Staunton, June 25 – Vladimir Putin’s call for the Russian parliament to repeal its authorization for the use of military force in Ukraine is meaningless not only because the Kremlin leader has claimed that he has not done so up to now but also because he could reverse this reversal anytime he wants, according to Stanislav Belkovsky.
Indeed, the only thing Putin’s latest words may do, the Moscow analyst says, is to deceive the West about his intentions and thus reduce the willingness of governments there to impose new and tougher sanctions against Russia or to block gas exporting projects like South Flow.
The propagandistic nature of the Kremlin leader’s appeal to the parliament is shown by both its timing – he issued it just before he departs for a visit to Austria – and the nature of the Russian parliament – Putin has total control of that body and can get it to go in any direction he wants within 24 to 48 hours.
Putin’s declaration “does not mean the end of the conflict in Ukraine,” Belkovsky says. As was clear “long ago,” Putin “does not intend to introduce forces into Ukraine officially.” Instead, he will continue to take superficially deniable steps to destabilize the situation there just as he has done or the past three months.
According to Belkovsky, Putin is not prepared to accept the existence of Ukraine “as such.” And while he wants to avoid Western sanctions, something his declarations may help him do, “he will continue to destabilize the situation there albeit simply not in the name of the Kremlin.”
The West must understand that, he continues, and it must recognize two other Moscow realities: On the one hand, “Putin is an impulsive and reactive individual who can change his decision at any moment.” And on the other, because of the meaninglessness of the Russian parliament, he can get the necessary paper authorization to invade whenever he wants.
Putin has “a definite support group” in Europe which consists “largely” of major business interests which “seek to continue business projects with Russia and in Russia.” His latest words are intended to “strengthen the pro-Kremlin lobby in Europe,” even if other groups in the West view his statement with suspicion given his track record in saying one thing and doing another.
Belkovsky argues that the impact of Putin’s declaration will thus be less than he expects or than it might have been before his intervention in Ukraine at least in Europe.
In a concluding comment, the Moscow analyst stresses that Putin’s request to the parliament is in no way connected with the proposals of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Putin isn’t negotiating with Poroshenko because he does not view the Ukrainian leader as an appropriate partner.
Putin’s position and that of Moscow more generally is that “Ukraine is a weak, ineffective state with which one must deal in a corresponding fashion.” As it has demonstrated in the past, Russia will seek to block “the entrance of Ukraine into NATO and the introduction of American air defense weaponry on its territory.”
Moreover, Belkovsky adds, “Putin will continue to push for the federalization of Ukraine” in order to create for Moscow “informal mechanisms of control over a definite part of Ukraine.”
Those who believe otherwise or who profess to do so in order to addressing the problems Russian aggression in Ukraine has created, the Moscow analyst suggests, are only deceiving themselves – but that of course is exactly what Putin hopes for and perhaps, on the basis of past practice, even expects.