In Background, Feature Articles, Ukraine

The following letter was received by New Cold War.org from Alexander Mercouris, foreign affairs writer at Russia Insider. The letter elaborates further on his article published on August 25, ‘In Aug 22 speech, Poroshenko dooms Ukraine to endless war‘. We had offered to Alexander our views of the Committee for the Salvation of Ukraine of which he writes in his article. His letter is reprinted here with permission.–New Cold War.org editors

August 24, 2015

I do not think a popular uprising in Ukraine is round the corner.  I certainly do not believe that the Committee for National Salvation is remotely capable of leading such an uprising.  Someone less like a revolutionary leader than Azarov it would be hard to imagine.  Nor do I think that the Kremlin is seriously intending to impose the Committee for National Salvation on Ukraine, or that it sees it as some sort of government in waiting (the expression I used is “government in exile” – which is something different).

If you read my piece carefully you will see that the point I was making is a different one – that the Committee of National Salvation has been set up – undoubtedly with the Kremlin’s support – in order to strengthen the Kremlin’s hand when the moment comes for the Russians to broach the question of a reconstruction of the Ukrainian government as part of the negotiations that will take place once Ukraine has been defeated again.

In other words, it is purely a card in the Kremlin’s diplomatic hand. It helps the Russians in diplomatic negotiations when this question is broached to point to a group of seasoned technocrats the EU has worked with in the past who are there waiting in the wings.

Once the question of a reconstruction of the government in Kiev is conceded, the Committee of National Salvation will no doubt be wound up even if it is possible – and even likely – that one or two of its members might be included in the sort of transitional government the Russians have in mind.

It goes without saying that what we would be looking at would be a purely transitional government whose role would be to sign a peace agreement with the Novorossians, agree the terms of a new constitution and administer proper elections as part of an overall peace settlement.  Once it had served its purpose, it would go.

Certainly, I don’t think anyone in the Kremlin for a moment thinks of the Committee for National Salvation as a permanent future government, or as a regime that would replace the present one, or seriously imagines that it would be capable of ruling Ukraine for the long term, or entertains any idea of trying to impose it.

This I am sure is the Kremlin’s strategy.  It is another matter whether it is practical and can succeed.

My own longstanding view is that the situation in Ukraine is so profoundly polarised that the kind of engineered solution the Kremlin is working towards – much like the similar solution the Kremlin is trying to engineer in Syria – is almost certainly unworkable.

In my piece I said that changing the government in Ukraine is the only way to save Ukraine if Ukraine is to be saved. My own view is that Ukraine is beyond saving, and after what has happened over the last two years I will shed no tears to see it go.

That is, however, a far more complex point which I will discuss fully and properly in a piece I have been intending to write about the Kremlin’s Ukraine policy, which I have been planning for some time but which I have never got down to writing.

Anyway I hope this clarifies the position.

Best Wishes,
Alexander Mercouris

Read also:
No, Ukraine is not yet on the cusp of deepgoing change, commentaries compiled by New Cold War.org, Aug 22, 2015

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