As Colonel Cassad (Boris Rozhin) stated on October 13 on his blog, the so-called "Putin's Clever Plan" might well belong to the category of "Yanukovich's Clever Plan," on which Yanukovich's apologists and believers swore till February 23.
At this moment, unless a new factor or surprise happens, the least complicated and hence likely explanation, confirmed by my source who is both a pragmatist-realist and a very intuitive person, is that, after Crimea, the US and Russian oligarchs placed Putin in front of a stark threat-cum-bluff-cum-choice: either a hot World War III, a war with NATO, and/or a nearly complete blockade or a "deal" on Ukraine for the sake of "partnership": supporting the "legitimacy" of Poroshenko (and the junta) and preparing an orchestrated phasing-out of Novorossiya (with an internal crisis, which we are now seeing). Putin as a pragmatist and a man with no sympathies for any anti-oligarchic, socialist revolution not that far from Russia might have concluded that the offer looked reasonable--as presented under big pressure behind the well closed doors. The deal does or would, however, spell Putin's own political death. If there was such a deal, then, very likely, it was struck by early April--before the Geneva "agreements," that is, not just before April 24 when a decision about cancelling the idea of moving Russian troops in to protect the people of Donbass.
The original plan was torpedoed by Strelkov who, one minute after twelve, managed to get out of the destruction prepared for his forces in Slavyansk. The alternative plan could not longer rely on the original crew placed in Donetsk. It was assumed that the brief--the briefest possible offensive and "victory" of Novorossiya--could present the Minsk Deal not as a defeat and political death--but as an achievement, i.e., as an "achievement of recognition," which it never was. If one looked at the short history of the August offensive then it appears that the powers that be rushed in to put a stop to it when the first major city--Mariupol--was just about to be liberated by the NAF.
Since the deal stinks also appears to be the best and simplest explanation for Putin's silence on the most important political crisis and current issue of his presidency.
In the next few days, Putin and Poroshenko are to meet in Milan. There are credible reports that, on that occasion, a bunch of documents is being prepared for implementing the Minsk deal, which is to cement the idea of a united, sovereign Ukraine, which, on several occasions, Lavrov himself affirmed rather explicitly and Putin in a more guarded, round-about way. The term "Minsk deal" is more like the part of a process that is currently sticking out from the depth of politics cooked up far away from the eyes of the public. That is to say, as I said before, there are numerous signs that indicate a presence or fact of a deal made soon after March 17, which seems to have a character of the "agreement" which Yanukovich made with the pro-Nazi ("pro-EU") oligarchs--the proxies of the US and NATO.
Kiev and the West now seem to be dictating to Moscow the latter's consent to resume gas supplies to Ukraine and the terms of this "trade," for which Kiev refuses to make any payments except for a "promise" to pay a part of the price sometime around March. They demand gas now and, as far as their "obligations" or "promises" are concerned (as in the case of the agreement with Yanukovich or similar US and NATO assurances from before) "after the fact." In this connection, the Russian government is led mainly and chiefly by laudable "humanitarian" goals, which don't interfere with the fact that, under the Minsk "truce" and now "quiet time," around 20 civilians are being killed daily only in the city of Donetsk from Ukrainian shelling.
In other words, so far--unless something new happened, which would change the trend, the terms of the deal appear to be dictated to Moscow. Among these terms one can also include Lavrov saying that the Minsk process has been "overall positive" and Putin (at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Bishkek in September) claiming that the Minsk Deal is honored and that is making the Donbass people safer.
Meanwhile, 95-98% of the Army of Novorossiya and most people of Novorossiya, which Zakharchenko and Plotnisky decided (or were decided) not to know as such any more, have two words for the farce of the scheduled "elections" decided upon in the context of the Minsk Deal by Moscow and the managers of the chaos: "Fuck you." (you can see that on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi4Y8w4yqGk)
El Murid wonders: "It is hard to say what they think in Moscow when, they are actively supporting the Nazi regime under their loins. The future is set--only one will remain. Either the Nazis or us. Kiev understands this and obviously even better than in Moscow."
"Трудно сказать, на что рассчитывают в Москве, активно поддерживая существование нацистского режима под боком. Будущее определено - должен остаться только один. Либо нацисты, либо мы. В Киеве это понимают, похоже, куда как лучше, чем в Москве."
In this connection, one may also recall Evgeny Primakov (the actual tank of a brain behind Putin) and his TV interview from the end of June this year, in which Primakov tried to argue that the whole crisis or would-be war in Donbass was rather "exaggerated" and hyped by the Russian media, that the stakes or things are not that bad, that making up with the regime in Kiev is only logical and natural because Russia is not that strong and because, first and foremost, it depends technologically on the West.
Primakov was making the statement just at a time when the junta was already completing encirclement of Strelkov's men in Slavyansk, while Boroday, Khodakovsky, Russian oligarchs, Kiev's Western advisers and others were just waiting for the final, not so-graceful coup against the heroes of Slavyansk who were to be sacrificed on the altar of the New World order.
Listening to Primakov, one would have almost convinced oneself that all that Stalin needed to do in 1940 or 1941 or before winning the battle of Stalingrad was to rechristen the Nazis as "partners" and to sell them what they needed to or asked for--just as Putin and Medvedev were recorded saying at the session of the Russian government when discussing their yet another best offer on gas to the regime in Kiev. So while Russia was being put under sanctions, the Russian government was still in the process of finding out how far the "deal" and the assumed "partnership" goes--with Medvedev chiming in that, despite of the fascist obstinacy, Moscow's proposed big discounts to Kiev "partners" were already putting Gazprom financially in a difficult situation. The title of the video is not bad either: "Putin is astonished that Ukraine refuses to buy gas with a $100 discount":
Systemic threats indeed require systemic countermeasures. But Western oligarchs have not been playing their game as of yesterday. They started to master again the art of the abyss and chaos. The Russian oligarchy is a new kid on the bloc, but one who is already asked to sell. And to sell even very low.
However, one has to remember that the Empire (and oligarchy) was already able to make the Russian communists to sell--both themselves and everyone else under their control. Is Lavrov bigger a man than Gromyko was? Are the Russian leaders now stronger and more principled or ethical than the Soviet leadership in the 1980s?