Staunton, June 23 – In Donetsk and Luhansk, Vladimir Putin has been carrying out “the biggest information special operation” in modern times and has managed to convince many there and elsewhere of a variety of things that did not exist but may appear for a brief time as a result of his efforts in this direction, according to Igor Eidman.
The Moscow commentator suggests that despite Putin’s propaganda, eastern Ukraine is not an example of the two kinds of separatism which commonly exist in the world. It is not a wealthier region which wants to go its own way or a victim of ethnic oppression.
The residents of Donetsk and Luhansk do not fit either scenario. They are not rich but depend on subsidies, and there has never been linguistic or national oppression there. That isn’t to say there aren’t regional tensions. There are, but “in many regions of Russia,” people don’t like Moscow any better than people in eastern Ukraine. But that isn’t the basis for “declaring independence.”
As far as language issues are concerned, Eidman says, there aren’t any real ones. Russian predominates in nearly all spheres and has official status. The notion that having to fill out official forms in Ukrainian is a casus belli is absurd. Of course, some Russians would like even more, and look to the Finnish model where a six-percent linguistic minority has equal status.
After the Maidan, he continues, “the situation of Russian-speaking citizens” of Ukraine “did not change. “’The ‘uprising’ in the Donbass occurred not as a result of a deteriorating of the situation, but just the reverse, the situation became catastrophic as a result of this ‘uprising.’” People have done what they have done only because they were deceived and misled.
They were “consciously led to a state of mass psychosis. The irrational fear and hatred of the Russian speakers to the new Ukrainian authorities was intentionally provoked with the help of a brainwashing campaign, the dissemination of panic rumors, and the work of Russian media and political technologists.”
No one threatened Donetsk or Luhansk, least of all Kyiv, until the revolt forced the Ukrainian army to intervene. “The population [of the two regions] did not need a war” and it has not brought them anything but suffering. “But there are forces interested in provoking the conflict and using the population of these regions for their own selfish interests.”
These include the Putin regime which has used the crisis to boost its domestic standing, “part of the eastern Ukrainian oligarchy and political elite” who lost their positions when Yanukovych fled, and “Russian nationalists, ‘imperialists,’ ‘Cossacks,’ Orthodox clericals, national socialists who form the greater part of volunteers from Russia.”
Not one of these three groups needs the residents of Donetsk or Luhansk except as tools for their own purposes, but they collectively and not the people of the two Ukrainian regions are fanning the fires of war. If they ceased to do so, the conflict would end. In the meantime, one can only hope that the people there and elsewhere will learn to “oppose Russian disinformation.”