Thursday, January 30, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin to Use Sochi Olympics to Cover a Russian Intervention in Ukraine, Shmulyevich Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 30 – Just as Vladimir Putin used the 2008 Beijing Olympics to cover the Russian invasion of Georgia, the Kremlin leader has decided to exploit the attention focused on the upcoming Sochi Olympiad as a distraction from his plans to suppress the Maidan in Ukraine by force, according to an Israeli analyst.

            Avrom Shmulyevich, a longtime specialist on the Caucasus, says Putin has already made a decision to “repeat [his] successful Olympic experience in 2008,” has already begun to “the phase of active intervention in Ukrainian affairs,” and this time plans to use “’citizen volunteers,’” supposedly outraged by “’fascists’” in Ukraine to suppress the Maidan by force.

            Putin’s logic is simple, the Israeli analyst says, and for some, it may be as compelling as the claims he made about Georgia six years ago proved to be. “If the Poles or other citizens are coming to support the Maidan, then why cannot opponents of [the Ukrainian opposition] come to support the government?” (

            The Kremlin has been doing things like this at least since the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, “where the regular [Soviet] army acted under the guide of volunteers.” This time, in Ukraine, Shmulyevich says, Moscow will use “as internationalists” the state-organized (“registered”) Cossacks and “possibly” Russian criminal elements as well

            Shmulyevich argues that “this process has already begun,” pointing to the January 28 declaration of Viktor Vodolatsky, a Duma deputy who is also Supreme Ataman of Cossack Forces of Russ and Abroad, who said he was ready to dispatch 15,000 Cossacks to restore order in Ukraine if Ukrainian Cossacks requested that.

            According to some reports (See, some Russian Cossacks are already in Ukraine and have been involved in crowd control in Lugansk, Donetsk and Zaporozhe ( .

Russian Cossacks are also expected in Sevastopol, Shmulyevich says, where there is already a group of the Russian “Night Wolves” biker club, a group that has often spoke out in favor of Putin and his policies.  Its leaders say they are ready to get to work against the Maidan forces (

The Russian media have been intensifying their suggestions that the Maidan threatens to open the way to fascism and in recent days have featured appeals from a previously unknown group “The Staff of the Jewish Militant Organization” in Ukraine about such threats (

That this group and the use of it are provocations has now been demonstrated by  journalists who have shown that this group in fact consists of Cossacks who have given themselves Jewish names to make such arguments (

Other events in Ukraine, including the deaths of protesters, may also be Russian provocations designed to push Maidan supporters into the kind of actions that will cost them support at home and abroad and help generate support for Russian intervention there, Shmulyeich continues (

Using the Olympics as cover for this kind of Russian intervention could work very well for Moscow, the Israeli analyst suggests. On the one hand, many people around the world will be focused on Sochi.  And on the other, the likelihood that Moscow will insist that any action there is the work of “volunteers” will delay if not prevent altogether a rapid response.

No comments:

Post a Comment