupied areas of Donbas? 2.5 million? Maybe?
            2) How many of those actually want to be part of Russia? Even the highest polling showed no more than 30% support for your beloved Russo Nazzi invading terrorists.

            You also seem to have overlooked I was proving a point how your idiotic lying comments about this being some “Galician” or “Western Ukrainian” supported push for independence when in fact ALL free and independent regions of Ukraine do not want to be part of Russia. Even the majority Donbas residents don’t support that Kremlin lie.

            You can go on and on about your “one friend sitting on her balcony in Donetsk” tells you lies and Russian propaganda, but you really are one clueless moron when it comes to understanding what the people of Ukraine really want. THEY DO NOT WANT RUSSIA. No matter how delusional you are. As the story states, 92% of those regions consider themselves “Ukrainians”. Not Russians.

            THOSE ARE THE FACTS. Moron.

          8. Avatar laker48 says:

            Putin and nutjobs of “Screwdriver’s” ilk are the best advocates of independent Ukraine. Ukrainians are fierce, freedom-loving fighters and Ukraine now has close to 100 thousand strong, US-trained territorial defence and special forces. There are also units of Polish-trained Ukrainian forces within the framework of the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG). The training goes on all the time in the Lublin area and covers peacekeeping and partisan warfare.

          9. Avatar Eddy Verhaeghe says:

            Brent, please stop those references to ‘toilet cleaning and toilet cleaners’.

          10. Avatar cowboybob says:

            that is you boy

          11. Avatar MichaelA says:

            of course those cities dont want to be part of novorossiya
            putins agents tried to stir up revolt in all those cities: Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Cherkassy, Poltava, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kirovrohad, Zaporizhia and many others
            and putins agents failed
            because the mainly russian speaking people of eastern ukraine do not want anything to do with putins protection

          12. Avatar Eddy Verhaeghe says:

            Reminds me of this joke :
            2 Russian speakers meet each other somewhere in Ukraine and one of them for the first time since they know each other adresses his friend in Ukrainian.
            When asked why he all of a sudden speaks Ukrainian, he answers to his friend that he doesn’t want to give Putin an excuse to protect him.
            From meeting quite a few of the Ukrainian/Russian diaspora in Belgium, I can assure you that a lot of Russian speakers in Ukraine – even in the occupied part of the Donbas – share that opinion.

          13. Avatar MichaelA says:

            🙂

          14. Avatar Brent says:

            No “sh*t for brains”, that is the reality in Ukraine, and not the lies and propaganda scumbags like you spread. You don’t even want to live in the Russia MIR you admire so much and instead flee to live in a Western country.

          15. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            Stick to the party line, use key words ” Savushkina” “Troll factory” , “Bolshevik”, “Putinist”.

          16. Avatar Brent says:

            Coming from an a$$clown like you who keeps b*tching and moaning about “Galicians”, “Western Ukrainains” and throws in the typical “Bandera!!! Bandera!!! Bandera!!” rant and now you will know exactly how YOU SOUND…..

            Here’s what you don’t get “Screwball”. You think Ukrainians are Russians. They’re not. They are different from you. They want “peace”. Russians want a “piece” of other countries.

            Ukraine reveres its heroes like Shevchenko and Ivano Frankovsk. Russia reveres murdering tyrants like Stalin and Putin.

            Ukrainians fight for their country. Coward Russians like you flee to live in the West.

            You’ll never be Ukrainian. You’ll always be immersed in your “Russian MIR” of hatred, loathing, murder and theft.

    2. Avatar Микола Данчук says:

      Putin has his siloviki (National Guard – private army) to control events in Russia and uses them when needed to disrupt affaires in Ukraine. This was done in the past (by KGB) in collusion with members of the Ukrainian government.

      1. Avatar veth says:

        Russian continue to liberate Syria………………………………………..

        As a result of the air strike of Russian aviation near the Syrian province of Deir ez Zor, 34 people were killed. This is reported by AFP with reference to the Syrian Monitoring Center for Human Rights.

        “On Sunday, as a result of Russian air strikes 34 civilians killed, including 15 children,” the report said.

        It is noted that Russian aircraft hit the village of Al-Shafah, which is under the control of Islamic state militants.

        1. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

          No change then.

      2. Avatar MichaelA says:

        yes that is how he tries to control events in ukraine and in russia
        but the fact is he has limited control even in russia
        and he hasnt been very successful in ukraine

  3. Avatar Tony says:

    One obvious fix for the Donbass reintegration scenario is to deprive them of voting rights until it is restored to normality, however long that may take. Let them pay the lions share of the repair bills themselves, that will teach them to resist tooth and claw next time russia tries something.
    Only let them rejoin Ukraine once they are the most pro-Ukraine part of Ukraine!

  4. Avatar Eolone says:

    Transdniestria is probably a close comparison, but lacks in one way. The so-called peacekeepers there are Russians. If Russia moves out of the Donbas, leaving pro-Russian militants behind, there is bound to be a lot of trouble between these drunken militants and UN peacekeepers who will be installed. The UN mission will fail. It will make the OSCE mission look like a great success.

    1. Avatar laker48 says:

      The only way of forcing them out would be the 2014 Ihor Kolomoisky’s Dnipro solution, i.e. $10,000 for a Moskal. Within less than 100 days there was not a single “little green man” in Dnipro. Close to 500 were reported and arrested, close to 100 successfully charged and shipped to Kyiv, and the oligarch honestly paid out some million dollars i booty money. Not too great a pay for peace. The same solution can be employed in the occupied part of Donbas provided no RuSSian “peacekeepers” are there.

      My gut feeling is that Putler won’t agree to any peacekeeping without RuSSia there, so the Yanks will wait a few months after the sanctions legislated by Congress last summer come into effect in January next year, and eventually a kind of a deal will be eventually struck by Trump with Poroshenko to bring back Saakashvili, so Ukraine will receive deadly weapons from the US sometime next spring or summer. Time is working against RuSSia. http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21731662-personal-sanctions-against-regime-cronies-are-especially-tough-new-sanctions-are-about

      1. Avatar Eolone says:

        Thanks. I recall that through the action of an oligarch, workers in Mariupol fought off the pro-Russian rebels at the time. I was not aware there was a hub at Dnipro for action against Russia; rather thought it was a loose groupings of, maybe largely, right wing Ukrainian volunteers.

        Read up on Kolomoisky (Business Insider):
        “At a cost of about $10 million a month, according to The Wall Street Journal, Kolomoisky began to build up his army. By June the Dnipro Batalion consisted of over 2,000 heavily armed troops, with a further 20,000 in reserve under the command of Kolomoisky’s close ally and self-described “conflict manager” Gennady Korban.”

        1. Avatar laker48 says:

          You’re basically right. Without Kolomoisky and other oligarchs’ private armies and crowd-funded volunteer units, the deeply demoralised and penetrated by RuSSian agents Ukrainian Army wouldn’t have defended Ukraine in 2014. The Dwarf would have rammed through SE Ukraine a land corridor to Crimea in the summer of 2014 if the Girkin-Strelkov led drunk RuSSian baboons hadn’t shot flight MH17 out of the Donbas sky.

          I’m now very upset that after such a near death experience the fight against corruption in Ukraine doesn’t yield any visible results. Most of successful fight against corruption in Ukraine was done by Saakashvili and his Georgian team he had brought into Ukraine. The Ukrainian police forces, that are now professional and decent, were trained and supervised by the Georgians.

          1. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            “I’m now very upset that after such a near death experience the fight against corruption in Ukraine doesn’t yield any visible results”
            There is a result, – many Maidan activists got promoted to government positions, and now they have money, luxury cars, real estate.
            Should`t we be happy for the well being of those heroes!!!

          2. Avatar laker48 says:

            It’s not the case so far. The Verkhovna Rada is still infested by oligarch-paid hired guns blocking reforms. The Maidan activists who made it to the Rada are a small minority. Avakov and Poroshenko would do everything in their powers to get rid of US-supported Saakashvili, so far unsuccessful. They won’t risk any physical attempt on his life, though, for the fear of American, Dutch and possibly Polish retaliation, as Saakashvili’s wife is a Dutch national and Saakashvili himself is is a personal and political friend of president Trump and leader of the governing Poland Law and Justice Party (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The Netherlands was the EU member state fiercely opposing the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement and may start doing so again. We may see a guard change in Ukraine very soon, perhaps even before the 2019 elections, because without this the US won’t ship any lethal weapons there.

  5. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

    Vitaly Portnikov described the second scenario (a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Eastern Donbas) as an “impossible variant” as it would signal a capitulation to Ukrainian and Western interests in this region of Ukraine. However, what may seem to be “impossible” today could become very possible or in fact, practical, tomorrow. In that regard, the ongoing investigation into Russian tampering in the recent US Presidential elections has not only uncovered key US actors who would appear to have colluded with the Russians for various personal or political gains but these actions have also uncovered to at least some extent Russia’s attempts to undermine the democratic process not only in the US but throughout Europe. So, how might this impact a Russian withdrawal from Eastern Donbas and possibly Crimea? What would happen if the Western powers decided to strategically retaliate and impose even greater sanctions including a total ban on the imports of Russian oil and gas? Would this not bankrupt the Putin regime? Could Putin not contemplate the aftermath of such a bankruptcy? Yes, there are other options and the freezing of the conflict in Eastern Donbas or for that matter in Crimea are not a done deal.

    1. Avatar laker48 says:

      This scenario is feasible upon meeting several preconditions:
      1. US oil and gas will partially drive RuSSian hydrocarbons out of European markets;
      2. The Three Seas Initiative and the Via Carpatia energy and logistic corridor will be successfully created and establish a “Chinese Wall” physically separating France and Germany in the west from RuSSia in the east;
      3. The German-RuSSian gas duopoly in Central and Eastern Europe will be totally destroyed;
      4. Germany’s dominant position in the EU will be significantly reduced;
      5. NATO and especially US Army forces will be permanently deployed in Central and Eastern Europe.
      Needless to mention that Ukraine will eventually have to start fighting corruption that is eating this still mafia state from inside.
      If these conditions are met, Ukraine will successfully reclaim Crimea and the terrorist-occupied part of Donbas between 2025 and 2030,

      1. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

        Agreed. Nothing will happen overnight. However, Western strategies for the future are critical as to what will happen not only in Ukraine but also how these strategies will affect Russia. Therefore, if the Putin regime are of the belief that they can prosper as an isolated island in a global economy then they too will self destruct. On that point, Ukraine has time on its side whereas Putin does not unless Russia ceases its unrelenting aggression against its neighbors.

        1. Avatar laker48 says:

          RuSSia will never stop being an aggressor, one way or the other, but it’ll depend on the abilities of Western politicians and military leaders to timely decipher and effectively stop RuSSia’s aggressive measures that may come in different shapes and guises. WW3 has been full blown in cyberspace and global media for quite a long time.

      2. Avatar Screwdriver says:

        Another scenario is that Ukraine reunite with Russia, like Crimea did.
        Bohdan Khmelnitskiy says HI!

        1. Avatar laker48 says:

          LOL! Those Ukrainians I met less than two months ago would kill every RuSSian they meet with their bare hands. Hatred of RuSSia and RuSSians is ubiquitous there.

          1. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            Few Ukrainians not all Ukrainians. My russian friend just visited Kiev, he said people were very friendly to him, he said everybody speak Russian in Kiev.

          2. Avatar laker48 says:

            I haven’t been to Kyiv since the fall of 2008, so I cannot confirm or deny your words. BTW, Kyiv and Kharkiv are RuSSian-speaking cities, so no wonder they spoke RuSSian. The Irish also speak English, but if you ask them about the Brits, you’d be surprised by what they tell you..

          3. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            I was there in September of 2013, nothing much changed since then.
            Very few Kiev locals went to Maidan, so yes, people in Kiev very friendly to Russians, they are Russians themselves, so no surprises here.

          4. Avatar laker48 says:

            Big cities in eastern Ukraine have been ruSSified since the Soviet era, and only Lviv has been all the time fiercely anti-ruSSian. It’s enough to go to the suburbs of Kyiv, Kharkiv or Odessa, and both the language and the attitude towards RuSSia and RuSSians change. Even under the Soviets the attitude of eastern Ukrainians towards RuSSia and to a lesser degree RuSSians was lukewarm or even moderately hostile, as the native RuSSian occupiers held top government and industrial positions there, with native Ukrainians doing dirty and menial work. They also called them Hohols and mocked their surzhyk.

            I agree that eastern Ukraine is deeply penetrated by RuSSian agents of influence, spies, moles and sleepers, but in reality there’s no love lost between all native Ukrainians, no matter which language they speak, and native RuSSians considered former colonisers and occupiers of Ukraine. People who don’t generally speak foreign languages but Ukrainian and/or RuSSian are very prone and susceptible to RuSSian and their own oligarch propaganda deafening them all the time. There are also cross border marriages, what complicates the situation even more.

          5. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            Correction.. – Ukraine have been Russified since beginning of times , when Rurik arrived. It was not called Ukraine though, it was Rus…
            Then western parts of Rus were influenced by Pols, and Austro-Hungary. People suffered under Pols, which leaded to uprisings, wars, and then Pereyaslav Rada, and begging Moscow Tzar for protection.
            So it is incorrect to say that Ukraine have been Russified, it is the other way around. Lands west of the river Sbruch were Polonized, many malorussians there became Catholics, and hostile against they Greek-Orthodox neighbors. Even worse, Galicians became hostile to all the neighbors, Russians, Pols, Jews. and this is reflecting very current events – Kiev Nazi regime finally became in tensions with ALL the neighbors, no exclusions. Mazel tov!

          6. Avatar laker48 says:

            Total and ultimate garbage! Kyivan Rus was a respected European monarchy as of the 10th century. It was first ravaged by the Mongols, next became part of the Great Duchy of Lithuania and, eventually became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Muscovites were baptised in the 13th century by the Kyivan Rus and were separate from Rus. The distinction was still alive at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the Great Duchy of Muscovy that stole and bastardised the name “Rus” to name itself “RuSSia” in the 17th century. No matter how the “Moskali” slice or dice it, Rus, or its successor Ukraine, is not “Moskal” or RuSSia. Poles from the former RuSSian partition zone called RuSSians “Moskale” into the early 1960s.

          7. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            This is typical polish / austro-hungarian line adopted by polonized Russians, you did not impress me 🙂
            Just a reminder , in Tsardom of Moscow, long before 17th century, Tzars were called “Gosudar Vseya Rusi” – Sovereigns of ALL the Rus. Ruled by the same Rurik dynasty, until Romanovs. (So nobody stole any name, other in your wet imagination based on recent Galician fairy tales.)
            And Metropolitan moved from Kiev to Moscow, blessed by Constantinople.

          8. Avatar laker48 says:

            Thank you! It was the “Tsardom of Moscow” by the 17th century, not the “Tsardom of RuSSia”. The barbarian descendants of the Mongolian Golden Horde in Moscow, that was a mere Mongolian trading post, usurped the power over Kyivan Rus. You still live in the Soviet mythology still being taught in RuSSian schools.

          9. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            “Tsardom of Moscow” by the 17th century, not the “Tsardom of RuSSia”
            So what ? I never said anything about Tsardom of Russia. The key word is Rus, Russkie – Russian people. Moscow Tzar was the sovereign of ALL the Rus. This is why Bohhdan Khmelnitsky said, – “Voilm pod Tsarya Moskovskogo, pravoslavnogo!”, and malorussians were happy about that reunification with veliko-russians.,..same ethnicity and same religion, liberation from panschina.

          10. Avatar laker48 says:

            Well, you’ve eventually started emerging out of the Soviet mythology you’ve been brainwashed into.

            The Muscovites were not the same as the natives to Rus; they were just Mongolian mongrels speaking a Slavonic language but totally immersed into the Asiatic, Turanian culture. The fascist RuSSian Federation in the successor of this inhuman “culture”.

            The late general George Patton deciphered the Soviet RuSSians within single weeks in May and June 1945.
            “The Russians are Mongols. They are Slavs and a lot of them used to be ruled by ancient Byzantium. From Genghis Khan to Stalin. They have not changed. They never will and we will never learn, at least not until it is too late.”
            And further:
            “The difficulty in understanding the Russian is that we do not take cognizance of the fact that he is not a European, but an Asiatic, and therefore thinks deviously. We can no more understand a Russian than a Chinese or a Japanese, and from what I have seen of them, I have no particular desire to understand them except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them. In addition to his other amiable characteristics, the Russian has no regard for human life and they are all out sons-of-bit*hes, barbarians, and chronic drunks.”
            Nothing has changed since.

          11. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            “The Muscovites were not the same as the natives to Rus; they were just Mongolian”
            So stupid. 🙂
            Golden Horder came at least 1 century AFTER Moscow already existed. Go back to school and learn about many Russian towns existed long before Mongol invasions.
            Novgorod, Pskov, Tver, Vladimir -Suzdal, Ryazan.
            And do not forget , Golden Horde also came to Kievan Rus lands, ( Kiev was taken in 1240) and even more to that… –
            “Ukrainian”-malorussians lands were influenced by Turkic peoples for many centuries.
            Look at the kozaks, they “chubs”, “sharovary” , swords – all copied from Turkic Nomads.
            Crimean tatars (they were part of Horder for a very long time)) were frequent visitors to Kiev, ( for example burned Kiev in 1482, and took thousands to slavery) up until Russian empire defeated Crimean Khanate in 18th century.

          12. Avatar laker48 says:

            Those cities were ruled by Kyivan Rus, not Muscovy. Muscovy looked in the 13th century similar to its rendition on this map, and the Muscovites lived in their burows together with their farm animals.: https://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/1597/5078/original.jpg
            I believe I’ll live long enough to see RuSSia as it’s pictured on this map.

          13. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            There was Russia and Russian Empire.
            Do you know the difference between Rome and Roman empire ?

            “Those cities were ruled by Kyivan Rus”
            Sometimes yes, sometimes not.
            But good point actually . Who lived in those towns – mongols ?

          14. Avatar laker48 says:

            Mongol mongrels lived in Muscovy. 🙂

          15. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            OK, so you do not know the answer and acting stupid. I accept your resignation!

          16. Avatar laker48 says:

            It’s not a resignation; there’s no point in arguing with an idiot Moskal who cannot comprehend that Ukraine is not RuSSia and has never been RuSSia.

          17. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            Resignation it is , you got completely lost after a simple question. ha-ha 🙂

          18. Avatar laker48 says:

            You’re laughing at your own idiocy, but it’s your own problem. No matter how you, the Muscovites, slice or dice it, Ukraine will never become RuSSia and you’re just learning this the hard way. The illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea, the hybrid war in Donbas and the intervention in Syria are the millstones tied to Dwarfstan’s neck that will drown it in the cesspool of its own making or blood of its citizens, or both. Let’s just give it some time!

          19. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            Rant instead of answering the question, very Galician typical, I am not impressed.

          20. Avatar laker48 says:

            Do you think or believe that anyone on this forum gives a dead rat’s a*s to whether you’re impressed or not? Most RuSSian sovoks of your ilk are irreformable and the majority of those RuSSians who are live outside RuSSia in Western countries, albeit the percentage of sovoks among RuSSian emigres is relatively high and you seem to be one of them. Read this interview given to DW by a Russian: http://www.dw.com/en/vladimir-putins-russia-has-become-a-toxic-state/a-41552684
            The real fun is yet to come: http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21731662-personal-sanctions-against-regime-cronies-are-especially-tough-new-sanctions-are-about

          21. Avatar Eddy Verhaeghe says:

            I was there several times in the last 2 years and I can assure you that a well meant thank you in Ukrainian most of the time is rewarded with a bigger return smile than when you say ‘спасибо’ in Russian… And Ukrainians are not Russians.

          22. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            “bigger return smile than when you say ‘спасибо’ in Russian”
            This does not make any sense, most of the people in Kiev use Russian as a primary language.
            “Ukrainians are not Russians” – Based on which study ?

          23. Avatar Eddy Verhaeghe says:

            You personally say that your last visit to Kyiv or was it Ukraine dates from 2013… I can assure you that saying a few words – I’m not capable of much more – in Ukrainian is today hugely appreciated in Kyiv. By the lady that sells me the flowers for the wife of the business relation I have to visit, to the young bureacrat that helps me navigate the still top heavy bureaucracy (that bureaucracy being one of the shackles that still bind Ukraine to its Soviet past and the RF).

            As for my assertion that most Ukrainians are not Russians, most indeed identify themselves as Ukrainians even if the speak Russian.

            This link to Wikipedia
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine
            gives you so many references for research about Ukraine that even reading 10% of them will keep you busy for ages.

            Not that it will cure you from your hatred of most things Ukrainian, born I suppose out of what happened in the past…

          24. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            Eddy… It is really humorous . Any country you go to and say a few words to locals with a foreign accent would make them smile. I witnessed it in all the countries I visited.
            If you say that Kiev is different, and locals happy when you use “dyakuyu” instead of “spasibo” – I will strongly disagree. It all depend who exactly you talk to. Many service people in the center of Kiev are from Western Ukraine, I know it by visiting number of Ukrainian themed restaurants around Kreschatik.
            But even in Western Ukraine, most people are normal, and very friendly to Russian tourists, there are NUMBER of videos on Youtube how Russians visiting Lviv with Russian licence plates on they cars, and they speak Russian to Lviv locals.
            ” hatred of most things Ukrainian”
            – big mistake. I do love peaceful Ukraine, and I miss Ukrainian towns, Ukrainian food and Ukrainian girls.
            But many people in SE Ukraine do indeed hate Ukraine now ( or would be more correct to say – “Kiev regime”) Because Kiev regime shelling SE Ukrainian towns.
            I witnessed shelling when I was talking via Skype with my friend who lives in Donetsk , she was on her balcony when shells started to explode near by.
            Looks like you picture of Ukraine is from the glossy magazines distributed on Міжнародні Авіалінії України. Visit Donetsk and talk to locals about you beloved Kiev regime, see what happens.

          25. Avatar Quartermaster says:

            ” Because Kiev regime shelling SE Ukrainian towns.”
            Still pushing that lie, I see. So far, the observed in the Donbas have stated, quite pointedly, that the violators of the ceasefire has been the Russian troops and Russian Supported terrorists in the Donbas. If you want your friend to not have to worry about shells falling nearby get the Russians to stop the shelling.

          26. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            Not true.
            Example from very last report :
            “The SMM observed damage to civilian properties from shelling in residential areas of “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk
            At 2D Shchorsa Street, the SMM saw a fresh hole (25-30cm long and 10-15cm wide) in the north-facing wall of a house, assessed as caused by a 73mm round fired from a westerly direction”
            http://www.osce.org/special-monitoring-mission-to-ukraine/359341

          27. Avatar Quartermaster says:

            What you have cited is not inconsistent with the reports of Russian troops shelling made by the OSCE.
            Sorry, you’re still a liar.

          28. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            I state that Kiev Nazi regime shelling Donbas residence. And this is consistent with OSCE reports.
            So, sorry, you’re still a liar.

          29. Avatar Quartermaster says:

            Either you can’t read, or don’t want to do so. What you cited is not inconsistent with Russian troop activities. OSCE did not accuse any side of having fired the shell that did the damage.
            You’re still a Russian troll and liar. You can state anything you like, but OSCE has not supported your contention.

          30. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            No, it is the other way around. You got caught with your lie.
            OSCE clearly reported that shelling originated from the West . – Either you can’t read, or don’t want to do so.

          31. Avatar Quartermaster says:

            I really couldn’t care less that you are simply copying me. You didn’t read the report you linked because it doesn’t support your contention. Such things are why you are held in contempt here. You’re a contemptible fellow.

          32. Avatar Brent says:

            And I state that you are a lying Russo Nazzi cowardly moron.

            I’m sure we can find that in your fictitious OSCE reports too….

          33. Avatar Eddy Verhaeghe says:

            Screwdriver, when did I ever say that Ukrainians are not friendly to Russian tourists visiting their country, when those Russians speak Russian with the locals Kharkiv, Kyiv or even Lviv? Almost all Ukrainians are fluent in Russian…

            Ukrainians are indeed friendly to Russians tourists. Always were and I hope they will remain friendly to those Russian tourists. But that depends on what Putin & C° have in store for Ukraine.

            You are deviating from the subjects we were discussing. But you are known for that by now.

            So stick to the subjects that are being discussed.

            So I dare to repeat that most Ukrainians – even a big part of the ethnic Russians – think of themselves as Ukrainians. And they don’t like what Putin & C° do to their country.

            As I dare to repeat that by using the little Ukrainian that I know instead of the little Russian that I know, I get in a different reception by the locals… And those locals aren’t “service people in the center of Kiev from Western Ukraine”. In some instances they are young people from russified families, who now prefer to speak Ukrainian instead of Russian.

            And yes, I also know people, who have family in the occupied part of the Donbas who speak with disgust about the scum that started the whole thing in the Donbas. And have no good words for the people that now rule the so-called DPR and the LPR.

            As for your love for Ukraine, a recent post of you :
            “Galichian patriots should receive a piece of land west of the river Sbruch, they can call it Ukraine, or Waffen Grenadier Kraina of the SS – Galichina, or any way they like it..”
            says it all.

          34. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            “So I dare to repeat that most Ukrainians – even a big part of the ethnic Russians – think of themselves as Ukrainians. And they don’t like what Putin & C° do to their country.

            As I dare to repeat that by using the little Ukrainian that I know instead of the little Russian that I know, I get in a different reception by the locals..”
            I respect your subjective opinion. People can have different experience and different opinions.

            “As for your love for Ukraine, a recent post of you :
            “Galichian patriots..”
            People who comment here, I can make a bet – most of them are not permanent residence of Ukraine. they either descendants of Nazi collaborators who were evacuated to USA and Canada, or maybe those Western Ukrainians who emigrated to the West to work as long distance truck drivers, , – and sorry, but they can not speak for all the Ukrainians.
            And Ukrainian senator Vadim Rabinovich agrees with me, he calls those foreign people “fake patriots”.

          35. Avatar Brent says:

            And you think a cowardly toilet cleaner who fled to South Philly like yourself “speaks for Ukrainians”?

            Not a chance. You’re just a Russo Nazzi who is too scared to fight for the lies and propaganda his walnut sized brain believes in.

            You need to listen to what the people of Ukraine have to say and stop spreading your Kremlin bullsh*t

            https://www.unian.info/society/2208576-over-92-of-ukrainian-citizens-consider-themselves-ethnic-ukrainians-survey.html

          36. Avatar Eddy Verhaeghe says:

            Your “People who comment here, I can make a bet – most of them are not permanent residence of Ukraine. they either descendants of Nazi collaborators who were evacuated to USA and Canada, or maybe those Western Ukrainians who emigrated to the West to work as long distance truck drivers, , – and sorry, but they can not speak for all the Ukrainians.”

            Apart from the usual venom in this remark, you forget the Ukrainians from all parts of the country that fled the hunger and oppression in the USSR and of course also all those that made a success of their life in the West.

            By the way, in what country do your reside? In what country were you born?

            Your ” And Ukrainian senator Vadim Rabinovich agrees with me, he calls those foreign people “fake patriots”.

            I hope you also agree with this view of Vadim Rabinovich : “”I want to destroy the myth about an anti-Semitic Ukraine which is spreading around the world.” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vadim_Rabinovich ).
            Or do you only agree with the man, when it fits your narrative?

          37. Avatar laker48 says:

            It’s true that a very small number of Bandera followers, some seven or eight thousand, ended up in Canada after WW2, courtesy of general Wladyslaw Anders, the commander of the 150,000 strong Polish First Army led out by him from the Soviet Union and fighting in Africa, Italy, France and Germany. Many Nazi Ukrainians fighting in the ranks of the Wehrmacht changed colours and, since most were fluent in Polish, tried to make the general believe, they were Poles. General Anders, a close friend of general Patton, knew the truth, but for compassionate reasons saved them from being handed over by general Eisenhower to the Soviets.

            Over a million strong Ukrainian diaspora in Canada are mostly descendants of poor Ukrainian emigrants from Galicia who arrived in Canada before WW1 from western Ukraine that became later part of the Republic of Poland. Most are not quite sure whether they’re Ukrainians or Poles. They preserved the Ukrainian language and culture, and are now the best educated ethnic group in Canada. If there are any extremist Ukrainian organisations in Canada, they’re a very narrow margin, albeit sometimes quite noisy. Much more OUN-B/UPA (Bandera faction) war criminals ended up in the US, but the Ukrainian diaspora there isn’t significant.

            Everything else in this “Screwdriver” character’s posts is utter and ultimate garbage.

          38. Avatar Screwdriver says:

            ” you forget the Ukrainians from all parts of the country that fled the hunger and oppression in the USSR and of course also all those that made a success of their life in the West”
            USSR border was sealed, what are you talking about ?
            “By the way, in what country do your reside? In what country were you born?”
            I Live in USA, and I was born in Kazakhstan, in Jewish refugee family from Ukraine. My grandmother and her family lived in Dnepropetrovsk, when the Germans started to advance they managed to evacuate from Dnepropetrovsk to Uralsk, NE Kazakhstan.
            “I hope you also agree with this view of Vadim Rabinovich : “”I want to destroy the myth about an anti-Semitic Ukraine which is spreading around the world”
            No, I do not agree with him.
            But I adore his courage.
            http://antifashist.com/item/general-sbu-prizval-unichtozhat-vseh-evreev-vmeste-s-rabinovichem.html – use google translate

          39. Avatar laker48 says:

            Kudos for cutting to size this RuSSian trolling scum!

          40. Avatar Eddy Verhaeghe says:

            My pleasure 😉

  6. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    Must not allow pro-RuSSian elements to gain a foothold in Ukrainian politics. No way, no how.

  7. Avatar Screwdriver says:

    Portnikov must be a Kremlin troll, this is what he said “votes will create “a stable pro-Russian lobby” that will take Ukraine back to before 2013”
    He does not believe in Donbass locals, true Ukrainian patriots, what a shame on Portnikov!!!

    1. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

      Rubbish!

    2. Avatar laker48 says:

      He’s not the sharpest tool in the Ukrainian political analyst shed.

    3. Avatar Brent says:

      Like “Givi”? DEAD
      Like “Motorola”? Russian and DEAD
      Like “Plotnitsky”? Actually, he is a “Galician” that you revile so much and now hiding in Russia
      Maybe you’re thinking of your Russo Nazzi heroes, the “Gubarov’s”? “Father Christmas” wasn’t even allowed by your Kremlin masters to run in the farcical Donbas elections in 2015.

      Those are the scum you consider “true Ukrainian patriots”? The scum who pillaged and destroyed the little piece of Donbass that Russia successfully invaded?

      They are not “patriots”. They are Russo Nazzi scum. Just like you. They also flee to other countries…… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2079e39be51f1819ae65ee69fecca275412d27b970e8a591b7b0b5cb47132250.jpg