I’ve been saying the same thing now for the past few years. Putin and his cronies in the Kremlin know that if they were ever to lose power, then they’d find themselves in a Siberian gulag as quick as you can say “Huilo”.
His fear over Ukrainian’s standing up to a corrupt government is not that he fears the Russian speaking populations rights being trampled, rather, the Ukrainian Russian speakers inspiring their Russian counterparts to also stand up to their corrupt Russian government.
The method behind Putin’s madness is to destabilise Ukraine, politically and economically. His aim has always been to prevent Ukraine from ever joing the NATO alliance. That’s the reason he tried to poison the ex-President Yushchenko when Yanukovich ran against him the first time, and the reason why he threw millions of dollars into the electoral war-chest of Yanukovich and his “Party of the Regions” during the second presidential election.
Now the two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk are in turmoil. And the main benefit he hopes to gain from this is that Ukraine, as a nation, can not request NATO membership, because in theory the decision requires a referendum for the Ukrainian people to decide.
This option though is likely to backfire for two reasons. One, the younger population in Ukraine outnumbers the conservative and Soviet-nostalgic older population. Two, most of the predominantly Russian speaking regions, such as Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and liberated towns in Donetsk and Lugansk have seen a resurgence of Ukrainian nationalism and anti-Russian sentiment.
The economic destruction of Ukraine’s industrial heartland will have long-lasting affects on Ukraine’s economy, well into the next decade. It’s also not helped by the fact that the Russian army, under the guise of a Humanitarian Aid convoy went in and stripped several high-tech companies of their inventory, machinery and equipment with the intention of re-tooling and starting up somewhere in Siberia. These companies are defensively strategic for Russia. They made radar equipment, spares for tanks and helicopters that are either not made at all, or in far fewer quantities in Russia itself and which ere at risk of being cut-off fro supply by Ukraine completely as a result of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine. So Russia benefits from stealing what she wants, and from the knowledge that it has crippled Ukraine’s economy and also helped further destabilise the Ukrainian government because of the growing unemployment in the region.
But it all went tits-up for Putin during late-July, early-August. The simple fact of the matter is that despite providing arms and weapons to a group of thugs and alcoholics, in an effort to try and stir things up in Eastern Ukraine, under the guise that he’s protecting “ethnic Russian’s”, this group of thugs were being hammered by the Ukrainian Army, who had begun to get the upper-hand. They went on the run, and were almost encircled in both Donetsk and Lugansk. So Putin panicked and he had to send in the professionals. The 9th motor-rifle brigade from Nizhny Novgorod was one of the two Russian units that encircled his the Ukrainian volunteer force, the Donbass battalion, at Ilovaysk. The Chechen 8th motor-rifle brigade was the other.
Video evidence of a huge Russian armoured division, deep inside Ukraine, was posted on YouTube earlier this week, along with satellite imagery from NATO, all point to clear evidence of Russian troops invading Ukraine along her Eastern borders.
The Kremlin continue to deny the presence of Russian troops or of any mechanised equipment ever entering Ukraine. These denials even came when reports Roland Oliphant and Shaun Walker, of the Independent and Guardian respectively, witnessed and reported on Russian troops crossing the border into Ukraine through a gap in the wire fence that marked the two borders.
And even more incredulous is Putin’s seven point plan for peace in Ukraine, which he conveniently broadcast after he wrote it on the back of an envelope during his flight to Mongolia earlier this week, but which he says doesn’t concern Russia directly because they are “not directly involved in the conflict”. Interesting historical point – he used the same seven points with the Georgian government during their brief war in 2008!
The problem Ukraine, and the rest of Europe for that matter, face today is that despite what many people think, Putin is not the great strategist he’d like you to believe. He failed in his meddling with Ukraine once before. He has consistently underestimated the resolve and the desire ordinary Ukrainians have for their country to be free of cronyism and the autocratic rule of a despot that Russian’s seem quite happy to endure. But he has no back-up plan. His KGB mind thinks in one way only. He has already annexed a large portion of Ukraine and tripled the number of troops stationed in Crimea. He has covertly/(overtly) positioned troops in Eastern Ukraine and he has 25,000 fully armed and supplied troops in Transdniestria. If you include pro-Kremlin Belarus bordering Ukraine’s North, then you can consider Ukraine effectively surrounded on all sides.
And as the video above rightly points out, Putin has really no-where to go. If he cannot persuade Ukraine to agree to his guileless terms for a ceasefire, and the US/EU continue tightening the screws with further sanctions, then it’s quite conceivable that Putin will make true on his promise and roll the tanks in from Russia in an effort to squash Ukraine completely.
It’s conceivable because thus far the EU/US/NATO trifecta have openly said that they cannot stomach or afford a full-scale war on European soil, despite what all the talking heads have said when standing side-by-side with Poroshenko avowing solidarity with Ukraine and her people. And Putin know’s this. So his machismo is further encouraged to push and see how far he can go, how “flexible” Europe is, just so long as the gas isn’t shut-off.
And there’s the rub. To use that off quoted line from ‘Game of Thrones’, “Winter is coming”. Ukraine’s coal-mines are defunct, her nuclear power stations provide only about 40% of her electricity needs, the rest is from coal burning power stations, and the Russians are threatening to cut-off her gas again. Poroshenko has done well to reclaim Ukraine’s eastern lands and kick out the Russian scum. But Putin has countered and brought in the big guns, whilst the EU/US have still not agreed to supplying Ukraine with lethal aid or updated weapons.
It’s unclear what, if anything, the ceasefire talks in Minsk will bring. If Poroshenko DOES agree to it, then I am predicting that he won’t remain in office for very long. Ukrainians will hang him from the highest tree in Kiev for selling-out Ukraine and for the wasted lives of Ukranian men and women who have fought so valiantly for Ukraine’s sovereignty and freedom. But one thing that IS for sure is that whatever the outcome, Putin will have a stranglehold on Ukraine for some time to come, be it in a drawn-out stagnant conflict within Ukraine’s eastern borders, or with having Poroshenko (or his replacement) if they agree to this fallacy of a ceasefire in the coming days.