Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin’s Goals Make Diplomatic Solution in Ukraine Impossible, Illarionov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 24 – Vladimir Putin has no intention of ending his aggression in Ukraine, a series of actions intended to subordinate that country to the Kremlin or end its existence as an independent state, according to Andrey Illarionov. As a result, no diplomatic solution is possible, and other countries are likely to be drawn into a military conflict with Russia.

             In a comment to Gordonua.com today, the Russian commentator says that the situation is deteriorating rapidly because Moscow has discovered that the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk are not strong enough to succeed even with the level of aid the Russian government has been providing (gordonua.com/publications/Illarionov-Neskolko-dney-nazad-Putin-nachal-operaciyu-Tleyushchiy-torfyanik-novyy-etap-destabilizacii-Ukrainy-28526.html).

            According to Illarionov, the Kremlin has taken the decision “not to surrender” the Donetsk and Luhansk separatists “under any circumstances” but instead to expand its involvement in order to “realize its strategy of the further destabilization of Ukraine” under the cover of suggestions that it wants a negotiated settlement.

            To that end, he continues, Moscow will introduce more militants and arms into the two breakaway oblasts and expand subversion elsewhere in Ukraine in the hopes of dividing Kyiv’s attention and further undermining both Ukrainian statehood and Western confidence that Ukraine can function as a state independent of Russia.

            In the first instance, Illarionov says, these subversive activities will extend through “all eight oblasts” of what Moscow calls “Novorossiya,” including Kharkiv and Odessa and involving more actions like the blowing up of the gas pipeline in Poltava and the massing of Russian troops near the border and the flow of militants and weapons across it.

            “The key question,” the Russian commentator says, is whether the Ukrainian armed forces will be able to cope.” At present, they are Kyiv’s only real hope because “alas, there are now no possibilities for a diplomatic end of Russian aggression against Ukraine,” given Moscow’s continuing aggression.

            That increases the risk either that Ukraine will be lost to the West unless outside forces become involved given that it  remains uncertain whether Kyiv’s military will be able to stand up to this expanded Russian invasion.  In Illarionov’s view, “only the Anglo-Saxon world could oppose Putin,” but it is far from certain whether it will.

            That world, which includes the United States, Great Britain and “the so-called ‘frontline states’” of Poland and the Baltic countries, is one with which Moscow has no intention of conducting serious talks about Ukraine. Instead, Illarionov says, Moscow believes its “ally can and must be continental Europe with Germany at the head.”

            Kyiv cannot end Russian aggression by ceding the Donbas just as Putin’s war against Ukraine did not end with his Anschluss of Crimea.  According to Illarionov, the Donbas by itself is of no use to Putin except as “a place des armes” for further aggression against other parts of Ukraine.

            That is a reality that both Ukrainians and the West must come to terms with as they wrestle with whether Ukraine will survive as an independent state linked to Europe or disappear, re-submerged in the darkness of Putin’s conception of a brave new “’Russian world.’”

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