The salami method: to dismantle Ukraine without the West breaking the tools

“We were told that the invasion would come on February 15,” a Ukrainian businessman, a resident of Kiev, said in a long phone call on Tuesday evening. “On February 14, it was possible to easily buy the finest type of fuel at Kiev’s 95-octane stations. On February 15 in the morning there was not a single drop left. There was no choice but to get down to 89. Not bad.”

He was on the phone line to Kharkiv (he repeated “Kharkiv”, as is the Russian custom, although he is an ardent Ukrainian patriot). The second largest city in Ukraine is only 50 km from the Russian border. He has heard that people with entry visas cross the border easily. There are no delays, and no queues. Although visas are not easy to obtain, especially in the last four years. Business.But those who receive, cross.Not exactly like the border of war eve.

My interlocutor thinks that Vladimir Putin got everything he could from the crisis. In 2014 he was expelled from the 8G Company, the privileged group of leaders of industrial democracies. This was after he invaded the Crimean peninsula and eastern Ukraine. Now everyone is making a pilgrimage to him: Mr. Macron, Mr. Schultz, Mr. Johnson (he makes sure to add the title “Mr.”). They pretend to understand him, but they do not understand him more than “Mr. Chamberlain” understood Adolf Hitler.

He is not sure there will be no invasion. But life goes on. He plans business trips in the coming weeks, and he plans to return home at the end of them. So far from Kiev.

What happened in the “last minute”?

What happens if there is no invasion? Will there be a basis to resent false warnings, even mentioned on dates? Maybe, but on the other hand, what would you say if you saw a tall, muscular stranger aiming a loaded gun at the temple of a weak neighbor. Did you have any reason to believe that the neighbor was in danger of death? Would you call the police?

Russia has gone out of its way, just gone out of its way, to frighten Ukraine, Europe, NATO, the United States. Its claim that the West responded with “hysteria” does not stand the test of reason. Besides, it would probably be many years, if any, if we knew whether Putin intended to pull the trigger, and back at the last minute. Or maybe he did not return. Who knows what will happen in the hours between writing this list and publishing it.

What happened in the “last minute”? Perhaps Putin has come to the conclusion (as some Western commentators claim) that he has gone too far. Perhaps he was surprised by the united Western front against him. Perhaps the American Civil War – with daily reports on how many Russian soldiers moved and where – achieved its goal, weakening his nerves. Maybe he came to the conclusion that he had achieved what he wanted, at least for the time being. And perhaps he is about to award himself a consolation prize: the continued gradual dismantling of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the similar lower house of the Russian parliament called on Putin to immediately recognize the “People’s Republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk as “independent and sovereign states.”

“Genocide,” he said, in 2008 and now

The independence and sovereignty of two administrative ropes, without a history of aspirations for independence and without a national identity, is of course a political ploy. The similar explains that the inhabitants of these regions “expressed their desire to speak and write in the Russian language, and they want to respect religious freedom, and they do not agree with the actions of the Ukrainian authorities, which violate their rights and freedoms.”

Putin, for his part, was a few hours ahead of schedule when he announced at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Schultz that “genocide” was taking place in the rebel territories.

The cover of the Washington Post, August 10, 2008.

The cover of the Washington Post, August 10, 2008. “Exacerbating Russia-Georgia War”, Left of the China Olympics

This is a considerable exaggeration. In the last seven years, 14,000 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine, in a war initiated by Russia. This is a terrifying number in itself, but not exactly “genocide”.

More important than accuracy in terminology is the historical and political context. This is exactly what Putin said in the summer of 2008 to justify his attack on Georgia.

In the summer of 2008, a hot-tempered and frivolous Georgian president sent his inexperienced army back to conquer a rebel pro-Russian region called South Ossetia. The Georgians have shelled its capital, Tskhinvali. Putin, then prime minister, was in Beijing on the occasion of the opening of the Summer Olympics. He accused the Georgians of “genocide” (though less than 200 civilians were killed), and ordered his generals to intervene.

The Russian army had no difficulty eradicating the Georgian army. Had he wanted to, Putin could have overtaken Tbilisi. He did not board, perhaps because he did not intend to, and perhaps because he was surprised by the aggressive response in the United States and Europe. President George W. Bush sent transport planes to Georgia with military equipment, just as Joe Biden does in Ukraine. NATO then expressed support In Georgia’s aspiration to join the Alliance.

Lenin and Stalin invented republics

The events of 2008 left a deep imprint on Putin. Although Russia’s hand was on the upper hand, the campaign demonstrated the fundamental weaknesses of its army, which for many years neglected Hebrews. Putin therefore began a massive reform. He also said it would prevent NATO from expanding eastward. Six years passed from the war in Georgia to the conquest of the Crimea to the reduction of the uprising in the Donbas region, where Luhansk and Donetsk are located. Another seven years passed until the current crisis.

A massive invention of dummy states, like the “People’s Republics” of Donbas, was a long-standing Soviet formula. Lenin, and especially Stalin, created them wholesale. Traces of their creativity are imprinted to this day on the map of the Russian Federation, which has 22 “autonomous republics”, although Putin has enjoyed most of their autonomy since the first years of the century. One of them is a cousin of South Ossetia, and her name is North Ossetia. To be.

Ukrainians have no difficulty understanding that the demand for autonomy is intended less to do justice to a “Russian-speaking minority” and more, much more, to begin the dissolution of the Ukrainian state, which Putin denies its historic right to exist. Russian speakers are scattered throughout Ukraine. If any concentration of Russian speakers would be entitled to autonomy, Ukraine would shrink and go to a collection of small patches on the map.

In 2014, Russia and Ukraine signed the “Minsk Agreements”, which allowed a ceasefire in the eastern regions, and included milestones for a diplomatic solution. The two seals blame each other for not keeping their word. The similar call for independence was intended to punish Ukraine for “violating the Minsk agreements.”

Russia is not interested in negotiating with the “regime in Kiev” (as it calls Ukraine’s elected democratic government), which is just an “American puppet.” Perhaps Putin thinks that a sigh of collective well-being will be emitted from the Western spectacle if he is content with the de facto annexation of the two rebel ropes, and takes his army out of leap positions along the border. Finally, the West moved to the agenda for the contraction of Georgia, in 2008. Maybe, who knows, that was Putin’s intention in the first place. Maybe he will end Ukraine’s independence slowly, slice of salami after slice of salami.

By Editor

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