Much has been written about Kremlin abilities – or not – to create some form of frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine. It was first muted here way back in March and has been mentioned several times since. Likewise, in the event of failing to do so, questions have also been raised here regarding what The Kremlin should do with all the returning leaders of the “separatists”. Questions asked here at the end of June.
The rotation out of those Russian leaders is well underway, with Ukrainians taking their place – unsurprisingly after much international ridicule about who was leading the separatist charge in “The People’s Republics”.
If a frozen conflict is to occur, The Kremlin is beginning to leave it very late in the day to force/engineer a ceasefire and engage Kyiv in dialogue with political structures that remain under its construction in the eastern regions. From the viewpoint of Kyiv, the later any ceasefire is forced, the better. Despite the heavy costs, the Ukrainian military has the momentum.
The increasingly obvious diplomatic push to provide at least facing saving – if not exactly spin-able wins – for all parties concerned (directly and indirectly) with the war in eastern Ukraine may well bear fruit in some, shape or form fairly soon. Perhaps by the month end when reading between the somewhat hopeful lines – and on the presumption the subtext doesn’t change dramatically, with the caveat of “Events dear boy, events”. There is always the risk of an incident that will snuff out any glimmer of light and return the all participants to a dark void – particularly so when also considering the seemingly never ending mendacity of The Kremlin as an ever complicating factor.
Whether any eventual outcome results in some form of frozen conflict, or whether the Kremlin will opt for numerous other subversive, coercive and wholly problematic tactics available to it in order to continue to frustrate and obstruct Ukraine remains to be seen. Ukraine will undoubtedly remain a Kremlin project – if not for inclusion in its own grand schemes, then certainly to prevent, or at least radically slow, Ukraine from getting too cozy with others.
Discounting Crimea – which will remain a bone of contention in and of itself for many years, not only between Ukraine and Russia, but Russia and the “west” as well – should the option of a frozen conflict fail to materialise for whatever reason, of the many political, economic and social questions that then arise for Ukraine, amongst them remains security and what to do regarding any remnants of those who wholeheartedly fought against Kyiv, but remain on Ukrainian soil?
What are the options?
Some form of entirely domestic and specifically limited Operation Wrath of God derivative restricted to Ukrainian soil to remove specific Ukrainian “call-signs”? The likes of “Tsar” and “Motorola” etc – that took a lead role in fighting against the Ukrainian Army, and thus are not best left in circulation – be that within prison circulation, or at large? “Persons of interest” to be a little more professional in description, who will remain grave threat to The State.
Ukraine is unlikely to want to leave a chain of command of capable individuals at large (and perhaps not in captivity either if they are truly capable). A somewhat grotesque thought of State cleansing perhaps – but not beyond possibility.
There will be many “call-signs“ who despite their attempts at anonymity, have already been identified – and that is before the lesser “interesting people”, criminals and minions start trying to cut deals with the authorities by identifying and/or corroborating the identities of “people of interest”.
In short, the criminals who have taken up arms and/or used violence and/or committed crimes over the past few months – “interesting people” – need be sifted from those who were decisive in organising, running, controlling and taking an overly active role within the genuine “separatist/terrorist” structures – the “persons of interest”.
“Interesting people” to go to the police – “Persons of interest” to go to the SBU. Undoubtedly such lists have already been drawn up – and will be consistently updated.
Discounting processes such as truth and reconciliation commissions and amnesties which seem very unlikely, hopefully all captured will make it to court, regardless of the status they are given by the authorities, and be subjected to due process within strict adherence to the law, with appropriate verdict and sentencing where applicable.
But will they?
Some will undoubtedly genuinely put up a fight when the authorities come for them and be killed in the process of their detention. Others – particularly of the “person of interest” variety, may suffer the same fate, though the circumstances may be far more suspect. There are only so many deaths that can be believably attributed to those who would violently resist arrest when open warfare ceases.
Returning to strict adherence to the law, there is the question of what to do with all those found guilty?
Ukraine has no dedicated separatist/terrorist prison like the UK had with The Maze in Northern Ireland. Are those found guilty to be all housed together? What are the risks of doing so?
Are they to be spread out across the prison population nationally in Ukraine? What then of family visitation rights? (No need to potentially fall foul of the ECfHR without due consideration). What are the risks of taking that option of placing them amongst the existing prison population? An expanded network of separatists/terrorists? Revenge attacks on the separatists/terrorists by the existing prison population?
How much forethought has gone into the outcomes of the legal processes that lie ahead?
What to do with all those undesirable Ukrainian “call-signs”?