Ukraine: Ist der 20. Februar D-Day?
Hier laufen gerade die Vorbereitungen für die Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz.Christoph Heusgen wird Ischinger beerben und Ischinger versuchte gerade noch Putin zum Kommen zu überreden. Wie einer der Putinberater, Dr. Rahr Global Review mitteilte,ist Putins Forderung aber,dass er als erstes spricht und er möchte dann eine quasihistorische und programmatische Rede wie das letzte Mal halten.Heusgen will aber,dass Blinken oder Kamala Harris als erstes redet,wahrend Ischinger Annalena Baerbock als Kompromiss und erste Rednerin vorgeschlagen hat
Laut FAZ und ARD/ZDF Morgenmagazin /Moma) bleiben die Russen diesmal ganz fern,weil die MSC ein „rein transatlantischen Forum“sei.Wasstellt er sich denn vor?Ein rein eurasischesoder kontnentaleuropaischesForum,bei dem er als Erster spricht.Rahr meinte,er habePutin geraten,fernzubleiben.Desweiteren würde man auf China versuchen einzuwirken,dass es auch Fernbleiben,um die russisch-chinesische Achse deutlich zu machen.Dann wäre Heusgen blamiert.
Ich persönlich glaube aber,dass es dazu nicht kommt und Wang Yi und die Chinesen wie immer teilnehmen werden, zumal US-Präsident Biden eine Überarbeitung des sinoameirkanischen Handelsabkommen in Aussicht gestellt hat und die KP China während der Winterolympiade nicht auf Krakel ausgelegt ist. .Rahr meinte dann noch einschränkend,dass Putin nicht unbedingt vor den USVertretern sprechen müsse,aber vor den europäischen Vertretern,da er die Europäer als Marionetten der USA sehe. Soweit zu europäischer Souveränitat und etwas widersprüchliche Signale.. Zumindestens ist dies der Boykott eines Dialogs trotz aller weiteren Vermittlungsdiplomatie und sonstigen Treffen.
Inzwischen gibt es neben Stimmen, die eine russische Invasion in die Ukraine für unwahrscheinlich halten, auch solche, die diese kommen, wobei schon einige konkrete Termine nennen. So würde der russische Truppenaufmarsch in Belarus, an der ukrainischen Grenze und zu See im Schwarzen Meer mit der Option einer Landung und Blockade der Ukraine zur See. am 20. Februar seinen Mobilisierungshöhepunkt, just zum Ende der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz und der Winterolympiade in Peking zumal laut Lukaschenkow auch Atomraketen ins Spiel gebracht werden:
„Ukraine: Geht Russland nach dem Manöver in die Offensive?
Militärs in Kiew und im Westen fürchten eine Invasion zum Ende der Olympischen Spiele. Allerdings würde Moskau damit immense Verluste riskieren.
Der Waffenlärm rund um die Ukraine wird immer lauter. Am Donnerstag starteten russische Truppen in Belarus gemeinsam mit ihren weißrussischen Verbündeten das Großmanöver „Unionsentschlossenheit 2022“. Am Sonntag beginnt auch die russische Kriegsflotte umfangreiche Übungen im Schwarzen Meer, für die sie das Gewässer vor der ukrainischen Südküste fast vollständig sperren will.
Westliche Fachleute warnen seit Wochen vor einem umfassenden Zangenangriff auf die umzingelte Ukraine, auch angesichts der Äußerungen, mit denen der belarussische Staatschef Alexander Lukaschenko die Stimmung gegenüber der Nato anheizt: „Bis die irgendwelche Truppen hierher schicken, stehen wir schon am Ärmelkanal.“
Belarussischer Staatschef Lukaschenko mit massiven Drohungen
Und nicht nur das: Der britische Verteidigungsminister Ben Wallace sprach am Donnerstag von Aufklärungsberichten, nach denen Russland bald eine strategische Nuklearübung plane. Lukaschenko hatte schon im Dezember erklärt, Belarus könne russische Atomwaffen aufstellen, wenn die Nato solche in Polen stationiere. Und der russische Exilpolitologe Iwan Preopraschenski mutmaßte in der Deutschen Welle, die russischen Kräfte könnten beim Manöver in Belarus auch trainieren, wie man Nuklearraketen auf Gefechtsfeld bringe.
Ukrainische und westliche Militärs nennen schon den 20. Februar als mögliches Datum eines russischen Angriffs auf die Ukraine: Am 20. enden die Olympischen Winterspiele im Peking, ebenso die militärischen Übungen in Belarus. Und am Vorabend wird das Flottenmanöver im Schwarzen Meer abgeschlossen. Dass Außenminister Sergei Lawrow am Donnerstag ankündigte, auch Russland werde wohl einen Teil seine Diplomat:innen aus der Ukraine abziehen, trug auch nicht zur Entspannung bei.
Nach Angaben aus Minsk und Moskau proben in Belarus weniger als 9000 Soldaten Krieg. Das ist die Grenze, ab die Veranstalter verpflichtet wären, die anderen OSZE-Mitgliedsstaaten zu informieren. Dagegen spricht das russische Portal Rosbalt von mehr als 30 000 Soldaten sowie von Iskander-Raketensystemen. Und laut der Zeitung Iswestija werden etwa russische 20 Kriegsschiffe, darunter mehrere mit Raketen bewaffnete Kreuzer, vor der ukrainischen Schwarzmeer-Küste manövrieren.
Auch sechs große Landungsschiffe der Baltischen und der Nordmeerflotte sind auf dem Weg dorthin. Seit Monaten diskutieren die westlichen Medien mögliche russische Feldzugpläne, mit Landemanöver an der ukrainischen Südküste und einem Vorstoß aus Belarus Richtung Kiew. Aber in der Ukraine zweifelt man, dass die russische Manöverzange wirklich zu einer Invasion zuschnappen wird. „Das Szenario ist möglich, aber nicht sehr wahrscheinlich“, sagt Mikola Sungurowski, Militärexperte des Kiewer Rasumkow-Zentrums, der FR. Die Streitkräfte und die Kämpfer der Territorialabwehr würden sich entschlossen wehren. Russland drohten hohe Verluste – und außerdem massive internationale Sanktionen, die es bis in den Staatsbankrott treiben könnten.
Weißrussischer Experte: Luftschläge möglich
Sungurowskis belarussischer Kollege Alexander Alessin verweist im Kanal TV Doschd auf die bewaldeten Sümpfe im belarussischen Grenzgebiet, wo Panzer auch schon im Dezember bis zu zwei Meter im Morast versunken seien. „Mit Panzermassen attackieren ist dort völlig unmöglich.“ Alessin erwartet, Russland werde seine Luftwaffe und seine Raketensysteme für Bombardements einsetzen, um die Ukraine ähnlich zur Kapitulation zu zwingen, wie die Nato es 1999 beim Luftkrieg gegen Jugoslawien getan habe.
„Aber Putin wird versuchen, harte Sanktionen des Westens zu vermeiden, er entwickelt eher hybride Szenarien“, sagt Sungurowski. Die Russen könnten in der Ukraine „schlafende“ Terroristenzellen aktivieren, um innere Unruhen mit Todesopfern zu provozieren und dann eine „Friedenstruppe“ zu schicken. „Wenn diese bei den Zusammenstößen mit der ukrainischen Armee die ersten Gefallenen zu beklagen hat, wird die ganze Armada, die jetzt an den Grenzen konzentriert ist, in die Ukraine eindringen.“ Bis auf Weiteres aber diene der Aufmarsch als Hebel zur politischen Erpressung. (Stefan Scholl). „
Während die Meinungen geteilt sind, ob es überhaupt zu einer Invasion kommt oder mehr in Form eines Hybridkriegs oder eben massiven Einmarsches mit boots on the ground, Luftschägen und Panzerformationen, dann auch noch die Frage, ob nur im Donbass oder darüberhinaus, soweit die Ketten tragen,weist die Foreign Policy darauf hin, dass man den Ukrainekonflikt nicht nur unter rein sicherheitspolitischen Erwägungen sehen solle, sondern auch die histroisch- ideologische Komponente bei Putin und seiner Idee einer Eurasischen Union und von Novorussia einbeziehen müsse. Demnach ginge es ihm nicht nur um die Neutralität der Ukraine, sondern wolle er diese sich einverleiben:
Russia and Ukraine Are Trapped in Medieval Myths
A shared past underpins—and worsens—the conflict.
By Kristaps Andrejsons, a journalist in Latvia and the creator of The Eastern Border podcast.
FEBRUARY 6, 2022, 7:00 AM
There are plenty of economic and security explanations for the Ukraine crisis. And they’re useful, but they’re not enough. The cultural, historical, and religious underpinnings of the conflict between Moscow and Kyiv go back to fundamental questions of what Russia even is, what it means to be Russian, and who gets to own the myths of the past.
On July 12, 2021, the Kremlin’s official website published an article by Russian President Vladimir Putin called “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” It’s a key guide to the historical stories that shape Putin’s and many Russian’s attitudes.
Firstly, Putin and many Russians believe that Russians and Ukrainians are the same people, “brother nations,” with one group called Velikorossy (“Great Russians”) and the other, the Ukrainians, Malorossy (“Little Russians”). They think the same about Belarus—that’s where the name of the country comes from, they’re Belorusy, or “White Russians.” When Russia became a tsardom in 1547, the official shortened title of the ruler was tsar vseya Rusi, “tsar of all the Russias.”
All those Russias stemmed from the successor states and principalities of the original Kievan Rus, ruled over by various members of the Rurikid dynasty, Viking rulers of the 9th century. That dynasty originated in Novgorod, then moved its capital to Kiev—now spelled Kyiv—in 882. That became the grand capital of a Rurikid federation. In comparison, Moscow was a complete backwater. Its first recorded mention comes only from 1147.
It’s this shared line of descent that makes the Russian relationship with Belarus and Ukraine very different from the ties with other former Soviet states. Kazakhstan, Estonia, Georgia, and so forth might have been national comrades, but the Ukrainians and Belarusians were kin. Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine all claim this state as their cultural and political ancestor—and Putin wholeheartedly endorses this line of thinking. From his article: “The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, ‘Let it be the mother of all Russian cities.’”
Religion, as Putin hints, underpins much of this relationship. This goes back to St. Vladimir, also known as Vladimir the Great, or Vladimir the Baptist of the Slavs, the Kievan Rus ruler famous for converting to Orthodox Christianity in 988 and making it the official state religion.
That conversion, and his subsequent marriage to a Byzantine princess, led to close ties with the Byzantines—and with the beginning of another line of legitimacy and succession, traced through Constantinople. Vladimir Monomakh, ruler of Kiev from 1113 to 1125, preferred to call himself “archon of all Rus” in the “Greek manner.” His name, Monomakh, came from his family ties to the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos. Constantinople, with its emperor crowned by the city’s patriarch, the head of the Orthodox faith, was above mere kings and archons.
But this order was shaken up by the intrusion of powerful Eastern conquerors—first the Mongols, who leveled Kievan Rus, breaking it up into numerous vassal states, and then the final destruction of Constantinople itself in 1453 by the Ottomans. Once-proud Kiev was left in ruins, a pile of skulls outside a tiny remnant settlement. And there was no longer a Byzantine emperor to rule above Russian kings.
But as Mongol power weakened in the late 15th century, starting with the battle of Ugra River, parts of the old Kievan Rus state attempted to reclaim its legitimacy—now calling it “Russia.” In the west, though, they faced other challengers: a powerful Poland had annexed much of modern-day western Ukraine, and Belarus had been absorbed by Lithuania.
Russia Can Win in Ukraine Without Firing a Shot
If the Kremlin can make Ukrainian businesses uninsurable, it will destroy the economy.
It was in this period that Ukraine, once the heartland of Kievan Rus, got its peculiar name. There are two prevailing theories about that name—one that’s backed by most historians, as well as by the Russian government, and one pushed largely by Ukrainian scholars and the government. The first one states that after the Polish Crown took over the former heartland of the Kievan Rus in 1569, the territory got the unofficial name “Ukraina” (interpreted as “next to the border” in Old Slavic) since, from a Polish perspective, it bordered the steppe and the semi-nomadic powers such as the Tatars there.
The second one claims that in Ukrainian and Old Slavic there’s a difference between the words “oukraina” and “okraina.” Both are derived from “kraj”—meaning “border” in Old Slavic, but there’s an important difference in preposition. Ou version means “in” while o means “about, around”—in this context, Ukraine would mean “the lands attached to the center” or “the lands, bordering the center,” which then is interpreted to denote the lands directly surrounding the Kievan Rus, subordinate to it directly. That’s a far-fetched claim, but it gives Ukrainians a strong sense of their own place in the Kievan Rus legacy.
In the meantime, the new Russian state needed to claim its own place in the Orthodox world—and in the line of descent from the Roman Empire, another source of national-political legitimacy. With Constantinople, the Second Rome, in Muslim hands, Moscow had to become the “Third Rome,” its patriarch raised to the level of Constantinople and Rome. “The first two Romes perished, the third stands, and there will be no fourth Rome,” as the Russian saying went. The Russian leaders, as of 1547, declared themselves no longer kings but emperors—in Russian, “tsar,” derived from the old Roman title of caesar.
And the idea worked. It was beneficial to the Russian power structure; it could help the rulers centralize and rule, via the help of the Russian Patriarchate; and it give much-needed legitimacy to Moscow. The Russian rulers married into the deposed Byzantine dynasties and created a merry variety of myths to justify their supposed inheritance from Constantinople.
But there’s a bit of a problem. Just as to be called caesar you need to rule Rome, to be called tsar you need to rule over all of Rus. The cultural, historical, and religious significance of Kievan Rus was just too large to be ignored. That wasn’t a problem for the tsars themselves, who had clawed back lost territory in the west—and then set out to expand to the east.
The Russian Empire tried to erase the other eastern Slavic languages from their shared cultural memory – they acted as if there was no Ukraine and never had been, just as with Belarus. According to the Tsarist government, Ukrainians had always been Russians and had no history of their own. The Ukrainian and Belorussian languages were banned. Ukrainian nationalism was a threat to the underlying myths of Russia and threatened their attempts at creating an “All-Russian People.”
In the Soviet Union, in contrast, early idealists looked at the feudal past with contempt and imagined Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia as separate nations joined by a Soviet ideal.
But that early idealism soon disintegrated for the Soviets. Joseph Stalin was obsessed with destroying Ukraine-ness. The Holodomor, the artificial famine of 1932-1933, killed millions of Ukrainians—though there’s fierce discussion among historians as to how intentionally targeted this was. Ukrainian culture was systematically oppressed, including a ban on teaching Ukrainian language in schools, and a lot of those schools themselves were closed.
Yet Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, was himself Ukrainian and had been the head of the Communist Party of Ukraine until 1949, so he saw closer integration in the Soviet political system with some degree of autonomy in local matters as a more effective policy rather than outright extermination. As a part of this so-called normalization process, in 1957, regional economic councils were introduced in addition to the republican economic councils to strengthen Ukrainian autonomy. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic gained the right to pass its own laws in the field as long as they were consistent with union legislation and were called for by union organs. Kiev became a very standard Soviet capital, receiving no special attention or privileges, to better fall in line with the rest of the Soviet Union. Its special place in eastern Slavic history was downplayed and ignored, because it didn’t fall into the Soviet narrative that those in power wanted to build.
But it’s much more of a problem for modern Russia, without either the ideological flexibility of the Soviets or the territorial reach of the old empire. Putin presents himself as a tsar-like figure. He wants to go down in the history books as a grand unifier of Russian lands—if not under the same government, then definitely as the hegemon of the Russian world.
Putin has always presented himself as a glorious leader and a victorious conqueror. Take his victory speech after the 2012 election, or how after the annexation of Crimea he stressed the historical importance of this reunification in his address to the State Duma deputies, calling it a “return home”, and focusing on past Russian military glory. His aims were equally evident in his reaction to any Japanese talks about a deal concerning the Kuril Islands. He’s also built a massive, opulent palace for himself, with gold-plated double-headed eagles, a clear Imperial Russian symbol, everywhere—even in his personal strip club. The Russian Orthodox Church helps him pacify the population and supports whatever myths Kremlin wants to glorify.
Putin wants to take credit for the Soviet legacy and, at the same time, be viewed in the same light as the emperors of old. Therefore, he has to bring back and reaffirm the old, imperial myths and values—and to do that, he has to get Kyiv under his thumb. After all, it was the restored Kievan Rus that became Russia, the Third Rome. Ukraine going its own way, claiming Kievan Rus as its legacy, moving away from Moscow, getting autocephaly for its own orthodox church—all this runs contrary to Russian state mythology. These imperial myths are what define Russia, what it even means to be a Russian. Without them, Russia just stops being Russia in the eyes of many. Putin is convinced that if this social glue is disrupted, then Russia will just split up in pieces again—and if he allows that to happen, then his legacy is ruined. For him, there can be no separate Ukrainian language, culture, or history.
At the same time, Ukraine faces a similar problem. It feels that it, and not Russia, is the true inheritor of Kievan Rus. Ukrainians need to divorce Kievan Rus from the modern Russia and show their own history. They’ve seen what’s happened with the acceptance of Russian myths in Belarus—where the opposition now waves a white, red, and white flag at protests from the era of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, thumbing their noses at Russian historical nationalism.
And so, the conflict continues. And it will continue as long as Russia wants to actually be able to call itself Russia, as it defines itself, and the other descendants of Kievan Rus want to determine their own fate and have their own language, history, and traditions, without interference from Moscow. Economic issues can be dealt with, security guarantees can be given, and new deals can be signed—but these ancient problems can only be solved by building a completely new project, with new ideals and a new basis of legitimacy that would not need historical myths to prop itself up. Maybe it’s time to finally let the Third Rome fall. And to give these old legends a proper burial, we should honor the part about not building the fourth one.
Und laut Elizabeth Braw vom American Enterprise Institute in der Foreign Policy könnte Putin auch mittels Wirtschafts- und Hybridkrieg und Seeblockade die Ukraine ohne grösseren Einmarsch unterwerfen:
Russia Can Win in Ukraine Without Firing a Shot
If the Kremlin can make Ukrainian businesses uninsurable, it will destroy the economy.
Zumal die innenpolitischen Kämfpe in der Ukraine auch an Spannung zunehmen, ja Selensky Poroschenko schon mit einem Prozess wegen Landesverrats drohte. So beschreibt Konstantion Skorin von Carnegie Moscow Center die innerukrainsichen Grabenkämpfe:
“Yet again, Zelensky is faced with a crisis even worse than all the previous ones. Every report of another Russian plan to invade Ukraine is a blow to its economy, weakening the hryvnia, pushing up interest rates, and sowing panic among the public.
The longer the international tension over Ukraine goes on for, the shakier the country’s political system becomes. Faced with a foreign threat, the Ukrainian elites have shown themselves to be unwilling to overcome their differences. Instead, they are making use of this critical moment to settle old scores.
It’s a Ukrainian tradition that the battle for power never stops. For both the pro-Western and pro-Russian opposition, any confrontation linked to a geopolitical choice—never mind one this high profile—creates the perfect opportunity to boost their popularity and score points against President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The biggest beneficiaries of the standoff against Russia are those known as the “national patriots.” Amid the current fears of a Russian invasion, former president Petro Poroshenko is once again becoming the most influential figure on the right of Ukrainian politics—as well as Zelensky’s main opponent. Poroshenko is now polling just 2–3 percentage points behind the president, while his party, European Solidarity, is overtaking Zelensky’s Servant of the People, according to the latest polls.
With the threat of war looming over the country, even those who recently mocked the former president can no longer see any alternative to him. After all, it was Poroshenko who led Ukraine during the military conflict in the country’s east in 2014–2015. His tactic right now is to do everything within his means to attack Zelensky’s administration for failing to take the Russian threat seriously.
The Poroshenko camp is also pinning its hopes on getting support from the West, which is becoming increasingly disenchanted with Zelensky over his criticism of his allies, whom he has reproached for not providing sufficient help and for inflaming tensions.
Poroshenko’s main problem is the number of Ukrainians who fiercely dislike him following his years in power. That number has not changed, and no one is in a hurry to join forces with the former president in a coalition against Zelensky: they are wary of his toxic image. On his own, however, Poroshenko does not yet have the resources to defeat the ruling regime.
The international escalation over Ukraine has also activated the pro-Russian wing of the country’s opposition. On the one hand, living in constant fear of a Russian invasion only makes Ukraine’s pro-Russian parties seem more odious than ever. On the other hand, the country’s predominantly Russian-speaking regions are growing increasingly frustrated with the government for having become embroiled in an all-consuming confrontation with the Kremlin when Zelensky had run on a promise of peace. This frustration could in future be converted into votes, and with that in mind, competition among the various groups is already raging.
Since Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the main pro-Russian party, Opposition Platform–For Life (OPFL), was placed under house arrest and hit with sanctions by the Ukrainian government, the party’s leadership has joined the group of gas tycoons consisting of Serhiy Lyovochkin, Yuriy Boyko, and Dmytro Firtash. Firtash recently presented the group’s political manifesto: a neutral, nonaligned status for Ukraine, and its transformation into a bridge between Russia and Europe: the “Switzerland of Eurasia.”
Another pro-Russian politician propelled into the limelight by the escalation over Ukraine is Yevhen Murayev, leader of the Nashi party. He found himself at the center of attention recently when the UK Foreign Office claimed that the Kremlin was considering him as a candidate to head up a puppet government in occupied Ukraine.
Murayev has long been seen by the OPFL as a dangerous rival. In 2018, Russia imposed sanctions against him at the behest of Medvedchuk, and it’s rumored that Firtash, who has connections to the British establishment, is behind the Foreign Office report. In the unstable world of Ukrainian politics, it’s hard to predict what impact this sudden international notoriety will have on Murayev’s popularity. It’s possible that the OPFL may manage to sideline him as a pro-Russian radical, painting themselves as moderates in comparison. Or the reverse may happen: Murayev may manage to create an image as a moderate centrist under attack on both sides, from both Russia and the West.
The only politician not benefitting from the current crisis is Dmytro Razumkov, the former parliamentary speaker. Until recently, he appeared to have the best prospects of any Ukrainian politician, but his moderate, balanced approach is at odds with the current atmosphere, in which emotions are running high. Razumkov can, however, afford to simply wait: the niche he has set his sights on is currently occupied by Zelensky, who is under attack from all sides.
Yet again, Zelensky is faced with a crisis even worse than all the previous ones. Every day that the standoff continues, and every report of another Russian plan to attack Ukraine are blows to its economy, weakening the hryvnia, pushing up interest rates on loans, and sowing panic among the public. Confronted with all of this, Zelensky has decided not to leave Ukraine’s fate in the hands of its Western allies by meekly awaiting help, but criticizes them constantly, reproaches them for inaction, and asks for concrete measures.
When the West threatens Russia with sanctions in the event of aggression, Zelensky demands preventative measures, fearing a repeat of the events of 2014, when Russian forces had occupied Crimea before there was anything anyone could do about it. When Western media describe an imminent invasion, the Ukrainian government all but denies it, and calls for everyone to remain calm. When Moscow says there is no point in talking to Kyiv, as it’s merely a puppet of the West, Zelensky continues to insist on direct negotiations with Putin.
The president still leads the polls, but the gap between him and his rivals is inexorably decreasing. What’s more, his attempts to quell panic are only making it worse: just like all former Soviet citizens, Ukrainians are used to interpreting assurances from the authorities as confirming their worst fears.
The overall instability could not fail to impact on the president’s Servant of the People party. Recently, it has been unable to get the required number of votes for its initiatives, reducing the president’s parliamentary majority to a mere formality. There’s no obvious solution: if Zelensky puts pressure on the Servant of the People deputies, they could desert en masse to join Razumkov, the party’s former leader.
The external threat to Ukraine is exacerbating Zelensky’s domestic problems, and vice versa. The result is that the president has become an inconvenient figure for both East and West. Ukraine’s Western allies would prefer to see a more systematic and predictable leader in his place—someone like Poroshenko—who would have heeded their warnings graciously, thanked them for their help, and adhered strictly to the agenda set by those allies.
Moscow, meanwhile, would like to see an end to Ukraine’s protracted drift toward the West and the advent of an if not openly pro-Russian leader, à la Medvedchuk or Boyko, then at least a moderate politician, à la Razumkov. Then the Kremlin would spare no expense to buy their loyalty.
Zelensky may be an inconvenient leader for everyone else, but that’s what makes him a suitable leader for today’s Ukraine, since the place it occupies on the map is so inconvenient for everyone. Many would dearly love to wash their hands of it, but it’s not possible. So Zelensky remains the most popular politician, even though it would seem he has lost everything he had to lose. Ukrainian society doesn’t always know what it wants, and is intuitively reluctant to make a definitive choice in favor of East or West. Ukrainians believe the world owes them, and they are not ready to compromise.
Zelensky does not have many options. He can either stick to his guns in the hope of a change of fortune and the return of his popularity (or at least the failure of the opposition), or he can hold a new referendum of trust in the form of snap parliamentary or presidential elections. Either way, the Ukrainian leader cannot be written off just yet.“
Doch auch innerhalb Russlands kommt es zu innenpolitischen Spannungen. Die Kriegsbegeisterung der Bevölkerung schient laut Umfragen nicht mehr so einen Effekt wie 2014 bei der Krimbesetzung erzielen zu können. Udem wurde nun ein offener Brief eines pensionierten Grussischen Generals bekannt, der vor einer Ukraineinvasion warnt, Vrsitznder der Offiziersversammlung ist und zumal auch schon mal den Rücktritt Putins fordert. Zudem scheinen einige russische Nationalisten zwar ein militärisch starkes Russland sehen zu wllen, aber wollen dies aufs Kernland beschränken und nicht zu Novorussia wie Putin möglicherweise ausweiten:Auch wenn sie keine aktive Opposition seht, so berichtet doch Mark Galeoti in der Moscow Times:
“Anti-War Broadside Highlights Nationalist Critique of Putin
The anti-war letter published by a fringe former colonel is a useful reminder that Putin’s belligerent nationalist rhetoric certainly doesn’t convince everyone.
Russia continues to remind itself as well as the outside world that it is neither as repressed nor as monolithic as some would claim, despite the government’s recent swing towards full-blown authoritarianism.
Furthermore, the risk of a slide into war in Ukraine has demonstrated that political opposition to the Kremlin comes not only from the liberal intelligentsia but also nationalists, for whom Putin is not a patriot but an opportunist.
It was striking enough when, at the end of January, over 5,000 people signed a statement then published by Ekho Moskvy, warning that “the citizens of Russia are becoming hostages to criminal adventurism,” and offering “an open and public challenge to the War Party, which has been formed within the government.|
It is not in any way to disparage those undertaking what is a real act of bravery in the current political environment to say that in the main these represented the ‘usual suspects’ of opposition to the Kremlin’s policies: cultural figures, human rights activists, dissident politicians and generally a mobilisation of the liberal intelligentsia.
It was, however, arguably more noteworthy when retired Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, a man known for championing the Soviet system, now Chairman of the unofficial All-Russian Officers Assembly, published on its website ‘an Appeal to the President and citizens of the Russian Federation’ starkly entitles ‘The Eve of War.’
It is a blunt demand not just for Vladimir Putin to end his “criminal policy of provoking a war” but, indeed, to resign.
Ivashov comprehensively castigates the regime for creating a situation in which the main threats to the system come not from Ukraine or the West but from within: “the unviability of the state model, the complete incapacity and lack of professionalism of the system of power and administration, the passivity and disorganisation of society.”
Warning that, “in this state, no country survives for long,” Ivashov believes that the elite are trying to hold on to their power and wealth for as long as possible even at the cost of a Kremlin Götterdämmerung, a willingness to risk “the final destruction of Russian statehood and the extermination of the indigenous population of the country.”
After all, in Ivashov’s apocalyptic vision, it is not just that any escalation will lead to thousands of deaths on the battlefield and massive economy sanctions, but that NATO will also get directly involved and, as if that were not enough, ‘Turkish field armies and a fleet will be ordered to “liberate” the Crimea and Sevastopol and possibly invade the Caucasus.’
All that said, one should put this in context. Ivashov has long been a critic of the current regime (and of the West, for that matter), and for all its expansive title, the All-Russian Officers Assembly is a body of limited political weight and uncertain numbers, very much a home for retired and reserve officers of extreme nationalist views.
Its membership includes, for example, Colonel Vladimir Kvachkov, the former Spetsnaz special forces imprisoned for the attempted assassination of Anatoly Chubais in 2005.
Yet Ivashov’s appeal is a reminder of the fact that although the West-friendly liberal opposition may have more traction on the public imagination — and certainly on the attention of Western journalists, diplomats and academics alike — there is also a strong strand of nationalist critiques of Putin that interconnects with elements of the systemic and non-systemic opposition, but also have a constituency within the security apparatus on which the Kremlin depends.
The Nationalist Critique
After all, nationalists and monarchists played a significant role in the Bolotnaya movement, which in many ways had its genesis in protests ensuing from the November 2011 ‘Russian March’ and alongside such liberal icons as Boris Nemtsov and Yevgenia Albats spoke Eduard Limonov, now deceased leader of the National Bolshevik Party and Konstantin Krylov, head of the unregistered National Democratic Party.
Often the nationalist critiques focus on corruption and arbitrary power, the belief that this regime robes itself in the flag, while stealing from and degrading the people and the state they affect to love.
For example, Igor Girkin — ‘Strelkov’ — also regard the Kremlin as a nest of traitors because he feels they betrayed the real interests of the Donbas when they ditched the idea of creating a ‘Novorossiya’ (and forced him out of the conflict). However, the issues of corruption, incompetence and arbitrariness tend to be the common themes running through the nationalist critique.
Why this matters is that although the leaders and overt structures of the nationalists are often amateurish, marginal and unpleasant, they have strikingly broad resonance.
These are views that many within the Communist Party share (and it is worth noting that firebrand Sergei Udaltsov in many ways occupied a middle ground between the two) and, for that matter, some within the Liberal Democrat Party, too.
They are also often encountered within the national-patriotic social movements on which the Kremlin often rests, from the Cossacks to the Yunarmiya militarised youth movement.
Dissidents in Epaulets
Most importantly, this is a critique which appears to appeal to a wide strand of the middle-rankers within the military and security apparatus: captains, majors, even some colonels, the career officers who do not live the truly pampered lives of the top brass, who likely joined at least in part out of a sense of duty, and who feel their values dismissed by those at the top of the chain of command.
Scroll through their Telegram channels or some of the more recondite message boards and it soon becomes clear how strong the nationalist critique of the government can be, even within such bodies as the National Guard intended to be its bulwarks.
The government has tended to assume that so long as it paid them well, praised them often and decorated them at any excuse, that would buy their loyalty. For some, it undoubtedly does. However, even soldiers and security officers have lives and loyalties beyond the state, and it is insiders who probably see better the sins of the system.
This is why the Kremlin has so often tried also to distract and co-opt nationalist politics, most recently with writer’s Zakhar Prilepin’s ‘For Truth’ movement that has since merged with Patriots of Russia and A Just Russia.
Ultimately, though, such gambits fail because the nationalist critique is essentially a moral one, rooted not in one political structure or another, but a sense of injustice and outrage, and this is also why, however much the nationalists may disagree fundamentally with the liberals on causes and solutions to the current situation, they can agree that the status quo cannot — should not — be allowed to continue.
Ivashov himself is irrelevant.
The fact of his public appeal, though, is significant, in that it speaks to the frustration and concern felt within a fraction of the Russian political scene that tends to remain behind the scenes, yet which has perhaps more traction than any other within the security forces, which are also the ultimate guarantors of Putin’s authority.
We are nowhere near the point where we can meaningfully talk of active opposition there, but this is a useful reminder that Russian politics are more complex than often assumed, and that Putin’s belligerent nationalist rhetoric certainly doesn’t convince everyone.
Im ZEITinterview vertritt der ehemalige Sonderbeauftragte des damaligen US-Präsidneten Clinton William Courtney, daa im Falle einer Invasion die Sanktionen bewirken würden, dass der Lebensstandard der Russen rapide sinken würde und es dann zu Protesten käme. Jedenfalls scheint er implizit wie früher auf eine Frabrevolution zu hoffen, die eventuell Putin stürzen oder zur Kapitaulation oder Kompromiss zwingen könnte:
„ZEIT ONLINE: Unbedingt. Aber erst noch eine Frage zu den beschlossenen Sanktionen: Warum sind Sie so sicher, dass diese die gewünschte Wirkung hätten?
Courtney: Die Russen haben seit 2014 einiges unternommen, um sich gegen Sanktionen zu wappnen. Sie haben den Import von Agrarprodukten aus Europa gestoppt, was die landwirtschaftliche Produktion in Russland angekurbelt hat. Aber das ist mit erheblichen Kosten für die russischen Verbraucher verbunden. Und wenn der Lebensstandard der Bürger sinkt, muss sich auch der Kreml Sorgen machen – denn die Erfahrung zeigt, dass dies zu Protesten führen kann. Die neuen Sanktionen würden Russland von den meisten finanziellen Transaktionen mit dem Westen ausschließen. Das wäre nicht nur für die großen Banken verheerend. Der Lebensstandard in Russland würde weiter sinken. Umfragen zeigen, dass sich eine Mehrheit der russischen Bevölkerung engere Beziehungen mit dem Westen wünscht und keinen Krieg. Aber der Kreml hat sich in die entgegengesetzte Richtung bewegt.“
In einem Kommentar vom 16.12.2021 für das Carnegie Moscow Center vertritt Andrei Kolesnikow die Ansicht, dass im Falle eines Krieges, die Kriegsbegeisterung in Russland nicht mehr gegeben sein würde, sich kein „Rally around the Flag“-Effekt einstellen würde und es vor allem seitens der jungen Wehrpflichtigen keine Unterstützung zu erwarten sei.
“How Do Russians Feel About a War With Ukraine?
“For a few years, the unprecedented patriotic surge of 2014 served as symbolic compensation for the socioeconomic problems that had already begun. Russians lapped up the real and imaginary threats that were fed to them, and generally assessed military action as justified, defensive, and/or preventative.
These wars took place in the background: TV reports did not dwell on the brutal and bloody reality of armed conflict. At the same time, the militarization of official rhetoric and the growing authority of the army—which overtook the presidency in a list of most trusted institutions in 2020—strengthened the so-called “Crimea consensus.”
The sociological parameters began to change in 2018, however, with the dissipation of the rallying-around-the-flag effect. If in 2014 26 percent of respondents said that “Russia was surrounded by enemies on all sides,” then that opinion was shared by just 16 percent in 2020. The number of Russians who believed it was futile to look for enemies because “the root of the evil was Russia’s own mistakes” rose from 17 percent to 25 percent in the same period.
The Crimea consensus and the symbolic might of state institutions remained, but they lost their power to mobilize. War started to frighten people.
The average Russian is tired of self-deception and of persuading themselves that if a war does happen, it will not impact their lives or those of family members. Russian conformists are, of course, traditionally bellicose people, but theirs is the bellicosity of propaganda television talk shows, or the language of online hate. No conformists want a large-scale war: conscription is not part of the social contract, particularly at a time of accelerating inflation and economic stagnation.
State propaganda has overused its powers of mobilization. Instead of mobilization, it has created a fear of world war. At the end of 2018, 56 percent of respondents to a Levada Center survey said there was a significant military threat from other countries. This year, the fear of a world war has increased dramatically, reaching a solid second place in a Levada Center list of the top issues causing Russians to worry. The other fears that have risen in parallel with that of war are those of an increasingly harsh political regime, mass repression, and arbitrary rule: the authoritarianization of the Russian political regime has not gone unnoticed.
It’s symptomatic that the worsening of the public mood has gone hand in hand with a fall or stagnation in the approval ratings of the president and the authorities overall. The year 2018 was a pivotal moment in this process. To a large extent, it was the move to raise the retirement age that destroyed the classic Putin-era social contract: “you provide for us and leave our Soviet-style social handouts alone, and we’ll vote for you and take no interest in your stealing and bribe-taking.” A high level of support for Putin in the 2018 presidential elections was mistakenly interpreted by the authorities as real political credit, rather than indifference and mostly symbolic trust.
The pandemic has only confirmed this bifurcation in attitudes toward the authorities: we support the symbols—the flag, the national anthem, and Putin as a representation of our geopolitical might—but we don’t trust specific initiatives and the actions of government at various political levels. This sort of mute dissatisfaction was visible during the 2021 parliamentary elections, when people voted for the Communist Party as an abstract alternative to the current authorities.
There is one final aspect to this problem. When people talk about a war, they mostly mean a conflict with Ukraine (even if it would involve NATO, the United States, and the West). Of course, if war breaks out, state propaganda will convince most Russians that it’s necessary, and that we are, in fact, “liberating” our Ukrainian brethren from an alien government (even if Ukrainians chose that government themselves in free elections). This will all take place despite the fact that in 2021, 23 percent of Russians believed Russia and Ukraine should be friendly neighbors but still have their own borders: only 17 percent of respondents supported a unification of the two states.
War is the business of young people and conscripts. But 66 percent of Russians aged between 18 and 24 have a positive or very positive attitude toward Ukraine. That’s despite a backdrop of unceasing vitriol directed toward Ukraine on state television, and the persistent, oft-repeated idea that it is external attacks that require Russia to take defensive measures.
To put it simply, before launching an offensive, it’s worth thinking about who will fight in that offensive and how willingly, and to what extent an active conflict will prompt people to rally around Putin. The evidence suggests that even in the best-case scenario, the mobilization effect will be nonexistent.”
Diametral anders sieht dies Tatyana Stanovava vom Carnegie Moscow Center in einem Beitrag in der Moscow Times: Zwar mag es keine frenetische Zustimmung zu dem Krieg geben, aber es sei kein regime change zu erwarten, sondern mehr Repression, denn die ausserparlamentarische Opposition sei ohnehin schon unterdrückt und zu schwach und die innerstaatliche Oppostion würde dann brutal unterdrückt, beginnend mit der Kommunistischen Partei Russlands. Zudem verfüge Russland auch noch über erhebliche Devisenreserven und China als Unterstützer. Zudem sei dies dann auch mit einem weiteren Machtzuwachs der Silowiki verbunden:
“How War Would Change Russia
Rather than losing control, the authorities would actually be able to strengthen their grip in the events of a war with Ukraine.
Two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded the Foreign Ministry obtain “serious, long-term security guarantees” from the West, it has become obvious that there will be no major successes. Having promised a “military-technical” response if negotiations fail, Russia is currently amassing its military might on the Ukrainian border.
If a military conflict does occur, its repercussions would be no less significant for domestic Russian politics than for foreign relations. Repression would increase and the forces of conservatism would very much gain the upper hand.
Some believe a war would lead to internal upheaval in Russia. They argue that tough new Western sanctions and a rise in military spending would worsen the socioeconomic situation and increase the risk that the authorities could lose control. This would result in a spike in support for protests, the radicalization of the in-system opposition (the parties which are generally politically cautious), and conflict within the ruling elite.
While that certainly looks logical, there is actually more evidence to suggest events would develop very differently. Rather than losing control, the authorities would actually be able to strengthen their grip. And, unlike the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea in 2014, it would not be accompanied by public euphoria, but by coercion and repression.
There are several compelling reasons to believe this latter scenario is far more likely. First and foremost is the growing influence of a conservative, anti-liberal, and anti-Western elite in decisionmaking. The security services, or siloviki, are squeezing out not only Kremlin officials responsible for “managing” domestic politics, but also diplomats, who are being forced to adopt hawkish rhetoric and a confrontational style, and push for a conscious and demonstrative escalation.
For the siloviki and their allies, the collapse of negotiations with the West, growing confrontation, and new sanctions would not be a problem: on the contrary, their positions would be strengthened and they would be gifted more opportunities to grow their power and influence.
A military escalation would heighten the sense of a national emergency, in which laws can be disregarded; the ends justify the means; and there is no space for compromise with opponents. It would focus the president’s attention on the geopolitical agenda, and hand the siloviki more freedom of maneuver inside Russia.
Inevitably, war would lead to increased isolation, closer control over the media and the internet, pressure on foreign IT companies, and tighter control of political parties. More repression would be certain: not against the real political opposition, which has already been decimated, but against cultural figures, bloggers, apolitical civic activists, journalists, experts, and so on.
The authorities would resent any wielding of “unsanctioned” influence, whether via social media posts, songs, articles, or interviews. Of course, this process is already under way, but it would become widespread, routine, and messy.
There will be no one prepared to seriously oppose such a course. Tellingly, the Moscow Times has reported that—despite expectations of a financial and economic shock — no one in Russia’s business elite would publicly question the leadership in the event of a war.
This is entirely understandable: remaining unnoticed and not giving anyone a reason to doubt your loyalty is the best survival strategy in modern Russia.
Faced with financial difficulties, the government would inevitably increase the tax burden on business. One recent initiative of the Federal Antimonopoly Service was to look at the requisitioning of foreign investors’ shares in “strategic businesses”: a clear signal that foreign businesses in Russia will become more vulnerable.
There is a feeling among the Russian leadership that the country has enough money to see itself through.
Unlike then prime minister Dmitry Medvedev’s infamous 2016 utterance — “there’s no money, but you hang in there”—the Finance Ministry today is saying publicly that there is plenty of money. While the size of Russia’s foreign currency reserves did hit a historic high in 2021, this is not a question of objective data but subjective opinions: Putin’s speeches about the economic situation in Russia are full of optimism, creating the impression that the country is sitting pretty.
The Kremlin has shown that it is willing to engage in opportunistic social spending to calm the public mood or ease the passage of political change, such as ahead of the nationwide vote on changing the constitution in 2020, and the 2021 parliamentary elections. The authorities are ready to make financial investments to preserve a minimum level of loyalty to the regime.
Since at least 2020, the Kremlin has focused on not only suppressing the non-system opposition, which it has never afforded representation, but also sidelining the in-system opposition. Relations with the in-system Communist Party are becoming more strained, and pressure on the party’s radical wing has been growing.
But an international escalation will make the Kremlin focus on the total political neutralization of the Communists. Control over elections will increase, and voting at all levels will become, once and for all, nothing more than plebiscite campaigns with preapproval from the Kremlin required for all candidates.
This will push Russian society into a deep political depression.
A drive to increase Kremlin control will inevitably reach other areas of life as well. Current conversations about “traditional values” will grow into a full-fledged moral campaign impacting everything from employment and education to interaction with foreigners and social media.
A new spiral of international escalation would accelerate and entrench the repressive trends that have been in ascendancy in Russian public life in recent years. Any dissatisfaction will be crushed with redoubled strength, including when it emerges within the in-system opposition.
The Kremlin’s political managers could also face a reshuffle, which would likely result in an increased role for the siloviki in domestic politics.
As for society, there would likely be some sort of forced patriotic mobilization. Instead of a natural coming together, as in 2014, it would be characterized by coercion and displays of sham loyalty. The divergence between a fake system marching in lockstep and a mood of doom and gloom would quickly become a yawning chasm—with all the risks that entails.”
Das noch optimistische Szenario des möglichen Velraufs der Krise , hat noch William Courtney:
„ZEIT ONLINE: Wenn Russland die Ukraine nicht angreifen sollte – was wird es stattdessen tun?
Courtney: Lassen Sie mich mit einem historischen Vergleich antworten. 1962 verfolgten Nikita Chruschtschow und das Politbüro die riskante Strategie, heimlich Nuklearwaffen auf Kuba stationieren zu wollen. Die USA bekamen Wind davon, konfrontierten die Sowjets, diese machten einen Rückzieher. Ein Jahr später kam es zu den Verhandlungen über den Vertrag über das Verbot von Kernwaffenversuchen in der Atmosphäre, im Weltraum und unter Wasser – einem der drei wichtigsten Abrüstungsverträge seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg. Statt die Sowjetunion zu demütigen, haben die Amerikaner gemeinsam mit der sowjetischen Führung die Gelegenheit genutzt, um Fortschritte in Richtung Frieden zu machen. Wenn Russland nun nicht in die Ukraine einmarschiert, könnte ich mir eine ähnliche Entwicklung vorstellen. Fortschritte bei der Rüstungskontrolle, bei vertrauensbildenden Maßnahmen und Transparenz wären möglich.
Aber ob das schon Putins Forderungen nach Sicherheitsgarantien, einer Nichtmitgliedschaft der Ukraine in der NATO und den Rollback der NATO zur Zeit vor 1997 als neue europäische Sicherheitsarchitektur beantwortet, sowie seine Novorussiapläne befriedigt, bleibt abzuwarten.