Friday, October 18, 2019

Putin Won’t Accept Zelensky’s Capitulation Even If Ukrainian President Offers It, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 15 – Both those who want Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to live up to all the provisions of the Steinmeier plan he has agreed to and those who are against that because they see it as capitulation, Vitaly Portnikov says, forget one important thing: Vladimir Putin wouldn’t accept that such an offer because it isn’t part of his plan for Ukraine.

            The paradox of the situation is that Zelensky wants negotiations with Putin so much that he has agreed to accept the Kremlin’s current conditions while Putin to the contrary has shown no interest in talks and keeps upping his demands (

            “Even if Zelensky wanted to capitulate, Moscow would do everything so that that could not happen,” Portnikov suggests.  The reason for that is obvious: If Moscow did accept such a capitulation, Ukraine would nonetheless remain a country “which would hardly be likely to return to the Russian sphere of influence.”

            More than that, by eliminating the territorial problems Ukraine now has with Russia, Kyiv would find it easier to move toward integration with the European Union and NATO, exactly the outcomes the Kremlin is committed to preventing, the Ukrainian analyst says. In short, “Moscow doesn’t need capitulation: Moscow needs destabilization.”

            The Kremlin in fact wants to have the destabilization in Ukraine that would allow it to move even further into Ukrainian territory and keep the Ukrainian government from being able to function without having to defer to Moscow on all key questions.  That is why Putin is putting before Zelensky ever more demands, certain that this will provoke Ukrainians to protest. 

            That works to Putin’s advantage by creating an image of Ukraine as a country incapable of keeping its promises or ensuring that its citizenry will go along with what its government decides. This “quite simple special operation of the Kremlin” thus works to Putin’s advantage because he has no intention of agreeing to a final settlement on Ukraine short of its destruction.

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