(The purpose of these updates is not to give detailed updates on the situation in Ukraine – the full scale Russian invasion which proceeds apace. Rather it is, at a time of a growing information/analysis blockade, to briefly add to the discussion and provide what to my mind are sources beyond what might be referred to as “the mainstream narrative”… or to make some points that have emerged through various lively discussions with friends. Another purpose, besides trying to break through the media blockade is to provide alternative informations sources that others might use )
- The first entry is lifted from a Facebook post by Fred Weir. I stumble across Weir’s Russian reporting a couple of years ago and have found it much more insightful on Russian developments than what I was reading in the NY Times, CNN, etc. He is also the co-author of a book – Russia’s Path from Gorbachev to Putin: The Demise of the Soviet System and the New Russia, co-authored with David Kotz, in my opinion, the best read on the collapse of the USSR and how Russian society has been organized since.
In what follows, Weir posted a piece from Ivan Katchanovski that appeared in the Ukrainian press detailing Russian demands to Ukraine for ending the war. Although I have heard anecdotally of some of them, I had not seen the demands spelled out so clearly as here. This is what the Russian government says it wants to accomplish politically by invading Ukraine.
ZN.UA стали известны шесть ультимативных требований России к Украине
“Well, there it is. [from Ivan Katchanovski]
Ukrainian media published 6 Russian demands to Ukraine to end the war. The first five of them should be included in the Constitution of Ukraine.
- Refusal to join NATO. Neutral status of Ukraine. Russia is ready to become one of the guarantors.
2 Russian becomes the second state language.
- Recognition of Crimea by Ukraine as Russian.
- Recognition by Ukraine of the independence of the DPR and LPR within the administrative boundaries of Donbas regions (including the territories now controlled by Ukraine).
- “Denazification”. Prohibition of the activities of ultra-nationalist, Nazi and neo-Nazi parties and public organizations, the abolition of existing laws on the glorification of Nazis and neo-Nazis.
- “Demilitarization of Ukraine”. A complete rejection of offensive weapons.”
2, Bhadrakumar Melkulangara is a retired Indian diplomat who was Indian ambassador to Russia and a number of other countries. His analysis is neither “pro-NATO” nor “pro-Russian”. Extremely sharp analyst who posts regularly on his Facebook page and also on his blog, Indian Punchline, one of the best from where I am sitting. You’ll get a much more accurate picture of what is – and isn’t – happening in the Ukraine (and elsewhere) from following his posts than from CBS News, Financial Times, etc.
There have been a number of posts, emails I have received, etc suggesting that as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that Putin’s days in power in Russia are numbered, that he is increasingly unpopular and will be swept from power by the Russian people themselves. If you think about it – this is the approach of the so-called “colored revolutions.” My own take is that this is utter nonsense – in spite of the antiwar demonstrations which have erupted in Russia – and that if anything, Russia’s war in Ukraine has strengthened Putin’s position and his popularity.
Responding to this particular line of thinking – the impending doom of the Putin government in Russia – B.M. commented (on social media)
“Popular western narrative about imminent regime change in Russia is bullshit. Their propagandistic narrative has no clue how this conflict in Ukraine is playing out in the psyche of Russian people. Putin’s & United Russia’s popularity is rising! For Russian people, this is Holy War against West (‘Christendom’) which is threatening their religion, race & culture by interfering in the internal affairs of the Orthodox Church & splitting it!”
In response to a question I posed to him about this subject, he elaborated – something worth thinking about:
“Rob Prince – Outsiders often do not know that Russia is a massive country of 11 time zones. And they fall for the propagandistic narrative that a regime change is imminent in Russia (over Ukraine conflict!) as if it can be micro-managed from the West. It is not easy to rule that country while remaining oblivious of the groundswell of opinion among what Marxists would call the ‘masses’. Putin has steadily maintained a rating (by independent pollsters) which is the envy of any politician in a ‘liberal democracy’ – 65-70%. In the past fortnight, Putin’s rating went up from 65% to 71%. For understanding Russia, one must know the language, and if that is not possible for some reason, immerse in Russian literature and music, & travel in that country, visit its churches, mix with that unique human species – ‘Russian intelligentsia’. Such ignorance about Russia is widely prevalent even among academics in India, despite the warm, ‘time tested’ state-to-state relationship. I find that in the US too, Russia studies have sharply declined and are of abysmally poor quality today. Maybe, Americans didn’t anticipate Russia’s infinite capacity to rise from the ashes, despite ample lessons that the country’s tumultuous history provide”