Russia’s Line: Kiev Regime Is Illegitimate and Doing Nothing to Fix That
A Carnegie guy proposes it is the siloviki around Putin who run Russia’s foreign policy nowdays. Especially the very cream of the siloviki:
Consider Mr Putin’s war cabinet, which is the locus of most decision-making.
It consists of Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council; Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the FSB (the main successor agency of the KGB intelligence service); Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service; and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Their average age is 68 years old and they have a lot in common. The collapse of the Soviet Union, which Mr Putin famously described as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, was the defining episode of their adult lives.
Four out of five have a KGB background, with three, including the president himself, coming from the ranks of counterintelligence.
It is these hardened men, not polished diplomats like Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who run the country’s foreign policy.
Incidentally, Naryshkin who heads the SVR foreign intelligence gave an interview to Moskovskiy Komsomolets earlier this month. The most interesting ideas he expressed are:
— Sanctions are war:
“Sanctions” pressure used by the American authorities and their allies on objectionable states, statesmen, business structures cannot be interpreted otherwise than as a weapon of geopolitical struggle. These so-called “sanctions” are, in fact, acts of economic aggression.”
— The Kiev regime owes its position to a coup d’etat:
In short, it is the inability to negotiate the Kiev regime and the political forces that came to power during the 2014 coup.
— Ukraine is not an independent state but has foreign and domestic unelected masters:
“Both the president and the Rada seem to no longer be able to make independent decisions. There is a feeling that they dutifully follow the lead of nationalists and Western mentors.”
— Should the conflict escalate the fate of the Kiev regime will not be an enviable one. The Ukrainian authorities know this very well, yet they can help themselves but be “actively pushing for a military adventure”:
“Actively pushing for a military adventure, the Ukrainian authorities are well aware of their fate after the incitement of the conflict.”
— Poor Russia, not only is Zelensky bent on a “military adventure” that will see him exiled or dead, he is doing it for no other reason than to cause trouble for Russia and draw her “into the intra-Ukrainian conflict” (which Naryshkin ‘definitely’ doesn’t want and would really, really hate):
“And all this with an eye to draw Russia into the intra-Ukrainian conflict.”
— Finally, war is peace:
“We can say that one of the functions of intelligence is peacekeeping.”
There is plenty that Naryshkin says that is straight from Orwell. No, Zelensky is absolutely not bent on a military adventure in Donbass that is guaranteed to bring in Russia. Besides he’s much too busy persecuting his domestic enemies
The suggestion that Zelensky wants Russia drawn deeper into the ” intra-Ukrainian conflict” is equally bizarre. In fact, Zelensky would be ecstatic if Russia removed itself from the “intra-Ukrainian conflict” and allowed Kiev to speedily subjugate Donetsk.
Of course, when you’re reading interviews with spooks and government functionaries in general, the point isn’t to have them explain the world to you as it really is. If you believe an intelligence chief at his word I have a bridge to sell you. The purpose is to see what they are thinking, and what line they are trying to sell.
Naryshkin reveals that Moscow doesn’t find the weak Zelensky worth talking to (not least because for over a year they tried to). He can not veer away from nationalist maximalism and he’s on a course that benefits nobody except the West.
He reveals that the medicine Moscow is considering for this problem is to use the narrative that Zelensky is bent on a “military adventure” to get more deeply and actively involved in events in Ukraine and to deliver to him some unenviable fate.
Another Carnegie guy put it rather well actually:
In all their recent public statements, Russian officials have stubbornly come back to two points: that at the foundation of the current Ukrainian regime lies a coup d’état, and that Ukraine is not implementing the Minsk agreements.
These two leitmotifs represent the choice on offer: either the regime must legitimize itself in Russia’s eyes by implementing the legal Minsk agreements, or Russia will solve the issue of an illegitimate government in a neighboring country itself.
The ship for Minsk has sailed. It increasingly seems that for Moscow now only regime change delivered by a Russian military blitzkrieg will do.