There are so many rumors and opinions about the latest ceasefire for Novorussia agreed between the Novorussian leaders and the Junta reps that I have decided to make a small survey of the issues in the format of a Q&A/FAQ. I will write up a real analysis next week. I also will use this opportunity to explain a few thing about what my own personal position is. So here goes:
Q: Do you support or oppose the latest peaceplan?
A: Neither. First, I still have not seen the 14 points actually agreed upon and, most importantly, I don’t believe that this plan will hold.
Q: Why not?
A: Because it is opposed by all the following groups: the USA, NATO, the Ukie Nazis, most of the Novorussian field commanders and a large segment of the Russian nationalist ideologues in Russia. Furthermore, Poroshenko is so weak that he probably cannot impose his will on others. Finally, the Ukies and their western supporters have so reneged on every agreement they signed/
Q: So you think that this agreement is irrelevent?
A: No, not at all. For one thing, it’s perfect timing took a lot of wind out of the sails of the anti-Russian crowd at the NATO summit which, after all, did not result in anything more than hot air and empty threats.
Q: Are you saying that this is a victory for Russia?
A: Hardly, but it has been an effective way to temporarily defuse a potentially dangerous situation. Also, the very fact that neither the EU or NATO or the US were even present in Minsk is a very powerful symbol of the fact that the “indispensable nation” and it instruments of colonial domination are not indispensable after all.
Q: But will this ceasefire not allow the Junta Repression Force (JRF) to regroup?
|Ukrainian solider – Russian solider|
A: Yes, but that is not that relevant because of the size of its strategic depth the Junta can to reorganize and regroup anyway. Most the JRF units close to the front are so beat up that “regrouping” will not help very much. At best (“best” for the JRF of course), this ceasefire will turn a hasty retreat into a more or less organized withdrawal followed by a much needed break. But the key thing to always remember is this: wars are won by willpower, by moral strength, by a fighting spirit. Unlike the Russians, the Ukies have had their fighting spirit completely broken by the NAF. Check out the picture circulating on the RuNet which I have posted above. It shows a wounded Russian solider (from the 08.08.08 iirc) war against Georgia and a Ukrainian solider captured in Novorussia (who had been made famous by his militaristic and neo-Nazis videos posted on the Ukie social media). This montage shows something crucial: just compare the determined and undefeated expression of the severely wounded Russia private with the totally broken and terrified expression of the Ukrainian “paratrooper”. The difference here is not “Russian” vs “Ukrainian” in an ethnic sense (there is no such thing as an “ethnic Russian” or an “ethnic Ukrainian” – they are all ethnically mixed), but the difference in the fighting spirit of the Russian solider and the Ukrainian one. And no amount of US/NATO aid can change this: unlike the Ukie, the Russian knows what he is fighting for and he is determined.
Q: What about Mariupol?
A: What about it? The city is still surrounded and the Novorussian Armed Forces (NAF) will not retreat. All this ceasefire does is “freeze” the situation around this city. If anything, the Ukies will use it to cut and run.
Q: Will the NAF benefit ceasefire?
A: Yes. There are several “cauldrons” in the NAF rear which are a pain, well, in the rear, which will hopefully be flushed out by a mutual agreement to have the JRF units to move out and leave their weapons behind. If not, then please remember that the NAF control all of the Novorussian/Russian border and that the “voentorg” (cover delivery of weapons and specialists) will continue unabated.
Q: Are you saying that all is good and we should rejoice?
A: Not at all. First, there are clear signs of infighting in Novorussia. Not only was Strelkov apparently blackmailed out of control, but there have been rumors of an attempted coup by Antiufeev yesterday. The Novorussians denied this info, others say that the coup failed, but there is no doubt that there are real tensions inside Novorussia now and that while some support the current strategy of negotiations (we can refer to them as the “Zakharchenko clan”) others clearly oppose it (we can refer to them as the “Mozgovoi clan”). Likewise, in Russia there are those who favor this strategy (most of the “near-Kremlin” circles “околокремлевские круги” – I explain this term here) and those who oppose it (Dugin, Colonel Cassad, el-Miurid, and many other generally para-Marxist bloggers and activists).
Q: So you agree that this is bad for Novorussia?
A: No, I did not say that either. I think that this is probably an inevitable and possibly indispensable temporary phase in this conflict with is neither a triumph nor a disaster, but something which is a natural consequence of the situation on the ground.
Q: What do you mean?
A: Contrary to most commentators here, I do not believe that the NAF have been “treacherously stopped in what could have been their triumphant march on Kiev”. The amazing successes in the south have totally obscured in the minds of many the undeniable fact that the JRF forces north of Luganks are still big, powerful and holding their ground, that the Ukies even managed a (small and useless) counter-offensive in the region of Dukuchaevsk and that, contrary to initial reports, the Donetsk airport is still not under full NAF control. Those who had imagined that the NAF would soon move on and take Odessa, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk or even Kiev just don’t understand the military situation. Right now, the NAF can’t even take back Slaviansk, nevermind reconquer all of Novorussia.
Q: What about the notion that Russian and Ukie oligarchs are the real force behind this deal?
A: What oligarchs? Akhmetov has not only lost Donetsk forever, even the material infrastructure of this assets is now in ruins. Kolomoiski has had this assets in Crimea nationalized and he is now locked in a struggle with both Akhmetov and Poroshenko. As for the Russian oligarchs – they have exactly zero needs for anything in the Donbass and they are way too smart to invest anything in such a dangerous, unstable and ruined region. At least in the short term, only the Russian state will provide help for political reasons, but the Russian oligarchs have much safer and lucrative options than the ruined Donbass.
Q: Okay, then what about the accusation that rather then allowing the creation of a viable and independent Novorussia, Putin has created yet another Transnistria?
A: What is this thesis based on? On a 14 point plan which nobody has seen and which will be soon broken anyway?
Q: No, on the fact that instead of fighting Poroshenko and the Nazis, the Novorussians have been forced to negotiate with them.
A: Oh come on! How many times will I have to explain that, unlike westerners, Russians have no problems at all talking to their enemies? Study the history of the Tatar-Mongol invasions of Russia when the Russian Princes were always talking “negotiating” with the Khans of the Golden Horde, and yet that never prevented them from rising up and fighting them regularly. Russians are much more Asians than Europeans and in Asia talking to your enemy is normal, it is an integral part of warfare. If in the West talking or negotiating with your enemy is a sign of weakness, in Asia it is not talking or negotiating with your enemy which is a sign of weakness.
Q: So what do you think Putin want in this war?
A: What he always said he wanted: a united, independent, neutral, prosperous and friendly Ukraine, in other words – “regime change” in Kiev.
Q: So will he “sell out” Novorussia to achieve this goal?
A: I don’t know. Unlike so many armchair generals who apparently also moonlight as telepaths and prophets, I cannot read Putin’s mind or predict the future. What I can say is that so far I see no signs of Putin betraying or “selling out” anybody. In fact, it takes an amazing degree of blindness or intellectual dishonesty not to notice that the first and immediate consequence of what many assume was a Kremlin-ordered change in the Novorussian leadership has been a huge and successful offensive which crushed the JRF. If Putin wanted to “sell out” Novorussia to the Nazis, he could have easily done so just before that counter-offensive was launched.
Q: So you really love and trust Putin, don’t you?
A: No, but I will admit that what I have seen this man do for Russia and the world fills me with sincere admiration, often bordering an awe, and that I see absolutely no signs of him changing course. What I see is a leader whose methods and strategies are simply too subtle and complex for most “armchair heads of states” to understand. The very same Putin-bashing crowd which now is hysterically yelling about betrayal was saying exactly the same things about Syria when Putin single handedly stopped the US attack on it. And when the Russians told the Syrian to get rid of their (dangerous and useless) chemical weapons the same Putin-bashers were yelling from the top of their lungs that this was the ultimate proof of Russian back-stabbing. Now Assad has, if not won the civil war, but conducted a successful reelection and the West is now eating humble-pie and pondering how to best get Assad’s help in Iraq. So while I don’t “love” Putin, I sure despise the Putin-bashers not only for their short-sightedness and lack of expertise, but for their mind-blowing intellectual dishonesty. They are like a broken record constantly repeating “Putin betrayed, Putin betrayed, Putin betrayed”. In Russia this kind of rabid nationalists are called “горе патриоты” or “sorrow-patriots”. They are the kind that never actually do anything useful, but are the most vociferous about what should be done. I want to make it clear that I am not referring to Strelkov, Mozgovoi or any other real patriot who happens to disagree with Putin. I am referring to those for whom Putin-bashing is an end in itself and who basically don’t give a damn as long as they get to bash the man.
Q: Still, Novorussia wants independence while Putin wants a united Ukraine. Don’t you see the contradiction here?
A: Of course I do. So? That does not mean that one side is “bad” and the other one “good”, it just shows the truth of the US saying that “where I sit is where I stand”. The real question is how this contradiction will be resolved. So far I don’t know and I reserve judgment precisely because, unlike the “professional and full-time Putin bashers” I like to base my opinions on fact, not telepathy or prophetic visions.
Q: You constantly speak of “Putin bashers” – that is offensive to many!
A: Guess what? I am not a nice guy. I am an direct guy who calls it as he sees it and if that offends anybody, they are welcome to hug a teddy-bear and go sob on their bed. My message to them is – grow-up and remember that I owe you nothing. This is my blog and I write it for adults who value truthfulness and honesty over sugar-coated affirmations.
Q: What about Poroshenko – has he not won a huge break if not victory?
A: Yesterday I was watching the latest edition of the priceless Ukie propaganda show “Shuster Live” and it felt like I was watching a funeral. The host and all the guest were in a somber, sorrowful and quasi-depressed mode. Though they did not want to admit the magnitude of the beating which their “invincible Ukrainian army” just had taken, it was pretty darn clear that flag-waving was no more the order of the day. One Ukie official even said “when we are talking about 30 to 40 thousand armed men then we *have to* talk to tehse “terrorists”” – it was hilarious, really. So no. Poroshenko, far from having “won” anything, is in real deep trouble. For starters, his own Prime Minister – Iatseniuk – is absolutely outraged about the deal and makes no bones about it. Ditto for Timoshenko. I won’t even go into the Nazi freaks. The fact is that the protecting Poroshenko will now become a major headache for the local CIA station in Kiev: the guy is in HUGE trouble and his only hope is that during the next elections he will look less bad and less crazy then the rest of them. That is assuming these elections are held and that Iarosh or Tiagnibok do not simply seize power and execute Poroshenko for “high crimes, treason or being an FSB agent” (he is not, but how cares?!). The regime is so much on the defense that even though everybody knows that this plan is really Putin’s plan, the Junta is engaged in a massive PR effort to convince the public that this is really Poroshenko’s plan. The Russians, typically, just smile and are happy to give him the credit (remember, this is Asia – different rules apply).
Q: So what will happen next?
A: As I said, I am not a prophet. But what I know is this: Putin clearly has full control of Russia and Novorussia – what he says happens, he can deliver. Poroshenko has no control over anything, not even “his” own” ruling coalition. There is no real power in Banderastan right not, not even the local CIA station. For this simple reason I do not see how the ceasefire could hold. Then I don’t see much change in the military balance either. The NAF is far more capable than the JRF whose only advantage lies in the huge strategic depth of this territory. The JRF used to (past tense!) have a huge advantage in hardware and manpower, but even this is changing now. In terms of hardware, most of the best hardware they had is now either lost or in NAF hands. Yes, they still have huge reserves, but of old and terribly maintained equipment. As for manpower, the Junta clearly has more and more difficulties finding enough men to compensate for its huge losses. Just ask yourself a basic question: if you were Ukie, even a nationalist, would you want to join to JRF and go fight the NAF? Exactly. Yes, NATO has promised 15 million dollars. That would buy the Ukies, what, maybe 10 old and used T-72 or 3 T-80? This is a joke, really. But even if the US provides 150 millions in covert aid – this will not affect the balance, nevermind tipping it. As for the NAF, it is doing well and will probably get even more men and modern gear through the “voentorg”, but it cannot push too far. As one NAF commander said, “so far we have been liberators, but we don’t want to become occupiers“. The rule of thumb is simple: the further west the NAF goes, the less support it will get and the more it will expose itself to guerrilla warfare lead by a local insurgency. A far smarter strategy is to sit tight and watch the Ukies go after each other.
Q: Why do you think that will happen?
A: Because no matter what all this still holds true: the Ukraine was always an artificial country, Banderastan is even worse. There is no real power in control, even the Junta is “kinda” in power only. The country is economically dead dead dead. The economic crisis is only at it’s very early stages, and from now on it’s only going to get worse. Socially, the people are increasingly mad, disillusioned and feel lied to and, at the same time, less and less afraid to speak up. The Nazis are by far the most united and best armed group in the country, except for a theoretical “Ukrainian military” which, at least so far, has no leader and is therefore is not united (might this change in the future? Maybe). Basically, any person who took Social Sciences 101 in college will tell you that the Ukies will now turn on each other, God willing just with words and ideas, but violence is most likely. For the NAF it is far better to wait until Zaporozhie, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov or even Odessa turn into lawless cities which nobody really controls then to try to take them by force now. There is even a real possibility that the NAF might be seen as a liberator in these cities if chaos there reaches a “Mad Max” level.
Q: What if NATO sends in forces to prop-up the Junta?
A: LOL! First, I would strongly advise our AngloZionist “partners” (as they say in Russia) to first consult with their German, French and Polish colleagues to see if the latter have pleasant memories of being in charge of the Ukraine. Second, I would remind our AngloZionist partners that their move into Iraq and Afghanistan was supposed to be a love fest which would pay for itself. Third, I would also suggest to them that if they did not like Maliki, they might not like Iarosh either. Of course, sending a symbolic force to some maneuvers with whatever is left of the Ukie military is a good idea – it’s called “showing the flag” – but to try to do something meaningful by trying to use NATO military forces inside the Ukraine would be very, very, dangerous even if Russia does nothing at all to make things worse.
Q: What about the EU?
A: I think that it lost it’s willpower (not that it ever had much!). That ridiculous performance by Hollande has already come crushing down: turns out that his loud statement was an “individual opinion” with no legal meaning. Now, of course, the EU Kindergartgen (Poland, Lithuania, etc.) will keep on being what it is, a Kindergarten, but the adults (Germany, France, etc.) are showing signs of getting fed up. I don’t expect them to make a 180 overnight, no, but I just expect them to stop pro-actively making things worse. One of the possible signs of that might be a decrease in the role of the EU and an increase in the role of the OSCE.
Q: And what about Uncle Sam?
A: He is totally stuck in his only mode: demands, threats, condemnation, demands, threats, condemnation, etc. etc. etc. Normally “aggression” is part of that mantra, except that neither the US nor NATO have what it takes to militarily attack Russia. As for the AngloZionist ‘deep state’ it will continue to try subvert and economically cripple Russia, but as long as Putin is on the Kremlin I don’t see that strategy succeeding either.
Q: Sounds like you are optimistic.
A: If so, then only very very cautiously so. I don’t see a big drama, much less so a disaster, in what just happened, I think that Russia holds all the good cards in this game, and I see no danger for the people of Novorussia. To those who wanted to ride on a tank straight to the Maidan I can only say that even though I very much share their hopes and dreams, politics is the art of the possible and that smart politics are often slow and time-consuming politics. Maximalism is good for teenagers, not heads of state whose decision affect the lives of millions of people. Thus my temporary and provisional conclusion is this: so far, so good, things are better than they seemed to be only 2 months ago and I see no reason to expect a major reversal in the foreseeable future.
Q: What do you consider the biggest danger for Novorussia right now?
A: Political infighting. I don’t know if this is possible right now, but I would like to see the emergence of an undisputed Novorussian leader who would have the official and full support of Strelkov, Zakharchenko, Borodai, Mozgovoi, Kononov, Khodakovski, Tsarev, Bolotov, Gubarev and all the other political and military leaders. This has to be a truly Novorussian leader, not just a “Putin proconsul”, a person capable of negotiating with Putin for the interests of the people of Novorussia. I don’t mean to suggest that these negotiations cannot be friendly, if only because there can be no Novorussia against Russia, but this leader needs to represent the interests of the Novorussian people, and not the Russian people whose interests are (very well) represented by Putin himself. Right now, the main reason why Putin has so much power in Novorussia is primarily because there is still no real Novorussian political leadership. There is a Novorussian military leadership, and even they probably have to more or less do what the Russian military tells them to do. Far from being weakened by the emergence of such a truly independent and truly Novorussian leader, I think that the Russian-Novorussian alliance would be greatly strengthened by it. Novorussia should not, and cannot, be micro-managed from the Kremlin. In other words, what I hope is for a “Novorussian Nasrallah” who would be a loyal and faithful but sovereign and independent ally of Putin (like Nasrallah is for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), but not a poodle like Blair or Hollande. Novorussia needs a spokesman and negotiator who could really have a mandate to speak for the people of Novorussia. Until that happens, I will always be worried for the future of the people of Novorussia.
Sorry if I forgot many good questions or points and please feel free to post more comments or questions, and I will try to answer those which a) do not misrepresent my views (no more strawman) or b) which I have not already answered ad nauseam elsewhere. To those of you who have – correctly – detected my irritation and/or frustration with certain comments I will simply say “guilty as charged” (- : told you: I am definitely not a nice guy :-). I won’t even bother justifying myself, either you can or you cannot imagine how frustrating it is for me to deal with, shall we say, some “personality types”. But either way there is nothing I could add to affect that. To the many kind, supportive, respectful, generous, educated, wise, interesting, funny, sophisticated, compassionate, intelligent, principled, honest, honorable and otherwise wonderful members of our community I want to express my most heartfelt and sincere gratitude: I simple don’t know how I could have made it through these terrible and tragic months without your help, support and kindness.
RFC: Now let’s get a good brainstorming session going about any and all the topics above.
Cheers and kind regards,