Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Aleksandr Vladimirovich Zakharchenko, the Head of the DPR, the chairman of the board of ministers, and also the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the republic perished. He was one of the most charismatic leaders of the Donbass uprising, the potential leader not only of a united DPR and LPR, but also of all the Southeast. And since it is precisely the Southeast, in the conditions of holding minimally honest elections, that determines the format of Ukrainian power, Zakharchenko could’ve (owing to a certain combination of circumstances) become the first actual national president of Ukraine.
However, events obviously developed in an alternative way. That’s why in practice Aleksandr Zakharchenko was that person who persistently and consistently led Donbass towards Russia, openly affirming that he doesn’t see another destiny for the region.
It isn’t surprising that after his death a feeling of uncertainty appeared in Donbass. A question arose: what will happen tomorrow? Will Zakharchenko’s course be preserved or will it be changed? And if it is changed, then how and when?
Ivan Danilovich Chernyakhovsky was also a charismatic general, the youngest front commander at the final stage of the Great Patriotic War, and also perished shortly before the Victory (on February 18th, 1945) at the age of 37 (Zakharchenko was 42 years old). He also didn’t protect himself.
I write that he didn’t protect himself because on February 18th, 1945 the commander of the 3rd Belarusian front Chernyakhovsky had no vital need to be in the firing range of an artillery shell fired from German positions, and in addition – in the limits of the enemy’s visibility. The destiny of the East Prussian offensive operation that the front participated in was almost solved on January 26th, when troops of the neighboring 2nd Belarusian front of Marshal Rokossovsky arrived at the Baltic Sea near Elbing, having cut off the East Prussian group from Germany. It was possible to finish the enemy without leaving the HQ.
Zakharchenko in exactly the same way, in conditions where the in agony Kiev regime looks for any opportunity to aggravate the situation, could’ve paid more attention to his personal security.
But both died – they died because they lived as they lived. And if they had lived in a different way, then they wouldn’t have become military leaders.
And it’s not a coincidence that I wrote that both of them died on the eve of the Victory. The capitulation of the Reich was signed less than three months after the death of Chernyakhovsky. The East Prussian operation that came to an end on April 25th was the last one for the troops of his front.
Now the situation is less obvious than it was in 1945. Nevertheless, the term agony, when applied to the Kiev regime, is not at all an exaggeration. It’s not a coincidence that Poroshenko tries to find any reason to aggravate the situation. He needs arguments to preserve his power by force. And it doesn’t matter how – whether by introducing martial law and cancelling elections, or by exposing a “plot” of “agents of the Kremlin” and sending all those who can damage his approval rating behind bars. What is important for him is to transfer the process of the race for power from the legal sphere to the framework of force. But he will most likely lose in the framework of force, but at least here he has a chance, unlike with elections.
And Poroshenko tries to apply himself. He deploys the project of creating a “united Ukrainian local orthodox church”, by receiving Tomos of Autocephaly from the Constantinople patriarchy. At the same time, since no canonical church in Ukraine asked for autocephaly, he invents a certain “national autocephaly”. This is a provocation of religious war in Ukraine. Poroshenko hopes that all armed nazi gangs will be on his side when it comes to seizing temples from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). And the blood that will thus inevitably be shed will allow him to, as a minimum, postpone elections for an indefinite period of time. If the opposition tries to stand up for the canonical church, it will find itself on the receiving end of the blows of these same armed nazis.
He declares the termination of the Treaty of friendship, cooperation and partnership with Russia. This statement is absolutely senseless. Ukraine anyway doesn’t abide by this Treaty, but if it is officially terminated, then serious ramifications await Kiev. But this creates additional tension in bilateral relations and allows to interpret the actions against Poroshenko as “work for the Kremlin”.
He throws Kirill Vyshinsky – the head of the RIA Novosti Ukraine agency – in prison and is preparing to jail another 30-50 well-known journalists and public figures in order to, first of all, shut the mouth of the opposition, and, secondly, to accuse politicians with higher approval ratings – his competitors in the fight for the presidency – of committing “state treason”, together with this opposition.
He already organised a lot of similar provocations, including jailing the former Ukrainian “heroine” Nadezhda Savchenko. The act of terrorism that claimed Aleksandr Zakharchenko’s life became only the latest, and in principle not the last provocation. Zakharchenko’s death increasing the tension at the line of demarcation is also one of Poroshenko’s arguments in the race for power. Besides this, Poroshenko can now evade the unprofitable for him meetings with the leaders of the DPR/LPR, who not only Russia, but also France and Germany incline him to directly negotiate with. The pretext is simple for him – representatives of the republics don’t have the mandate of the people, they aren’t elected. Thus, Poroshenko can play for time, avoiding unprofitable to him discussions about the need for a meeting and its format. Not only direct contact with the DPR/LPR, but also even its theoretical assumption can upset very many militants who Poroshenko places a stake on.
But it is especially this stake that allows us to speak about the agony of the regime. Let’s remember history. The Ukrainian state started to shake (and plaster fell down from it) during the unconstitutional seizure of presidential power by Yushchenko in 2005, and after the unconstitutional dispersal by him of the duly elected parliament in 2007. After the armed coup of 2014 the Ukrainian state started collapsing, losing territories and control of the central power over the regions that weren’t able to escape. Moreover, in the spring months it was especially on the verge of disappearing, before the formal legitimation of the power of Poroshenko via new presidential elections. The former speaker-president Turchynov now says, without hiding himself, that they held onto power via preventive terror exclusively.
Now Poroshenko again leads an already fatally exhausted and extremely worn-out Ukrainian state towards anti-constitutional methods of solving the question of power. At the same time, people hate him, and those who will succeed him are loved not much more. Only the formal legitimacy of power that is expressed in its international recognition still keeps Ukraine united. The competing oligarchical groups still hope that the international community will somehow stabilise the internal political situation for them, and that they will be able to remain engaged in their favourite thing – plundering the people and the country.
All this shaky design starts instantly collapsing as soon as the legal framework is in the rear view mirror.
This is a big trouble for Russia and for the EU, but it’s not a catastrophe. “Nord Stream-2” is on the verge of being launched, which is supposed to take place in 2019. Even if the Ukrainian transit of gas is terminated already this year, the EU will be able to live through one winter. It’s not for nothing that in Germany gas storages were actively being built and filled, and Russia increased its capacity for the transportation of liquefied gas.
Nobody at all has the grounds to maintain the stability of the Ukrainian regime. Big civil war in the whole of Ukraine – and not just small war in Donbass – has been more favorable to the US since the beginning. That’s why they also help Poroshenko with Tomos.
For Europe, it is all the same. Bypass gas pipelines have almost been constructed, and it turned out that, except for gas transit, the Ukrainian state has no other use. If the country starts collapsing, then it’s possible that France and Germany will even find some advantage in the fact that Poland, Hungary, and Romania will be obliged to defend their compatriots and it isn’t excluded that they will lay claim to others territories. They will need the support of the EU to solve the arisen international legal problems and they will need to restrain their own pro-Americanism for some time.
But Russia will be given a free hand in Donbass. In principle their hands will be free all over Ukraine too. But it must be kept in mind that from all the regions of Ukraine, only Donbass has been already partially integrated into the Russian economic, legal, and financial systems. It doesn’t mean that it will be inserted into the structure of Russia already tomorrow (though presently everything is possible), but the fact that integration processes will be accelerated and that the framework of the region being integrated will widen practically doesn’t raise any doubts. It simply has nowhere else to be put.
So, in the same way that the death of General Chernyakhovsky changed nothing in the destiny of the Reich – not even adding a few minutes of life to it, the death of General Zakharchenko didn’t change anything in the destiny of Ukraine either. The in agony regime, which doesn’t have any substitutes from among adequate politicians owing to a lack of such persons in Ukraine, in principle can’t bring the country (which stopped being de facto a state already long ago) anywhere besides the grave.
It also won’t change anything in the destiny of the Minsk Agreements. Zakharchenko’s death doesn’t influence the obligations of Ukraine in any way. Kiev still didn’t understand that these agreements were signed in such a way that Russia wins regardless of whether Ukraine implements them or not. The question consisted only in how much Ukraine will lose. Should the agreements be implemented, it would preserve quasi-statehood in the form of a weak confederation, and the people wouldn’t incur those costs that they incur now – in the form of unemployment and the destruction of education-healthcare systems and municipal services. Now it is the financial system’s turn. Ukraine chose another option – the most expensive of all. Nothing is left of the state anymore, soon the country won’t exist, and the destinies of tens of millions of people are forever crippled (not to mention the tens of thousands who died in the civil conflict and those who died because of the sharp fall in the standard of living). Now the Ukrainian elite, in the person of Poroshenko and his opponents, starts the process that can end in hundreds of thousands of direct victims and the destruction of what remains of civilisation infrastructure within the borders of Ukraine, turning it into territory that is unsuitable for life.
Zakharchenko’s death won’t stop these processes. It won’t postpone even for a minute what’s only inevitable for Ukraine, Poroshenko, and all the Ukrainian elite (and, unfortunately, for the mass of Ukrainian citizens). This is a matter not of subjective desires, but of objective reality.
Major General Zakharchenko won his war.
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