Valentina Matviyenko (http://tass.ru/en/russia/806127), the speaker of the Federation Council: “Russia has never given a reason for accusations of wishing to disintegrate Ukraine … By no word or action did Russia give any reason to think it wants disintegration of Ukraine. We did not support such moods."
So here you have it: Russia, that is, the Kremlin and Putin “never” supported Novorossiya, its independence, national-liberation movement and aspirations. And taking Crimea out of Ukraine did not change Ukraine’s territorial rights or integrity. If this is so, then Crimea is apparently still part of Ukraine or, if this is true, then this truth has its very specific dates during which and for which it needs to be consumed.
“I still can't understand why Russia encouraged, built up and expanded the idea of fighting for freedom and 'the Russian world' in Donbsas and then just dumped it. Their pride is totally gone. They had a strong movement that could have done great things, under Strelkov, Mozogovoy, Batman. Legends of the people that would live forever, sold for oligarch money.”
The Crimea operation was carried out fast (the military panicked and moved in), but very, very soon after that, after Putin's interview in March, Moscow was noticeably very careful not to give any official encouragement or even support to the demonstrations in Donbass or elsewhere in Ukraine.
The first city, which was thus secured by the junta and where the Novorossiya movement was aborted, was strategic Kharkov, a major site of Ukraine's defense industry, even though, in March, the Anti-Maidan cleared the Maidan occupation from the Soviet Building, and all but little was needed for Kharkov to be actually the first Ukrainian city to be liberated from the new Banderite regime.
Already in April of 2014, Moscow began to try to redefine the nature and cause of the conflict as a fight for mere decentralization, small concessions, and a bit of language rights.
“But why all the 'voentorg' and support if they had no goals of keeping it as at least a Transneitria?”
Good question: 1) Moscow could not allow an open military victory of Kiev--for political and domestic reasons; 2) a Kiev military victory would also tons and tons of public humiliation, which would not be possible to weather or stomach; 3) a Kiev and West's victory would make Putin's position untenable.
In this regard, Moscow tried to achieve the unachievable--except what Milosevic "achieved" in Bosnia, Krajina, and later in Osijek (and not quite in Kosovo)--that is letting the enemy win but without most, if not all, of the moral, political and military repercussions, costs and consequences of the loss and defeat.
As the Yugoslav precedents taught us, there are basic ways of how to achieve the opposite of what your own supporters, people and country expect from you: 1) either very quickly (as was the case in Krajina) so that things happen suddenly and fast or 2) if it is more complicated, more complex, or/and if the nut is much bigger to chew, more gradually, step by step over a long period of time.
One way, in which the Hegelian opposite (or such self-negation) can be hoped for, is thus via a quick military defeat, a quick fait accompli, which would surprise and stupefy seemingly everyone (the uninformed and the naïve). This Krajina scenario was in the works and planned for the last July-August, as Boris Rozhin and others confirm—by condemning Strelkov and his men to heroic, but politically and militarily useless death and martyrdom in Slavyansk with the quick surrender planned simultaneously for Donetsk.
The other way, which started to be played out, once the Novorossiya uprising moved out of the confines of Slavyansk and after Strelkov inadvertently thwarted the cunning Krajina scenario, was then the path of gradual adjustments and political dance. In this scenario, more than in the Blitzkrieg one, a much greater coordination and collaboration of both (or nearly all) sides is required.
This path requires more time, more efforts, and inevitably more deals, which also makes these deals more public and also more apparent.
With respect to Donbass, that’s where the original cunning plan (letting the brave “300” Spartans die) became the Minsk process, which started with the call on Donbass to forego their referendum, the legitimization of Poroshenko, his elections and his regime by Moscow, the recall of the troops away from the border in order to give Kiev less to fear about in its escalation of the war, but presented as “conducive to a greater dialogue” between Kiev and Donbass in Putin’s words from May 21,2014 and so on. A key element in this was the removal of Strelkov as the head of the Novorossiya uprising and his replacement of people personally picked by Moscow.
For this new cunning plan—Minsk, for which “there is no alternative” as we are being told again and again both by the West (who has other plans in its drawers) and by Moscow (who seems to have nothing else left)—demands an art of Machiavellian appearances and mastery in playing Hegelian self-negating opposites eventually resolving into their opposite down the road. This qualification is what is also making Surkov so valuable and almost irreplaceable and indispensable. A crook is not enough. An artist is needed for this.
To this effect, as confirmed, Moscow offered Strelkov a seemingly fair and non-refusable trade—his departure in exchange for a substantial and actually effective Russian military aid, which would save the existence of the DPR and the LPR for the time being—needed for Minsk and its implementation (this part was neither communicated to Strelkov then, nor was part of the “deal” which was part of the much bigger deal negotiated with the Kiev regime and the West).
For one has to ask an elementary question: what were the other options and alternatives at that moment—just before the 70th anniversary of the Victory over Nazism in World War II--if Putin let Kiev, Nazi tanks just roll at that moment over the people of Donbass and drown them in blood and in agony both pleading to him and cursing him at the same time? This was no longer the small pack of Strelkov’s 300 Spartans.
Russian president is a patriot. A patriot in chief. He says much of it himself though in so many other and more elegant words. He needs to act patriotically and has to sound patriotically, even if nearly all his governments and officials since 2000 on were right-wing liberal or even neo-liberal ones (that’s also why the current liberal opposition is led by a number of his own recently former ministers, partners, and colleagues).
So what Russian oligarchy needed, badly needed, was a carefully crafted "deal," that is to say, some very good face-saving device above all. And, as long as Russia was ready (as it was) to make real tangible political, military and moral concessions, the West would OK to hold out to Russia the carrot of face-saving promises in the form of “bouncing checks” (the falsity of which is obvious to anyone except for those who made their fate depend on them).
If Kiev (the Bandera regime) was to get Donbass back, as Russia promised, signed up for and committed herself to, and thus achieving a critical victory both for the cause of revived Nazism and for the West and its Drang nach Osten, it was necessary in the eyes of Moscow’s cunning strategists to make it look as something else than the Bandera and Western victory and Russia’s defeat—if not for themselves than at least for the public and so as long as possible. Abortion of Novorossiya (announced by Boroday already last Fall as a fait accompli and than by other pro-Minsk leaders in May of 2015, just before Mozgovoy was killed) requires and requires abortion of truth (as well as basic political and moral principles).
Moscow’s choice was to surrender in the way in which one would eat a poisonous cake while making all around believe that he has not eaten it because he is still alive.
As Strelkov said, ever since his departure, Moscow’s plan was not to achieve victory. Instead, Moscow wanted to achieve the other “impossible”—to help Kiev and the West win with the victory being served as its Hegelian opposite, as something entirely else—as Moscow’s victory or, at least, as Moscow’s responsible, reliable partnership and respect for the rules (Putin in Salinger last year: “The secret … we’ve always supported those in power”).
Shoving Donbass back into the hands of the Nazi regime is what Minsk prescribes, but, for Moscow, if this is acceptable and not to be feared, it does fear that the truth be rubbed in tohether with Kiev and the Nazis having their fill openly on the cameras—before the public is ready to swallow the pill.
Furthermore, a key element here would be if the installed "authorities" of the DPR and the LPR seemingly themselves--as if on their own--"chose" to effectively surrender (Minsk), while always calling it by some other name: "See, they want it themselves"--is exactly what Putin tried to emphasize lately.
Not only Moscow has had no plan to counteract against the to-so-many obvious and quite open and massive takeover of Ukraine by the West (1991-2014), it had never a plan on how to undo or even resist this at first gradual and then established Nazification of of Ukraine. That's why as far as Putin and the Kremlin is concerned, small administrative reforms (some cover or "concession" from Kiev is needed, though neither Kiev nor the West really bother to indulge Moscow with this small face-saving device) and gradual, seemingly voluntary and negotiated "restoration of Ukraine's unity" are Moscow's sole plan and supreme wish (hence Minsk).