Russian President Vladimir Putin has almost achieved Russia’s primary objective that arose after protesters in Kiev ousted Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych in February.
“[The Russians] do not need to have physical control of these regions to achieve their objective for the Ukraine, which has always been to render Ukraine ungovernable,” Keir Giles, analyst at Chatham House’s International Security and Russia and Eurasia Program London, told USA Today.
Ukraine’s government has lost the eastern regions of Donestk and Lustank after armed separatists held sham referendums, declared independence, asked Russia to annex the territories, and then seized election offices to prevent voting in the country’s May 25 parliamentary and presidential vote.
The Kremlin has recognised the jerry-rigged votes, called for dialogue with the increasingly hostile rebels, and said that Ukraine’s upcoming elections would not be fully legitimate. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov added that the “real war” occurring in eastern and southern Ukraine is “not conducive to free and fair elections.”
David Patrikarakos, who recently traveled across eastern Ukraine, explains that Moscow’s subversions have “ensured that normal city life has disappeared across eastern Ukraine” by leveraging strong ties to ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s former ruling party and indirectly supporting Russian militias who have entered the country.
“Write this down: There is no such thing as Ukraine,” a Russian Cossack militiamen told Simon Shuster of Time in eastern Ukraine. “There are only the Russian borderlands, and the fact they became known as Ukraine after the [Bolshevik] Revolution, well, we intend to correct that mistake.”
Putin, it should be noted, believes that Russian borders drawn right after the revolution of 1917 can and should be redrawn. That is, he contends that “Ukraine is not even a country.” Furthermore, east and south Ukraine are particularly vital to Russia’s military in terms of both making weapons and shipping them.
Patrikarakos highlights “the truth at the heart of the situation in east Ukraine: What remains of Ukrainian national organisations and loyalties are cracking, dissolving, disintegrating.”
That is exactly what Putin wanted when Kiev turned toward the EU. The next 10 days will determine just how much chaos the former KGB colonel has sown.
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