September 1, 2015

“The Geopolitical Trap”: V. Putin's Regime's Mistakes as a Prerequisite for Russia's Collapse

The development of the situation around Russia's armed conflict against Ukraine shows V. Putin's regime's gradual losing both, the strategic and tactical initiatives.

At the strategic level, this is evidenced by the apparent failure of Moscow's attempts to persuade the international community of its “noninvolvement” in the armed conflict in the East of Ukraine and to justify Russia's annexation of the Crimea. Today, the fact of the Russian aggression in Ukraine has been recognized by Resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council, as well as by most countries in the world, which fact has become the basis of their policy towards the Russian Federation.

Because of this international reaction, the Russian Federation has actually found itself in the position of a rogue state with all the negative consequences of such a new “status”, including political and economic sanctions and the Russian Federation's being isolated from Western countries and their allies.

At this, neither Russia's attempts to compensate for international sanctions by reorienting trade and economic ties to other countries, nor V. Putin's regime's desire to resume relations with the West at the expense of “giving away” Iran and proposing various kinds of initiatives on the joint struggle against Islamic extremism, have changed the situation in favour of Russia

Despite all the Kremlin's efforts, Western countries and international organizations adhere to a clear position with regard to Russia and are not going to cancel their sanctions until the Putin regime has fulfilled all the demands he has to fulfill to practically resolve the conflict around Ukraine. Despite Moscow's attempts to prove the “incapacity” of such sanctions, they are confidently and consistently destroying the Russian economy which fact can no longer be hidden even by the leadership of the Russian Federation.

Russia's Armed Forces — the last hope of the Kremlin in its confrontation with the West —  cannot defend it either. In fact, this was admitted by the Head of Administration of the Russian President Sergei Ivanov, who in June in an interview with The Financial Times humiliatingly compared the Russian defense budget with the budget of NATO as “a lap-dog and an elephant, a hippo and a domestic cat”.

Today, the ratio of military potentials is even more negative for Russia in the context of the NATO/USA's deployment of their weapons and personnel in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and in the Baltics.

At the tactical level, there is also a similar failure situation with Russia's actions. This is confirmed by Moscow's failure to force Ukraine to carry out Russian conditions of pseudo-resolving of the conflict in the Donbas, providing for recognition of the legitimacy of the so-called “Donetsk People's Republic” and “Luhansk People's Republic” within Ukraine. As well as the resumption of their funding from the Ukrainian budget (this way V. Putin's regime hoped to preserve its control over Ukraine and to shift onto it the responsibility for the life support of the self-proclaimed republics with the simultaneous creation of prerequisites for lifting of international sanctions against Russia).

So Russia's attempts to exercise pressure on Ukraine by intensifying shelling of the positions of Ukrainian troops and peaceful settlements in the area of the ​​conflict, as well as by local offensive actions, get strong response from our side. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have demonstrated their ability to conduct effective enough counter-battery fighting and to reject the occupiers' offensives. Confirmation of this were also combat actions at Maryinka and Kamyanka in June and at Starohnativka in August this year.

In turn, a significant factor of not letting Moscow conduct a large-scale offensive against the Ukraine is the USA and EU's promises to impose much tougher sanctions against Russia in the case of its seizure of new Ukrainian territories. In particular, it is these promises that restrained V. Putin's regime from resumption of active offensive operations in May this year. Moreover, the President of France F. Hollande actually issued an ultimatum to Putin on the practical implementation of the Minsk Agreements by Russia before the end of this year. Otherwise, the European Union will extend the already existing sanctions against Russia and will introduce new, tougher ones.

In general, the above-mentioned circumstances confirm the stalemate of V. Putin's regime, which has actually found itself in its own geopolitical trap. Thus, on the one hand, Putin and his environment cannot leave the Crimea and the Donbas, as it would mean the end of their political (perhaps physical) life, and on the other — continuation of the aggression against Ukraine is pulling Russia into the whirlpool of political, economic, social and security problems with obvious disastrous consequences.

At this, Russia's armed aggressions has not just failed to return Ukraine into the orbit of Russian influence and to prevent its European course, but on the contrary — it has contributed to the unification of the Ukrainian nation around the idea of ​​confronting Moscow and has also stimulated the process of Ukraine's rapprochement with the European Union and NATO. In fact, the only (doubtful) “achievements” of the regime of Vladimir Putin have become the annexation of the Crimea and occupation of a part of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which have no real benefit to Russia, and only make it spend heavily from the Russian state budget to maintain the depressed regions.

The reason for these Russia's failures was the fact that analytical structures of the Russian Federation (including as part of its security services, the Presidential Administration, government and non-governmental organizations, etc.) had completely misjudged the situation due to their personal incompetence, specifics of their world view, and mostly due to their desire to please V. Putin personally. The Russian regime's misconceptions, which pushed it to the armed aggression against Ukraine, have repeatedly been analyzed in the media, but it is worth to go back to them again.

The Russian leadership's main mistake was its believing in the “deep split” in the Ukrainian society between the supporters of the West and the supporters of Russia, and that the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians were in favor of the ideas of the “Russian world”. It was this idea that the project of creation of the so-called project “Novorossiya”, aiming at the disintegration of Ukraine, was based on. However, these plans of Moscow have not received wide support among the Ukrainian population, which made Russia build the “Russian world” in Ukraine with the help of the armed forces.

The Kremlin did not expect that Ukraine would dig in heels and strongly resist Russia's military aggression. Despite the actual destruction of the Armed Forces and other power structures of Ukraine by the previous Ukrainian government, our state within a very short period managed to resume its military power and to stop the aggressor. In this regard, an extremely important role has been played by volunteer formations and volunteer movements, which also came as a surprise (for Russia) Ukrainians' reaction.

Moscow was also wrong to believe (especially after Russia's armed aggression against Georgia in August 2008 and the “gas war” against Ukraine and the EU) in the West's weakness, inertia, and disunity, as well as in its failure to give an adequate response to Russia's actions. Unlike previous years, the United States and the European Union have taken a coordinated, consolidated and tough position against the Russian Federation and promptly embarked on uncompromising pressure on it in all possible directions because of the Ukrainian issue.

Russia has actually overestimated its strength and ability to influence the European Union with the use of energy (oil and gas) factor. The lessons of “gas wars” of 2008-2010 have not been in vain for Europe. In recent years, the leadership of the EU and most European countries have resorted to practical measures to reduce their energy dependence on Russia, and this has completely changed the situation in the European energy market. At the same time, the Russian economy has been badly affected by a sharp drop in global oil prices, which were not expected by Moscow. As a result, the most effective, “Russian energy weapon” has become its biggest challenge in the context of a sharp aggravation of the situation around the Russian energy giants “Gazprom” and “Rosneft”.

Moscow's counting on its traditional allies' (the countries of the “third world”) support for its actions was also a mistake. Thus, V. Putin's regime's aggression against Ukraine was supported by only a few minor countries (Nicaragua, Venezuela and Syria), who themselves are in the position of “rogue states” in the modern system of international relations. In its turn, China (as Moscow's main hope), although does not openly condemn Russia and traditionally takes a neutral position in the UN Security Council when discussing issues sensitive for Russia, does fully recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

Despite all these mistakes and miscalculations of the Russian politics both, on the Ukrainian direction, and in relations with the West and other countries, the regime of V. Putin keeps being guided by frank chimeras that are a clear product of self-delusion and sick fancies of the current leadership of the Russian Federation.

Thus, contrary to common sense, V. Putin's regime keeps counting on the spread of pro-Russian conquest and imperial ideas in the Ukrainian society. Today, after the shameless annexation of the Crimea and cynical occupation of a part of the Donbas, in the situation of the aggressive military actions against Ukraine, the Russian Federation, no doubt, is an enemy to the overwhelming majority of the Ukrainian nation (which fact neither Putin nor his associates can realize), which does not accept the Russian nationalist ideology. It is for this reason that in Ukraine there are no strong pro-Russian political forces that would be able to count on the Ukrainians' support.

Doubtful enough look Kremlin's hopes to implement in Ukraine of the scenario of the so-called “Third Maydan” by a sharp destabilization of the socio-economic situation in our state in order to change the Ukrainian government. The experience has shown that none of the previous “Maydans” was had a socio-economic basis and pursued exclusively political goals — namely the overthrow of pro-Russian regimes. Today we should also point out Ukraine's gradual coming out from the economic crisis, which was caused by Russia's armed aggression. This is already recognized by both, Ukrainian experts and representatives of international financial institutions and rating agencies.

There are no real signs of the West's “getting tired” of Ukraine, or of disagreements between the USA and the EU and individual European countries on the Ukrainian issue (the Kremlin's groundless hopes). According to the US President Barack Obama, the West is in no way tired of Ukraine and is ready to step up pressure on Russia in case of seizure of its capturing new Ukrainian territories. This is confirmed by the introduction of new US and EU sanctions against the regime of V. Putin in July, immediately after Russia's having rejected the draft UN Security Council Resolution on Creation of an International Tribunal to Investigate the Crash of the Malaysian Aircraft in July 2014 over the conflict zone in the East of Ukraine.

Groundless are also Moscow's plans for a quick resumption of the Russian economy. “The peak of the recession,” which it allegedly passed at the beginning of this year, is moving away farther and farther, and is becoming deeper. For example, while in the first half of this year, the fall of the Russian economy during the year was expected at the level of 2.2 %, in the third quarter of 2015 this figure rose to 3.6 %. The prognosis of economic development of Russia for 2016 is getting worse too — instead of the expected in January 2015 increase by 1.5 %, the August's estimates show a fall by 1.5 %.

Russia's attempts to solve its economic problems by deepening economic ties with the partner countries that remain, won't help it either. Thus, instead of the increase in the volume of mutual trade between Russia and China to 100 billion US dollars in 2015, announced by Moscow, in fact, since the beginning of this year the trade turnover between the two countries has decreased by more than 30 %. Besides, against the backdrop of loud statements about the “unique” nature of relations between the two countries, since January this year, the volume of Chinese investments into the Russian economy has been reduced by 20 %. Get reduced also the volumes of Russia's trade with the BRICS countries, including with Brazil and Argentina.

Moreover, it seems that certain forces deliberately provoke (it is possible that they are hidden opponents of V. Putin in his environment) the Russian citizens' discontent, strengthening their negative attitude to the leadership of the Russian Federation. How else can be explained the ostentatious destruction by the Russian government of hundreds of thousands of tons of food of western production, while more than 22 million Russian citizens are staying below the poverty line, and some of them are just hungry? A number of parliamentary parties of the Russian Federation (including the notorious Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party) speak against this. In what it can result — the experience of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which started exactly when food, which disappeared from sale, was being secretly destroyed en masse by unknown persons.

The problem of Islamic extremism in the North Caucasus of Russia, which has already cost the Kremlin two bloody wars over the past twenty years, is becoming even more serious. The reason for this is the negative impact on the situation in the region of consequences of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, as well as the beginning of the transition of local Islamists under the influence and control of the international extremist organization “Islamic State”. All this leads to activation of subversive and terrorist activities of Islamists in the North Caucasus, which in a certain way diverts Russia's attention and resources from Ukraine.

That is, due to its excessive imperial ambitions, V. Putin's regime has driven its own country into a “geopolitical trap” and its above-mentioned mistakes and failures only confirm the leading experts (including Russian)' conclusions about existence in today's Russia of two possible options for the country's further movement.

The first option — the change of the Russian government (first of all removing V. Putin from power at all possible excuses), termination of Russia's actions to provoke and support the conflict in the Donbas, returning the Crimea to Ukraine, resumption of constructive relations between Russia and the West, which will allow it to maintain its statehood and to turn to positive dynamics of development.

The second option — continuation of the insane policy of Putin's criminal regime in its current form, which, anyway, will lead to Russia's inevitable collapse. At this, Moscow's attempts to scale the armed aggression against Ukraine will only accelerate this process.

An uncontrollable crisis in Russia is possible in the autumn of this year after the announcement by the Netherlands of the results of the international investigation into the destruction of the Malaysian passenger aircraft over the conflict zone in the East of Ukraine in July last year. Definitely: Russia will be held responsible for the real barbaric act, which inevitably will mean new sanctions against it, including the announcement of an embargo on Russian oil.

It looks like this danger is already understood by V. Putin's associates, who has begun to secretly “abandon ship”. One of these “litmus fugitives” has become President of the JSC “Russian Railways” Vladimir Yakunin (Putin's close associate), who went to “work” in the Federation Council.

The distrust of V. Putin's policy has become widely spread even among ordinary citizens of the RF. In particular, according to the survey in August this year, the level of support for the Russian annexation of the Crimea among the Russian population has decreased from 70 % last year to 59 % today, and about 80 % of Russians are opposed to the RF's military intervention into the situation in the East of Ukraine. As you can see, nobody in the Kremlin expected this.

As for Ukraine, we have to withstand for a maximum of one-one and a half year. The current war is a war of attrition of resources. The West helps us, and we rely on its financial, economic, and political support. In its turn, Russia is spending its own foreign exchange reserves, they are becoming less and less. At this, unlike Ukraine, Russia has no foreign assistance.

Time is on the side of our victory, and we must use it to strengthen our State and its Armed Forces, as well as to preserve the unity and the ability to act on the eve and in the situation of Russia's final collapse. The key to this should be Ukraine's clear and consistent position on the unquestioning implementation by all parties of “Minsk Agreements” to resolve the situation in the Donbas in the wording and meaning, as it was defined in the “Norman format” in February 2015.

First of all, it concerns the removal of weapons and Russian occupation troops from the territory of Ukraine, as well as the return of the Ukrainian border area under the direct control of our state as a major premise of the elections in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Of course, V. Putin's regime may not go for it, and that will be a catalyst for self-destruction of the Russian Federation.

 

P.S. By the way, as the “Borysfen Intel” forecasted in its previous studies, Russia has finally agreed to surrender its territories to Japan. As a result of the visit of the Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev to the disputed with Japan Kuril Islands in August this year, they are included in the Program of “Advanced Development of Russian Territories”, which provides for their lease to foreign countries (in this case — to Japan).