Staunton, Dec. 6 – Many suffer under the misapprehension that Moscow wants to absorb all of Ukraine, the ZeRada telegram channel says. But that it incorrect: Russia needs only to absorb what are now Ukrainian territories along the Black Sea littoral, including Odessa, so that a landlocked and much weakened Ukraine won’t be able to join NATO.
The ZeRada telegram channel mentions two reasons why this is likely to be Moscow’s goal. On the one hand, it will require far less military effort to take control of this reduced portion of Ukraine while giving Moscow a veto over Ukraine’s foreign policy and ensuring Ukraine will never again be a threat to Russia (t.me/ZeRada1/17059 reposted at k-politika.ru/territorialnaya-lovushka-rossii-ne-nuzhna-malaya-ukraina-dostatochno-odessy/).
And on the other, and this is equally important, Moscow won’t have to assume the burden of rebuilding all of Ukraine but only a portion of it. And the expenses involved are already great in Crimea and the Donbass and would be overwhelming if Russia were to absorb all of Ukraine and thus assume the responsibility for rebuilding all of it.
Moscow “is already investing huge amounts of money in the new regions,” and it will have to invest more the more territory it annexes. Thus, it makes sense not to absorb any more than it has to, and “a small Ukraine within the boundaries of Zhytomyr-Poltava-Kyiv-Kirovograd will not pose a military threat and won’t drain [Russian] resources.”
Consequently, the telegram channel says, “Moscow’s zone of interest will end at Odessa or at most Kharkiv. We simply don’t need the rest.” Of course, the West will oppose even this but this future division of Ukraine, “with the preservation of ‘a small Ukraine’ will ensure a balance of interests between the US and the Russian Federation.”
Therefore, “we consider this option probable at the end of the day.”
Three aspects of this article are intriguing and important. First, once combatants begin talking about reducing military goals because of war and post-war costs, that is a clear signal that support for the policy of aggression is ebbing.
Second, this expression of Moscow’s willingness to “accept” any Ukrainian state in the future will likely be picked up by some in the West who want to push for negotiations with Moscow now.
And third, what ZeRada does not say but what is undoubtedly behind his argument is something even more important: Russia is going to face partisan resistance in all parts of Ukraine it does occupy and the more of Ukraine it absorbs, the greater the resistance and the greater Russian losses.
It took the Soviet government, with all of Stalin’s brutality, a decade to suppress the Ukrainian partisans after World War II, and it is a near certainty that some in Moscow are worried about a repetition of that to the extent that they are prepared to discuss the future in the way ZeRada does in this latest posting.