Now and again readers send questions that are both difficult and/or deserving of an entry in and of themselves – and quite rightly too when reading the European “experts” and “commentators” half-informed waffle being offered up as “Gospel” relating events they are clearly on an editorial time-line to submit – that or they are entirely ill-informed.
The question raised, was whether events in Abkhazia have any direct linkage with those in Ukraine. I am not an expert on Abkhazia or Russia – though I know a thing or two about Ukraine and there is some limited overlap.
The answer I will leave to the readers to deduce having presented a very basic situation which much like an onion has layers for them to then peel away. I will not go into great detail – for it is not necessary.
For some time Abkhazia has drifted along, turning from a staunchly pro-Russian region into nothing more than a corrupt fiefdom for its leadership that pays little more than lip-service to its pro-Russian foundations and financiers.
Very recently, Vladislav Surkov – a grey cardinal of considerable significants in the mechanics of The Kremlin, and an architect of Kremlin actions with regard to recent Ukrainian events – flew several aides to Abkhazia with the Vice President of the Rotenburg brothers construction company – a company that will no doubt have a large and nefarious role in the new Sino-Russian gas pipelines.
The reason for the visit related to a construction project financed by Moscow – running gas to a couple of small villages. Upon arrival quite simply the visitors from Moscow could see it had not even began. The money stolen.
That is nothing new in Abkhazia or indeed across Russia – except in this case it appears the corrupt Abkhazia leadership forgot to ask those sending the money if it was OK to steal it and funnel some of the cash to the vested parties from Russia.
Dutifully the aides return to Moscow and recanted their tales to Mr Surkov, including a snippet that the Abkhazian leadership inferred that should the financial tap be turned off, a political change of direction may occur.
Mr Surkov is a man gifted in making the most of a political opportunity when it presents itself. The stolen money here, is not the issue as far as Mr Surkov is concerned.
The concern of Mr Surkov is the ever decreasing lack of overt, repeated, pro-Russian rhetoric from the Abkhazian leadership, whilst they are too busy simply enriching themselves. Stealing the money is not the problem, doing so whilst publicly omitting to praise The Kremlin to the heavens is.
However, a changing of the Abkhazian leadership does not necessarily suit the Kremlin when matters can be quickly put back on track by other methods.
Thus, a swift destabilising campaign is bought and paid for using the appearance of divisions between ethnic Russians and Georgians – catching on-lookers by surprise and leading to a lot of ill-informed waffle and guesswork in the western media. Here some readers will undoubtedly draw parallels between with ethnic framing in Ukraine, again the work of Mr Surkov.
Since Abkhazia caught the headlines, Mr Surkov has informed the political elite of Abkhazia of the new rules of the game. Those rules are clear. Mr Surkov is the Kremlin author of scripts for regions that trouble Moscow. His script will be adhered to at all times. There will be no ad-libbing and no forgetting of lines. Oratory will be recited on cue.
In future Kremlin control will be deniably reasserted either by framing the people verses the corrupt leadership, or by enabling ethnic unrest – both of which will lead to the overthrowing of power in such troubled regions should they not remember whose song-sheet they are to sing from – often. Theft is irrelevant in comparison to political subordination. Conventional military events will become a last resort.
So, the relationship to Ukraine is that of similarities in framing. The core issue is a slippage in pro-Kremlin public adoration as far as Abkhazia is concerned – rather than Ukrainian refusal to undergo Kremlin suffrage once more. And then there is Mr Surkov – a grey cardinal of notable ability.
Indirect linkages aplenty. Part of a larger grand plan? No – At least not yet.