Even though recent developments suggest a possible offensive to expand the territory Russia and its proxies now hold, perhaps with a push to Mariupol, the Kremlin knows that such a move would trigger tougher sanctions against Russia's already failing economy, reads the article.
Putin's main problem is that he needs to keep acting. He didn't invade Ukraine because he feared for the rights of its Russian-speakers. Rather, it was a diversion from problems at home. Nothing terrifies Putin more than popular protests. As a KGB-agent in Dresden, he saw firsthand how East Germans toppled the oppressive system he had dedicated his life to preserve. What if Ukraine's Euromaidan had inspired Russians to do likewise?
So what to do? Enter Mykola Azarov, Ukraine's last prime minister under Yanukovych. On August 3, Azarov—now living in exile in Moscow—formed the "Ukraine Salvation Committee," whose goal is "regime change" back home. Azarov is wanted in Ukraine for several crimes, including embezzlement and abuse of power.
Read alsoKremlin claims non-involvement in Azarov’s Committee of Ukraine’s Salvation The committee's president is Volodymyr Oliynik, a former pro-Russian member of Parliament, who helped draft the infamous 2014 "dictatorship laws" granting Yanukovych vast powers to squash the Euromaidan. Another member is Oleh Tsaryov, one of the first people to propose the Novorossiya project and former speaker of the so-called Parliament of Novorossiya.
Yet another interesting character behind the committee is Ihor Markov, recently arrested in Italy by Interpol at the request of the Ukrainian government for his role in organizing an assault on a protester against the installation of a monument to the Russian Empress Catherine the Great in Odesa in 2007. Without a hint of irony, Putin's international propaganda channel RT accused Kyiv of going after "a dissident politician."
The timing of the formation of the Ukraine Salvation Committee makes perfect sense. Putin needs to make a new move, and now he has a fully-fledged Ukrainian puppet government-in-exile that could lay claim to the entire country. Russia may insist on including the committee in future peace talks.
Read alsoUkraine’s fugitive saviors It could organize the population of separatist-controlled territories, as well as Ukrainian refugees in Russia, who supposedly exceed a million, according to Russian media. Azarov says Ukraine's democratically elected government is a "puppet of the Americans" so he can be Putin's puppet, and in the spirit of Russian propaganda, claim that he is just representing "the other side of the story."