Staunton, December 8 – Vladimir Putin’s declaration to visiting French President Francois Hollande that he supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine is just as hypocritical and fraudulent as his past remarks about the country he has subverted and invaded. In fact, he supports this idea in exactly the same way that a rope “supports” a hanging man.
Moscow commentator Igor Eidman points out that some see Putin’s latest words as “a certain step” toward an agreement and “a sign of the softening” of the Kremlin’s position, but in fact, those who are drawing such conclusions do not understand Putin’s policies in the Donbas or in Ukraine as a whole (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5484448731F9E).
Putin, the commentator argues, has never been interested in the Donbas in and of itself but rather as “a bomb inserted under Ukraine.” He wants to control that region even while he is prepared to “formally” consider it part of Ukrainian territory. Such a tactic is useful to Putin for three reasons.
First, Eidman says, it forces Kyiv to bear the social welfare costs of this region and gives Moscow a propaganda theme if the central Ukrainian government doesn’t do so. That means Putin gets control without having to pay for it.
Second, by making this declaration, Putin “deprives Ukraine of the formal basis to tightly control the border with these [breakaway] territories” and limits I”shift people and goods from there. That opens the way for Moscow to send even more forces into the Donbas and thus continue with his plans to destabilize Ukraine as a whole.
And third – and some in the West are more than ready to fall for this – Putin’s declaration allows him to adopt the pose of “a peacemaker” and “a civilized politician” and thus put additional pressure on Western governments to reduce or even eliminate sanctions.
Ukraine cannot possibly take this declaration seriously except as a the latest example of Putin’s lies, and neither should anyone else.