by Kennedy Applebaum
July 9, 2015
Well-known political analyst and Donbass expert Vladimir Suchan said today on his Facebook page:
“What is … notable and so striking is that when Lavrov, the Russian government, or the Russian state media refer to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, they hardly ever forget to add ‘self-declared,’ ‘so-called,’ and/or ‘unrecognized.’ Now, as we have seen, when referring to ISIS, Lavrov’s term of choice for this terrorist army is IS, “the Islamic State,” to which ISIS changed its name relatively recently, thus insisting that it a state in its own right. In Russian, it is ‘IG’ (Islamskoye gosudarstvo). And when speaking of IS (IG), Lavrov does not bother to add any of the bracketing or rhetoric clauses, which are used for the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics–for his own people, one might say. In the case of ISIS, it is the Islamic State. Is it because no [one] bothered to have some sort of Minsk, which would restore sovereignty of Syria, Iraq, Libya by dismantling the principal terrorist army created thanks to the combined efforts of Syria’s neighbors and the West?”
I offer the following answer to Suchan’s question:
The causality is actually reversed. Moscow forced Minsk into existence precisely because Russian leaders refused to recognize the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, not the other way around. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been adamant about “Ukrainian territorial integrity” from the start. He told the DPR/LPR officials to postpone their independence referendum of May 11, 2014 until after the Kiev presidential election, which took place on May 25, even though that election was a priori illegal, due to the fact that President-in-exile Viktor Yanukovich had not been properly impeached. This was the first sign Putin was disinterested in Donbass freedom or sovereignty. To Putin’s rare credit, he did arrange Yanukovich’s escape when coup conspirators threatened his life. Yet despite that one moral bright spot, Putin failed to host a government-in-exile for Yanukovich, who for all his alleged shortcomings, was nevertheless the legal Ukraine president.
Putin then proceeded to recognize the “presidency” of Petro Poroshenko. Putin continued to honor Poroshenko’s regime in spite of its shelling of thousands of culturally and ancestrally Russian civilians. The Russian President, and of course Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as well, have never stopped pushing the Kremlin’s pet project of “Ukrainian territorial integrity”, even though this heavy-handed and unrealistic requirement would lead to authoritarian oppression. The Russian President exerted enormous pressure on DPR/LPR Prime Ministers Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, as they themselves said, to sign the Minsk Agreements, a pact that threatened to undermine the prospects of freedom for the DPR/LPR.
I am unaware of any time when Putin or Lavrov have supported the existence of the two fledgling Republics. Igor Strelkov overextended his forces near Slavyansk in the spring of 2014, expecting Russian troops to arrive any day. Putin failed to send those troops, although the Duma had given him permission. His failure compelled Strelkov’s retreat.
What could the Russian President’s motives be?
Many observers are puzzled by this, if not outright angry. Igor Strelkov blames Putin’s inaction on the “fifth column” in Moscow, a shady group of Kremlin subversives that is undermining the President’s authority. Political scientist Rostislav Ishchenko (an enemy advocate who poses as a Donbass supporter) attributes Putin’s inaction in Donbass to the absurd notion that America is seeking a conflict with Russia, obvious suicide for the US, which Putin is admirably avoiding.
Quemado Institute has on many occasions attributed Putin’s failure in helping Donbass to an irrational obsession with appeasing the West, which has tragically made him a scapegoat. Some harbor suspicions that his love life may have eroded since he divorced his outspoken former wife Lyudmila: the timing makes sense. Still others speculate Putin traded Donbass for Crimea in the coin of the “diplomatic world”, ie. if he were obsequious about Donbass, the West would forgive Crimea. If that was his motive, it backfired. His seeming duplicity has made the West madder than if he’d been straightforward.
Putin’s afraid of something. No one quite knows what it is.
My recommendation to the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics: Forget Moscow! The Kremlin is working against you, against your very existence. Strike out on your own and ignore your detractors.
So far, Prime Ministers Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky have shown great strength against all odds. They have admirably stood up to the destructive pressures of Minsk. Let us hope they do not succumb to further Russian pressure, such as the Shirokino withdrawal appears to have been.
SATURDAY JULY 11 HEADLINE STORY:
US-Backed Armies Slay the Innocent
Putin on Minsk: Higher Chance of Success than Failure.
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