This article was written for the Unz Review
The latest big news out of the Ukraine
Have you heard what the latest big news out of the Ukraine is? No? There is a mini-Maidan under way and Ukrainian nationalists seem to hope that Poroshenko will be kicked out before the end of the week. You did not know? Well, that is the real big news, the fact that you did not hear about this.
Truthfully, what is going on is kind of interesting. Let me sum it up: the former President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili (who was stripped from his Georgian citizenship and of his Ukrainian citizenship) recently crossed the border (through Poland, of course) and proceeded to travel to Kiev to demand Poroshenko’s resignation. You think that I am kidding? Check the Wikipedia article about him, it has all the details. It gets better. There is a consensus amongst analysts that Saakashvili is being used as a battering ram by somebody far more influential – Iulia Timoshenko, of course. But what is really new is that many well informed analysts and commentators seem to think that the USA and EU are not the main driving force behind these latest developments (though they are involved, of course).
What is going on here?
Well, as I said, the big news is that you did not hear about it. You did not hear about it because fundamentally nobody cares, least of all the Trump Administration. True, the Trump Administration is so busy self-destructing that it does not really care about Kurdistan either and that implies that it does not even really care about the Holy of Holies : Israel (cry me a river Bibi!). So nevermind the Trump administration, even the Ziomedia mostly seems not to care any more what happens in the Ukraine (of course, some hardcore hardliners still continue to hallucinate). Hence the (relative) silence on this issue. What this tells the Ukrainian politicians is that they are pretty much on their own. And that is why they are taking matters in their own hands.
I don’t think that it is worthwhile to plunge into all the personalities and factions which are currently involved in the political struggle. I can summarize it by saying that there are four main group currently identifiable: bad, worse, even worse and the silent majority. Let’s begin by the last one, the silent majority.
By all accounts (and from all my personal contacts) it is pretty obvious that the vast majority of those who could not leave the Ukraine are now depressed, silent and in a “survival mode”. The Ukrainians, like the Russians, are extremely good at this survival mode which a very painful history has taught them: they could survive in conditions were everybody else would perish. Their history has also taught them that there are time when you want to stay low, shut up and focus on making it through the day. I also think that most Ukrainians fully realize that there is no faction/force out there representing their interest and that means that they have absolutely no reason at all to get involved. This has nothing to do with passivity or political ignorance: that is common sense. Getting involved is what gets you killed. Hunkering down until the worst of the storm passes is the only correct survival technique in times of very ugly political struggles.
Then there are bad, worse and even worse. Bad – that’s Poroshenko. Worse – that’s the crazies à la Oleg Liashko. Even worse – that would be the rabid ideologues like Tiagnibok or Farion. We can think of it as the Crooks, the Clowns and the Nazis.
The Crooks, the Clown and the Nazis:
Right now, the Crooks are still in power but they are struggling. Worse, the Crooks are terrified of the Nazis, so they constantly have to engage into a stream of concessions to try to appease them which, of course, fails, and only emboldens them Nazis (sounds exactly like Trump’s never-ending stream of concessions to the Neocons, doesn’t it?). As for the Clowns, they can be bought by both sides, sometimes at the same time, and they keep the people entertained by their antics. The Clowns are really a byproduct of the terminally lunatic Ukrainian nationalist ideology, but they don’t really represent a powerful constituency: the Crooks and the Nazis are far more powerful. Still, don’t dismiss the Clowns too soon, because they could suddenly switch to the Crooks or the Nazis depending who offers them a better deal (or scares them most).
This would all seem rather amusing if yet another Urkonazi attack was not a very real possibility. Here is how this could happen.
The Crooks are barely holding on to power, and they might have to start a war only to deflect the mounting political pressure against them into another direction. Wars are good to circle the wagons and to crush the opposition.
The Clowns, due to their ideology, would have to approve of a new war. They simply could not say anything against it. If a war is launched, they would have to give it a standing ovation. Besides, if they tried any form of disagreement they would be easily crushed by the Crooks and Nazis. So the Clowns will always support whatever the other two factions agree upon.
As for for Nazis, well, war against Russia and anything Russian is their raison d’être, the very core of their identity and the purpose of their lives. The Ukronazis have a profoundly revanchist worldview and agenda and if defeating Russia is not an option (although some of them won’t even accept that as a fact of life) then killing or expelling all the non-Ukronazis from the Ukraine is an acceptable substitute for them. Yup, they even have some convoluted racial purity theories (Ukie Aryans versus Finno-Ugric Russian Mongols). True, bona fide Nazis are a minority in the Ukraine, but the compensate for that by having guns, lots of guns.
What has kept from Ukronazis from attacking since their last attempt is the painful memory of the crushing defeat they suffered at the hands of the Novorussians. But herein also lies a very real risk: defeats often make armies better, victories often makes them complacent. When I hear the Novorussians speaking of “next time we go to Kiev” I hope that their confidence is warranted, but I am afraid that they might be underestimating the opponent.
Are the sides really ready for a resumption of warfare?
In truth it is very hard to assess the chances of another Ukronazi attack. On one hand, the Ukronazi forces have had two years to regroup, lick their wounds, reorganize, rearm, retrain, etc. Most importantly, it appears that they have built defensive positions in depth, possibly including 2 or even 3 defensive echelons. Why does defense matter? Because if your defensive positions are strong, then the risk of counter-attack by the enemy’s forces are much lower and that, in turn, means that your offensive is far less likely to end up surrounded in a “cauldron” (I simplify here, in reality this is a little more complicated as it depends on the depth of your attack, but nevermind that). A couple of years is a lot of time to dig in an prepare for defense and without access to classified data it is hard to gage who effective these efforts have been. In terms of new equipment (whether Ukrainian or new delivers from the Empire), they will make no difference at all, that’s just political talk. My advice is that as soon as you hear or read anything about the delivery of “lethal weapons” you ignore everything that comes after that. Ditto for training by Polish or US experts. That is just propaganda. What is not propaganda is the intelligence support offered by the Empire overtly (satellites) or covertly (EU ‘observers’ etc.). That and the fact that the Ukronazis have a 2-2.5:1 numerical advantage over the Novorussians.
Much of the same could be said about the Novorussians: they also have had 2 years to dig in, by all reports they have now integrated their forces into a regular army capable of operational-depth counter-offensives, their morale and training is probably much higher than on the Ukronazi side and they can count on Russian support (intelligence, logistics, training, etc.). Also, they would have the home turf advantage. Finally, and Putin very clearly stated that recently, Russia will not allow the military reconquest of Novorussia, which means that even if the Ukronazis somehow succeed in breaking through the Novorussian defenses they will be engaged by the Russian armed forces, primarily by missile/bombing strikes at which point the war will stop in less than 24 hours.
The big conceptual mistake, however, would be to assume that the Ukronazi really want to reconquer Novorussia (or Crimea, for that matter). In reality, everybody knows that these territories are gone forever and that Kiev simply has no means to control them even without Russian assistance. Let me repeat this: even if by some magical effect the Russians were to let the Ukronazis invade the Donbass this would result in a fantastically nasty guerrilla war by the locals which the Ukronazis would have no chance at all to defeat. Yes, it would be a bloodbath, but it would never end with a workable pacification of the Donbass my the Ukronazis. I would therefore say that the role of Russia is not to prevent Kiev from regaining the control of the Donbass, but to prevent a bloodbath in the Donbass.
The real goal: not to win, but to trigger a Russian intervention (same old, same old)
Now, and I have been saying that for years now, the real goal of the junta is to force Russia to openly intervene in the Donbass. As soon as the Russians overtly get involved that would kill the Minsk 1 and 2 agreements, it would turn the current disaster in the Nazi occupied Ukraine into a war of national liberation against the hated Moskals, NATO would immediately put an end to all that recent cozying-up of various EU political parties towards Russia and the AngloZionst Empire’s wet dream would finally come true: such a Russian intervention would usher a new Cold, possibly even Tepid, War in Europe thereby giving a meaning to NATO (finally!) and crushing any kind of anti-imperial feelings in Europe. The Balts and the Poles would finally be secure in their mission to “protect Europe from a resurgent Russia” and the US Neocons would have a big victory party. True, Russia would liberate all of Novorussia in 24 hours or less and, yes, with Russian help the Novorussians could push the line of contact (well, at this point, the frontline) pretty much as far West as they would want to. But that would be a small victory in the context of a global political catastrophe (along with an ugly bloodbath).
This is why the Russians have made a huge effort *not* to intervene, even if that has costs them a lot of political capital (there are still those out there who speak of a Russian “sell-out” of the Donbass). Unlike their western counterpart, who still don’t understand that the purpose of warfare is to achieve a political objective, the Russians fully realize that an (easy) military victory against the Ukronazis would come at a cost of an immense political disaster. The last thing the Kremlin wants is to copy what the US Americans did in Iraq and Afghanistan: begin by an easy victory, declare victory, and then end up with an absolute disaster on their hands from which they sill are unable to extricate themselves. In this respect, Crimea was a totally different and unique case: a vitally important piece of land, which historically was Russian, populated by people who were overwhelmingly pro-Russian (or, simply, Russian), with easy to control choke-points connecting with the Nazi occupied Ukraine and fantastic economic prospects. And yet, even in these ideal condition, the Russian economy is struggling to rebuild this relatively small territory.
It is pretty clear that at the end of the day, Russia will also have to pay for most the reconstruction of the Donbass, however hard this will be. But as much as that is possible, Russia would much prefer to make the reconstruction of the Ukraine an international problem, yet another reason for her to try to avoid any real, overt, military intervention. Because once Russia occupies any territory, she owns it and she becomes responsible for it.
The bottom line is this: we don’t hear much about the Ukraine right now because at least the US Americans seem to have given up on this entire project and because they are busy with more important issues (self-destructing, mostly). But that does not mean that the situation in the Ukraine cannot suddenly reignite with very serious international consequences.
So when I speak of Crooks, Clowns and Nazis, I am not taking these issues lightly at all. Yes, they truly are crooks, clowns and Nazis, but they also very dangerous individuals, especially collectively.
A tiny ray of hope for “less bad”?
Rumor has it that the two big figures behind the scenes in the Ukraine are Igor Kolomoiskii (who now has a personal vendetta against Poroshenko and Saakashvili) and Iulia Timoshenko. I honestly have no means to assess these claims, but I will say that while these two are truly profoundly evil and hateful people (Kolomoiskii was probably deeply involved in the MH-17 false flag), neither of them is stupid. Furthermore, they are both Crooks, not Clowns or Nazis, which means that they can be negotiated with, however distasteful this maybe. Last but not least, they both have a real power base in the Ukraine, money in Kolomoiskii’s case, true popularity in Timoshenko’s case. In this I see a tiny ray of hope.
With the US Americans busy fighting each other internally, and with the Europeans slowly waking up to the total disaster “their” (it is not really “their’s” – but nevermind that) Ukrainian policy has been, maybe, just maybe, there is a tiny chance of, say, some EU leaders getting together with, say, Timoshenko (Kolomoiskii will never be a public official again, he will pull the strings in the back) to sit down with the Russians and the Novorussians and finally seriously negotiate some kind of end to this very dangerous situation. Remember, Poroshenko is a pure US puppet, and he is weak. There is no way he could negotiated *anything* of substance any more. All he needs to do now is to prepare his flight to the US, UK or Israel. But Timoshenko is still “for real” and she is far more capable of dealing with the Nazis than Poroshenko, his billions, his chocolate factory and his Eltsin-like dependence on alcohol.
Of course, there is “the devil you know” argument. And in many ways, Poroshenko being the greedy weak booze-soaked coward that he is looks like the lesser evil. The problem with that is that he is terrified of the Nazis and that they are either paralyzing him or making him do stupid things (like the recent law making Ukrainian the sole language used in schools). And for all the desperate window-dressing the fact remains is that the Ukraine is already a failed state which is going down the tubes with a momentum which nobody can stop, at least not with the current political deadlock in Kiev. Still, we should also remember that Eltsin was also a greedy weak booze-soaked coward, but that did not prevent him form triggering the bloodbath of the First Chechen war. Greedy weak booze-soaked cowards can be extremely dangerous.