Kremlin’s doublethink

17:50, 03 June 2016
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Opinion

Diplomacy is failing. The talks at the highest level on Donbas have only showed one thing: no settlement is expected. Moscow’s statement that it’s ready to return Donbas "based on humanitarian considerations" is nothing but a bluff. Moreover, official press-releases from the talks of the Normandy Four cast doubt whether the leaders of Ukraine, Germany and France have actually been talking with the Russian president? Or was it someone else? Or maybe his interpreters pick what to translate into Russian? Contrary to common sense, Moscow continues to pretend it suffers from topographical cretinism, or maybe in this way it voices its dreams of seizing more of Ukrainian territory… Isn’t that amazing that when discussing the issues regarding parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions controlled by the Russian army, the Kremlin continues to use the term "the south-east of Ukraine"? Perhaps, all the maps in the Kremlin have been lost… Otherwise, how can they be so naïve to confuse the seized areas of Donbas, to which the Russians tend to refer with the three-letter abbreviations, with the regions where the blue and yellow banners fly proudly?

Contrary to common sense, Moscow continues to pretend it suffers from topographical cretinism, or maybe in this way it voices its dreams of seizing more of Ukrainian territory…

However, having mastered the malicious art of word manipulations, the Kremlin sometimes stumbles over some ridiculous bloopers. The aggressors don’t hide the fact that they agree with the militants the proposals for local elections, special status for Donbas, amnesty for the militants and decentralization. In fact, everything is much more prosaic: the Kremlin has long written its version of Ukraine’s Constitution and is now offering it to its partners in Normandy format as the only way out of the crisis. Additional arguments are mortar shells flying toward the Ukrainian positions. Just one night of negotiations of Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko with Putin claimed the lives of seven (!!!) Ukrainian servicemen.

Washington’s diplomatic efforts have not come to fruition either. The Kremlin has flatly rejected compromise offers on Donbas elections by Victoria Nuland. That is, Moscow agrees on the elections under the Ukrainian legislation and under the OSCE control, but with one small condition: the candidates admitted to the election campaign, shall be agreed with the Kremlin. At the same time, the Ukrainian parties (as well as the Ukrainian media) shall be banned from the electoral process. And, most importantly, Moscow wants to count the votes and announce the winners. Naturally, such a fairly straightforward scheme will be concealed under the guise of vibrant political activity of the “local population of the young republics." Moreover, only those will be able to exercise their right to vote who are now living in the occupied territories. In a Russian interpretation of Donbas elections, the IDPs who fled the war-torn areas to the government-controlled territories will only be permitted to vote if the refugees from Donbas in Russia will also do so. As planned by the Kremlin, there will be no problems with the “right count” of those votes in Russia.

In such a situation particularly ridiculous are the attempts of the Opposition Bloc in Ukraine to somehow push through Parliament the bill on the elections in the occupied territories. Teachers from Moscow have for two years taught the former Donbas elite how to love Ukraine, but they still are still getting the D’s. In fact, the Russian leaders deeply despise these people and will never allow this Donetsk clique, as it was under the Yanukovych rule, to take independent decisions. Having seized parts of Donbas, Moscow is much more comfortable working with puppet ringleaders whom the Kremlin imposed onto the leading positions. Today the “repatriation” of the Donetsk “elite” back home is not on the agenda. I’d say it’s more likely that the Right Sector or Svoboda will get from the Kremlin the right to campaign in Donbas than the former Party of Regions. Really, does anyone think that it’s a coincidence that all the local media are barred from giving any references to the name of the former "master" of Donbas Rinat Akhmetov? Isn’t it symptomatic that Akhmetov, along with a number of prominent figures of today’s Opposition Bloc (read “former Party of Regions”) on June 1 were banned from entering the "free republics"?

As planned by the Kremlin, there will be no problems with the “right count” of those votes in Russia.

At the moment, some progress is possible only in one direction – a long process, which has no alternative though, of agreeing the deployment of the OSCE armed police mission in Donbas, most likely along the demarcation line exclusively. One the one hand, this can minimize the number of victims, but on the other – this will in no way stop the Kremlin’s deadly supplies to the occupied Donbas. The list of supplies has always been topped with all that is needed to wage war and kill Ukrainians: tanks, guns and Russian militants “on vacation.” In the end, no one has ever planned to build a Paradise in the ruined Donbas for those Russian speakers “saved from the atrocities of the bloody Kyiv junta.”

It is interesting to see now how the pro-government Russian experts are trying to find the pros from the fact of Crimea’s occupation and the seizing of Donbas in the context of resolving the "Ukrainian issue." They have almost reached a consensus: "The Kremlin managed to stop Ukraine’s entry into NATO and the European Union” (as if these issues were actually on urgent agenda). That’s because now, they say, Ukraine will continue to degrade, which means that in four-eight years, Moscow will see ‘new opportunities’."

Well, good luck with that. However, "new opportunities" may be years and years ahead… During this period, another generation of people will be raised in Ukraine, which will not for a second hesitate what language is best to be used when speaking to the Russian aggressor.

Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow

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