Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Tuesday thoughts

So the fake referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk went ahead with (literally) predictable results and the local paramilitary leaders are waiting for the new Vladimir the Great to gather in the Russian lands and present them with their campaign medals. As I wrote in a previous post, Putin may not necessarily do this. This whole crisis has been engineered by Putin to punish Ukraine for trying to break away from his influence. He's not after territory; what he wants is to make Ukraine ungovernable, and he has achieved this goal. He can keep Donetsk and Luhansk at arm's length just as Milosevic did with Republika Srpska. He can even try to pose as a peacemaker, hoping Western countries' indifference, spinelessness and greed will eventually lead them to accept him in this role for the sake of an easy life.

The danger for Putin is that the momentum of events will wrench control out of his hands. He's let the nationalist genie out of the bottle and he won't be able to put it back in. He may think he can deny association with what now happens in Donetsk and Luhansk, but Milosevic thought he could distance himself from the actions of Mladic and Karadzic and ultimately the wider world did not believe his excuses.

The kidnappings of the OSCE and Red Cross members may not have been random thuggery but part of a deliberate plan to scare off international organisations. Mindful of Yugoslavia, Putin does not want UN peacekeepers involved, not unless he can have the kind of scenario we've seen in Abkhazia and South Ossetia where the "UN peacekeepers" were essentially the Russian army in disguise. International involvement in stabilising eastern Ukraine is probably not an option now.

More later (maybe)...

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