Wednesday, September 28, 2016

DNR and LNR Preparing Young There for Annexation of Region by Russia, Gusarov Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 28 –Moscow continues to insist that it recognizes the Donbass as part of Ukraine and will seek its return to Kyiv’s control, but its agents in the unrecognized DNR and LNR are setting up special camps expanding patriotic instruction in the schools to prepare the young there for the annexation of the region by Russia, according to Vyachesav Gusarov.

            Gusarov, a reserve officer of Ukraine’s intelligence service and an expert in the Information Resistance Group, describes this system in an interview today with Kyiv’s Apostrophe news agency (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/2016-09-28/voyna-na-donbasse-v-dnr-i-lnr-detey-svozyat-v-voennyie-lagerya/7438).

            Both the DNR and the LNR, he says, organized youth camps this past summer and also sent young people from there to other camps in Russia. In addition, the two “republics” have introduced “patriotic education” courses in the schools and organized Soviet-style Pioneer organizations.

            And they have organized military training schools in the two oblasts, places which did not have such institutions in the past.  All of these things, Gusarov says, are intended to prepare the Russian-occupied area to become part of the Russian Federation. “There is no doubt of that,” he says, given what Moscow is doing in Moldova’s Transdniestr region.

            This is all part of Putin’s plan to extend Russian influence and control across the entire former Soviet and former Warsaw Pact space, something that represents a threat to all the countries in these regions. Ukraine might at some point become a leader that could unite these countries in an anti-Russian coalition. But for the present, it is too weak to do so.

            In other comments, Gusarov says that it is “not a very correct idea” to talk about Ukraine liberating Russian-occupied Crimea by military means. Ukraine isn’t ready for this, and Russia has created “a quite serious military sector which would be able to ensure serious resistance to any Ukrainian move.

            What makes Gusarov’s observations about the DNR and LNR actions with respect to young people there is that it suggests that Moscow is taking a long-term view and is creating a cadre of people who can be either a foundation for Russian expansion or a Moscow-organized fifth column should the Kremlin in fact hand the Donbass back to Kyiv’s control.

Eastern Europe Arming Itself because ‘No One Wants to Be the Next Ukraine’



Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 28 – In what many are calling “the Putin effect,” countries across Eastern Europe, including even Belarus, nominally Russia’s closest ally,  are now arming themselves even when they have to cut social welfare spending because, in the words of one commentator, “no one wants to be the next Ukraine.”

            This sacrifice makes them producers of security and not just consumers who rely on others, including NATO and the United States, whatever some Western politicians may say; and it is an indication of just how frightened they are that the Kremlin leader, however bogged down he may be in Ukraine, appears to them as a continuing existential threat.

            Some of the increases these countries are making in their defense structures are usefully surveyed today by the Belsat news agency (belsat.eu/ru/news/effekt-putina-strany-vostochnoy-evropy-rashiryayut-armii-i-pokupayut-oruzhiye/).

            Poland has done perhaps more than anyone else, beefing up its territorial defense and increasing the size of its military, including the development of a system of reserves modeled on the US National Guard and plans to purchase new weapons systems in the coming years (poland.pl/politics/home/new-territorial-defence-force-poland/). 

                The Czech Republic, Belsat says, has moved in “the very same direction,” approving a security and foreign policy strategy based on the proposition that Russia is now a major threat. It has increased defense spending, as has Slovakia for the same reasons (defensenews.com/articles/e-europe-boosts-defense-spending-armament-programs-amid-russia-concern).

            The three Baltic countries have increased the size of their forces and their spending on defense. Estonia plans to spend over the next four years more than Belarus does.  Latvia is raising its defense spending to two percent of GDP. And Lithuania is forming special forces and a trilateral force with Poland and Ukraine.  The Scandinavian countries are also increasing their defense capacity and links with NATO.

            Estonia, Belarus and Ukraine have retained the draft, and Latvia is thinking about restoring it in order to guarantee a sufficiently large defense force. Finland has a draft, and Sweden is now debating restoring obligatory military service. 

           

Putin Offers Russians Third Social Compact, This One Based on Fear Alone, Solovey Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 28 – The Putin regime is offering the people of the Russian Federation  a third social compact to replace the two earlier ones that have failed, Valery Solovey says; and unlike them, this one is based on the notion that Russians must support the current regime or things will get even worse for the country or for them individually.

            In a brief comment on the Kasparov.ru portal, the MGIMO professor says that between 2003 and 2014, the relationship between the powers that be and the population was based on the following “economic” contract: the people would agree to give up freedom and democracy in exchange for material improvements in their lives (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=57EAAE834958C).

                When the collapse of oil prices made it impossible for the state to meet its half of the bargain and thus raised the possibility of widespread dissension, Solovey says, Putin offered a second deal, one based on “patriotic” feelings in which the population would be willing to put up with hardship in exchange for “the annexation of Crimea and the restoration of former glory.”

            Now, that patriotic deal is collapsing, and so the powers that be are offering a new one: “Support us or things will be much worse!” by which they mean there will be a Maidan or “a return to the cursed 1990s” or “the intervention of the West” or “civil war in Russia,” all alternatives designed to frighten people into supporting the current regime.

            And in support of this argument, the powers that be have introduced a plethora of “punitive sanctions – legal, administrative, political-ideological, cultural and moral” – to ensure that no one is tempted to go beyond the limits of what the Kremlin is prepared to tolerate, the professor and frequent commentator says.

            In some ways, Solovey suggests, this recalls the rules of convoys in the GULAG: “’a step to the left or to the right will be considered an attempt to flee, and jumping in place will be considered a provocation.’”