Staunton, September 25 – At a time when Vladimir Putin has made what was earlier unthinkable into reality, it would be a major mistake to ignore a recent statement by Vladimir Zhirinovsky about how Ukraine will be reduced in size or even eliminated altogether in the coming years, according to Andrey Illarionov.
In an article today on “Svobodnaya zona,” the Russian commentator says that those who have dismissed the often outrageous remarks of Zhirinovsky in the past have regretted it because stripped of his often hyperbolic adjectives and adverbs, they have often served as earlier warnings about the direction Putin subsequently takes (http://bit.ly/1psFRvR).
In an interview to the German newspaper “Bild” this week, Illarionov points out, Zhirinovsky said that Ukraine “in its current form does not have a future. If the process of the disintegration of the country continues at its former tempos, then already by 2019, Ukraine as an independent state will not exist (bild.de/politik/ausland/wladimir-schirinowski/im-interview-die-ukraine-hat-keine-zukunft-mehr-37685694.bild.html).
Because of what the Russian parliamentarian describes as the anti-Russian policy of the Ukrainian government, Kyiv has infuriated Russian speakers in Ukraine and thus created “with its own hands” the crisis it now faces. Russia has claims against its territory as a result, as do for historical reasons Poland, Romania and Hungary.
“Five years from now,” Zhirinovsky says, “in place of Ukraine will be six or seven regions with a population of ten to twelve million people. And that,” he continues, “is the most optimistic scenario” for the part of the world.
Illarionov argues that everyone should pay attention to Zhirinovsky’s words, “not of course because they reflect the real situation of the majority of ethnic Russians and/or Russian speakers of Ukraine toward the Ukrainian state … but because Zhirinovsky … is fulfilling the most important public function of revealing the character of thought and the direction of preparation for action of the Supreme Ruler,” Vladimir Putin.
And the need to take Zhirinovsky seriously in this case is all the more true because the ideas he shared with “Bild” are ones that he has promoted before. In March of this year, for example, he send messages to Warsaw, Budapest and Bucharest proposing the “de facto partition of Ukraine” (tvp.info/14506221/duma-do-polskiego-msz-podzielmy-ukraine).
According to Zhirinovsky at that time, if the others took their share of Ukraine and Russia annexed Crimea, Sevastopol, and the eight oblasts of the so-called “Novorossiya,” what would remain of Ukraine would be nine oblasts plus Kyiv on the territory of which now live approximately 14.7 million people.
Another reason for thinking that Zhirinovsky is speaking for more than himself is that two weeks ago, an identical idea about the partition of Ukraine was floated by the Czech radio station Impuls, a reflection of the thinking of pro-Putin Prague leader Vaclav Klaus (zpravy.idnes.cz/klaus-o-situaci-na-ukrajine-ddy-/domaci.aspx?c=A140909_150517_domaci_cen).
Somewhat before that, in May 2014, Illarionov points out, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Urban made some similar comments about ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine (mk.ru/politics/2014/05/13/premerministr-vengrii-orban-prizval-dat-avtonomiyu-ukrainskim-vengram.html).
What all these figures have in common is that they are operating under a “common” political and ideological conception long pushed by Putin. Speaking at the Russia-NATO Council meeting in Bucharest on April 2, 2008, the Russian president said the following:
“In Ukraine one third of the population are ethnic Russians. Of 45 million people even according to the official census, there are 17 million Russians. There are regions where only Russians live, such as Crimea: 90 percent are Russians. Ukraine in general is a very complex country. Ukraine in that form in which it exists today was one which was created in Soviet times. It received territory from Poland after World War II, from Czechoslovakia and Romania and even now not all the border problems on the Black Sea with Romania have been solved.”
“This means,” Putin continued, “that [Ukraine] received enormous territories from Russia on the east and south. This is a very complex state formation. And if one introduces there the NATO problem and other problems, this in general can put on the brink of existence its statehood as such. Consequently, it is necessary to act very, very carefully. We do not have any right of veto … but I want that all of us when we decide on issues of this kind understand that we also have our own interests. Well, 17 million Russians live in Ukraine. Who can tell us that we do not have any interests there? The south, the south of Ukraine is completely [Russian]; there live only Russians” (inosmi.ru/world/20080418/240876.html).
“Thus,” Illarionov says, “Putin’s strategic goal, the liquidation of contemporary Ukraine has remained unchanged at a minimum since the spring of 2008, which by the way does not leave a stone on a stone of the infantile commentaries of certain Western observers (like former US ambassador to Russia M. McFaul) about the annexation of Crimea as “a sudden, emotional and instinctive reaction of Putin to the Maidan revolution and the flight of Yanukovich.”
“The fresh statements of V.Zhirinovsky, V. Klaus, and V. Urban are valuable,” Illarionov continues, “because they shed light not only on the strategic goals of V. Putin” but also on his “active measures” with other members of what is becoming “the Putin international.”