12:50 Jun. 30, 2016
Origin and outcome of Russia-Ukraine conflict in an interview with Ambassador Georgiy Kunadze
Ex-Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia (1991-1993), Ambassador Georgiy Kunadze in an interview with UNIAN has told about similarities in the Kremlin's decisions to deploy troops in Afghanistan in 1979 and in Ukraine in 2014, and why the Russian special operations in Crimea and Donbas were in fact failures.
Not everybody in Russia supports the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of the Ukrainian territory. However, only few dare to speak up voicing their opposition to the Kremlin's aggressive policy. Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia (1991-1993), Ambassador Georgiy Kunadze believes that the issue of the return of the occupied territories depends on the political will of the Russian leadership. If a task is set to hand back to the rightful owner the seized land, the diplomats will be able immediately to explain why this should be done.
However, much will depend on how quickly the Russian public can recover from this "Great Empire" psychosis that has engulfed millions. Today, Russia does not agree to hand back to the Ukrainian authorities control at parts of the border with the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as they are the main lever of the Russian influence on the situation in Donbas. Without control of the border, it is impossible to hold local elections, and, hence, the Minsk agreement can't be fulfilled.
What were the Kremlin's motives for taking a decision on the annexation of Crimea and attempting with fire and sword to create Novorossiya? After all, the boogeyman stories back in the day about trains full of Ukrainian nationalist radicals set to arrive in Crimea and the imminent arrival of NATO troops just did not hold water...
The typical special operations in Ukraine had clearly been designed in advance, in the framework of the general Russian strategy of "molding together" the post-Soviet space. But decisions on their actual implementation, I believe, were taken spontaneously, in the worst traditions of Soviet voluntarism. In fact, that was approximately the same way the decision to send Soviet troops into Afghanistan had been taken. As a result, both the Russian special operations in Ukraine proved to be a failure in many ways. Naturally, no one recognized Crimea annexation, a separatist rebellion has not gone beyond certain areas of Donbas, while Ukraine is lost for Russia for a long time, if not forever. Such "molding" of the post-Soviet space threatens to end up in its complete and final collapse.
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What is the cost of the war in Donbas and Crimea annexation for Russia?
War is expensive in general, while international isolation Russia has found itself in is even more expensive. So, the cost of these ventures for Russia, as a state, is very high. And for its current leadership, I am afraid, it is extraordinary. It can't win in a confrontation with the whole world, but apparently, it will not survive defeat. I won't speculate though, when this government will go and who will replace it. Much will depend on how quickly the Russian society is able to recover from the "Great Empire" psychosis that has engulfed millions. The scope and depth of this phenomenon are unprecedented.