Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Everything about the Ukrainian “blockade of Donbass” can be described via the slogans put forward in the context of its realisation. “We mustn’t trade with the aggressor,” say the organizers of the blockade. This affirmation is correct and deserves support and respect. But who is the aggressor?
As is known, the DPR/LPR, according to Kiev, is “temporarily occupied territory”. They are “occupied” by “Russian-terrorist troops”. I.e. the “aggressor” is Russia, which is relying on local “terrorist-separatists”. The local population, again according to Kiev, dreams of returning to the “great European, democratic Ukrainian State”.
Kiev regularly affirms that it is ready to reintegrate these territories in 48-72 hours from the moment Russia stops its support for “separatists” and hands over to the “best army in Europe” control over the border, which the UAF is not able to attain independently – “terrorist-separatists” prevent them. Consequently, the “aggressor” with whom it is impossible to trade with is Moscow. At this time, all roads leading to Russia remain open, while Donbass, which “wants to return to Ukraine,” is blocked.
Elementary logic dictates that the issue here is not Donbass or Russia, but domestic relationships.
Trade with Donbass, which allowed the remnants of the Ukrainian economy to survive, and which was giving annually a billion dollars to the budget of the “European country” and providing work for the Ukrainian energy sector, was almost the last stabilizer of the Poroshenko regime. For comparison, the IMF gave Ukraine (in September 2016) a billion dollars for the period July 2015 to this day. And who knows if they will give anything else. For now it doesn’t work, although the Ukrainian leadership expected the next tranche in November 2016, and continues to wait for each next month.
At the same time, of the 12.5 billion of loans given to Ukraine by the IMF in 2014, $10.5 billion was returned to the Fund as payments on previous loans. I.e. taxes from the DPR/LPR for 2014-2016 gave to Kiev an amount comparable to the net positive balance of loans from the IMF. The only difference is that taxes are not the same as loans – there is no need to repay them and no need to pay interest.
The blockade of Donbass deprives Poroshenko of this stabilizer. The financial and economic situation of Kiev is rapidly deteriorating, and social tension is growing. The helplessness of the authorities pushes the people to over-think. A simple conclusion arises: if this power fails – it must be changed for a more effective one.
It is precisely this that is the purpose of the blockade – to create for the regime of Poroshenko intolerable conditions of existence. To force Petro Poroshenko either to leave on good terms, or face “a wave of national anger”, which will sweep away everything in a bad way. Moreover, not so fortunate as it was for his not so smart, but lucky predecessor.
Is Poroshenko able to overcome this crisis? Theoretically, Yes. But we don’t consider such an option, since the specificities of the character of Petro Poroshenko – his business acumen and intelligence, which manifested themselves in the Presidency and during his whole previous political activities – do not give grounds for optimism.
Firstly, Poroshenko believes that he is chosen by God, and believes that “the sun of Austerlitz” will shine on him forever.
Secondly, he is not a politician but a haggler considering any political post as a mechanism for increasing his income by obtaining in his favor external ownership and robbery of the budget. I.e. Poroshenko is not capable of taking responsibility for a political decision where there is no immediate capitalisation and only risk is visible, and to cross the Rubicon, like Caesar, or to execute the royalists with guns, like Bonaparte, drenched in blood and littered with bodies “of angry Parisians” the porch of the Church of the Holy Rock. Complex political combinations and risky decisions lie beyond the capabilities of his intellect.
He will give without hesitation the order to liquidate even the entire population of Ukraine, if it will bring him an extra dollar for each box of chocolates, but he is not able to adequately assess the political situation, to choose a risky, but promising winning way and, most importantly, to obtain fulfilment of his orders by the team, which came here for looting, and not to fight, and which simply is not in control of power structures.
Thirdly, even if a miracle happens and Petro Poroshenko will be able to adopt and implement a non-standard decision, or opponents will appear to be even more impotent than he is (it’s hard to believe, but in Ukraine’s condition such things are possible), or simply the stars will align in favor of him – it will only delay the inevitable until the autumn, but in any case it will not be an exit from the crisis or the stabilization of power.
If Bonaparte hadn’t lost the war with Russia, he could have ruled for the rest of his life and in an hereditary manner – he had the support of the population. The Directory that he had overthrown had a chance to survive the coup of 18 Brumaire, but then he later would have been overthrown by Bernadotte, Moreau or Pichegru because it had no social support, it was hated by everyone. Poroshenko is not Bonaparte. Poroshenko is Directory.
That’s why, regardless of whether he’ll be squashed now or in the autumn, or if he will leave the “good” or bad way, it makes sense to consider the prospects of Ukraine after Poroshenko. Because he himself doesn’t care, and we have still to live with it and solve it.
Now against Petro Poroshenko a national consensus all over Ukraine has practically formed. People are unhappy that instead of integration into Europe they received a second (worse) version of the robbing regime of Yanukovych. The oligarchs are unhappy that their political influence and property has substantially dried out in favor of Poroshenko, who is not going to stop there.
Nazis are unhappy that the oligarchs command them, and not visa versa. The senselessly-and-hopelessly-rotting-in-the-trenches army is dissatisfied by defeats and the devil-may-care attitude of the authorities to its needs. The old police is unhappy with the new one, and visa versa. Together they are dissatisfied with the bandits who call themselves patriots. “Patriots” are dissatisfied with the police, rightly considering it even more of a gang structure than themselves.
Each of them is right in something. And although it’s “Russia and Putin who are guilty of everything”, for them Poroshenko is guilty too. They can’t reach Russia and Putin, but Petro Poroshenko – here he is, round and warm.
They put Poroshenko under pressure, convincing him to leave in a good way for a long time. The first public demands for early parliamentary elections were sounded in late 2015 or early 2016. Already at that time elections meant the loss of Poroshenko’s control over the Parliament and government, with the inevitable-after-this early presidential elections. Petro knows all too well the “principles” of Ukrainian politics and the habits of his colleagues in the terrarium to believe any assurances they could give him for his voluntary departure. They will ruin him, take off his last shirt, put him in jail, and then kill him.
And all this will happen not just under the joyful hooting, but at the insistent demand of the “European nation”, which has long wanted to tear apart someone from its “democratic leaders”. They didn’t succeed to live like the Germans, so at least to get moral satisfaction.
Before the change of American administration, Poroshenko worked as the “human face of the regime,” the communicator with the West. Turchynov with Avakov, providing military-police terrorism against anti-fascists, nor the Parliament, consisting of freaks and thieving fascist bandits, led by the mentally retarded, could play this role. The rather acceptable for the West Yatsenyuk too quickly lost credibility and, as the appointed Prime Minister, was severely inferior in legitimacy to the elected President. Especially because, according the official version, the “not-involved”-in-the-horror-of-Maidan “peacemaker” Poroshenko came to power as a compromise figure with the aim of reconciling (on the West’s terms) the two parts of split Ukraine.
In 2015-2016, Poroshenko, who long-lost support in his own country, like Gorbachev at his time, relied on his international “authority”. If it was Hillary Clinton who was elected as US President, most likely this support would be preserved for some time. Especially if Petro Poroshenko was bold enough to strengthen the provocations against Russia, as far as a direct military confrontation.
But Trump needs Ukraine not as a battering ram against Russia (the role that she [Ukraine – ed] was unable to play, being stuck in Donbass and tied down by Minsk), but as a bargaining chip in global political negotiations. From this point of view the US does not care about what happens in Kiev: how quickly and with what appetite who eats who. Anyway, the product is rotten. Everyone knows it. And Trump knows that everyone knows. Therefore, the most important thing is to not spend money on maintaining the illusion of wellbeing in Ukraine.
And the United States stopped to simulate a deep interest in the promotion of Ukrainian democracy. The former favorite toy became tedious, and it was stuffed in a dusty closet. And without the United States, independently, Europe is not able to keep Kiev afloat – neither financially, economically, or politically. Berlin and Brussels are waiting for when, in the course of the Trump’s fight with those who lost the presidential election, but are still very powerful and influential American globalists, in Washington the domestic political consensus will be developed, and when America, who froze in those positions that Obama left her in, will again return to an active foreign policy, the strategic goals of which will be clear and acceptable for Europe.
But Ukraine, where the support of the West served as an oxygen bag, cannot wait for when she will once again be permitted to breathe. If communication with the West does not bring immediate dividends in the here and now, then a communicator [Poroshenko – ed] is also not needed. Especially because he (communicator) even by Ukrainian standards is too greedy and hard to deal with.
Contact held at the end of January – early February between Poroshenko, America, and Europe showed that if he is still tolerated, it is only at public events where he gets lost in the crowd. In general respected people ignore him. After this, internal political pressure on Poroshenko increased dramatically. The blockade was only one, albeit the most visible expression of this pressure.
The DPR/LPR’s presentation of their ultimatum with the demand to stop the blockade showed that the Republics and Russia (without the consent of which the counterplay of Donbass would have been impossible, even by virtue alone of trade, economic, and financial factors) are not going to play along with Poroshenko. He and Akhmetov were sent a clear signal: either you restore order and by this demonstrate that you control the situation in the country, or there is nothing to talk to you about.
Technically, Moscow is able to save the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, to appoint in his place fugitive Yanukovych, and even to vote in the first round by 90% of the votes the ever-energetic cat Boris from known advertising. The only question is the amount of resources required and their costs. It’s possible to help those who represent something, who have at least some support in their own country, who are able to control the situation. To inject resources for an absolute empty suit is meaningless – this is evidenced by the American experience of three-years of support for the Poroshenko regime, which was inflated by them also. Resources disappeared, and the situation has only worsened.
Since Poroshenko was not able to put on the table a compelling argument in favor of his validity, he was told: “farewell, my comrade, my faithful servant, the time came to go our separate ways.”
For more than a year of domestic confrontation the parties were radicalized and hardened. The time when threats of penal reprisal was possible has long passed. From mid-2016, Poroshenko himself and his opponents repeatedly hinted to each other their readiness to summarize the protracted debate about the government with the help of armed force. The clear and unequivocal refusal of the West to further politically support Poroshenko has led to the fact that his power capability has decreased dramatically. “Smart” Ukrainian bureaucracy and the “decent” Generals prefer to wait to see who will win in the struggle of the spiders in the jar, in order to join the winner.
Two factors prevent the flock of associates from going to Bankova Street and the defenestration of Petro Poroshenko:
1. A forcible coup would require international legitimization of the “new” government, and with the current position of the West it is not a fact that this process will be easy.
2. From both sides, the winners of the “dignity revolution”, “heroes of ATO”, “knights of Maidan” confront each other. It’s impossible to simply kill and bury them, as some kind of “Vatniks”. Whoever is the first to open fire will be recognized by the “European” citizens of Ukraine as a betrayer of the ideals of Maidan, a schismatic, and an agent of Putin. And even if he manages to win, he will not be forgiven for a new “heavenly hundred”. And the next “heavenly” thousands and tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands of victims of the new rush into Europe will be pinned on him.
By means of the blockade and invisible-from-the-outside-of-Ukraine, but very sensitive, legal provocations, Poroshenko is being put in a situation where he must either capitulate or be snagged on the legal hook and give a reason to start impeachment proceedings (the story of Yanukovych shows that the necessary “legal acts” appear immediately), or to inhibit his opponents by force (I.e. to become a “bloody dictator”, without having the coercive resources).
The events unfold quickly. Opponents of Poroshenko understand that the window of opportunity that opened in front of them may at any time be shut. Mobilization of militants, which can be casted out for provocation and then renounced, happens more actively and more openly. The crisis of the Ukrainian government is coming to a stage when it’s not the people who control events, but the logic of events, which prescribes the algorithm of actions of the process’ participants.
The chance for a bloodless resolution to the crisis is nearly exhausted. A couple more cycles of increases of tension and they will be exhausted definitively. Then the bloody denouement will be a matter of time.
But if Poroshenko will not be able to leave on good terms, keeping at least external legitimacy, and holding at least formal elections, then there will be nothing to be ashamed of – the bridges will be burned. Only the establishment by a specific politician or political group of control over Ukraine gives them a chance that there will be talks with them when the international community will once again be able to afford the time for Ukraine. Nobody will have pity for losers.
As we can see, for all participants in the process, from the still-alive Poroshenko to those who united against him, the question is already not only about power and ownership, but about life. They will not have pity for anyone or anything. If they were united, the conclusion is simple: Poroshenko will be swept away and in his place will come a consolidated Nazi regime, which will try to solve the problem of preserving the unity of the remaining-under-the-control-of-Kiev territories and the stabilization of the statehood at the expense of open terror.
But we have a number of warring political factions, which are united only by their hatred of Poroshenko. If Poroshenko was smarter, he would have tried to maneuver between these factions. If Poroshenko was more decisive, he would have weeded-out hostile leaders. There are many options: from accidents in the workplace consecutively for several years, to a single “night of the long knives all at once.” Moreover, the performers can be immediately charged with attempted mutiny and be eliminated (none will be the wiser).
None of this was done by Poroshenko, and now it’s unlikely he will do it, because he doesn’t have the appropriate possibilities.
That’s why the bullet-point “overthrow Poroshenko” practically has no alternatives in all scenarios. Moreover, with 90% probability the overthrow will mean murder.
Furthermore, we have two large groups who compete for power. Firstly, this is the old system of politicians and political parties of the Maidan oligarch-nationalist sense. Secondly, this is new Nazi party projects.
The system ones are divided into a mass of warring clans. Now it’s Kolomoisky, Tymoshenko and Avakov in the same boat – the first two are actively overthrowing Poroshenko, and the third does not interfere. In principle, they are not just competitors, but implacable enemies, because they claim the same cake. Akhmetov, Pinchuk, and various other Taruta-Dobkins for the aforementioned are ordinary food. In conditions of an avalanche reduction of the forage base, they will not stand on ceremony like Poroshenko did, who picked tasty pieces, but at least leaving something for others or even share a part with someone – they will not do it. They will devour immediately and completely.
“Feeder” oligarchs were never able to resist the oligarchic predators, simply because earlier the predators did not have unlimited possibilities. So most likely the fate of the “feeder” is a foregone conclusion. But even a cornered rat may gnaw away at a man. The possibility of a merger at the last moment in the face of a common mortal danger cannot be ruled out at all. Then on the oligarchic field one more collective player will appear.
This player is “feeder” moderate oligarchs – they already missed their political chance. Ukraine already in 2015 hurdled this stage, when their rather amateur services for stabilization could be needed and could receive enough public support, in order to try to stop the slide into the abyss. So they cannot win the fight, but they can bring an element of surprise to the existing balance of power.
The Nazis are also not united. The two main competing forces are the Galician “Svoboda” and Central-Eastern Ukrainian Russian-speaking “civil corps Azov”, which is the political representation of the eponymous Nazi regiment of the National Guard. Besides them there are a lot of small gangs and even smaller ones, some of which are formally included in “Right Sector”, which is in a state of semi-collapse. Yarosh tries to absorb a part of them with his “State initiative”, another part simply feeds itself “from the land” [seizure of land – ed] like the Crimean Tatar battalion in the Kherson region. Another part fights in different units of the UAF and the Interior Ministry in Donbass, but is ready at any moment to claim their right to their share.
In these circumstances, the splicing of oligarchic and Nazi groups in the fight against their own kind is natural. Moreover, the most logical development of this process is on the territorial principle. For example, Avakov and Biletsky, the former providing “cover” for the latter via the Interior Ministry, both with pleasure can wring the necks of Dobkin with Kernes – fellow-citizens from Kharkov.
Kolomoisky, who in 2014 owned the powerful private oligarchic army during his forced retirement, lost his power resource, but 2014 has shown how quickly, creatively, he and his team know how to mobilize the most inveterate rabble. Moreover, no one really knows how many fighters in reality Yarosh still has after his departure from the split of “Right sector”. And Yarosh was very close to the team of Kolomoisky.
In Galicia the Nazis from “Svoboda” wage war with “democrats” from “Self-help” of Sadovyi. “Self-help” of Sadovyi is a project maintained by Kolomoisky. “Svoboda” in Galicia has absolute power and a political advantage over “Self-help” and will squash it. Kolomoisky can try to negotiate with Tyahnybok over cooperation (at the expense of flushing the no-longer-needed-by-Igor “Self-help”), but it’s not a fact that “Svoboda” would accept such a “gift”. They will squash “Self-help” of Sadovyi in Galicia anyway (here Kolomoisky can’t help him [Sadovyi – ed]).
A chance for an association between Kolomoisky and Tyagnybok will appear only if “Svoboda”, which does not have any serious positions outside Galicia, will decide to fight with Biletsky for the whole of Ukraine. But Tyagnybok earlier repeatedly stated that if Ukraine will not be ready for the triumph of nationalism, “true Ukrainians” need to safeguard Ukraine in the scale of Galicia. I think that if “Svoboda” will confine itself to its Galician kingdom, Biletsky with “Azov” will not turn up – there is almost no profits, while they will have to fight a powerful (by the standards of Ukrainian Nazis) enemy that relies on the support of the local population.
Thus – “Svoboda” in Galicia, Biletsky with Avakov in Kharkov, Poltava, Sumy, and Chernigov. Kolomoisky will try to stay in Dnepropetrovsk and capture Zaporozhia. He also needs access to the ports, so there can be cooperation with the “battalion” of the Mejlis in the Kherson region. With an increase in strength and fighting capacity of his “army”, Kolomoisky can try to move to Nikolaev and Odessa. Local elites in these regions theoretically can keep the situation under control independently, but only as long as they are not touched. If someone from the major players will touch them, capitulation will be fast and complete – there will be no organized resistance, and if there will be a disorganized resistance, the Nazis will quickly and scarily quell it.
Turchynov, the weight of which rests upon his status of Secretary of the NSDC, must rely on Kiev and the central regions, trying to spread from there his influence all over the country. He can try to enter into a temporary union with Avakov against Kolomoisky, but it is necessary to have their own power support. Now Turchynov, by his position, controls the Armed Forces. But it is unlikely that the UAF will keep unity in the event of a coup and the beginning of the disintegration of the country. It is more likely that partially they will go their separate ways, some will go in the service of their regional leaders – oligarchs, who form private armies, partly simply engaged in “earning” money on the high roads.
What number of organized small Nazi organisations Turchynov will be able to attract to himself for service is dependent upon his material base. To allow them to feed themselves at the expense of the population of Kiev is not desirable – there is a need for a minimally reliable rear. That’s why it is advisable for Turchynov to enter into a union with “feeder” oligarchs, who will have to maintain his army in exchange for protection.
Tymoshenko also does not have her own Armed Forces, and has nowhere to obtain it. To stay in the game she needs to agree with someone from the major players. But they know Tymoshenko too well to risk a fully-fledged union with her. This kind of agreement are from the category of those in which each side before the signature has at least three plans of deceit and betrayal of their ally.
It will be difficult for Tymoshenko to survive. The most intelligent action for the rest of the participants of the battle of the spiders in the jar is to eliminate her at the time of overthrowing Poroshenko, or immediately after. But if Tymoshenko will be able to survive, then the growing contradictions between the other players will provide more and more space for maneuver.
As we can see, in the ideal scenario (when natural unions are created) we have about four large regional oligarch-Nazi groups. Of these, only the Galician territory under the control of “Svoboda” can, during the first stage, remain out of internal strife. If it will not intervene by itself, for others it is of marginal importance and can be left for later.
Another unknown factor is the actions of the DPR/LPR. They can limit themselves to the regional border, and then design its integration into Russia. But the desire to make a “liberation campaign” can prevail. In this case, resource constraints will dictate slow progress from area to area. At this time it should be noted that the “Donetsk danger” can lead to a temporary consolidation of competing oligarch-Nazi groups, thus the tactics of reaching the regional borders and the subsequent waiting is more justified.
In the end, why immediately fight with all the oligarch-Nazi groups if they are doomed to a self-destructive internecine conflict? Moreover, the forced formation of oligarch-Nazi groups does not mean that the contradictions between the oligarchs and the Nazis are forgotten. They are temporary allies. As soon as someone will show an advantage over the others, the oligarchs of the winning group will immediately try to disperse the Nazis, and those, in turn, will hang the oligarchs.
In sterile conditions (without external interference) the Nazis almost have a 100% chance for a definitive victory. There is simply no resource to preserve the oligarchic Republic, while the Nazis replace resource by terror.
Therefore, the second and more likely scenario after Poroshenko is the establishment of a terrorist dictatorship of Avakov and Turchynov (or one of them), relying on official and unofficial Nazi formations and trying to maintain unity and control of Ukraine by methods of preventive terror. It is possible that to smoothen the internal contradictions this group will need to formally bring to power a neutral person.
In such a scenario it won’t be difficult to do: a collection from Yatsenyuk to any of the Kiev regionals. Nazi militants at polling stations are unlikely to ensure the “correct” vote, but nothing can prevent them from organizing the “right” vote count.
However, the terror is effective only in the event that those who are frightened have something to lose. The impoverishment of Ukraine, the collapse of the economy, and the collapse of interregional cooperation ties happens at a high, ever-accelerating pace. Today’s outwardly prosperous major cities in fact are on the verge of collapse of the foodstuff supply and the collapse of housing and communal services.
When there is nothing to eat, no light, gas or sewerage, State terror loses much of its effectiveness. No, the people do not rise for the revolution, but constant local rebellions occurring for a variety of reasons force the central government to evenly distribute the enforcement units in the country, giving regional authorities the right to operational management of them and shifting onto them the problem of maintaining these troops. And regional authorities also tend to create their own power structures, which provide a much more prompt response to various incidents than the central Kiev government is able to provide.
In the conditions of disintegration of the united economy, the transition of regions to an insular, semi-natural agriculture, unification in the same hands at the regional level of administrative, political, and law enforcement functions automatically leads the country towards disintegration.
At the same time the competition of regions also will not disappear, because the neighbor also has something tasty that you’d would like to have yourself. And simply looting other people’s estates in conditions of extreme resource scarcity also becomes not a political act, not a distraction, but a vital necessity.
So, in any scenario post-Poroshenko Ukraine quite quickly arrives at a terrorist dictatorship, collapse, and a war of all against all. Only external interference can stop this process, but it cannot be effective as long as the Ukrainian people in their majority begin to consider their own authorities (no matter if it controls the whole country or one of its pieces) as the main enemy.
For the disarming of militias, re-establishment of the law enforcement system, and recreating from scratch the administrative and political systems there will be a necessity to enter into the territory of Ukraine from 300,000-600,000 troops, police, and civilian administrators. Thus, in the current state a substantial (more than half) part of the population will perceive these forces as occupational, whatever they consist of (be it from Russian, Poles, Zulu or Mexicans, even all at once).
The militants, who in this case will not have the desire to disarm themselves, will receive enough mass support of the population and will be able for years to carry out a partisan warfare (including in the cities) and clandestine terrorist activities, including in the territories of neighboring countries.
The shift in the consciousness of the population is possible only after the Nazi militants who now loot primarily Donbass, will start to loot all of Ukraine, and when the fighting between them will reduce to rubble residential quarters of the cities that are far from the Donbass demarcation line. Then any power able to provide security and a source of food will be perceived as a blessing, in comparison to the surrounding reigning horror. Then the militants will be left without even partial popular support, on the contrary people with pleasure will stage against them battue hunting with Lynch law.
Only on such a basis can foreign intervention, including the collective intervention of the international community, have a relatively quick effect.
This does not remove the issue of the price of the restoration of the territories to a level suitable for life (not to mention political recovery), but this topic is beyond the scope of our material.
Overall, while Poroshenko stays in power, the possibility of a miracle, even if small and theoretical, still remains: stopping the collapse of the tissue affected by necrosis of the Ukrainian State and the beginning of the slow and painful process of recovery and the restoration of normal life. Anyway, this is work for at least a decade, but then it is possible to hope that Ukraine, severely straining itself and losing its population, will be able to fulfil it itself. After all, Russia after the chaos of the 90’s managed to do it.
While the removal of Poroshenko would mean passing the point of no return. From this point onwards, to stop the disintegration process before it reaches a logical conclusion would be practically impossible. In the same way the self-restoration of the Ukrainian State would be impossible. The experience of Somalia and Afghanistan testifies to the fact that being plunged into a state of tribal archaism, the State can remain in this for tens and even hundreds of years.
The further fate of the territory and population will depend on the plans, aims, and opportunities of the nearest neighbors (not only Russia). Moreover, the most important thing for the participants of the process will be a reliable blocking of the source of infection, which is able to poison neighbors, and only then the search for a cure. And I don’t think that the sparing therapy will be chosen.
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