I didn't really want to touch this topic but since it is a sad, 5th year, anniversary of the war coming to Donbass and Banderites openly, with "style", destroying the monument to Marshal Georgi Zhukov in what at some point of time was called the most Russian city in Ukraine, Kharkov, I think it is worth revisiting this Ukrainian topic.
We need this revisiting to shut down, finally, all those uber-patriotic voices which continue, albeit at much lower level, to whine about Russia not invading Ukraine in 2014 and trying to point out some hypothetical "benefits" of such an invasion. Those voices are wrong not only strategically or operationally, they are wrong (and ignorant) on a fundamental, cultural, level.
We should start from dispelling any illusions on the account of the so called Novorossiya and, grossly inaccurate, picture of Eastern Ukraine as being taken hostage by Western Ukraine Banderistas--this picture is only partially correct, to put it mildly, and does not reflect reality on the ground in the Eastern Ukraine. But first, let me give you some (very limited) pictures from my military life from 1988 through 1990 which resulted in a complete implosion of the USSR and war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. I will abstain here from commenting rights and wrongs--but that was our life then and I know how half-a-million people look like running at you. Also how to live and serve in the city under siege with a lot of bullets flying around.
The reason I go "there"--a very painful memories--is simple: for whatever reason, when people are unified with a single idea, however bad or good it is, they move in hundreds thousands, if not millions and the place becomes hell. Here are some photos from Baku where Baku garrison, including cadets from my Alma Mater, and, of course, formations of MVD and DoD, were dealing with then, starting from 1988.
|Disarming. Some of our people died.|
|Naval cadets at block-post.|
Our guys (naval cadets--I was an officer then), actually, had one block-post literally next to our high-rise--very eventful nights, to put it mildly. Apart from huge numbers of demonstrating people, as you may have already guessed, the next step is always--going for the guns and other weapons--that is what people in turmoil do. Mind you also, events in Caucasus which shook and dismantled USSR were happening in a still fairly well structured security-wise Soviet Union. And here is a tactical question: in the immediate aftermath of Crimea getting back home in 2014, the number of people protesting at Kharkov's main square (Kharkov is about the same size as Baku 1.5+ million people) never reached anything higher than 50,000 people at the most active days (compare this to Maidan in Kiev--order of magnitude more people), not to mention the fact that apart from taking the main building of regional administration, very little was done to ensure that "uprising" will be successful. There is a dramatic contrast here between, almost equal to Kharkov's size, Donetsk and much smaller Lugansk, who, while having massive demonstrations, went for the jugular: weapons, control of key administrative, financial, transport, military installations. They also formed militias immediately. This was not the case with allegedly "Russian" city of Kharkov. Why?
The answer is very simple: same as with Odessa which took its rape on May 2, 2014 never getting off its knees--Ukrainians DID happen as a political nation. As Rostislav Ishenko astutely observes--these are Russian speaking Ukrainians for who Ukraine is a self-contained prime value in their lives (in Russian) and they, in 2014, didn't want to go to Russia, period. Those are majority in what today is known as Novorossiya and these are not the people Russia needs to spend blood and treasure "liberating". In fact, any invasion by Russia for the sake of liberating allegedly "suffering" from svidomyte and Neo-Nazi dictatorship people there would have been a catastrophic mistake, since those people didn't want to be "liberated" and were completely content with Ukraine as their unique nation-state. In fact, should have Russian Army annihilated VSU (Ukrainian Armed Forces) in 2014, which would have resulted in catastrophic losses for VSU, that would have been precisely these rather dormant Ukrainians who would immediately radicalize to a Western Ukraine Banderist Neo-Nazi level. Not to interfere was a smart and wise decision by Kremlin, despite hysterical appeals by arm-chair "strategists" and other uber-patriots.
Today, at the dark fifth anniversary of the war in Donbass, we can observe clearly both correctness of the decision not to interfere, unlike it was in Donbass, where primarily Russian people rose up, in Ukraine and to let EU and US deal with the economic and moral hellhole Ukraine has become today. We may wax political or philosophical whatever we want, but to illustrate what this all means I can give an example, that in my brigade, the chief of counter-intelligence department (Special Department-Osobyi Otdel), Captain 2nd Rank, himself an Azeri was not serving USSR since 1988 so much as providing crucial information to Azeri nationalists. Just one example of many, same things were happening in Armenia and all over Caucasus--very many people were changing loyalties. Dzhokhar Dudaev rings the bell? And here is the catch, these are not anymore Ukrainians who rejected Russia and Russians, most of who from Ukraine either live in Donbass or already moved to Russia, but these are Russians today, unlike it was the case in 2014, who do not want anything in common with Ukrainians. Yes, Putin may continue with his politically necessary gospel of Russians and Ukrainians being brotherly peoples--this is simply not true. An overwhelming empirical evidence testifies to this.
Now that the Ukrainian economy is pretty much done and Ukraine has finally turned into a complete economic, cultural and intellectual shithole, many Ukrainians, those very same Ukrainians who in 2014 didn't want to be liberated, begin to grasp this simple reality and it hurts, badly. I wrote about it in 2017, today it is crystal clear--the fate of Ukraine is eventual disintegration, possibly due to a civil war (or wars) and, inevitably, Eastern Ukraine trying to whore itself out to anyone (not that it is not being done as I type this), while Western Ukraine will inevitably be divided between Poland, Hungary and Romania--let them deal with Banderistas--Eastern Ukraine will remain, well, irrelevant for Russia. I don't recall who drew this excellent parallel recently but Ukraine today is like that proverbial dead cat whose corpse neighbors throw over the fence at each-other's property to avoid dealing with rotting dead feline. This is exactly what is happening now between EU, USA and Russia. Russia is NOT going to put a single ruble into Ukraine (or whatever will be left of it) and once Nord Stream-2 and other pipe-lines are completed, Ukraine can go to hell and enjoy her status as parents of Sumerian civilization and diggers of the Black Sea. She eventually will be completely de-industrialized and will, finally, reach her desired status of a complete independence from Russia. Although, I have to correct myself--for the first time on my memory--I can say that Russia finally gained her independence from Ukraine and for that one has to thank profoundly and sincerely Vladimir Putin and those people from his circle who made the only correct decision in 2014--not to move a single battalion on Kharkov. After all, unlike in Caucasus in 1980s and 1990s, the numbers were simply not there and Kharkov deserves to lose monuments to Zhukov and its other famous people most of who considered themselves either Soviets or Russians.