Igor Losyev: PhD, Cultural Studies department head at Kyiv-Mohyla National Academy
Since February of the current year, analysts have been attempting to understand the logic and intent the Moscow dictator has in Ukraine. Meanwhile the Ukrainian public is trying to comprehend the logic of the military and political leadership of Ukraine, which has so far been demonstrating a specific mania “to prevent provocations,” which is reminiscent of a similar mania of the Soviet leaders on the eve and on June 22, 1941. Many of the actions of the President and Head Commander, Minister of Defense, head of the General Headquarters, the head of the MIA are explained by the necessity “not to provoke” Moscow, not to give in an excuse for full-fledged aggression against Ukraine. This frequently takes on the features of a fixed idea.
The government of Turchynov, Yatseniuk, Avakov, Parubiy handed over Crimea not to provoke Russia to a big war against Ukraine. However, there are suspicions that it is by allowing an easy takeover of the peninsula that the Ukrainian leaders provoked Putin to further aggression in the southeast. As everything in Crimea happened fantastically easily, “without a single shot” (Putin is especially proud of this feature of his victory in Crimea, however in reality there had been shots, and a Ukrainian soldier was killed in Simferopol, whom, it seems, the Ukrainian government has already forgotten about).
The people who were involved in the loss of national territory, understanding that the issue of accountability will be raised, tell tales about 6 thousand able soldiers within the Ukrainian army of 148 thousand. And former head of the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Headquarters Zamana states the contrary: there had been enough forces to defend Crimea. There had not been enough confidence and political will. There were not enough later either, and it was the Ukrainian nation that forced the government to fight for Donbas, as it was going “not to provoke” Putin in the east and southeast.
However even here the government is burdened by the panic fear of “provoking.” It seems that the Russian analysts have noticed that a long time ago and are constantly accounting for in their plans of action regarding Ukraine.
So what is really happening?
While politicians, analysts and the press are scaring the population with the idea of possible large-scale Russian war against Ukraine, this war is already going on. Of course, it doesn’t look like World War II, however the times are different…
Russian tanks and motorized troops are constantly invading Ukrainian territory through the border between Russia and Ukraine in Luhansk and Donetsk oblast (they are no longer separatists and terrorists but regular troops of the Russian Armed Forces, even under the state flags of the Russian Federation). According to various calculations, between 35 and 75 Russian BTR’s invaded Ukraine (this was all seen and documented by Western journalists).
The Ukrainian troops that are trying to close the border with Russia are being systematically destroyed by Russian missile-launch systems and heavy artillery from Russian territory. Big losses among the personnel and military equipment undermine the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ power. And the Ukrainians do not fight fire with fire, as it might “provoke” them. In Crimea Putin did not need any provocations on part of Ukraine to occupy the peninsula. So they can continue “not provoking” all the way up to Kyiv…
Russian tactic accounts for this Ukrainian fear of “provocations,” therefore Donetsk and Luhansk oblast are gradually being filled up with Russian mechanized groups (tanks, BTR, “Grad” systems, artillery etc.) without any real resistance on part of the Ukrainian armed forces. The large-scale invasion Kyiv is so afraid of is already going on, but it is following the Crimean scenario.
If the saturation of the Russian troops in the southeast is successful, this scheme will be used in other oblasts of Ukraine (if it works in Donbas, as it was used in Donbas because it worked in Crimea). There will be an organized infiltration of 5-6 tanks brigades, motorized snipers and special troops at a time (without any counteraction on part of the Ukrainian troops, as they cannot “provoke”) in Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Zaporizhya, Dnipropetrovsk, possibly Kherson, oblasts. There are grounds to think that this will not be done suddenly but gradually. As such, it will not be a momentary bout of aggression on part of the Kremlin, but a crawling one, when the interventionists troops will creep all over Ukraine. And the Ukrainian troops will not know whether they should fight or “not provoke.”
Putin has time to lead such a Crimean war against Ukraine (at least 2 years before the electoral Presidential campaign in the US, when the topic of Ukraine may become one of the leadings topics of the electoral discussions).
The trap of “not provoking”
Crimea may repeat itself in Donbas today, however, at a larger scale in time and space. The difference is that Moscow drew conclusions from the Crimean events, analyzed the experience and enriched it in the Ukrainian southeast. And the Ukrainian side is making the same mistake.
The Ukrainian leaders cannot seem to understand that Putin needs no formal reasons, no provocations, he will be satisfied with even the clumsiest explanations the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov gives as to Russia’s illegitimate actions. As to Russian propaganda, it is acting independently of the presence or absence of facts and is always ready to throw in the necessary quantity of “crucified babies.”
So maybe Bankova will retreat to Chop station in Zakatpattya oblast, in order ‘not to provoke’ the Kremlin?
It is sad that the government in Kyiv did not inform the global community and Ukraine’s friends in the West that full-scale (though crawling) aggression of Russian Armed Forces on Ukrainian territory had already begun. And there is little time. The intervention might speed up.
Instead, it is known that the head of the President’s Administration Boris Lozhkin visited Sochi (the city that is Russia’s “summer capital,” as Putin goes on holiday nearby), where the format of the meeting between EU, Russian and Ukrainian representatives was agreed on (for some reason, without the US). The first meeting was held in Berlin. Another meeting has already been appointed, involving Putin and Poroshenko (in the presence of high officials from the EU and Lukashenko and Nazarbayev), at which the Russian leader will state that he is ready to leave Donbas if official Kyiv lets go of Crimea and if this issue is taken off the global agenda. And all this while the US is discussing the law that prohibits considering Crimea Russian territory…
If Petro Poroshenko agrees to Putin’s indecent proposal, it will be grand national treason and the beginning of the end of the President of Ukraine who was elected in May 2014…
Source: Radio Liberty
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina