Friday, February 28, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin Seeks to Provoke ‘Full-Scale Civil War’ in Ukraine, Illarionov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 28 – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal, as shown by the various provocations he has arranged in recent days, is not to seize Crimea right now but rather to provoke a civil war in Ukraine that will allow him to gain control over Ukraine by posing as a peacemaker, according to Andrey Illarionov

            Putin “does not want to fight now,” the Moscow economist and commentator says. Rather, he wants for now that others including Ukrainians, Russians and Crimean Tatars do so. That this is Putin’s plan is shown by all the actions he and his agents have engaged in over the last few days (

            Among the elements of this plan, Illarionov are the Russian foreign ministry’s comments, Russian military maneuvers, the seizure of government buildings and airports in Crimea, labelling the secessionist Crimean prime minister “an authoritative actor,” the uncontrolled actions of Russian soldiers and sailors in Crimea, the desecration of the Ukrainian flag, attacks on Ukraine and Ukrainians in the Russian official media, “cynical praise for the Berkut sadists,” the protection of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, formation of groups ready to go to Ukraine “and hundreds of other facts” as well.

            “Many of these provocations intentionally and demonstratively desecrate the Ukraine state, Ukrainian national symbols and Ukrainian national consciousness,” Illarionov continues, all a reflection of Putin’s hopes that there will be a reaction by the Ukrainian authorities, that this will lead to bloodshed, and that then Moscow can intervene.

Putin’s goal is to provoke and to trigger conflicts of “all against all” in Ukraine, “political conflicts, civil conflicts, and inter-confessional conflicts,” among groups in all parts of Ukraine, the Moscow commentator says. For Putin to achieve his goals, he needs corpses, “the more, the ‘better.’”

Their appearance in turn, Illarionov argues, will lead not simply to civil conflicts but “to a full-scale civil war in Ukraine.” That will allow Putin to argue that Ukraine has been engulfed by “total chaos, collapse and catastrophe,” to claim again as he did in April 2008 that “Ukraine has not succeeded as an independent state,” and to get support for the restoration of stability and order by Russia and its forces.   

What this means for the new Ukrainian authorities is obvious, the Moscow analyst concludes: They must hold out against this Putin attack, “display patience and restraint,” and not allow themselves to be “provoked into a mass suicide” lest they present themselves and their countries as “a desired victim to the neighboring dictator.”

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