Putin at Fateful Crossroads on Ukraine, Says Illarionov

July 5, 2014
Photo by © RIA Novosti / Reuter

Andrei Illarionov, an economist and former advisor to the Putin administration, posted this blog at Ekho Moskvy 07:49 on 5 July, possibly before the news of the fleeing of the Slavyansk separatists and Col. Strelkov’s “demobilization order” (ultimately debunked) had reached him (see our Ukrainian Liveblog). Translation by The Interpreter.

Operation “Strategic Blackmail”

In the last 48 hours, the Russian authorities have implemented a special operation unprecedented in scale and resources used to blackmail Western leaders, the Ukrainian leadership, and Russian society with the purpose of stopping the Ukrainian armed forces from suppressing terrorists in Eastern Ukraine.

As a result of the four months of aggression against Ukraine, Putin has found himself poised at a fork in the road that could prove deadly for him:

1. Refusal of massive military support of the terrorists (now it is virtually exclusively in the form of direct armed intervention into Eastern Ukraine) means the loss by Putin of massive support and the provoking of a rebellion/uprising/coup in Russia against him as “the national traitor of Novorossiya” with likely loss of power and possibly his life.

2. The invasion of regular Russian forces into Eastern Ukraine will cause a confrontation with the West and de facto the whole surrounding world to such a level, that it will guarantee the crushing of Russia and an inevitable Nuremberg/Hague/Sevastopol for the organizer of the largest aggression in Europe since 1945.

The fundamental difference in these two threats consists of the fact that the second is guaranteed, but remote, whereas the first is uncertain, but then immediate.

Having ended up at this fateful crossroads, so colorfully described in Historical Condemnation-2, Putin zealously took the third path indicated in that text, having started an exceptionally risky operation at the time, but which seemed to him to be a rescue operation.

He decided to place the maximum stakes on his psychological and military opposition to Petro Alekseyevich [Poroshenko], trying to force him to end the ATO [anti-terrorist operation] in the Donbass. For this purpose, at the present time:

1. There is a massive influx of forces and ammunition for the terrorists into the East of Ukraine;
2. An unprecedented lobbying is under way of Western leaders on the subject of putting pressure on Poroshenko;
3. Rumors are being spread through all possible channels about the beginning “in the next 48 hours’ of a “peace-keeping operation” by Russian Armed Forces in Eastern Ukraine;
4. An anti-Poroshenko union has been created in the Ukrainian political class.

There is one purpose for all these actions: to stop the ATO in the Donbass, to portray Putin as a “peace-keeper” and thus save him from a new wave of Western sanctions, as well as an explosion of outrage from the “Novorossiya” coalition in Russia.

If Poroshenko retreats and stops the ATO, Putin will be saved.

“Novorossiya” will be legitimized and established.

This, naturally, will be portrayed at home and abroad as a new outstanding victory of the national leader.


Translation: a source in the Foreign Ministry says in the next 48 hours Russia may begin a peace-keeping operation in the east of Ukraine.