Preparing for the Kremlin cacophonyJune 21, 2014
In exactly 7 days from now, Ukraine will have signed the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Trade Agreement with the EU – short of anything incapacitating happening to President Poroshenko over the next 168 hours or so.
As such there can be no doubt that the cacophony currently bellowing from The Kremlin will intensify in orders of magnitude, however that noise and posturing manifests itself. Earplugs and calming deep breathing exercises required from Ukraine over what will be a deliberately intense psychologically challenging week.
It is not a question of what to expect – it is a question of expecting everything and anything and meeting it with a determined calm.
Another Russian military build up (of lesser size) on Ukrainian borders? Probably. Threats of entering Ukraine under the guise of an ill-fitting R2P or “unilateral peacekeeping”? Possibly. Brinkmanship on the border by regular Russian troops – pushing matters to the very brink? Expected.
Desperate attempts to get a UN Resolution passed critical of Ukraine in some way, shape or form? Undoubtedly.
Creating the impression of officially considering recognising the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics? Maybe.
A massive increase in propaganda? Of course – and something that unfortunately tends to mask some genuine failings by Ukrainian leadership within a sea mostly of spurious nonsense. In a sense somewhat self-defeating, but now with no holds barred considering EU-Ukrainian signatures are all-but guaranteed to occur.
Failed – if any – attempts to resolve the gas issue over the next week? A given. No immediate rush.
Yet more fighters and weaponry crossing from the Russian Federation into Ukraine? Absolutely – probably in their droves and ever increasingly technical and devastating equipment.
A pronounced increase of the most intense fighting in eastern Ukraine? – Yes, and by extension with chance of the President’s 14 point peace plan getting past point 1 next week.
The list of possible/probable socio-economic issues is endless – import issues, introduction of Visas, quality problems etc – to be expected.
There is no need to go on – the picture painted should be clear enough.
Throughout all of this, there is little Ukraine can do except stay calm, grin and bear it, dealing with these issues as well as possible over this short time frame.
No matter how bad it gets during the next week, the Europeans and US will probably think long and hard regarding the next level of sanctions prior to any signing. Presenting The Kremlin with a fete accompli prior to any signing poses significant risks.
The appearance of a very bleak week (and immediate future) will manifest itself – for that is the appearance some vested interests need to project.
Howeer, once this time has passed and agreements are signed, Ukraine then has options over some very significant issues to The Kremlin that can have almost immediate effects – but the time for such negotiations is after the signing of EU agreements.
As an example, it can immediately chop up the behemoth that is Naftogaz, splitting it into several distinct and legally isolated parts. A key to that will be to entirely separate the GTS from the other dismembered pieces.
Thereafter it can begin a process to integrate within the European Energy Community as a priority – 2 years(ish) to accomplish as a guesstimate. In doing so, it not only begins to clean up the Ukrainian energy sector – probably the most corrupt of all sectors – but also hinders/deprives The Kremlin clique of their corrupt earnings from energy supply to Ukraine too.
With South Stream currently stalled and that will eventually run through some of the EU’s most corrupt Member States, a drop in corrupt revenue will not be particularly appreciated amongst the elite within the Russian energy sector.
There is then the Ukrainian defence, space, R&D, aviation sectors etc., that Russia currently relies upon Ukraine within.
The next week is very likely to test the patience and nerves of many, as The Kremlin cacophony and posturing reaches a crescendo.
What comes after the 27th June and the signing of agreements with the EU by Ukraine (and Moldova and Georgia) will be the real question.
Certainly The Kremlin will not see losing this battle as losing the war – but how to turn the tide back in their favour? Thus far every aggressive and/or punitive action – be it direct or indirect, overt or covert – has done nothing but further alienate those to whom they have been applied.
Whatever The Kremlin thought it could beat out of Ukraine with assorted policy and tactical sticks, it has succeeded only in beating it further in. Certainly with the illegal annexation of Crimea there is no trust and little appetite for any Kremlin carrots anymore either.
7 days from now, in all probability at the time of writing, the question of Ukrainian direction will be signed and sealed – but it raises further unanswered questions as to the Kremlin response over the short and medium term – and how that response will manifest itself.
Nevertheless, between now and then, earplugs and Valium for the faint of heart may not be a bad idea, for the Kremlin cacophony and posturing will become incredibly intense.