The logic of terror: what the Ruban case means

Footage from the video of the detention of Volodymyr Ruban shown during a briefing by Vasyl Hrytsak, head of the Security Service of Ukraine.

Footage from the video of the detention of Volodymyr Ruban shown during a briefing by Vasyl Hrytsak, head of the Security Service of Ukraine. 

Analysis & Opinion

Article by: Vitaly Portnikov

On March 8, Volodymyr Ruban, a POW swap mediator and head of the Officer Corps organization, was detained at one of the checkpoints near the Russian-occupied city of Horlivka in the Donetks Oblast while trying to smuggle an entire arsenal of weapons and ammunition from Russian-occupied areas. According to charges filed by the Security Service of Ukraine, Ruban is accused of illegal firearms possession, preparing terror attacks, and attempted assassination of President Petro Poroshenko and the country’s top officials.

A segment of the public may distrust the information on the detention of Volodymyr Ruban, head of the Officer Corps organization, and the reports from special services on the preparation of large-scale terrorist acts in Ukraine. This is exactly the same way — with distrust — that they once treated the possibility of imprisonment of the opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, the probable rejection of European integration by the administration of Viktor Yanukovych, the use of force against the protestors on Maidan, the occupation of Crimea, the beginning of the war in the Donbas… People, as a rule, try to think within the limits of their logic and their rules. This is why under conditions of authoritarianism and aggression, someone who does not respect the rules may win.

Frankly speaking, I am not surprised by reports of the discovery of a terrorist network. I have been expecting terrorism for a long time because I try to base my thinking not on my own logic but on the logic of those who are destabilizing Ukraine.

There has been no “hot” war in the Donbas for some time. There are only sporadic clashes on the fighting line. And despite the casualties and the continuing occupation, Ukrainian society has become accustomed to such a war, just as people become accustomed to any conflicts that do not end in several months. There are no levers of pressure on the Ukrainian leadership that can force Kyiv to negotiate with Moscow on Russia’s terms. Nobody is prepared to lift sanctions against Russia. Meanwhile, it is necessary to find some way to get out of the conflict — but without undermining Putin’s reputation or abandoning the occupation. But how?

The best way to do this is to destabilize Ukraine totally,  and the best way to destabilize is through terror. Ukrainians already know how war changes attitudes. But they do not know at all how terror changes public sentiments.

I have personal experience. I witnessed terrorist acts in Russia and Israel. I saw how society and media reacted. Under conditions of total terror the influence of those who find it necessary to destroy the source of terror by any means grows stronger, as well as of those who consider it necessary to destroy the reasons leading to terror

The intent to destroy the president and the politicians from the “party of war” is logical

In Russian conditions the supporters of Chechnya’s independence were designated the source of the terror. This is why Putin received a carte blanche for the war in the rebellious republic. But when terror came to Moscow, the positions of those who proposed “letting go” of Chechnya and to stop the war in the Caucasus began to intensify — since the war had already come to the streets of Moscow. During the taking of hostages in the Dubrovka Theater, Putin’s influence was greatly shaken. Many believed he would have to leave the presidential office. Putin survived only thanks to the inhuman special operation during which many hostages perished.

Under Ukrainian conditions Russia itself will play the role of Chechnya with only the difference that nobody will fight with a nuclear power. So, if terror comes to Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, the positions of those who propose reaching an agreement with Moscow will be strengthened — because, after all, we cannot defeat Russia and the war is already here. Of course they will proposed to “give up” or federalize the Donbas. Already there are many people in Ukraine who are not ashamed to say that the war is “useful to those in power” or else it would have ended a long time ago, and that it was Maidan and not the invader who was responsible for the “separation” of the Donbas and Crimea. Just imagine how these attitudes would grow under conditions of total terror.

It is also  logical to want to destroy the president of the country and politicians of the so-called “party of war” — in other words those who do not want to yield to Moscow and who have long been considered the main enemies of the Kremlin. But the politicians who can reach an “agreement” will not be touched– they will be given the opportunity to come to power, to stop the terror and to create opportunities for Vladimir Putin to get out of the Ukrainian trap.

However, even without terrorism these politicians can come to power in Ukraine already after the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. Ukrainian society still appears disoriented and not capable of fighting for an extended period, which is a prerequisite for any successful state building. But even such a disoriented society may not understand the merger  of the populist “patriots” with the forces of the past — the Opposition Bloc (the former Party of Regions — Ed.) or the Ukrainian Choice (pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian NGO in Ukraine founded by Putin’s close friend, the business tycoon Viktor Medvedchuk — Ed.) of the odious Viktor Medvedchuk.

But total terror and the fight against it would offer an excellent opportunity for the creation of a government of national unity whose main task would be to stop the terror in the streets, to bring an end to war, and to reach an agreement with Moscow. In such conditions peace and calm at any price may also become the political religion of an immature society, which is what has happened now with the fight against corruption. Indeed, what can excite people more — total corruption or total terror?

Therefore, the matter does not end with the detention of Ruban (he rejects the charges — Ed.). Terror may already be at the door.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Radio Svoboda

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  • MichaelA

    there is no reason to doubt that this was a kremlin plot
    it wasnt just poroshenko or his friends
    the targets were poroshenko yatseniuk avakov and turchynov
    the leaders of various groups
    they would have been assassinated just before the main russian invasion started