The strengthening of Russian influence in the south-eastern regions of Ukraine and the events in Crimea were the result of the mistakes of the West, and not the success of Russian geopolitics. Russia did not have a clear strategic line of conduct towards Ukraine, limited itself to economic levers of influence, neglected work with the population and did not dare to take decisive actions by announcing them. This makes it possible to establish undivided Western control over Ukraine.
The crisis in Ukraine can lead to a significant exacerbation of the threat to the national security of Russia. Ukraine and Ukrainians are too closely connected with Russia and its citizens not only economically, but also ethnically, even at a relative level. Therefore, there is the possibility of an attempt to repeat the Ukrainian scenario in Russia.
But this is not the only unpleasant prospect. According to various sources, the association agreement of Ukraine and the European Union provides for a whole package of economic measures, meaning the transfer to the ownership of Western companies of the leading assets of the Ukrainian economy. The same goal is pursued by the provision of Western loans to Ukraine. In particular, it assumes the transfer of the Ukrainian trunk pipelines fully into the ownership of the American company Chevron. Owners of the leading enterprises of Ukraine, in particular of the Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporizhia metallurgical plants, should transfer the percent of their shares to not less than 50 to German companies. Western companies are also claiming for the Nikolaev Shipbuilding Plant, enterprises of the Ukrainian aircraft industry and rocket production, in particular, the famous Yuzhmash, as well as the industrial complex of Kharkiv, primarily in terms of rolling stock production for the Russian railways and armored vehicles. At the same time, it must be remembered that a significant part of the Ukrainian production capacity belongs to Russian companies. Probably, it is their property that will be confiscated in the first place for transfer to the western "partners". There is evidence that the association agreement with the EU provides for the deployment of the area of the US missile defense (PRO) near Kharkov.
Thus, even if the Crimea becomes Russian, the remaining regions of Ukraine will remain under the control of the Kiev government and, accordingly, the West, and Russia will suffer heavy economic losses. At the same time, threats to the national security of our country will increase significantly.
And although it is clear that at this stage the operation to seize Ukraine by the West has largely failed, the struggle is not over. In this regard, it is important to analyze the mistakes of the Russian strategy towards Ukraine.
There is no clear strategy
First of all, it should be noted that judging by the nature of Russia's actions with regard to Ukraine, the Russian elite did not have any clearly formulated strategy of behavior and probably does not even have it now. Active actions of the Russian state, as a rule, were undertaken in response to any events in Ukraine. That is, it was not Russia that purposefully influenced the situation in Ukraine, but was driven, following the trends in the development of the situation in this country, the direction of which was determined by other forces.
This was a key miscalculation, which decisively determined the current extremely dangerous situation on our south-western borders.
An important miscalculation of the Russian policy towards Ukraine was a bet on interaction exclusively with the Ukrainian elite. At the same time, practically no attention was paid to work with the Ukrainian population. In Ukraine, there has long been a large number of pro-Russian-oriented political organizations, parties and social movements. However, none of them received from Russia even the most insignificant help. The work was carried out only by Russian patriotic organizations and movements, which, relying on their extremely weak capabilities and without any support from the state, carried out communication with their Ukrainian colleagues to the best of their ability. In particular, the Union of Officers was and remains one of such organizations.
Obviously, it was assumed that the favorable attitude of the Ukrainian ruling group could guarantee the foreign policy of this country acceptable to Russia, as well as the protection of our economic interests in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the West, primarily the United States, behaved in a completely different way. He paid great attention to work with the population. There are only 200 in Ukraine of various non-profit organizations (NPOs) related to Western countries in Ukraine, while Russia has none. At the same time, Western elites more effectively influenced the Ukrainian situation than the Russian elite. This, in fact, determined that the West was able to organize mass demonstrations against the current government and control the development of the situation, however, only in the initial period of crisis. And Russia had only economic and diplomatic levers, completely ineffective in a situation of acute political crisis. Thus, the West, while preparing for the operation to take over Ukraine, worked with the population, shaping its agent of influence, practically without any competition from Russia, having achieved a significant impact on the worldview of Ukrainians. Although even relatively insignificant efforts of the Russian leadership in this direction could provide an incomparably greater level of Russian influence, especially in the south-eastern regions.
The big miscalculation of the Russian policy towards Ukraine was to rely solely on the economic levers of influence. The Russian elite probably believed that Ukraine’s dependence on Russia on gas supplies and the orientation of Ukrainian industry to the Russian market, as well as the control of Russian companies over the most important Ukrainian industrial enterprises, ensure reliable influence on Ukrainian politics.
However, as shown by the events of recent months in Ukraine, this calculation turned out to be incorrect. Moreover, the Russian economic demarches, in particular the “gas wars”, primarily affected the population’s mood, worsening its attitude towards Russia. Whereas the Ukrainian oligarchs only enriched themselves on this. Neglect of information warfare technologies has led to the fact that today the threat of losing Ukraine, with its transition to the full control of the West, has become a reality.
With the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, Russia actually limited itself to only diplomatic measures. Real attempts to organize and support the pro-Russian-oriented part of the Ukrainian population, especially in the south-eastern regions of Ukraine, were not made. The economic measures that Russia traditionally used could have had an effect only in the long term (by the standards of the development of the crisis) perspective, and could not directly influence the events in Kiev. Moreover, they contributed to the increased aggressiveness of the anti-Russian forces in Ukraine. As a result, in the main part of the territory of Ukraine (with the exception of Crimea), the anti-Russian Right Sector and other related nationalist organizations became the dominant organized force. And numerous pro-Russian political and public organizations and parties did not significantly influence the development of the situation in Ukraine.
Only with the beginning of an open armed confrontation between the authorities and the opposition, when the threat of the coming to power of radical nationalists became apparent, self-defense forces began to form in the south-eastern regions of Ukraine. However, in this case, the participation of Russia was negligible. Everything was decided by local public organizations and political parties with active support in some cases of local authorities. Even after the overthrow of the legitimate president of the country, Yanukovich, and the start of mass demonstrations by the population of the south-eastern regions against the expansion of the illegal Kiev government, the Russian leadership limited itself to their informational support in the media. As a result, the effective formation of an effective system of opposition to the Kiev usurpers failed. Even the congress of councils of all levels in the south-east of Ukraine did not lead to the creation of a unified defense system of this most important region for Russia. Although the minimum organizational and personnel support from Russia would allow it to be done in a short time. For example, several hundred well-trained and organized volunteers from Russia could easily penetrate transparent borders into Ukraine and quickly ensure the formation of sufficiently capable self-defense forces in key areas of southeastern Ukraine to counter the Right Sector militants and retain control over the most important administrative buildings and other key objects. An example of this can serve as an event in the Crimea.
Due to the lack of a clear organization of the pro-Russian forces in almost all areas of the south-east of Ukraine, they failed to consolidate the initial success. And this ultimately led to the forced direct intervention of Russia in the events in Ukraine.
Swipe without a beat
The appeal of the Russian President to the Federal Assembly with a request to grant him the right to deploy troops to Ukraine under special conditions and obtaining consent to this against the background of unscheduled exercises of border districts of Russia could mean only one thing - the immediate entry of Russian troops into the pro-Russian south-eastern regions of Ukraine. Implemented suddenly in a short time, he would take the West by surprise. The response would take time, which was quite enough to legitimize such actions, for example, with the help of the relevant statement by President Yanukovych or the appeal of the newly assembled congress of councils of the south-east of Ukraine. New regional and local governments could be formed quickly. Possible speeches of supporters of Kiev Maidan could be easily neutralized by the operatively created detachments of local self-defense from among the citizens of Ukraine. As a result, after diplomatic attacks, the West would either have to go back to the terms of the February 21 agreement (more precisely, more actively achieve this from the Kiev usurpers, which would be much easier if the Russian troops were present in Ukraine) while maintaining a single and neutral Ukraine. with a radical increase in Russian influence, or agree to its section.
However, after receiving permission from the Federal Assembly of the troops did not take place. Moreover, the exercises prematurely curtailed. Russia swung, but did not hit. This, of course, is the most dangerous miscalculation of the Russian leadership. The West would not have decided on a military operation against Russia. Especially if he were seriously convinced of Russia's determination to use military force to protect their vital interests. Diplomatic demarches and threats became no less. However, the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis in an acceptable variant for Russia was not achieved.
Today, more than ever, the final loss for Russia of the entire southeast of Ukraine is real. And even the possible accession of the Crimea does not eliminate the emerging threats.
The illegal Verkhovna Rada in Kiev began legal preparations for the integration of Ukraine into NATO. In response, the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, a completely legitimate legislative body in Crimea, almost unanimously decided to reunite with Russia and join it as a subject of the Federation.
NATO is increasing the grouping of its air forces in the area adjacent to Ukraine and near the borders with Russia. A group of US fighters arrived at the Baltic airfields. Groupings increased aviation NATO in Germany and Poland. The number of US warships in the Black Sea exceeds 10 units, including the 6th control ship fleetdesigned to control the actions of carrier-based aviation during its participation in an air offensive operation. To date, at least two aircraft carriers are known - “George W. Bush” and “Dwight Eisenhower”, which arrived in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea with guarding ships (their total number can reach 22–28 units). It is possible that another two or three American aircraft carriers from the US Atlantic Fleet are moving to the zone of potential conflict. According to some reports, George W. Bush has shifted to the Sea of Marmara region, approaching the Ukrainian and Russian shores. In the Black Sea, exercises are being conducted by the US Navy, Bulgaria and Romania.
The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine announced the start of unscheduled exercises near the Crimea and south-eastern regions of Ukraine. Thus, preparation for a forceful action is clearly visible.
The United States in an attempt to establish control over Ukraine with reliance on soft power at this stage suffered a defeat. However, they cannot refuse such a “prize” - the price is too high. After all, Ukraine is the key to Russia both from the military-strategic and from the socio-economic point of view. Therefore, the struggle for Ukraine continues. The West needs time to prepare a new, more effective and decisive offensive. Obviously, the matter will not be limited to soft power. Probably, an attempt will be made to repeat the Syrian or Libyan scenario in Ukraine.
Given the time required to create a NATO force group sufficient to invade Ukraine and deter Russia’s response to force, the second NATO operation against Ukraine can be expected after the election of 25 in May, when an authority with at least an imitation of legitimacy will be formed. During this time, you can manage to take control of "armed freemen" from the "Right Sector" (partly to bribe with money or posts, and isolate the rest), and also form some kind of regular power structures controlled by the Kiev authorities and able to solve at least the most limited range of tasks.
Further, on the orders of the newly elected authorities, these formations in Kiev will begin an operation to “restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine and fight against the separatists”. After the very first failures (which is very likely), the Kiev government will turn to NATO for help, which will follow, of course, in the form of large-scale deployment of NATO troops to Ukraine. The combat structure of the invasion grouping will be such that Russia obviously does not have a desire to oppose its Armed Forces. Then Ukraine for Russia will be lost forever. And for our elite, this will mean that she has embarked on the “Yanukovych path”.
Russia, which did not use the possibility of a sudden entry of its troops to the entire territory of southeastern Ukraine during the first two days, while the Western elites were in a state of shock, today can no longer carry out such an action, and moreover cannot do it in the future, if the situation will not change radically.
What to do
Now Russia has the only way out of this situation. Continuing to build up a complex of diplomatic, political, economic and informational measures to protect their interests and the friendly population in Ukraine, focus on building forces capable of defending the independence of the pro-Russian regions of south-eastern Ukraine.
This goal can be achieved by contributing to the formation of highly organized and well-equipped self-defense forces with a total strength of at least 100 thousand people. To this end, it is advisable to promote or at least not hinder the movement of volunteers from Russia to Ukraine. At the same time, funds and commercial organizations that provide them with material assistance should be encouraged by the state. Especially those who will help the most prepared volunteers from among the former employees of special services, officers of special forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. If two or three thousand such volunteers get to Ukraine, then they will be able, together with their colleagues from the local reserve officers, to form in a very short time the combat-ready self-defense forces of the required number.
In the case of the Kiev government’s attempt to establish control over the southeastern regions, such formations will be able to defend independence. And if the invasion of NATO begins, then these forces can hold the ground groups of the aggressor for two or three days, which is enough for Russia’s timely deployment of troops and covering all or part of the south-east of Ukraine. The North Atlantic Alliance will not decide on a direct military confrontation with the Russian Federation, and the line of contact between the Russian and NATO troops will become the border separating the two new Ukrainian states.
However, the events related to the attempt of Ukraine’s integration into NATO and the decision of the Crimea to reunite with Russia radically aggravate the situation in Ukraine. Therefore, the military scenario can begin to be carried out much earlier.