December 20, 2014

About the Moods in Moscow and Capitals of the West

A study of attitudes in foreign governmental, parliamentary, business and expert circles shows that the “Ukrainian issue” is referred to as the top priority. The establishment is interested in a soonest cessation of hostilities and a peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which today is almost the greatest threat to the security of Europe after the Second World War and causing tangible damage to the economies of many countries because of V. Putin's intransigence and Moscow's military, political and resource support to separatist enclaves.

Both the Kremlin and the pro-government Russian experts argue that the Western community has a mistaken notion of Moscow's helplessness in the “Ukrainian issue”. Like, the Russian leadership allegedly has managed to achieve the desired in the context of expansion in of its territory at the expense of the geostrategic Crimea and the creation of a new “frozen” conflict in the eastern regions of Ukraine, making impossible our country's Euro-Atlantic and European integration. And they point out that the sanctions imposed by the West are not effective. Like, the “factor of safety” of the Russian economy is sufficient. It will be enough for least another two years. Besides, will grow discontent among some European countries, which will seek the best options for cooperation with Russia, as shows the unscheduled visit of President of France F. Hollande to Moscow on December 6.

V. Putin's supporters in Germany, France, Italy, Hungary and Cyprus continue fuelling irrational fears of the Western community before the Russian autocrat and promoting the idea of giving up the sanctions against Russia and finding ways of reconciliation with it, including by denial of Ukraine and Moldova's right to membership in the EU and NATO.

Russian diplomacy and the Kremlin propagandists, in particular, the agency “Russia Today” have received from the Kremlin a task to use the declared intentions of Ukraine to get NATO membership for deepening the split between the EU countries and increasing tensions in the EU-USA relations. For this purpose, the basic information efforts will be aimed at development in the countries of “old Europe” of negative attitude towards Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states, which allegedly are deliberately leading on the Eurasian continent policies in favor of the United States and making even greater the EU's foreign policy's dependence on Washington. At this, the Russian propaganda intends to use anti-American and nationalist sentiments in Western Europe. In parallel, on the leaders of the Alliance member countries will be imposed the position that Ukraine's membership in NATO is a “red line” which the Russian Federation will not allow to cross.

At the international level the Kremlin keeps escalating the situation around the question of the necessity of ending the ATO and assuring of Ukraine's possible default. Besides, at the instigation of the Kremlin, leaderships of some international organizations, in particular the Council of Europe, are promoting the idea that the violators of human rights in the east of Ukraine are not only pro-Russian militants, but the military of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and Ukrainian soldiers of volunteer battalions.

Watching Moscow's attempts to split the all-European solidarity, German experts point out that there is a difference between Chancellor Angela Merkel's official statements and the general mood of the German political elite. And the difference is quite noticeable. Thus, some influential business and political circles of Germany, as well as a significant part of the population do not support the initiative of the Federal Chancellor to continue, expand and strengthen sanctions against Russia because of the events in the east of Ukraine. But it is believed that the only possible way out of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis is federalization of Ukraine. Such sentiments are not only due to serious negative economic effect of such sanctions, but also due to Germans' being poorly informed about the events in Ukraine.

As Angela Merkel in a certain way depends on the position of the “big business” and on public opinion, German political analysts suggest that the German government's rhetoric about the need for further assistance to Ukraine will remain the same. At the same time, our country should not expect that the top leadership of Germany will take some concrete steps.

The French parliament members believe that for Western countries reforms in Ukraine are more important than the resolution of the conflict in the Donbas. Therefore, financial assistance to the Ukrainian side fully depends on the plan and implementation of further reforms, including in accordance with the Association Agreement Ukraine-EU, which should be carried out, despite the military and economic pressure of the Russian Federation.

At the same time, against the background of the forecasted preservation of confrontation with Russia for another one and a half to two years, including because of the economic sanctions, continues the backstage discussion of the official Paris' intention to lobby the way out of the conflict by signing a political agreement between Kyiv and Moscow, which will allow relatively quickly and painlessly for the EU to normalize relations between Russia and the West.

According to French experts, F. Hollande's having become the first Western leader to visit Moscow since the beginning of the “Ukrainian crisis”, on the one hand, may indicate France's attempt to strengthen its role in resolving of the conflict in eastern Ukraine at the moment when Germany holds tough stance towards the Kremlin, and on the other — the Russian side can take advantage of this to escape the political and economic isolation, in particular, by recognizing the official Paris as its new strategic partner in the EU (instead of the Federal Republic of Germany).

In this way, the Russian side can provoke the French-German competition in the Ukrainian question, extrapolation of which onto the inner-European level can have a negative impact on the timeliness and adequacy of the EU's response to the events in our country and the destructive policies of the Kremlin to create in the east of Ukraine a fully controlled by Russia zone of instability and to make Kyiv finance the sustainment of the Donbas.

In their turn, the British Foreign Office believe that Moscow will try to lift the economic blockade from the territories uncontrolled by Kiev, draw the Ukrainian leadership into a new round of negotiations in Minsk and to prevent the USA and EU's direct involvement in resolving the conflict. In response to such steps of the Kremlin, British diplomats promise that the official London will strengthen sanctions against the Russian Federation and the militants of “DPR /LPR”, as well as the policy of non-recognition of the annexation of the Crimea.

Diplomats and experts predict that in the east of Ukraine will remain the status quo because of the failure of the Ukrainian authorities to conduct an offensive military operation in the ATO area, as well as due to the fact that Russia, avoiding the expansion of the sanctions regime will not dare to unleash a full-scale direct military aggression against Ukraine. Besides, despite the demonstration of “self-reliance”, “ability to neutralize the conspiracy of the West/NATO against Russia” and “stability of the Russian economy” (at the rate of more than 60 and 74 of the Russian ruble to the dollar and the euro, respectively!), the Russian President dreads his own people and oligarchs.

Despite the 300-billion-dollar compensation contracts for “palace guard” groups of Rottenberg brothers and G. Timchenko, the objective fear factor of V. Putin is a significant decline in support of the Kremlin's steps by oligarch circles of the Russian Federation, worried by consequences of the voluntarist “Ukrainian campaign”, in particular, by the West's introduction and strengthening the sanctions regime, the increase in expenditures on “project Novorossia” at their expense, the Russian leadership's giving up the construction of the gas pipeline “South Stream”, into which internal “investors” have already invested about 5 billion US dollars, and the Kremlin's ultimatum — like instructions about funding the construction of transport passage through the Kerch Strait.

The level of support of Putin's “plans” on Ukraine is falling even among the “allies of the Kremlin” in the Caucasus, in particular, on the part of the “leader” of Abkhazia R. Khajimba. According to analysts, the recent personnel changes in the management of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation Office for socio-economic cooperation with the CIS countries, Abkhazia and South Ossetia (the dismissal of V. Surkov's henchmen) were caused not only by the failure of the implementation of the strategic plan for the Ukrainian direction (geographical expansion of the separatist movement of Donetsk and Luhansk regions to Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhya, Odesa and others), but also by problems that have arisen within the framework of implementation of measures for cooperation of the so-called DPR and LPR with other self-proclaimed and unrecognized states.

The Kremlin believed that the main result of V. Putin's visit to Abkhazia (November 26) will be R. Khajimba's statement about the beginning of Abkhazia's economic cooperation with DPR/LPR and an accelerated opening of branches of Abkhazian banks in the territory of these self-proclaimed republics. As conceived by Putin's administration, the development of such cooperation actually had to create a so-called “economic corridor”, within the framework of which Abkhazia, as a recognized by Russia state, by the mechanism of international treaties and contracts with DPR/LPR, would carry out the purchase of products which would subsequently be re-exported to the Russian market. It also would give an opportunity to the Russian Federation to ensure supply of the self-proclaimed “republics” in the Donbas with money with the help of legal banks.

However, during the meeting with Russian President the Head of Abkhazia said that such a step is not possible because the local business and the political elites are unhappy with the significant limitation of sovereignty of the “republic”. He suggested instead a more “balanced” format of an agreement, which V. Putin had to sign in order to prevent the spread of negative information and not to ruin his plans. Unhappy and irritated by such preparation of the “visit”, the Russian leader promised staff layoffs, not only in his administration, but also in the Abkhaz leadership.

And, of course, V. Putin cannot ignore his own people, being well aware of the nature and consequences of a possible Russian rebellion — senseless and merciless.

If we take into consideration the above-mentioned facts and the “combat capability” of the Russian army, we can agree with forecasts of experts who state that in the nearest future the Kremlin will not rush to military intervention in Ukraine or expansion of the “hybrid war” to other regions. The Russian Federation will direct its efforts to destabilize the internal situation in our country by inspiring local and, if possible, all-Ukraine civil unrests on the socio-economic grounds.

At the same time, the Russian leader is not ready to abandon the idea of the “Russian world” as an ideological platform of his domestic and foreign policies. However, the limited (including as a result of the West's sanctions) abilities of the Russian Federation make V. Putin, fundamentally revising approaches to the “Ukrainian question” to postpone the option of direct force against our country and to focus on the latent destabilization of the situation in Ukraine and Moldova and on information attacks. That will allow him, so to speak, to “save face” in his country, to mitigate the negative international image, to accumulate the necessary resources and at an opportune moment to return to the practical implementation of the project of “Novorossia”.