Skip to comments.Former advisor: Putin failed in Eastern Ukraine
Posted on 05/26/2014 8:39:43 PM PDT by Ivan Mazepa
Andrei Illarionov is a former economic policy advisor to Vladimir Putin but presently is one of his harshest critics. Tyzhden.ua sits down with him to discuss the upcoming Ukrainian presidential election, the likelihood of a new World War and to share his view on new geopolitical conflicts.
(Article published May 24, 2014 in the Ukrainian weekly Tyzhden, interviewed by Alla Lazareva)
Tyzhden.ua: Mr. Illarionov, do you think that Russia will try to disrupt the upcoming Sunday vote?
I dont think Putin will do that. Overall his position is as follows: Ukraine either has to be Putin's (be it under Yanukovych, Dobkin, Tymoshenko or any other of Putin's puppet) or Ukraine should not exist as an independent state. This is the strategy. It calls for, or at least, allows the use of various technologies, methods and approaches to achieve this final result. Direct military action is one possibility, but its not the only method. Other methods used and we have witnessed them many times are corruption, bribery of various official and unofficial persons and media, diplomatic resources, information and misinformation campaigns, and more. I think that Putin now has a clear idea that after almost three months of failure in eastern Ukraine, to destabilize Ukraine in the so-called "Russian Spring", the so-called "rebellion" in the Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine or the New Russia, he had failed.
He truly believed in what he was told by his political strategists, that Ukraine doesnt exist as a state, there is no Ukrainian society, Ukraine is just collection of unrelated regions, and it will be enough to light a match and the so-called New Russia will erupt, and it will be easy to separate it from the rest of Ukraine. He was so convinced of this proposed depiction that he did not feel embarrassed to devote a large portion of his April 17 public address to this very vision. He so believed that his picture is correct, that he began to tell reporters and the international community about what didnt exist in nature. It is not a single error, but a false, incorrect understanding of Ukraine. You can use the classic phrase from the timeless Soviet movie: "Exhilarating air of victory from Crimea played an evil joke on the Colonel." And he told this joke to the entire whole world, demonstrating his desire for Ukraine.
During the month that has passed since April 17, it turned out that his description is false, in all of its parts. Despite all these matches that were lit, despite all the gasoline that was spilled in eastern and southern Ukraine, despite the murder of dozens of people, abuse, torture, kidnapping, destabilization of life in the two areas, neither Ukraine nor so-called New Russia, had erupted. This, in fact, is demonstrated in the panic appeal of Mr. Girkin in Sloviansk, who said that he could not draw even a thousand able-bodied men to carry out their project. (Note: Commander Girkin/Strelkov is the retired Russian FSB colonel fighting in the besieged city of Sloviansk. He made a video address to the people of Donbas. Great read, English transcript is found here Ignore the first translation. Second translation, with the heading Translation by E.K. which is lower down the page, is well done)
This is a recognition of total defeat. Realizing defeat, Mr Putin refused, at least for now, a direct invasion of Ukraine. And to a large extent, he had declined to support those groups that he sent earlier. Initially, East Ukrainian police stations, government and security agencies were seized mostly by militants who were brought in from Russia. At present, a regular part of special forces seems to have been withdrawn and replaced by various military veterans, Cossacks, volunteers and other terrorists. It actually shows that Putin, for the time being, had put aside this option to destabilize Ukraine and went on to another.
Tyzhden.ua: Western newspapers occasionally write that the annexation of the Crimea is the beginning of World War III. Do you agree with this prediction, or is it too early to call?
If you believe that any war, not just the world war, is carried out not only by conventional military means, then, it is beyond any doubt that a new world war had already begun. At the latest, it started 20 February 2014, the date which the Russian Ministry of Defence had so prudently announced, it began the manufacture of the medal "For the return of the Crimea." This medal clearly defined the start of the military operation to seize the Crimea.
Tyzhden.ua: The Maidan Square shooting ...
Yes. This is what I wanted to call attention to. Specifically, the beginning of the military operation. It started when the legitimate president of Ukraine was Yanukovych. It happened two days before Yanukovych signed an agreement with three opposition leaders and foreign ministers of the three European countries. Thus, all the propaganda campaign waged by Russia, trying to present the uprising in the Crimea as a reaction to the expulsion of Yanukovych by the alleged Banderites, fascists and nationalists in Kiev is completely refuted by the Russian Ministry of Defense. It told that the operation started earlier, and the Heavens Hundred shot on Maidan were part of the operation to capture Crimea. (Note: The Heavens Hundred is the term given to the hundred people who were killed when the police opened fire in Kyiv)
Since we know that the shooting took place on the orders and under the supervision of representatives of the Russian FSB, it appears that Putin had to create a sharp escalation of the civil conflict and secure its transition to a state of civil war in Kiev, capital of Ukraine. I do not exclude that the order to open fire on February 20 was given by Yanukovych. More likely, it was the Russian generals. Realizing that things are getting out of his control, when on February 18 several dozen protesters were killed on the Hrushevskyi street, Yanukovych began to pack his bags. This is evidenced by video recordings on cameras of Mezhyhiria (Yanukovich residence). This shows that the civil war option was initiated by Putin, either together with Yanukovich, or by Putin alone, and Yanukovich was just informed, or Yanukovich learned of the plan himself, but February 20 is the start of the actual military phase of the Russian-Ukrainian War. Its non-military phase began on 27 July 2013 when Russia began the trade or economic war. Later, in the autumn, it was the diplomatic war. And at the latest, starting February 20 it was the armed conflict. Hence, the Russian-Ukrainian war is ongoing.
Tyzhden.ua: can it grow into a global military conflict?
Yes, it can. Moreover, such plan was developed by the Russian side. All these weeks since April 17, it has been a world war, as was said by all Russian propagandists. Let me draw your attention especially to the statement of Mr. Mamontov, who on his show on April 29 in plain text had declared, that this will be a war of Russia against all. Mr. Mamontov, I must say, works closely with the Russian authorities and the Russian special services. According to Russian media, he has his own office at Lubyanka (KGB HQ). As for his co-host, Mr. Kurginyan who also is a participant of various meetings with the Russian authorities, the discussion is not about the Third, but the Fourth World War. According to his classification, the Third World War was the Cold War that ended twenty years ago. Todays Russian government, together with its supporters Kurginyan and Mammontov, start another war - the Fourth. This comment is very revealing, as it points out that for these people, reasoning about whether its the world war or not, Third or Fourth, its not about a concept or a figure of speech the way many others who discuss the subject might use it. For them, it is a developed notion, with clearly defined focus, and stresses that this is not the same war that ended two decades ago.
The question is whether this Russian-Ukrainian war will develop into the World War? In my view, the likelihood of such a development is very high. The fact is, by annexing Crimea, Putin broke a number of international agreements, and created a huge crevice in the system of international diplomatic relations and global security. To correct it, to restore something resembling the security system without the return of Crimea to Ukraine is impossible. Because the entire system of global security as we know it, which was developed for at least 50 years since the Caribbean crisis of 1962, it ceased to exist. And not only for the West, but for the whole world there is a very important question: what to do? To take up a new system of global security and international relations, from the ground up, with a system that de facto and de jure recognized the right of the strong attacking the weak, and to occupy and annex its territory, which in 1945 was considered totally unacceptable in the world and especially in Europe, or restore and upgrade the previous security model. But if you resort to restore the previous format, again we must return Ukraine the Crimea. Since Putin doesnt intend to return Crimea, it means that hostilities in its many ways - the information war, sanctions or low intensity military conflict - will inevitably continue.
(Translated from Ukrainian)
Fascinating article. Nyquist had a similar conclusion early on, that the shootings and the conflict itself were planned well in advance by Moscow and are part of a larger strategy. But the Chinese have yet to truly start their own conflict or provocations in their sphere, which I expect if we are really entering into a new world war. Unless we count their oil rig in Vietnam’s waters? But seems an odd target to go after a fellow communist state.
Illarionov is quite correct.
Putin should have fired his advisors and listened to my free advice several months back.
There are not enough pro Russians in Donetsk and Luhansk.
The only difference between Putin and Khrushchev is Putin keeps his shoes on.
Indeed, Russia has already suffered significant economic damage due its annexation of Crimea and seems to now be on the verge of a recession that will impair Putin's popularity. Finally, Russian aggression against Ukraine has crystallized opinion in Ukraine and the west against Russia, an adverse development for a country that needs Western investment, talent, and access to markets in order to revitalize its economy and rebuild its technical base.
Quietly, some of Russia's best minds and wealthiest businessmen are no doubt looking for ways to assure that Putin releases his grip on power when his current term as President ends in 2018. Otherwise, if Putin is reelected to another six year term, Russia's stagnation and decline seems inevitable. What Putin has done in regard to the Ukraine simply does not accrue to Russia's long term benefit.
And sans shirt Kruschev didn’t wow the wimmem..
The Ukrainians held tough and the Russian speakers did not want to be Russians. Now how does Putin look as he abandoned people in Ukraine.
Putin’s attitude that the Ukraine does not have it’s own national identity is pure USSR leftover crap. His only hope was to supplement Ukranian Russians with military power to engender a coup that could hang on by - what? More military power? I thought he was going to annex the Ukraine. But when he started fluffing around with supporting elections and independence movements, the whole boondogle shifted into a balkanized triangulation strategy at best - but to what purpose? It would mean that he couldn’t seize Ukraine, and the best he could do is possible destabilization? Something got whacked here. Something didn’t work out as planned, and now we’re looking at best-solution adjustments. Putin’s like a cat that skidded across the linoleum and hit the screen door sideways, and then straightened up and said “I meant that.” Yeah, sure you did.
Three quarters of the Donetsk region, half of the Luhansk region
Did you have a chance to look at the commander Strelkov’s speech to the people of Donbas (I gave the link of the English translation in the text of the article. Second translation). He’s trying to shame them into joining, but the admission that he can’t find people is quiet astounding. It’s almost too good to be true, and I’m almost too cynical to believe it (is he trying to hide the strength of his forces?? )
Yesterday’s story was he executed two of his own for looting and insubordination. According to this article the story was confirmed at the separatists HQ.
(in Russian) http://www.dialog.ua/news/4288_1401182734
I’ll check it out, tthanks. Things certainly sound like they’re getting better. And it does sound like Putin is backing off and withdrawing. Sure doesn’t look like Ukraine will ever get the Crimea area back though.