Boris Nemtsov.Putin’s Soviet Russia. © shoutout2day.com
At first glance, and from the point of view of a sane person, the war between Russia and Ukraine is some sort of a nightmare, a madness that only brings grief, conflicts and problems to all.
Half a year ago this scenario seemed unreal. It seems that it would take an enemy of both Russia and Ukraine to make enemies out of two peoples with centuries of common history.
However, current events indicate that the most nightmarish, the most bloody scenario of fratricidal war is already developing. This is not our war, this is not your war, this is not the war of 20-year old paratroopers sent out there. This is Vladimir Putin’s war.
Why does he need it? Well, he has openly answered this question himself. “We need to start negotiations about politically organizing a society and statehood in southeastern Ukraine.”
He made this statement only now, but the sending of saboteurs-separatists, weapons, and a persistent desire of Putin to force Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to sit at the negotiation table with pro-Putin militants, many of whom are Russian citizens – all of this betrayed his intentions long before the public confession.
The words of Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, which followed those of Putin, that Putin was misunderstood about the statehood of the east of Ukraine, should not be taken seriously. He talks nonsense all the time. Things like “Putin is married to Russia.” So, once again, Putin himself said: “We need to start negotiations about a political organization of the society and statehood in south-east of Ukraine.” End of quote.
Until lately the goal of Ukraine’s dissection has not been set publicly, but instead replaced with the idea of so-called federalization. Kremlin’s hypocrisy lies in its attempt to impose on Ukraine and its people something that actual Russian citizens are deprived of because Russia itself has not had any sort of federal state for a long time, since 2004.
Feeble attempts to advocate for the interests of the regions – primarily for the financial ones – are suppressed in a cruel way.
So, Putin is trying to dissect Ukraine and create in the east of the country a puppet state, Novorossiya, that is full economically and politically controlled by the Kremlin.
It’s crucial for his clan to control metallurgy in the east of Ukraine, as well as its military-industrial complex. Moreover, southeastern Ukraine is rich in shale gas which would create real competition for the business of Putin’s Gazprom.
A disastrous tourism season in Crimea, with a sharp decline in the number of tourists, unheard of price hikes for goods and services, a shortage of drinking water, is pushing Putin’s regime towards the annexation of southeastern Ukraine to create a ground corridor to the peninsula.
To achieve these goals, Putin brought in his troops, including paratroopers and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s men. This is why he supplies weapons and heavy artillery to the east, and this is why he doomed Russia to isolation and sanctions.
These are the paranoid goals for which Russians and Ukrainians are dying while Russia itself is sinking into lies, violence, obscurantism and imperial hysteria.
It’s easy to brush it off by saying that he is insane. Many people occasionally think so, including this author. But there is also another explanation.
Through his bloody actions though he his fomenting a fratricidal war; one can see his main goal – preservation of personal power and money at any cost. Before the war his popularity rating was crawling down slowly but surely.
Despite censorship, little by little the society started to understand that those in power are greedy and amoral people whose main goal is personal enrichment.
The Party of Thieves (Editor’s note: This is a common derogatory reference to Yedinaya Rossia, the ruling party of Russia) was losing its position and needed a large-scale shakeup, which would reverse the trend and restore popularity and trust.
Ukraine became an example of an anti-criminal revolution, which overthrew a thieving president. Oh so you dared to get out onto the street and throw off a president? Ukraine needs to be punished for it to make sure that no Russian would gets these thoughts.
Moreover, Ukraine chose the European way, which implies the rule of law, democracy and change of power. Ukraine’s success on this way is a direct threat to Putin’s power because he chose the opposite course – a lifetime in power, filled with arbitrariness and corruption.
Now, to make sure he does not end up behind bars for violating the constitution of the Russian Federation because sending troops to a foreign state without the approval of the Federation Council of Russia, as well as the violation of Russia’s international obligations on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, Putin does not leave himself any maneuvers except to stay in power until his death.
So his behavior looks like madness, but in fact it’s a cold strategy for life-long despotism.
Often supporters of the idea of Russian World (Editor’s note: This idea implies the existence of a trans-national community united by its love of Russia, its culture and language) explain Putin’s aggression in Ukraine by saying that post-Soviet republics, including Ukraine, is the zone of vital interests for Russia.
Instead of showing the world an example of rule of law, security, development and high quality of life, implanted into the minds of people is the concept of raw force and threats. However, he achieves the opposite result.
Ukraine is already heading for NATO, even though before the war it had a non-aligned status. The actual North Atlantic Treaty has grown stronger, the bond between America and Europe has become more durable than before. Moreover, Putin’s aggression consolidated the Ukrainian people, and the fight for independence and territorial integrity became the national idea.
In other words, none of Putin’s goals have been achieved. The opposite is happening.
(Boris Nemtsov is a top opposition figure in Russia, and leader of Solidarnost, a liberal political force).