Riafan.ru: If Kiev does not come to its senses and a full-scale armed conflict begins in Donbass, then the time will come for Moscow’s decisive actions to force Kiev to peace – and reformat the entire Ukrainian space. This is the conclusion reached by the FAN observer who analyzed the situation in Donbass.
On April 3, the OSCE recorded an avalanche-like increase in ceasefire violations in southeastern Ukraine. A new exacerbation of the conflict in Donbass, initiated by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, exactly according to Petro Poroshenko ‘s “tracing” in order to push US President Joe Biden to call Kiev (which happened on April 2), once again demonstrated the unwillingness of the Ukrainian side to comply with the Minsk agreements. Kiev has consistently led to a dead end all the formats of political dialogue, giving its military men carte blanche to bring the conflict into a hot phase.
The logic of the Ukrainian authorities is clear. Zelensky will try to use the aggravation in Donbass for the final exit from Minsk-2 and the launch of the so-called “Crimean platform” . At the same time, the intensification of hostilities in the zone of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO – former ATO) will allow Ukraine to return itself to the international agenda, increase its weight in the dialogue with Europe and play along with the United States in the confrontation with Russia.
In other words, a really big war in Donbass – fraught with a head-on collision with Russia, which may come back to haunt Kiev with the loss of statehood – Zelensky does not need. He only needs the appearance of such a war as a political instrument. However, this is a very dangerous game with fire. The traditional for “Pan Ze” desire to “weave”, brought out of the Ukrainian government offices to the line of contact of the parties in the Donbass, can lead to completely unpredictable consequences for Kiev, including dumping into that biggest war. This is all the more likely due to the prolonged pumping of the Ukrainian public with revanchist, nationalist and Russophobic slogans.
Much more foreign beneficiaries of Kiev are satisfied with the situation of “no peace, no war”. It is much more predictable, does not entail outrageous risks, and also acts as an effective and convenient instrument of pressure on Russia – both in the sanctions policy and in the military sphere. In addition, the military contingents of the United States and other NATO countries are constantly on the territory of Ukraine. And Ukrainian airspace is used by members of the North Atlantic Alliance for reconnaissance and patrolling along the borders with Russia.
Nevertheless, the crisis of “Minsk-2” is evident. This prompts Moscow to attend to the search for new formats for ensuring its own security and appeasing Kiev.
Moscow’s new doctrine
The first step in this direction can be considered the holding of an integration forum in Donetsk at the end of January 2021, at which the presentation of the “Russian Donbass” doctrine, representing various options for the political future of southeastern Ukraine, took place. This doctrine formalized the creation of a new, alternative and competitive political entity for Kiev with a center in Donetsk.
The minimum program is the achievement of the administrative boundaries of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The maximum program is the creation of the political association “Novorossiya” as part of the Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Zaporozhye, Kherson and Nikolaev regions, which together should return to the orbit of the Russian world.
“Donbass is a stronghold for the liberation of Ukraine from nationalism and aggressive Russophobia, a refuge for persecuted Russian compatriots and supporters of the Russian World.”
Of course, this is not a complete doctrine of the creation of a new political entity, but rather an application for it. But symbolically, the first step towards the creation of such a new political entity was made.
The next public step towards zeroing the political course of Kiev was taken by the Russian administration on March 18, during the celebration of the seventh anniversary of the reunification of Crimea with Russia. On this day, Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time, contrary to the legist policy of the Russian bureaucracy, questioned the legality of the administrative borders of the USSR and declared the priority of the historical borders of Russia:
“The Bolsheviks, forming the Soviet Union, for some reason, still incomprehensible, transferred significant territories, geopolitical spaces to the address of quasi-state formations. And then, having collapsed on their own, having collapsed their party from within, having collapsed the Soviet Union, they led to the fact that Russia lost colossal territories and geopolitical spaces. “
Note that at the same time, Putin for the first time publicly questioned the sovereignty of the post-Soviet republics, which the Russian president called “quasi-state formations.” Putin linked their preservation with Russia’s interests in ensuring its own state security:
“We will never agree with only one thing: that someone should allow himself to use Russia’s generous gifts to harm the Russian Federation itself. I hope this will be heard. “
Another, not so obvious, but equally important thesis, Putin voiced regarding the political instruments of the new and not yet official doctrine, implying the use of the precedent of integration.
“Once again, we have clearly, clearly demonstrated to ourselves and to the whole world that our people have the ability and ability to unite around the interests of the Motherland,” the President of the Russian Federation announced.
To summarize, the new Moscow doctrine, in general terms, reads: Russia no longer regards the administrative borders of the USSR as unshakable. The priority is the historical justice of the people of Greater Russia and the security of the current federation. Russia has the right to integrate its historical regions when its sovereignty is under threat.
What will Russia do under such circumstances? Let’s get acquainted with the contours of possible options for further actions of Moscow.
Let’s take it for granted that if a full-fledged conflict breaks out in the Donbas, Russia will have to use its Armed Forces against the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It will be done explicitly or not very explicitly – it does not matter. The main thing is that Moscow will have to use its troops, because in a duel situation Donetsk and Lugansk simply cannot withstand the Ukrainian army: the Ukrainian side has too great an advantage in forces and means. It is necessary to understand, accept and stop being ashamed of this state of affairs.
We will not dwell on the analysis of purely military aspects of coercing Kiev to peace, such as the “coordinated strike in converging directions from Crimea and Belarus to the rear of the JFO group,” which is constantly being sucked by the Ukrainian media. Let’s go up one floor and look at the map from a geopolitical point of view. So, Russia should have a number of scenarios that will act as positive targets of military action in the event of an active full-scale conflict in Donbass.
The first and main condition for the coercion of Kiev to peace is the recognition by Moscow and, most likely, the further unification of the people’s republics within their administrative borders – with the obligatory inclusion of the Mariupol agglomeration, as well as the industrial region of the same name. In fact, this was a potential, but for various reasons, the scenario of the 2015 model was never implemented. Now Moscow can not only implement it, but also make it an intermediate scenario on the way to the next stages of action.
Unfortunately, after 2014, Moscow has not been engaged in the formation of such an asset (at least nothing is known about Russian activities in this direction), and Ukrainian political migrants in Russia are disoriented and disunited. At the same time, over the past seven years, Kiev has made a lot of efforts to destroy the pro-Russian movement in the above-mentioned regions of Ukraine and replace it with movements of a radical nationalist persuasion.
However, each medal, as you know, has two sides, so that in the Kharkiv region and other territories of Ukraine there are not only minuses, but also pluses for Russia. The latter are the deep fatigue of the local population from the war and political radicalism, rejection of the course and rhetoric of Kiev, as well as the unprecedentedly low ratings of the Ukrainian authorities. Local radicals retain their power over the street only through the connivance of the authorities and various schemes of cooperation with the special services, where they act as “death squads”.
Let’s not forget that the large-scale redistribution of the legal and gray economy of Ukraine launched by Zelensky creates an extremely high background of resistance to Kiev from large and regional businesses, which is also objectively in the interests of the Russian Federation. Mayors of large cities have long been a stable and cohesive opposition to the president, which also undermines the power of Kiev, which is largely virtual. Small businesses in Ukraine are also generally opposed to Zelensky.
The large-scale repressions of the SBU against not only opposition leaders, but also ordinary citizens of Ukraine demonstrate a steady growth of protest sentiments, which are already taking open forms. In fact, Kiev now retains power largely due to repression. A compromise created decades ago, or, if you like, a social contract based on the division of the legal and shadow economies between the regions and Kiev, is now actively breaking Zelensky personally. Control over cash flows from a unifying idea turned into conflict, which may well undermine the foundations of statehood in modern Ukraine.
Thus, potential partners of Russia are not only local authorities, but also large business in Ukraine, for which it is fundamentally important to preserve supply chains. The elimination of the power of the Kiev administration and its repressive bodies in the person of the SBU and radicals will contribute to the growth of local self-government and the creation of various options for cooperation.
The same scenario can be easily scaled up to the maximum option – moving all the way to Kiev and creating a conditional red line along the administrative borders of Zhytomyr and Vinnytsia regions. Such a projection of power, with no participation in the political process, but creating conditions and a corridor of actions for it, will make it possible to reformat the political and public platform of Ukraine, taking into account Russia’s interests.
At the same time, the announced plans of Kiev to unleash a large-scale guerrilla war in the Center and in the South-East of the country are illusory. The deepest weariness of the Ukrainian population from war, poverty and corruption forms a stable demand for a peacekeeping agenda and a peaceful life. In this case, it will be important to ensure the security of the border with the western regions to prevent the infiltration of sabotage and terrorist detachments from there. In this scenario, any political scenarios are possible: reformatting a unitary Ukraine into a federation, creating a confederation with the participation of Novorossia, incorporating Novorossia into Russia, and so on.
Russia has forces and means
It is this scenario that the United States is trying with all its might to avoid in order to continue attempts to strangle Russia with technological and political sanctions, an international blockade, as well as aggressive actions against Russian citizens. Vladimir Putin’s doctrinal turn, which both the Russian bureaucracy and the United States and its minions in Kiev have tried to ignore, requires Moscow to make bold political decisions. If Kiev does not come to its senses, then the time will come for them. Each new Ukrainian shell that hit Donetsk and Lugansk only confirms this conclusion.
Well, Russia has long had the strength and means to implement its political decisions on the Ukrainian “field”. For example, the 1st Guards Tank Red Banner Army, recreated in 2014. However, this is already a topic for a separate conversation …