Staunton, August 14 – Time is working against Moscow in Ukraine, and consequently, Vladimir Putin will launch more and broader attacks there now and in the coming weeks in an effort to salvage a victory at a time when the West is adopting a tougher line and when he faces new problems at home, according to a Polish commentator.
In Warsaw’s “Rzeczpospolita,” Jędrzej Bielecki argues that Putin had been counting on the collapse of the Ukrainian economy and the relatively weak support the West had provided Kyiv to turn Ukrainians against Petro Poroshenko and replace him with a pro-Russian leader (rp.pl/Konflikt-na-Ukrainie/308119828-Putin-zniecierpliwiony-sytuacja-na-Ukrainie.html).
But dissatisfaction among Ukrainians has not grown as fast as Putin hoped, the West has done more than he expected, and as a result, Russia and Russians have begun to suffer as well, with the sharp fall of oil prices and Western sanctions leading to the sharpest contraction of the Russian economy since before Putin became president.
Indeed, Bielecki argues, Russians are starting to draw parallels between the situation Putin’s policies in Ukraine have led them to with the situation of the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin when inflation was high, the ruble exchange rate fell, and Western products were available only to the rich.
Such reflections constitute a serious potential threat to the Putin regime, the Polish commentator says, and in order that they do not grow into that, “the president of Rsusian cannot wait until ‘the apple of the Ukrainian crisis’ matures and falls into his hands. Time is working against him.”
Consequently, he will expand the attacks against Ukraine that he renewed this week in the hopes of gaining some victory on the ground that will undermine Ukrainian self-confidence, weaken Western resolve, and eliminate any threat to himself at home by restoring his image as a powerful and always victorious leader.
And although Bielecki doesn’t mention it, it seems probable that these attacks will be accompanied by Russian provocations designed to shift the blame onto Kyiv for what is happening, quite possibly with the detonation of a dirty bomb that Moscow will claim the Ukrainians produced.
The likelihood of a Russian provocation of some kind increasingly has been mentioned by Ukrainian security officials who have even suggested that it may be timed to occur on Ukrainian independence day, August 24 (inforesist.org/turchinov-rossiya-mozhet-ustroit-provokacii-v-den-nezavisimosti/