Russia could repeat Georgian case in eastern Ukraine - Experts comment | Eurasia Diary -

6 May, Thursday

Russia could repeat Georgian case in eastern Ukraine - Experts comment

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Due to the intensified armed clashes between Ukrainian armed units and Russian backed separatist forces along the line of contact in Donbas region, a number of politicians and experts in the West voiced concern over the situation that it could turn into a heavy war. At the same time, according to some information sources, Russian troops in the amount of 150,000 and a large number of military vehicles have already massed at the border with Ukraine.

But Ukrainian army is not silent. Kyiv has been recently working on the strength and readiness of the armed units for serious military operations to take full control of eastern parts of the country by eliminating separatist armed forces in Donbas region.

Some experts consider that in order to protect and defend the armed forces of so-called Donbas and Luhansk Republics, Russian army could intervene in eastern Ukraine.

According to them, Moscow could make an attempt again to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine for its national interests.

Further to the clarification of the current situation in eastern Ukraine and its consequences, Taras Kuzio, Professor in the Department of Political Science at National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, as well the well-known researcher on the Post-Soviet studies, and Turkish expert, Muharrem Ekşi, the head of the Department of International Relations, and Director of Social Sciences Institute at the Kırklareli University, shared their views with Eurasia Diary. 

Talk by Taras Kuzio at The Diplomatic Academy — Austrian Marshall Plan  Foundation

Taras Kuzio initially touched the conventional behavior of Russia to its neighbors. 

For him, Moscow has always believed the non-Russian successor states of the USSR have no real sovereignty.

“Kremlin always considers that Ukraine should act like a Russian satellite like Belarus and Ukrainian presidents should recognise Russian leadership. Ukraine should also understand it is part of the Russian World,” Kuzio said.

“For Russia, Ukraine and other former soviet states are artificial states,” he added.

Touching upon possible intervention in eastern regions of Ukraine, Kuzio noted that it will not be easy for Russia to attack its neighbour.

“Ukraine is as big in size as France. To invade and occupy Ukraine would require half of the Russian army. Ukraine has a large and good army, National Guard, security service, territorial units in each region which act as partisans, and US weapons. An invasion would be Putin’s Vietnam,” expressed stressed.  

According to Kuzio, Putin does not intend to fully invade Ukraine, but he could repeat Georgian case in eastern Ukraine.

“Moscow provokes Zelensky to intervene in the separatist areas of Donbas, which could create an opportunity for Russian army to start the invasion in the region under “the defence of ethnic Russians,” and expand the DNR and LNR to all of Donbas,” he said.

But Kuzio thinks that Zelensky is not Saakashvili. He will not react like Saakashvili.

Moreover, he added that the "New Russia" project, which was directed to establish a new Russian state in the east and south of Ukraine, completely failed.

“The "New Russia" project failed to attract support in 6 of the regions in the  east and south Ukraine in 2014. It only attracted partial support in the Donbas regions. Even there Russian backed separatists were being defeated,” Kuzio said.

“If Russia were to respond to a Ukrainian intervention into the separatist DNR and LNR (which is not likely) the maximum goal would be capturing all the Donbas,” he added.

Taras Kuzio also stressed one important issue that the conflict in Donbas is not as ethnic and religious as Armenian-Azerbaijan or Georgian-Ossetian conflict.

“The Donbas is not an ethnic or religious conflict. It is completely artificial. 60% of Ukrainian soldiers are Russian speakers and the highest casualties of Ukrainian soldiers are from the eastern Ukrainian regions,” he added. 

No description available.

Turkish expert, Muharrem Ekşi also thinks that Moscow could intervene in Donbas region as like South Ossetia and Abkhazia – de-jure regions of Georgia in 2008.

According to him, Ukraine's participation in NATO remains the red line of the Moscow Administration.  

 “In the first place, it is necessary to emphasize that Ukraine's participation in NATO remains the red line of the Moscow Administration, even the casus belli. From this point of view, it should be assumed that Russia can act exactly as it did in the August 2008 Georgian intervention. In this context, if we recall how Russia waged a war against Georgia against the promise of Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in April 2008, it can be clearly comprehended that a similar situation may be valid for Ukraine,” expert said.

“As a matter of fact, it is necessary to assume that, just as Russia annexed Crimea by violating the principles of the entire international system and international law in 2014, it may violate the Donbas today,” he added.

Muharrem Ekşi believed that Ukraine has become a new battleground between Russia and the West, especially the USA, since 2014.

“The Putin Administration desires to cut the West's expansion into the former Soviet geography in Georgia and Ukraine and has established Ukraine as a buffer zone between it and the West.  The USA, on the other hand, is implementing the famous containment strategy that has been continuing since the Soviets in general and to suppress Russia through Ukraine. At this point, the Ukraine crisis has enhanced a new area of contention between the United States and Russia,” he stressed.

Turkish expert considered that it is not right to expect a direct war between the two nuclear powers because of the Ukraine crisis, and instead, a proxy war may take place.

In addition, M.Ekşi underscored that the USA limits its policy of exerting pressure on Russia over Ukraine in order to attract Russia against China.

“The focus of the US foreign policy is to suppress and weaken China, and it can be claimed that it will not include Russia in the second front. Therefore, it can be remarked that the United States and Europe will not go directly to war with Russia over Ukraine," he noted. 

But Turkish expert believed that the west is more prepared compared to the Russian intervention into Ukraine, and will not allow new illegal annexation or occupation of its ally's territories.  

“Otherwise, condoning Russia's annexations and occupations will erode the international system and pave the way for other states to act in a similar way. Against this, it can be claimed that the West will not remain passive as like in the Georgian intervention, but will act strongly against Russia,”

by Yunis Abdullayev. 


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