Finally some decent analysis of the current outburst of war - "What does Putin want?" His long term intent is to rebuild the Russian Empire with Stalinist totalitarianism and some kind of foggy Eurasionist ideology, heavy on conservative Orthodoxy and ethnic Russian nationalism. But his short term intent with Ukraine is explained this way:
In Putin's world view there are no independent nations, only empires. Countries do not act independently, only when directed to by the Empire which pulls the strings. The CIA was responsible for the overthrow of the Kremlin friendly criminal president of Ukraine, Yanukovych. None of Ukraine's actions are self-directed, in fact, Ukraine doesn't even count. It is the land based Russian Empire against the Ocean based American Empire (which is the successor of the ocean based British Empire).
The Brits did their best to contain Russia's southern movement in "The Great Game" mostly to keep them out of India, which was by far their most valuable colony. According to Putin, America, which controls the EU, want to keep Russia down, with an economy based on natural resources. (Never mind that Russian government and oligarchs have never made any attempt to diversify, and simply concentrated on stealing as much as they could from resource revenue; they are thieves, not business men.)
And LilliPutin's nose is totally out of joint because others do not treat him as an equal. Short man syndrome. So the current offensive in Ukraine is to force Merkel and Obama (the only two he considers worthy of him) to negotiate directly with him the fate of not only Ukraine but all of Eastern Europe. The violence in Ukraine will continue to ratchet up until it forces Ukraine's surrender and the West to the table. Lavrov essentially admitted that the deaths of civilians in the bus at Volnovakha, at the bus stop in Donetsk and in Mariupol were in retaliation for Ukraine's refusal to surrender to Putin's "peace plan" of Jan 15th.
Russian troops continue to take territory to the north of Donetsk and Luhansk cities and Ukrainian casualties are high. One cannot depend on official announcements of casualties from the Ukrainian side as they are consistently under reported. There is a good chance that they will cut off and surround a large number of Ukrainian military in the Debaltsev salient. Part of the problem is that Ukraine is fighting according to old Soviet doctrine - do not surrender territory. Consequently the Russians are in control of the program as they are mobile and can hit where they please.
The DNR rebel leader has said that in response to the shelling of the bus stop in Donetsk, which of course they blame on Ukrainian provocateurs, they will no longer take prisoners.
In other news, food prices in Kaliningrad have risen 50% though the official report is 22%. They have risen by a third since the new year and the officials reported 6.5%. Kaliningrad, (formerly Königsberg) is isolated from the rest of Russia, hence has a food problem, now that they cannot import from Europe (Putin's "counter sanctions"). In another part of Russia, one official (governor?) told the people they will just have to eat less if they cannot afford food. At least Marie Antoinette offered then cake.
Dmitry Tymchuk's military blog: Large-scale regrouping of Russian forces, illegal armed formations under way
Volunteer Kasyanov: The enemy wants to create several pockets where it will be able to crush our troops and virtually leave Ukraine without its army
I think that Putin took the offensive at the remains of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Ukraine is not the ultimate goal for him but rather space for trading with the West. Actually, his message is as follows, "You can consider me a moral monster, but it is only me who can solve the question of war and peace in the territory of Ukraine and, consequently, in the territory of Europe." The death toll makes no difference to him. Let's not forget that Russian citizens also die in this war, but it does not embarrass him. He is advancing.
One should not have expected real progress from this meeting. Russia will not make any actual concessions until some of the world leaders start speaking with Putin directly and he will regain the feeling that he is one of the key players in the world politics. He only considers Obama and Merkel to be equal negotiators; however, they refuse to talk to him because they do not trust him and do not regard him as a person with whom they can negotiate the destinies of the world. As soon as the summit in Astana was cancelled at the initiative of Germany and Putin was not invited to the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a new war broke out in Donbass.
Belkovsky: Death toll makes no difference to Putin. He is advancing. Ukraine is just space for trading with the West for him
"Today's shelling in Mariupol is additional evidence that official Russia in the person of Vladimir Putin is prepared to escalate the military conflict if the West does not embark on direct negotiations with the Kremlin regarding the future of Ukraine," Belkovsky considers.
"The war will only get fiercer because Putin is sure now more than ever: Ukraine is just about to collapse. And it will not collapse because of the influence of the Kremlin but rather because of contradictions within the Ukrainian political and oligarchic elite when Petro Poroshenko deceives its own people (for example, he denied existence of confidential Minsk protocols, though it became clear that they exist), and the Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk cannot conceal his dependence on oligarchic clans. The Russian President is convinced that Ukraine is bound to collapse in 2015, and the West will be compelled to address Putin directly in order to save it," the political scientist believes.
Belkovsky: Putin is sure that Ukraine is about to collapse. And it is not because of the Kremlin but because of contradictions within the Ukrainian elite
Bill Browder: the Kremlin threatened to kill me. The former banker claims Vladimir Putin runs Russia like a crime syndicate. He should know: corrupt officials seized his assets and stole $230m. His lawyer was beaten to death in jail. And now sinister text messages warn he might be next
|1877 "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."|