Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Russian political scientist is convinced that there are only two people in Ukraine with whom the Kremlin is ready to have a dialogue.
Director of the Center for East European Research, Russian political expert Andrey Okara commented on the possible motives behind the actions of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine and its most negative consequences in his interview with “Segodnya.ua.”
– Do you understand the final motivation of Putin’s actions? How far is he ready to go to “protect the Russian-speaking population” in Ukraine?
– I hope I understand. In my opinion, the widely supported viewpoint in Ukraine about the inadequacy of his actions is that they are in themselves inadequate. It is necessary to gain insight into the Kremlin’s logic. The confrontation in Crimea and the southeast of Ukraine – is, from the Russian government’s point of view, not a battle between Russia and Ukraine, but a battle between Russia and the “world’s evil.” And nothing else. In Crimea, Russia “rises up from its knees” – and turns from a nationalist state into a “superpower,” ready not just to trample international law, but to send it far away – along with all of the Budapest Memoranda. Putin’s “Crimean” speech at the Federal Meeting is indicative of the same sentiments: Russia does not feel itself a part of Europe or Eurasia, but the country-civilization, the new pole of the global world order. Obviously, such confrontation by itself turns Russia into a superpower only in the eyes of its own people. To the West, Russia is not a superpower, but practically the “empire of evil.”
– Does the Kremlin need Crimea, southeast [of Ukraine] or Ukraine as a whole?
– That’s the issue, there is no consensus on the issue of the gutting of Ukraine in the Kremlin. If they had agreed on something, Ukraine would have been gutted already. In my understanding, the probability of war for the southeast or some military action there is highly possible there. So far, Ukrainian authorities have quite successfully repelled the attacks on Donbas, Odesa and Kharkiv, eliminating political reasons for brotherly help by the Russian army and strengthening the defense line. Although the new wave [of attack] rolled in – with the so-called regional referenda.
– How valuable is Crimea for Russia?
– By itself, Crimea is not really needed – from economic and political viewpoints it is not a bonus but a drag. And a serious one at that: over 2 million lower class people with paternalistic expectations. People in Donbas also have a high level of paternalism, but working in a mine or at a steel plant – is a qualitatively different occupation than renting sheds by the seashore to vacationers.
Crimea is not a gift. Neither to Russia, nor to Ukraine, who pulled this burden for 60 years. The only beneficiary of events is “Gazprom,” that will “press” for the rigs and fields/deposits of the “Chornomornaftogaz” [oil and gas company in Simferopol].
The Russian seizure of Crimea is a pretty picture for the Russian lower class TV audience, whose patriotic feelings suddenly woke up. But in reality [the seizure] is a massive humanitarian catastrophe where dozens of people are missing and tens of thousands of people are refugees, both Russians and Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. As for the “Novorussia” (sourtheastern oblasts [regions] of Ukraine), I think Putin needs it even less than Crimea. However, this does not exclude a war for these oblasts.
Does he need Ukraine as a whole? Yes. However, under the condition that the very same people inhabit it, just like the people who live in the suburbs of Moscow. But the people who inhabit Ukraine, look absolutely strange in the eyes of the Kremlin – they dared to disrupt the succession [to Presidency] and overthrow the President–Usurper [Yanukovych]. And this very misunderstanding causes the exasperation and the desire to punish Ukraine. Therefore, in my opinion, his main task is not to seize Crimea, “Novorussia” or the whole of Ukraine. Instead, he wants to create a system of so-called managed chaos that should turn the country into an unstable “failing” state and solve many exclusively Russian problems. As well as enhance the rating and legitimacy of Putin himself – and his rating already grew from 47% to 80%. But also – to solve Russian internal issues of budget thefts – not with six, but nine zeroes. Because now the Russian government can write off practically anything – either on “victory in Crimea,” or on the Banderites and Sasha Belyi…
– The “Annexation” of Crimea in two weeks without a single shot evokes a sense of orchestrated scenario in many experts. There are just as many questions about Donbas…
– The inaction of the new Ukrainian government can be explained either by sabotage, or incompetence and managerial collapse, or by the “fixed match” with the Kremlin. The new Ukrainian government had plenty of opportunities to radically change the situation. The “little green men” arrived in Crimea – unknown armed men in uniforms without insignia. If the government does not take any action to expel them from their territory, then this government has withdrawn itself from resolving this crisis situation.
– And why didn’t the Ukrainian army do this? Did they have an order to stand down?
– For some reason, nobody wants to answer this obvious question. It is possible that the Ukrainian government tried to test the effectiveness of Lev Tolstoy’s teachings about non-resistance – in competition with armed “little men” and outright bandits. I must admit, this is a unique experiment in the newest political history.
The puzzle is why the Ukrainian servicemen in Crime did not shoot – it is no less intriguing than the puzzle about the snipers on Instytutska Street on February 20, 2014.
– Of the Ukrainian politicians, with whom can Putin communicate?
– Anyone he wants to talk to, he will be able to. But the strategy of the Kremlin is as follows: all Kyiv authorities are seemingly illegitimate. That is why there is no reason to talk to them. And if there is no legitimate government, why not grab Crimea, even Donbas?
– In this situation, there are two people for communication – Yuliya Tymoshenko and Mustafa Dzhemilyov. By the way, I think that under the current circumstances it would be appropriate if Dzhemilyov became the speaker and acting president – before the emergency elections. Specifically before the elections, not after.
– What, in your opinion, is the biggest negative result of current events around the Crimean crisis?
– It is necessary to mention the following among the tragic consequences of the Crimean crisis: the destruction of the present system of international relations and international public law, restoration of Ukraine’s status as a nuclear power, emergence of two dozen new states with nuclear weapons, humanitarian catastrophe in Crimea itself, “Caucasization” of Crimea, war of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as the death of the CIS, and in the near future – the annexation of Russian territories by China.
But in my opinion, the biggest catastrophe is that Russia and Ukraine, the Russians and the Ukrainians – are no longer allies or even fraternal peoples. Now, they are the most severe competitors and even mortal enemies. And this split happened not just along the state border, but inside many families as well. The crisis in Russian–Ukrainian relations happened in a matter of weeks. But now these two peoples won’t be able to call themselves brothers, not for a couple dozen years. I think not all of us will survive until that time comes.
As is well known, all powerful structural projects n Eurasia (Russian Empire, the USSR, etc.) over the past 350 years were formed on the basis of the strategic union of Russia and Ukraine. Now, all the bridges are burnt, there is no way back. Russia by itself is unable to keep Siberia and the Far East due to a lack of resources. If China decides to annex that part of Russian territory in the next few years, it will bring global changes over all of Eurasia. Overall, in the near future, we will be able to find out what lies inside this frightful and mysterious geopolitical Pandora’s box, whose cover was ripped off in March of this year in Crimea.