10 thoughts on “Talk to RCMI”

  1. Great talk, Paul!
    During the Q&A, and in your earlier talk(s), you state that annexation/reunification of Crimea “created” a victim mentality in Kiev. I’m not sure if “created” is quite the right word… Kiev’s push to recognise Holodomor as genocide (and perhaps other past initiatives) strongly indicate that some sort of a victim mentality has been there for quite some time. Whether it is genuine or put on for political means is a different question, but events in Crimea have _predictably_ helped to direct that mentality at Russia, as opposed to Lenin/Stalin/USSR. Surely Moscow saw it coming? It is conceivable that Moscow was expecting the victim mentality from Kiev and was trying to exploit it, hoping that Kiev’s obvious irrussionality would motivate Western powers to re-think their unconditional support for Kiev. However, Moscow’s actions effectively made Kiev’s victim mentality more rational…


      1. It was in the Kremlin’s interest to discredit the post-Maidan Kiev government, and escalation of a pre-existing victim mentality has helped achieve that to some degree. But yeah, whether it was intentional or not is debatable.


  2. “It was in the Kremlin’s interest to discredit the post-Maidan Kiev government, and escalation of a pre-existing victim mentality has helped achieve that to some degree.”

    Kremlins needs to do exactly nothing to discredit new влада in Kiev. KIev is fine with doing that just on its own and needs absolutely no encouragement. Meanwhile Russia needs only new bucket of popcorn while watching the record breaking “Чё там у хохлов?” reality show.


  3. Some comments:

    Concerning the Russian build up at the Ukrainian border in April:
    IIRC there were some attempts, immidiatly post coup, to set up an alternative goverment in Kharkov that would have basically been “Party of Regions land”. This attempt failed.

    Concerning some understated factors influencing the Russian decision to go into Crimea:
    First: It becomes increasingly likely that a considerable amount of the “heavenly hundred” was shot in the back by “their own side”. I am using scarequotes because the shooters were very likely hard core nationalists from Svoboda, Right Sector or some Samooborona, and are in many ways NOT on the same side as some idealistic anti corruption protestors (I would also argue that the Anti corruption protests on Maidan werent exactly about joining the EU, but I digress), but are very much “their own side”.

    In the absence of law enforcement, it would have been trivial for this groups to create incidents on Crimea. I can well imagine how western media coverage of “Maidan patriots being killed by dastardly Russian base guards” would have looked. The “new goverment” in Kiev which came to power because of these hard rightists would have tried to ride the fascist tiger and very likely backed them.

    Second: It became, after the immidiate collapse of the february agreement, obvious that neither the Oligarchs nor the West displayed any willingness to reign in the Nationalists. As long as those are armed and around, treaties with the new authorities are worth nothing because the arms the nationalists seized give them a “permanent veto”. Since the Russian preference of securing Crimea by legal, economic and diplomatic means was thus impossible, they did it militarily.

    What I find highly threatening is the fact that the nationalists are still armed, a part of them is on the loose, and another part is “in theory” integrated into the armed forces. However, given the often displayed ineptitude of the new Kiev authorities, I am not at all convinced that this “integration” into the National guard or whatever will actually “integrate” the hard right. It is, in my opinion, more likely that this will become a massive infiltration of the Ukrainian security apparatus by those hard rightists.

    Fundamentally, the hard right gains as long as violence continues. The hard right can ensure further violence by using its “veto by arms”. In addition, the current leadership also likes continued violence because it distracts the public from elite incompetence, and provides a comparison of how much worse everything could be. It also threatens other realctricant regions with suffering the same fate as Donbass, which is far “cheaper” then actually meeting these regions halfway.

    I hope that Ukraine will manage to deal with the hard right, but I am skeptical.

    Russian Propaganda depicting Poroschenko or Yatseniuk as “Hitler” is imho as unhelpfull as western PR comparing Putin to “Hitler”. Poroschenko and Yatseniuk are a lot more akin to being a von Papen, a Brüning or a Schleicher (the last Weimar leaders who aided and abetted Hitlers rise. Brüning in particular did so by introducing crushing austerity reforms, which is a lesson the EU should seriously remember).


    1. “In the absence of law enforcement, it would have been trivial for this groups to create incidents on Crimea”

      There was such an incident in Crimea. At least one Ukrainian soldier and a member Crimean self-defence forces were killed by an unknown third party.

      I disagree about Yats. This guy started the war in Donbass and his stance towards the Russian BSF in Crimea pushed the Kremlin to remove Ukrainian authority from Crimea.
      He is more responsible for the mess than any (other) leader on the Ukrainian right.


  4. Yats is a weird bird. First thing, he has a chronic backstabbing disorder. He so far betrayed Kuchma, Timoschenko (tried to steal her party and her stuff while she was in prison) and also Poroshenko.

    Thing is, he isnt directly an Oligarch (but obviously wants to be one), so he has much less to lose which makes him far more “adventurous”, which was quite evident in Crimea.

    In some ways, there is a stronger “late Weimar” vibe about him then about Poroschenko. I mean, Poroschenko mainly wants to get richer, or failing that stay about as rich as he is. Yats wants “glory” and “riches” and is unusually narcistic even for Ukrainian political circles. As far as I get the Ukrainian hard right, they still see him as a little rabbit, or as a usefull idiot, which is why I dont see him as “Hitler”. Just a “wannabe”.


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