by Francis Lee for the Saker blog
It is an open question as to why Putin and the Russian government tolerated the 2014 coup which was blatantly funded and organized by internal and external actors followed by the war in the Donbass. The coup was bought and paid for by the usual suspects – The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) the ubiquitous Mr. Soros (The Open Society Foundation – OSF) and Human Rights Watch (HRW); this in addition to Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt adding their input into the Maidan during the stage-managed ‘revolution’. The shock troops of the coup were bussed in from all points in the west Ukraine to Lviv, then on to the battleground of Kiev and the Maidan. These rightwing ultras were to openly flaunt and use their improvised weapons – usually Molotov cocktails and medieval studded clubs, last used at the battle of Agincourt – against the riot police. The legitimate president, at the time Viktor Yanukovych – was ousted by this illegal show of force and forced to flee Kiev for other places outside the reach of the mob. Poroshenko – one time finance minister of Yanukovych – was thus ‘elected’ as the new President.
The first thing on Poroshenko’s agenda was the war against the Eastern provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk. According to Poroshenko this was going to be a simple ‘police operation’ which would be over in a few hours. The initial phase of the conflict was a sortie by the Ukrainian Army which rolled into Mariupol and began to shoot up the place killing a number of Russian civilians. News of this Ukie incursion began to trickle through to Donetsk and Lugansk where hastily formed local militias began to be created.
However, the significance of the events in the Southeast extended far beyond Ukraine. No sooner than the Donetsk republic was proclaimed, official Moscow let it be understood, in no uncertain terms, that it made no claim to Ukraine’s rebellious provinces. This was neither diplomatic nor a concession to the West; the conflict was far greater than anything the Kremlin found convenient or manageable. Unlike Crimea – where the process was controlled and where, after two or three demonstrations, the transfer of power was carried out by the local elite. But the process in Donetsk and Lugansk had borne witness to the elemental force of a popular movement which simply could not be managed from outside. But this spontaneous political uprising did not go down too well inside the more conservative elements in the Russian political hierarchy and the financial clique whose interests largely lie outside of Russia.
The movement itself was decentralized and rapidly threw up hitherto unknown leaders (such as Alexander Zakharchenko – see below – a heroic figure and leader who was later assassinated in a restaurant off Lenin Square in Donetsk by an unknown assailant who set off the bomb. Born: June 26, 1976, Donetsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union. Died: August 31, 2018, Pushkin Boulevard, Donetsk, Donetsk People’s Republic/Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine). Zakharchenko had since May 2014 worked as a mine electrician in 2011 to manage the Donetsk branch of the martial arts club and eventually Pan-Slavic nationalist current and militia organization Oplot. And he had remained in situ during the war period 2014-15 and was heavily involved in the conflict.
On the 14 August leadership changed hands in Lugansk, as skirmishes took place inside the city limits between the rebels and Ukrainian Army Units. Again, after a visit to Moscow ‘’Head of Republic’’ Valery Bolotov resigned due to war injuries. His replacement was former defence minister Igor Plonitsky. Locally born the 50-year-old Plonitsky had served as an officer in the Soviet Armed Forces before becoming a dealer in fuel and lubricants during the 1990s, and later, a consumer rights inspector for the provincial administration.
Another resignation at the same time was that of Igor Strelkov. As reported by TASS the DPR Council of Ministers avowed that the defence chief was leaving his post ‘’at his own request’’ and would take up another position. Strelkov, however, vanished from the Don Bass, only to reappear in Russia a few weeks later. His replacement as defence minister was Vladimir Kononov, a Donetsk-born judo instructor and mid-ranking militia commander described by the Interpretermag site ‘’as having a firm political position and organizational skills.’’ (1)
These organizational changes were seemingly made at the behest of Moscow. The goal was evidently to install leaders in the republics who were both more predictable and more attuned to the ways of Moscow officialdom than those they replaced. Whether or not these changes in organizational structures and practise made any difference to the eventual outcome of the war was of necessity a moot point.
It had formulated and developed its agenda as events became unfolded. Absorbing such an organized and active population at a time of growing crisis in Russia itself was hardly advisable. So, the rebel republics had to rely overwhelmingly on their own resources. To the extent permitted by popular support for their cause within Russia, increased by the governments own patriotic propaganda, official Russia surprisingly left them to their own fate – provisionally at least.
However, unofficial Russia had other ideas. Volunteers from Russia began to trickle into the rebel republics, as did arms and food were also smuggled into the two republics. Military training was becoming widespread among the population. It seems an open question as to whether Putin was behind the leadership of the rebel republics, but the ensuing events took on a momentum of their own. The Ukie army was stopped in its tracks at the airport and was then decisively halted at the battles of Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo – this was 2015. But the shelling of the Donbass continued to this day.
See below: Ukrainian Prisoners of War (POWs) captured or surrendered at Debaltsevo 2015. They looked pretty miserable, but who wouldn’t? It’s better than being killed after all.
And so here we are in January 2023 at the present conjuncture. The local war has become global, but that was always going to be the final outcome. The half-finished job (farce) of the Minsk/Normandy format was ultimately to receive its demise from the German/French delegation and the final funeral rites when Frau Merkel spilled the beans. Now that chapter is over, the Republics have finally been brought into Russia proper, and have taken their legitimate position in Russia’s heroic struggle.
But things were not always as unified and expected between Moscow and Donetsk, at least in the early stages of the war. Russia was just emerging from the disastrous period of political, social, and economic collapse. This was due in large part to what was in fact a class struggle between – a fortiori – the domestic Russian globalist neo-liberal agenda which was just as pervasive as it was in the West, if not also more acute than in the western hinterland of the globalist elite. Following the usual period of class struggle the Russian and Liberal intelligentsia had only hatred and contempt for the protesting workers, deriding them as ‘lumpens’ ‘trash’ and ‘hooligans’ and worse of all – Vatniks.
These simple Russian folk were derided to suggest simpletons unswervingly loyal to the state authorities and completely taken in by government propaganda. However, in this sense of course it was the ‘intellectuals’ uncritically parroting even the most absurd Kiev propaganda who deserved to be most regarded as being – Vatnik. Whilst the propaganda services of both Kiev and Moscow lied, the latter did so more recklessly and inventively, showing not the slightest regard for the truth and not even whether the television they showed bore any relation to the commentary. Like all elites in a period of intensified class struggle they hung on to their money, property, political and social contacts.
It would appear that this social-political upheaval was taking on a political class structure – how could it have been otherwise? The open social and political anomalies had been fermenting and the dramatic deterioration of the conditions of life that followed the change of government in Kiev was the last straw. Steep increases in the price of gas and medicines followed the IMF agreement to become a member of the EU, and ultimately NATO, so much so that a political and economic explosion was inevitable. The use of nationalist rhetoric and anti-Russian propaganda in the West, had the reverse effect in the East. The pro-Russian sympathies of the local population nor even the Kiev’s intention to repeal the status of Russian as a ‘regional language’ triggered the revolt. These open social and political anomalies had been gradually fermenting and became dangerously unstable. The dye was caste: war was to follow.
Yegorov Voronov, a resident of Gorlovka wrote on the Ukrainian site: Liva – In English – ‘The Left’.
‘’I find it hard to believe the change in my compatriots. Only six months ago they were simple folk who watched TV and complained about the bad state of the roads and of the communal services. Now they are fighters. In several hours by the provincial administration building, I didn’t meet a single person who’d come from Russia. The people were from Mariupol, Gorlovka, Dzershinsk, Artemovsk, Krasnoarmeysk … those people with whom I ride every day on the bus, stand next to in the queues, and argue with when they leave the door to the stairwell open. They were not the supercilious Kiev middle-class, set aside from the people by their special circumstances but everyday workers. And there is no denying, there are plenty of unemployed in these parts. Here were all the people who for the past month and a half had been ’begged’ in the private offices and state enterprises to take a cut in their miserable wages. So here is another conclusion – the more the wages of the Donbass residents are cut or squeezed today, the more protesters would emerge in the East.’’ (Voronov 2014 translated from Russian)
It would appear that the Donbass peoples’ militias having taken up arms converted themselves into partisan units and actually put the Ukies to flight in 2015. But the war went on with Ukie artillery pounding the Donbass, a policy which was allowed to the present day. During this 8-year period the Donbass was mercilessly targeted by the ukie artillery and suffered some 14000 casualties during that period. It has to be said that Putin and his advisers were perhaps somewhat gradual and deliberative in terms of putting an end to what was basically a massacre from 2014 until 2022 ongoing. But the decision was finally made to enter the war which was forced upon Putin by external factors which needed urgent resolution. By April 2022 Putin had made his move and if the cosmopolitan conservative elements in the Moscow bureaucracy, as well as the financial oligarch high-rollers didn’t like it – well, hard cheese old chap, as we say in the UK.
As the whole drama of the Ukraine/Russia moves into its final stages it became apparent that Ukraine, under its present leadership, was desperately looking for an exit from the imbroglio that it had initially and unwisely set for itself. Ukrainian politicians were a pretty rum bunch: all kleptocrats that had imbibed the neo-liberal weltanschauung and the promise of a golden age to come. Alas it was not to be. Even the corrupt Yanukovych only really became an enemy of the West when he committed the unforgivable sin of refusing to implement an EU/US-counselled austerity programme. Had he acted more like the Romanian leader Nikolai Ceausescu in Romania (1980s) who unwisely eagerly implemented the dreaded IMF structural adjustment policies it seems likely that Yanukovych would have become one of the darlings of the West. Ukrainians looking to the EU for their salvation – even today – are looking back to what was and not what it has now become. What we are bearing witness to are the last remnants of a social model that has been sacrificed on the altar of neo-liberalism. It would appear that those who wished to hitch their horses to the EU cart are always in for a disappointment, not even to say passe.
‘’The aim of the EU and the United States is to transfer public wealth into the hands of private individuals who will be steered by the ‘invisible hand’ (presumably the hand behind the ‘color revolutions’) to seek their gains by selling what they have taken to western investors. Finance is the new mode of warfare, as Michael Hudson notes. We are seeing a grab for finance that in earlier times was just a military option.’’
(1) Russia, Ukraine and Contemporary Imperialism. Edited by Boris Kargalitsky, Radhika Desai and Alan Freeman. Passim.
(2) Seven Roads to Moscow – Lieutenant-Colonel – W.G.F.Jackson MC, BA, R.E. Instructor, Staff College, Camberley, 1948-50, Instructor, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, 1950-53
Russia apparently forbid Yanukovych from cracking a few skulls during the Maidan coup. Had he cracked a few thousand skulls back then, hundreds of thousands of lives could have be saved now. But as they say, the view from the rear windscreen is always better than the view from the front windscreen.
But Russia’s priority was Crimea and its Black Sea fleet, the rest of Ukraine was not a priority. Putin and Co seem to have forgotten about the innate resistance potential of the Russian people though, those guys in Donetsk and Lugansk would rather die than submit to the Galicians from Western Ukraine. It was apparently only during the attempted coup in Kazakhstan that Russia obtained definite proof that Ukraine going to make things very difficult for Donetsk and Lugansk with the actual target being Crimea and Russia itself. Since the NATO planned conflict was coming anyway, Russia decided to strike first.
Russian proactiveness is a pleasure to behold after all the years of turning the other cheek.
“It is an open question as to why Putin and the Russian government tolerated the 2014 coup which was blatantly funded and organized by internal and external actors followed by the war in the Donbass.”
With hindsight it is crystal clear that Putin made the right decision to use a cautious and gradual approach because:
1) The real war is economic not military;
2) The Russian economy was in no position to withstand the sanctions war in 2014;
3) Following the restart of economic growth after the pandemic, the oil price was relatively high in 2021, while it was relatively low in 2014;
4) The Russian narrative gained credibility after Putin had waited 8 years for Ukraine to comply with the Minsk peace agreements;
5) Western claims of Russian imperialist designs on Ukraine are disproven by the fact that Putin refused to recognize the LPR and the DPR for 8 years in order to maintain Ukraine as a sovereign state;
6) Finally, the credibility of Russia’s narrative helped gain support from non-Western leaders, which resulted in the failure of the sanctions because only about 15% of the world’s population participate in the sanctions against Russia. Thus, the sanctioners are punished and not the sanctioned.
I don’t know if Putin actually planned this. If he did, it’s a stroke of genius.
Humwawa: You are right in reading a hidden genius within Putin’s overall strategy. Being British I always like to fall back on the primary motto of The Boy Scouts. “Be Prepared.” This integrity principle has been the key to Putin’s relations with an implacable enemy all along. It would have been the height of folly for Russia to openly contradict the evil capitalist empire, in 2014, before adequately preparing Russian opinion and political economy for what could only be a death match with the world’s most powerfully evil empire.
Eight years of relentless terrorist violence against the Eastern regions of Ukraine has been an invaluable catalyst for transforming the Russian people into a determined anti Capitalist force. Putin has been very wise to allow himself the time to gather the Russian people to his agenda. Be Prepared.
I also thank Francis Lee for putting his finger on an essential ingredient of this peculiar struggle. That being the issue of class and class conflict. The deeper issues that are working their way to the surface in this conflict can only be understood via reference to the class nature of the contradictions.
An illustration of the relevance of class to this conflict between Russia and the Empire is offered by Putin himself. The Oriental Review carries a fascinating story as follows:
Fidel Castro did not want a cult of personality to arise consequent to his passing. So he requested that no statues of himself be commissioned. Accordingly there have never been any statues of Fidel Castro erected anywhere. But now the first statue of Fidel Castro in history has been erected. It was recently unveiled in Moscow by President Putin and the Cuban Ambassador to Russia. Putin’s Russia stands by the struggle of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution.
This gives us a clue to the unavoidable class dimension of this ongoing struggle between Russia and the Empire of Lies. Russia builds the first stature of Castro and the Eastern Republics have their class based people’s militias.
Yes, a big thank you to Francis Lee and Snowy for pointing out the ever-present element of class in struggles everywhere.
I definitely agree that the war is financial but is it really a class struggle? Of course the working class – on both sides – fire the guns and die. But when Russia wins how will this benefit the long-term outlook prospects for the working-class? The West is capatalist – Russia is capitalist.
One huge difference between, say, the UK and Russia is that Russia has huge natural resources. These form a preponderance of the exported wealth of Russia. Therefore there can be a strong argument for wealth redistribution as all citizens of RF ‘own’ these resources. Their sale should benefit all – healthcare, pensions, welfare, education, transport, energy etc.
This is not currently the case. Russia has good healthcare (particularly in Moscow region) and a good education system. Public transport is pretty good and improving all the time. Energy is cheap – about £50 pcm for the average appartment 24/7 (outside near Moscow is about minus 15, inside over 25 C).
But prices keep rising – butter, milk, bread, meat, petrol, bus and rail fares etc. Pensions and the quite miserable welfare (compared to UK) do not keep pace. There needs to be a fundamental overhaul of the socio-economic foundation for this to be a true win for the people.
In the UK it was after the Second World War that the working-class had had enough and ousted Churchill. Putin is a great leader and has many times stated that he wants to raise Russian living standards. I hope he delivers soon on this.
Haymer, you said “Putin is a great leader and has many times stated that he wants to raise Russian living standards. I hope he delivers soon on this.”
That’s correct, and as I understand it progress is being made on this. Which is the exact opposite of the capitalist economies generally, where living standards have been falling steadily for years with no concrete plans to change things for the better.
Then when we consider the various economic projects that Russia and China are involved with, we see cooperation, mutual assistance, mutual security, respect and a lack of coercion are all fundamental features. Features that play no fundamental part in liberal economies, despite rhetoric to the contrary.
Which means that your statement that Russia is capitalist, while true, is too broad to cover all aspects of the picture. The West’s opposition to the Russia/China projects is class-based – a refusal to share on an equitable basis the wealth of the world. We only need to look at the way free trade agreements are structured to see the truth of this.
1) The real war is economic not military
. . . . and firing 5 missiles @ $150k a pop to bring down a $20k drone is unsustainable. lol
I never understood why Yanukovych allowed Nuland and insane McCain to run riot on Maidan,he almost gave them the keys to the City of Kiev,those two rats should never have got past the airport,then put back on the next flight to Washington.
Comrade English, probably for the best in the grand-scheme that the US (Obama-CIA-Straussians-Financial Vultures) decided to make a play in Russia’s backyard. Russia was as well prepared as possible, economically, politically and geopolitically to nullify the West’s centuries old wettest dream.
Interesting that one of the main protagonists you mention, Viktoria Nudelman, whose father Shepsel, a Ukrainian Jew and surgeon, teaching bioethics (hmm) and the history of medicine at Yale, the breeding ground of psychopaths playing God. I expect Nuland not only handed out cookies in Kiev but $multi-million grants for the dozens of bio-labs to mess with the Slav DNA.
Is it any wonder most Ukrainians appear mad having been mind and body fucked for the last decade and a half?
Some more relevant videos for today.
Over 600 Kiev regime troops killed in Kramatorsk in retaliatory missile strike:
Russian RPG hits Kiev regime T-72 tank in Artemovsk:
Lots of Kiev regime KIA in Soledar (18+)
Russian forces storm Kiev regime trench, take prisoners:
Russian howitzers fire on enemy military facilities and positions:
Russian Msta-S self-propelled howitzers fire on enemy position:
Russian MLRS Grad launcher crew fires at Banderite convoy:
Banderite “Right Sector” thug makes genocidal threats to the Ukraine’s Hungarian minority:
Serbs and Serbia went through literally almost exact same scenario. So much can be learned. I am so sad that Russian leadership needs to learn all of it on their own mistakes as they go instead of learning from our own, especially about 1991 events but not from a summary but rather event by event, process by process. Today on anniversary of formation of Serb Republic, I am reminded of the fact that much like Moscow, Belgrade government of the time which was later accused of numerous things it wasn’t involved in, actually in many ways ignored Serb Republic and Republic of Serb Krajina which were sort of equivalent of LNR and DNR, especially after 1992.
At the very least after 8 years Russia jumped out of that ruinous loup, did go into full on warfare for their suffering brothers and in the end unification happened without lollygagging and other “peace” formats or considerations towards “international community’s” opinion. I am 100% certain that if this hadn’t happened DNR and LNR would have went down like Krajina did, and all those fops in Belgrade who laughed at the idea that Serbia or Yugoslavia as it was still called actually needed to be defended in Knin in the end had to defend it in Belgrade itself and I sure hope Russians would not have to defend Moscow in Moscow this time. ww2 ought to have been enough.
The fix was in and the playbook for Russia is the same. Lazar Russia knows from history that they cannot trust the West. Its Serbia that did not learn her lesson from history. Serbia did not deal with the quislings (the converts) who drink more coca-cola than water and eat big Macs as if that is food. They like many Russians soild their country out to have rotten teeth, cancer, and brainless education and sat getting fat while watching Bonanza and Dallas and other mindless soaps. Many who took off to the west are going back home knowing it was all a Potemkin village just like the one. Zelensky is parading in the West. The crosses marking the graves of thousands of young Ukrainian dead Zelensky parades as Russian Atrocities which in reality are Ukrainian war casualties. The Serbs did not heed this Russian proverb “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.
“Zakharchenko had since May 2014 worked as a mine electrician in 2011″
I’m not sure what that means, but I think the writer is wrong to say ” the Ukrainian Army which rolled into Mariupol and began to shoot up the place killing a number of Russian civilians.”, because those civilians were Ukrainian.