Will This Be Putin's Next Move?
by Lubomyr Prytulak
Posted on www.xoxol.org/putin/the-yanukovych-solution.html 10-May-2014 02:55pm PST, last revised 10-May-2014 02:55pm PST
Vladimir Putin has two problems, and a single solution which resolves both.
First Putin Problem: The Man Who Knows Too Much Is Homesick
Putin's first problem is the undependability of Viktor Yanukovych.
Yanukovych is unhappy living in Russia. Yes, he has bought a $52 million mansion in Rublyovka, a posh suburb of Moscow, and he has tons of money left over, but in Russia he is despised for his stupidity and his boorishness. He begins to think that he could be happier living in a modest apartment in Donetsk than in his mansion in Moscow. In Donetsk he has many friends and admirers. If he returned to Donetsk, he would be treated with respect, which he has come to realize he will never have in Russia. In Ukraine, he was ridiculed for speaking bad Ukrainian, but in Russia he is laughed at even harder for speaking bad Russian. A few go so far as to suggest that Yanukovych doesn't speak Russian at all, but only Surzhyk, the corrupted Russian spoken in eastern Ukraine. The only place on earth where Yanukovych is not laughed at for the way he talks is his home in Donetsk.
And no security in Moscow either, thinks Yanukovych. Putin is able to confiscate all of Yanukovych wealth, and take his life as well, whenever he chooses to. It is small consolation to live in a mansion if that living consists of cowering in fear.
What if I were to strike a deal with the new Ukrainian government? thinks Yanukovych. Let me come home and I will tell all in exchange for immunity from prosecution. I will describe the role Kuchma played in the killing of Gongadze. Who called in the snipers during Maidan. How the Kremlin has sabotaged Ukraine right from the beginning of independence. What moles continued to lurk within the Ukrainian government and military.
The questions are endless and the answers could fill volumes. Viktor Yanukovych in the end would be recognized as a hero of Ukraine. The errant son who admits his errors and begs his fatherland for forgiveness. What better future can he expect than that?
No, he would not be pursued by Putin death squads until the end of his days because his revelations would depose Putin, for which the Russian people would be as grateful as the Ukrainian. Yanukovych can look forward to winning mass respect not only in Ukraine but in Russia, and in fact in the whole world. Why should Viktor Yanukovych continue living in disgrace in Russia when he could come home to cheering crowds in Donetsk, and win the Nobel Peace Prize at the same time? Yes! What awaits Viktor Yanukovych is the Nobel Peace Prize. Discrediting and deposing Putin would bring peace to Ukraine and democracy to Russia. What Nobel Peace Prize recipient has ever chalked up greater accomplishments than these?
The more Putin delves into Yanukovych thinking, the more he is filled with unease.
Second Putin Problem: The Provocation Needed To Justify Invasion Has Not Materialized
The Putin plan was to flood eastern and southern Ukraine with putative freedom fighters composed largely of the dregs of Russian society — men sitting in jails, working in penal colonies, sedated in psychiatric institutions.
But what, objected his advisers, if even a single one of them is recognized as, say, a convicted killer released from prison on condition of serving in eastern Ukraine? What if even a single one of them is recognized as a violent maniac released from an insane asylum?
No problem, replied Putin, none will ever be recognized because they'll all be wearing masks, and in any case we'll make sure we smash the cameras of all reporters, and smash the skulls of the reporters too if that is what seems to be called for.
But, persisted the advisers, as people get to know our freedom-fighters, will they not recognize what kind of people they are, and turn from them in revulsion?
Nobody will have time to get to know them. This conquest of Ukraine will be over in a few days.
However, the Russian invaders proved to be duds because they were entirely different from the Maidan demonstrators. The Russian invaders did not recite poetry. They did not sing songs. They did not play musical instruments. They did not explain at length, candidly and amicably, who they were and where they were from and what their purpose was. They did not detail what universities they were studying at, and what their subjects of study were. They did not welcome photographers and video cameramen and reporters. Their speeches were embarrassing to listen to — nothing but the shouting of a modest collection of catch-phrases. They almost foamed at the mouth in their fury. And they drank. They were clearly below normal in intelligence and markedy above normal in pugnacity.
And so they won few hearts and minds. The expected pro-Russian demonstrations were few and puny. All evil emanated from the invaders' direction — the robbing, the looting, the beating, the kidnapping, the torture, the murder. The Ukrainians, in their turn, were mistreating no one, and attacking the invaders both rarely and justifiably. The world was not outraged at Ukrainian savagery, it was disappointed at Ukrainian restraint.
And so Putin can find no excuse for invasion. The longer his intruders stay, the more they reveal their true natures, and the more the Ukrainian citizenry is alienated. The chief effect of the invasion has been to turn the Ukrainian nation, regardless of preferred language, more strongly against Russia than it had been before. Something needs to be done to save Putin from a humiliating defeat.
And he can't simply back down. He absolutely must have the weapons factories in Ukraine's east. He absolutely must have a land bridge to Crimea. He absolutely must have a land bridge to Transnistria. He absolutely must have a land bridge for his gas pipelines. He absolutely must have a war to continue distracting the Russian people from his theft of their wealth. He absolutely must have more military conquests to prop up his popularity.
Putin Solution To Both Problems: Blame the Right Sector for killing Yanukovych
What if the Ukrainians — the Right Sector, say — were to be blamed for assassinating Viktor Yanukovych?
But what motive would the Right Sector be accused of?
It would be announced that the Right Sector recognized that Yanukovych was the legitimate president of Ukraine, and feared his return to power, and feared his jailing them all for having stolen his presidency. They assassinated him because they had no other way to stop him from resuming his presidency, so valid was the argument that he had never really lost it.
And so that's why Putin keeps insisting that Yanukovych continues to be the rightful president of Ukraine — not because Yanukovych has the slightest chance of returning to that office, but because Putin needs to invent a motive for Ukrainians to want to kill him.
Putin's dream is to have Yanukovych gathering together with Pshonka, and like-minded others, to plan their return to power in Kiev. A bomb goes off under their conference table. The legitimate government of Ukraine, Putin will say, has been blown to pieces by Nazi putschists. Order needs to be restored in Ukraine by a brotherly neighbor. The people of Ukraine, whether speaking Ukrainian or Russian, need to be saved from the Nazis, the murderous Nazis who dare to carry their violence from Ukraine to sacred Russian soil.
Russian tanks start rolling over the Ukrainian border next day.