“War is war – a dinner scheduled”

May 1, 2014

Let us suppose that the presidential elections occur on 25th May – and any subsequent second round of voting if necessary – across the nation in elections more or less free and fair and also more or less national.

A winner emerges with a broadly supported and legitimate public mandate.  Currently that would appear to be Petro Poroshenko.

Let us also suppose if a referendum on unity or federalisation is also held.  The result of which currently would appear to be a very robust refusal of federalisation.

Whether a vote is held and Russian becomes an official language or an official regional language is somewhat irrelevant to what I am about to write.

Let us suppose by mid-June a new president and a (truly) national decision to remain a unitary republic is returned by popular vote freely and fairly.

The question then arises – do we expect the now fairly well armed and reasonably well organised dissenters currently holding various government buildings, villages, towns and now the city of Luhansk to simply accept these results and then disarm and go home?


If there is no respect for the rule of law and little respect for the principles of democracy – let alone patriotic identity – what then follows by way of Ukrainian action when a new president takes over?  A whole new policy bag magically appears to bloodlessly and painlessly resolve the situation in eastern Ukraine – a policy bag that is somehow currently being kept secret from the interim leadership?

25th May is a panacea to the problems in eastern Ukraine?

The fact will remain that all those actively confronting the current interim authorities in eastern Ukraine will need to be disarmed.  They will need to surrender the buildings, villages, towns and cities they currently control – yet they are unlikely to be any more willing to do so after any voting than they are now.  They already know they don’t have the popular support to win any national votes.

Thus any new president will face the same decisions as the current interim president – when and if to use force to restore rule of law and territorial integrity – whether to make a stand or simple crumble.  How much of Ukraine to cede to such a small number of people sponsored by a large and aggressive neighbour?

25th May is an illusionary date in respect of resolving the issues in eastern Ukraine or increasing the policy and strategic tools with which any new leader has at their disposal.  A new president may alter many perceptions internally and externally of Ukraine – but to change the goal of The Kremlin and the actions of its vassals is highly unlikely.

As such continued Kremlin sponsoring of eastern Ukrainian insurgency and insurrection will simply continue until and if a more desirable tactic is found.  The threat of Russian military intervention within Ukrainian territory will not simply go away should force be used to regain the current territory lost.

As Vladimir Putin said whilst in Minsk yesterday “Война войной -a обед по расписанию” – “War is war – a dinner scheduled”.

And thus every government building, every village, every town or city that falls between now and 25th May becomes another that must either be retaken or surrendered.  Every time one falls with no response it encourages further incursion.

It leads to the next question – how much more of Ukraine will fall into the hands of a minority unopposed before 25th May?  There is another 26 days before the 1st round of voting – more than a month if 2 rounds are required.

It is a question for both Ukraine and The Kremlin in equal measure.

With incursion expansion, the problem then comes when the Kremlin’s GRU and spetsnaz have maximised their capabilities on the ground – they do after all have limitations.  Eventually, if expansion of hot spots continue, regular reinforcements will have to follow behind those Kremlin forces already here.

When expanding, where next?  Another go at Mariupol?  What can be softened up over the 1st and 9th May holidays and planned provocations?  Kherson?  Odessa?

Those in Kyiv should be asking how much of Ukraine will be left to vote in an environment that can be classed free and fair?  How much of Ukraine will vote – if at all – in an atmosphere anything but free and fair in certain parts of eastern Ukraine – or whatever is left by 25th May?

To put things into perspective, at the moment what were once a few isolated spots in the east, now start to look like an outbreak of measles.  It is not a good situation but certainly far from a complete disaster – but further escalation is guaranteed.  Whilst there will not be an epidemic that engulfs the entire nation, there is still likely to be a somewhat aggressive advancing rash – certainly in the east.

Every inch of ground passively allowed into the control of The Kremlin and its vassals now will be an inch of ground a new president must take back – facing the same outcomes that the current interim president faces now, and armed with the same toolbox.  The choice will be between one of bloody fortitude or surrender to Kremlin designs.

What is the trigger, geographically or by number of affected voting constituents, whereby the current interim leaders have to act before 25th May – even if it results in the impossibility of those elections being carried out due to the events that would follow?

How long and how far can The Kremlin go, or Ukraine continue with its policy of restraint, before Mr Putin’s scheduled dinner with war becomes today’s date in the diary?

The 25th May elections – or not – seem unlikely to change the tactics, strategies or abilities available to any Ukrainian president.  There seem to be certain inevitabilities in confronting on The Kremlin agenda.  In the meantime that nasty rash in the east is very likely to keep growing until it is tackled directly.

One wonders whether the EU is prepared for the millions of refugees that may result.



  1. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/putins-ukraine-fiction-falling-apart-104803759.html

    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talks to reporters after a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Minsk, April 29, 2014.

    On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin made two assertions that reflect how he wants the world to see the turmoil in east Ukraine: “I state responsibly: there are neither Russian instructors, nor special units, nor troops, no one there.”

    Moscow argues that the ongoing crisis across east Ukraine — separatists have violently seized official buildings in more than a dozen cities and are demanding referendums — was caused by a West-backed coup d’etat.

    “I think what is happening now shows us who really was mastering the process from the beginning. But in the beginning, the United States preferred to remain in the shadow,” Putin stated, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

    It’s becoming clearer that what’s actually occurring leads back to Russia through Crimea.

  2. http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/why-did-gunmen-so-easily-seize-governments-in-eastern-ukraine-umm-here-s-why#.U18vA4EFBeg.twitter

    Why Did Gunmen So Easily Take Over in Eastern Ukraine? Umm, Here’s Why .

    How have pro-Russian militants taken over city halls and police stations across eastern Ukraine with such surprising ease? Ukrainian journalist Valentyn Chernyavsky decided to test that question in his hometown, the provincial capital of Cherkasy, about 125 miles south of Kyiv. He donned the uniform of a Russian separatist militant, grabbed a (fake but realistic) AK-47 assault rifle and got a friend to drive him downtown to explore his chances of seizing power.

    Chernyavsky’s six-minute, Ukrainian-language YouTube video of his exploit has gone viral in Ukraine, and its illustration of official laxity might be better than an intelligence briefing in helping to explain why Ukraine’s government is in such danger. It also may be one of the most exciting things to happen in Cherkasy (population 300,000) in a while. (If your Ukrainian is rusty, watch the video with our summary below to help you follow it.)

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