Friday, June 13, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Illarionov’s Ten Theses on Putin’s Aggression in Ukraine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 13 – Andrey Illarionov delivered an address to a May 31st Vilnius meeting of the Committee on Economics and Security of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly in which he discussed ten theses on the nature and  meaning of Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and what the West must do to counter it.

            The Russian analyst posted the text of his remarks on Ekho Moskvy yesterday (  Below, in summary fashion, are his ten theses.

·         First, he said, what is taking place is not a Ukrainian issue but “a war of Russia with Ukraine. Or more precisely, Putn’s war against Ukraine.”

·         Second, this conflict is not a new cold war. It is something else.  During the Cold War, no European country annexed part of another or introduced personal sanctions on officials and allies of the other side. Instead, Illarionov says, what is now occurring is a real war.

·         Third, it is wrong to say as many Western analysts do that this conflict disturbed what had been good relations between Russia and the West up until only a few months ago. That is nonsense.  Putin began his foreign aggression in August 2008 when he invaded Georgia. The Kremlin leader did not face a new Saakashvili when he decided to invade Ukraine. And consequently, it must be recognized that “independent of any specific personality, such a country can become the object of Russian aggression.”

·         Fourth, the way in which Putin been acting in Ukraine has its antecedents in the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries inn 1940 and even “strictly speaking” in the Bolshevik coup d’etat in 1917.

·         Fifth, Ukraine since gaining independence in 1991 has undergone “a process of graduate but extremely rapid political Westernization,” which has sometimes taken the form of Ukrainianization but has contributed to “the spread of Western institutions to an ever larger part of Ukraine,” something Vladimir Putin cannot tolerate.

·         Sixth, Putin’s aggression did not  been “accidentally” or suddenly and should not have been unexpected. He had been preparing to seize Crimea and subvert Ukraine for some years.

·         Seventh, Putin’s plan involves operations at three levels – against Ukraine, for the establishment of “the so-called ‘Russian world,’” and against the West – to force Ukraine to subordinate itself to Moscow, to restore a Russian empire and to divide Europe from the US and Britain over issues of relation with Moscow.

·         Eighth, this war is “an unconventional war,” and  those who want to win it must recognize that reality.

·         Ninth, the West must develop a strategy to oppose what Putin is doing. It must recognize that this is a war, that Putin is the aggressor, that the West must admit its past mistakes, and that it reach agreement on how to act not just now but over the long haul.

·         And tenth, the West must not only update its strategy but redefine the nature of aggression given the growing importance of “information, disinformation, and propaganda” in the conflict.

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