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Ilovaisk and the Russian invasion

Ilovaisk and the Russian invasion
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

When Putin loses he turn from a “legitimist” to an ordinary local thug.

The anniversary of the Ilovaisk events always means mourning for the fallen and the desire to find those responsible for the failures and tragedies. Of course, all this is very important. But something happened at Ilovaisk that radically changed the nature of war. It was the direct invasion by troops from the Russian Federation.

What did the war look like before Ilovaisk? Russia armed the mercenaries in the occupied territories and sent “volunteers” to the Donbas. Appropriate military units were formed from these “volunteers” and mercenaries.

These thugs had absolutely no chance of defeating our armed forces and volunteer battalions. The war in the Donbas was nearing the end. Besides, the Ukrainian military command and political leadership acted on the assumption that the Kremlin would not launch a direct military intervention in Ukraine.

Of course, it is possible to consider this assumption naïve. But the belief still persists, not only in Kyiv but in Western capitals as well, that the Russian leadership, for all its crimes, will try to remain within the framework of some kind of “legitimacy.” After all, Putin is a well-known “legitimist.”

Only yesterday the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, suggested that after the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, the Russian leadership may “condemn the Syrian regime” and even stop the bombardment of Aleppo. Because Putin cannot “remain indifferent to international public opinion.”

They don’t know Putin. Putin is the “legitimist” only as long as he wins. When he loses, he turns into an ordinary local thug. And he has absolutely no concern for any norms of international law or “world opinion.”

This is why Putin could keep his troops near our borders until the very existence of the so-called DNR (“Donetsk People’s Republic”) and LNR (“Luhansk People’s Republic”) was under threat. And when it became clear that the Ukrainian army would soon dismantle the thug republics, he decided to send in his troops.

And the war with mercenaries and “volunteers” turned into a full-fledged war with Russia. Incidentally, it was this very fact that was so shocking to the  West. They understood that Putin had crossed a red line that separated the “hybrid war” from the real one.

Since that time, one of the main elements of Western policy towards Ukraine has been to keep Kyiv from attacking  directly. Because it is believed that if this attack were to succeed, it would provoke an active response by Moscow. And regular troops from Russia would invade our territory again.

So let us see what this war looks like after Ilovaisk. On Donbas territory there are armed groups consisting of local mercenaries and Russian “volunteers.” The task of these thugs is to organize provocations, maintain instability, and provide the initial resistance to Ukrainian troops if there is any attempt to eliminate the terrorist enclaves.

This is why the Kremlin can boldly proclaim “we’re not here” to international observers. But the main responsibility for maintaining DNR and LNR lies with the other thugs — the regular army, the thugs in Russian uniforms who are on the other side of the border with our country.

In the event of a threat to DNR and LNR they immediately can be introduced into the territory of our country. Putin doesn’t give a hoot for world opinion,” for the sanctions and the phone calls from Obama and Merkel. He will deal with all that after ensuring the result. After he protects the occupied territory from its liberators.

That is the logic of Ilovaisk.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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