Monday, November 30, 2015

Minsk Accords are Paper Equivalents of Putin’s ‘Little Green Men,’ Illarionov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 30 – The Minsk Accords are the diplomatic equivalent of Vladimir Putin’s “little green men,” Andrey Illarionov says. Like the latter, these pieces of paper have as their goal the destruction of Ukraine; and they are even more effective because they enjoy the support not only of the leaders of Western countries but of the Ukrainian government itself.

            In the course of a long interview published by, the Russian opposition commentator argues that Putin’s diplomacy around the Minsk Accords is the continuation of his war against Ukraine by other means (

            Russia lacks the resources to launch a full-scale attack on Ukraine, Illarionov says, but that does not mean that it will not continue its aggression against Ukraine. It isn’t just that the Kremlin now has to fight on two fronts. “There are simply no forces. At present. The current Russian army cannot conquer Ukraine.”

            But Putin’s goal remains unchanged – blocking Ukraine’s move away from Moscow towards Europe, and “besides open war, there are many methods of achieving it: in particular, besides little green men, there are little green papers,” in this case the Minsk Accords which help Putin toward his goal.

            Putin’s goal, everyone must remember, Illarionov says, “is not the raising of Russian flags in Kyiv and the declaration of [Ukraine] as the territory of the Russian Federation but only the establishment of control over the Ukrainian state and its political elite by means of its own people in Kyiv offices.”

            “The Minsk Accords are one of the most effective instruments for the achievement of Putin’s goal,” Illarionov continues, since under them are the signatures of senior Ukrainian officials, and also on the side of Putin are such people as Merkel, Hollande, and Obama who also demand the observance and fulfillment of the Minsk agreements.”

            The existence of these accords has obscured for some the fact that “Putin’s operation to establish control over Ukraine has not been completed and that he has in his hands all the cards.  More than that, people from the Ukrainian side are actively helping him by agreeing to fulfill the Minsk Accords.”

            Indeed, it appears some in Ukraine appear to have forgotten that Russia has invaded them and thus have forgotten what is required when one is dealing with enemies as well as allies.  During a war, “one must not give amnesty to terrorists, but under ‘the Minsk peace’ please do;” during a war, “one must not change a constitution on the demand of the aggressor, but under ‘the Minsk peace,’ do so as much as you like.”

            Asked if he was calling on Ukraine to “openly fight with the Russian Federation,” Illarionov replies by asking “would you prefer to gradually lose part of your territory by the path of ‘the Minsk peace?’” And can Ukrainians long tolerate a situation in which some of their leaders have not gotten rid of their investments in the land of the invaders?

            The Turkish government wasn’t afraid to shoot down a Russian warplane that violated Turkey’s airspace, he observes. But again was challenged by his interviewer who suggested that “NATO stands behind Erdogan, but there is no one behind Ukraine,” Illarionov says that Ukraine could in any case only count on itself but that that didn’t change the calculus.

            Those in Kyiv who think there exists “an anti-Putin coalition” in Europe are deluding themselves. “Who is in it?” Illarionov asks rhetorically. “Holland who just returned from Moscow? Or Merkel who criticized [Kyiv] for turning off the electricity to [Russian occupied] Crimea?”

Russian Soldiers Must Not Shed Their Blood for Putin, Asad, and Oil, Basanets Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 30 – Pavel Basanets, a retired intelligence officer who attracted attention in 2007 when he accused Vladimir Putin of violating his oath, is callling on Russian officers to disobey criminal order from the Kremlin leader to attack in Syria so that with their blood, Putin can support his fellow dictator and control the flow of oil.

            In an appeal posted on today, Basanets says that at no point during his 17 year career as an intelligence officer was he ever given a criminal order, one that if he had carried it out would have violated his “officer’s honor, oath and conscience” (

            And that makes it especially unpleasant for him to admit that “a certain part of the contemporary officer corps … is prepared to fulfill any order of the supreme command,” regardless of their oaths, first in Ukraine and now in Syria, and who thus become cannon fodder for whoever is in power. 

            Don’t these officers recognize that they have been given “criminal orders” and that “the entire world considers Russia an outcast,” with not a single “significant country” recognizing the annexation of Crimea as legitimate? And don’t they see that “the newly declared fuehrer, insteqad of seeking friends and allies, continues to search for ‘enemies’ in the entire world?”

            “Russian officers! Perhaps you support the call of that madman clown ‘to launch a nuclear strike’ on Istanbul? Perhaps your mental capacities do not permit you to understand that the existing regime in Russia is leading the country and the planet to a nuclear catastrophe? And you are prepared to die for Zhirinovsky … or so Putin can stay in the Kremlin longer?”

            The LDPR leader, of course, is being well paid for his madness, “but how much will be paid to the family of an officer who fulfills a Criminal Order? Were you prepared for big money to kill Ukrainians and citizens of independent Ukraine? Are you prepared to give your life for the international criminal Bashar Asad?”
            “In Suria, your blood will be exchanged for oil which will then be told and money which doesn’t smell will be received” but not by you but by Putin and his allies. Russian officers, he continues, “reflect deeply on WHY during the time of Putin’s rule Russia has become impoverished and the entire world has become our potential enemy and opponent?”
            “Are you prepared to shed your blood for the fuehrer, his ambitions and his desire to remain in the Kremlin and in the final analysis for oil?”  If you are, Basanets says, calculate how little your funerals will cost compared to the money that will flow to him and his comrades as a result of your deaths.
            Many commentators in recent days have been discussing how a world war might begin, but Basanets’ article, including in particular its impassioned rhetoric, is an indication of how regimes or at least criminal regime policies in fact do: when those who are called upon to support or implement them begin to ask questions about what their sacrifices are in fact for.

FSB Tightens Control over Scholarly Community and Its Resources, Rostovtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 30 – Espionage charges against Russian scholars are the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem, Andrey Rostovtsev says, that involves an effort by the FSB to take control over financial flows in academic and other research institutions, the insertion of unqualified people to head these bodies, and the use of the FSB by such people to get their way.

            In an interview published in today’s “Novyye izvestiya,” the co-founder of Dissernet, the Russian group that exposes fraudulent dissertations, says that relatively little is known about the spy charges because the government puts a “top secret” lid on them (

            But Rostovtsev says that he is certain that at least some of these cases have been fabricated as part of an effort by the FSB to gain control over these research and university centers or to assist directors of such institutions who are working with the security service and who may in some cases have sprung from its ranks to reinforce their power.

“The scientific sphere,” he continues, “is a reflection of what is taking place in society as a whole. The goal of the state system is survival and the strengthening of the power vertical, and exactly the same thing is taking place in the administrative part of the scientific community: it seeks to hold on and strengthen itself by broadening its authority … by any means.”

Sometimes collective protest works, but individual complaints almost never do because of the imbalance in power between the heads of institutes and individual scholars, Rostovtsev continues. Scholars abroad are “already tired of this and react quite sluggishly. More than that, Russia already for a long time hasn’t been among the leaders of international scholarly interest.”

Research institutions may have seen their budgets reduced this year, but they still constitute “an enormous resource,” one that the government and the heads of these institutions want to maintain and control. And the government is prepared to appoint people it can rely on even if they are “far from science.”
To do that, the officials sometimes have to push some scholars aside. In a relatively small number of cases, they have brought charges against them; but in “tens of thousands” of cases, they have used bureaucratic gamesmanship or other forms of pressure to push out those who won’t go along with what the regimes, academic and political, want.