"What Will Be The Geographic End State Of The War In Ukraine"
Moon of Alabama (March 19, 2022)
The Ukrainian National Security Advisor has sent a letter to the White House and the CIA to request money in support of an insurgency in Russian held areas:
The document, dated March 6, asked the U.S. "to allocate additional funds for the organization of the resistance movement and voluntary formations of territorial communities throughout Ukraine."
The White House and the Ukrainian embassy vehemently deny that the letter is real. I however do not believe that it is faked. It just was not meant to become public. The CIA has been training 'resistance' militia in the Ukraine since 2015. To request new money for more of it is only natural.
The U.S. will finance a resistance in Ukraine through the CIA just as it did in Syria and just like it did from 1949 until the early 1950s when the U.S. financed anti-Soviet insurgency in Ukraine ended in misery.
But resistance against whom?
The premise seems to be that Russia wants to occupy the Ukraine.
It can be seen in an English language interview the Turkish state TV channel TRT had with Vitaly Klitschko, the mayor of Kiev. Klitschko accuses Russia of wanting to recreate the USSR. He rejects any negotiations for peace and wants the Ukraine to keep fighting.
After the interview the historian Gilbert Doctorow pointed out that it was Russia which first left the USSR to end the financing of outlaying provinces at the center's cost and that no one wants to recreate that situation.
As Putin ones said:
Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain.
Russia has limited aims in Ukraine and will end the war and leave most of the Ukraine when those aims are achieved either by negotiations or by other means. It is the Ukraine that will have to bear the cost for it.
But Zelenski, Klitschko and the U.S. overlords do not want to see it that way. The U.S. wants to keep Russia in the Ukraine to fight it to the last Ukrainian and to damage it that way.
The Washington Post writes that there seems to be no Ukrainian urge to negotiate anything:
The prospects of a near-term deal look bleak, diplomats say, but mixed signals from Zelensky about how close he is to striking an agreement have only heightened anxiety about the trajectory of the negotiations.
“I’m ready for dialogue; we’re not ready for capitulation,” Zelensky told ABC News earlier this week, while vowing to continue fighting Russia for as long as necessary.
Zelensky reiterated that message in even stronger terms on Tuesday when the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia traveled to Kyiv to meet him in a risky wartime visit. “He showed very little interest in a negotiated settlement and said Ukraine needed to keep fighting until Putin altered his demands,” said a diplomat familiar with the discussions, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive meetings.
The U.S. seems to be happy with that stand and the secretary of state even wants to widen the war:
“There’s no indication on our end that the Ukrainians are suing for peace. They want to fight,” said a senior U.S. official.
Zelensky will have to sell any peace deal to his own people — a tricky task if he is forced to concede too much. He has been a wildly popular wartime president, but he was an unpopular peacetime one. And Ukraine’s westward ambitions have only been strengthened by Russia’s assault.
Any potential deal will also require buy-in from the West, which will need to lift sanctions on Moscow in exchange for its withdrawal of Russian forces.
But Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that a simple withdrawal of troops may not meet a U.S. standard for sanctions relief. The United States “will want to make sure that anything that’s done is, in effect, irreversible, that this can’t happen again, that Russia won’t pick up and do exactly what it’s doing in a year or two years or three years.”
The only way to get to that end state is the total dismantling of Russia. That may indeed be what Blinken has in mind. What plans does he have to make it happen?
When the war to disarm the Ukraine started to my utter surprise I asked what Russia would desire as the geographic end state of the war:
It is difficult to discern what the planed end state of this operation is. Where is this going to stop?
Looking at this map I believe that the most advantageous end state for Russia would be the creation of a new independent country, call it Novorossiya, on the land east of the Dnieper and south along the coast that holds a majority ethnic Russian population and that, in 1922, had been attached to the Ukraine by Lenin. That state would be politically, culturally and militarily aligned with Russia.
This would eliminate Ukrainian access to the Black Sea and create a land bridge towards the Moldavian breakaway Transnistria which is under Russian protection.
The rest of the Ukraine would be a land confined, mostly agricultural state, disarmed and too poor to be build up to a new threat to Russia anytime soon. Politically it would be dominated by fascists from Galicia which would then become a major problem for the European Union.
Novorossiya was mentioned by Putin on April 17 2014 during a long Q-and-A session on Russian TV. The question was about federalization of Ukraine before new government elections in the just regime changed Ukraine. Putin responded:
Regarding the question of what should come first: a constitutional referendum followed by elections, or elections first to stabilise the situation and then a referendum. The essential issue is how to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the southeast of Ukraine. I would like to remind you that what was called Novorossiya (New Russia) back in the tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine back then. These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet government. Why? Who knows. They were won by Potyomkin and Catherine the Great in a series of well-known wars. The centre of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained.
At that time Putin did not threaten to take Novorossiya but demanded full rights for its population:
Today, they live in Ukraine, and they should be full citizens of their country. That’s what this is all about. The issue is not whether the referendum on decentralisation or federalisation is followed by elections or the elections come before the architecture of the state is changed. The key issue is providing guarantees to these people. Our role is to facilitate a solution in Ukraine, to ensure that there are guarantees. People from southeast Ukraine will ask you, will ask us and the current authorities in Kiev: “Fine, the elections will be held on May 25, but do you want us to recognise their outcome? You’ll forget your promises the very next day and send new oligarchs to Donetsk, Kharkov, Lugansk, and so on. What about guarantees? We need answers.” I hope that an answer will be found.
No answer was found then and Kiev has since strongly discriminated against those Russian people.
Novorossiya roughly includes the red and yellow areas in the above map. It also includes the valuable Soviet developed iron ore mines and factories of Kryvyi Rih west of the Dnieper river.
Two professional Russia experts now agree with my prediction above but chose slightly different borders than I had originally proposed:
In his latest piece the Canadian Russia specialist Patrick Armstrong writes:
I still do not think that [Russia wants to take ownership of Ukraine] – I believe that Moscow wants a neutral and de-nazified Ukraine that is a buffer between it and NATO. I am also coming to believe that Novorossiya, more or less in its historical borders as formed by Katherine when recovered from the Ottomans, will be independent. The chance that it would remain part of Ukraine has probably passed. As I wrote in 2014 “In short, the West broke Ukraine, it now owns it. Or, to put it more precisely, it owns that part that Moscow doesn’t want. And what part that is is entirely up to Moscow to choose“. Moscow is choosing now.
In a new piece about the coming partitioning of Ukraine Gilbert Doctorow agrees:
I do not deny that a Ukrainian insurgency is a plausible next phase to the war, especially given the irrational position on ‘compromises’ that we see in Klitschko’s interview. However, there are obvious ways for the Kremlin to respond so as to contain the risks to themselves. To begin with, they can realize the threat Putin issued before the war began: to deprive Ukraine of its statehood. Not entirely, but to deprive them of the state in the configuration that has existed since 1991. This means to partition Ukraine, to hive off the territories west of Kiev and the Dnieper River, forming a land-locked rump state with its capital logically in Lviv, near the Polish frontier.
To use the language of the banking community, Russia would thereby create a ‘bad bank,’ containing the poisonous assets of Ukrainian radicalism, very few industrial or other major economic assets, and removed to a distance no longer threatening to Russia. The ‘good bank’ would be central Ukraine, the territories east of the Dniepr River, which have a considerably larger population of Russian speakers, who should respond to Russia’s call to defend their own interests in the public life of the country and come out from the bullying they were subjected to by the nationalists over the past 8 years. This central Ukraine would receive back the Black Sea coast now occupied by the Russians and would enjoy the agricultural and other major economic assets that always defined Ukrainian prosperity.
The areas that Armstrong, Doctorow and I describe have largely Russian speaking pro-Russian populations. Yesterday some 30,000 people left the besieged Mariupol and several of them were interviewed. They all spoke out against the Azov Nazis who still hold parts of the city. They likely would not mind to become citizens of a newly founded Novorossiya that does not submit to a Russian hating government in Kiev or elsewhere.
But to hold that land Russia must first gain it. So how will the war proceed?
Russia will slowly grind down the Ukrainian defenses and then move further into Ukraine up to the new border it wants to achieve. (I do not think that it will include taking Kiev. Russia is currently just threatening it to bind Ukrainian troops.) It will hold there and help to organize a referendum for the independence from Ukraine in the areas it will hold by then. A new local militia army will be formed to defend that state. Russia will recognize the new state and sign a common defense agreement with it.
Russian troops can then go back to Russia.
As those areas are largely pro-Russian there will be little chance for an effective insurgency within them.