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    March 29, 2015

    Poroshenko: Not Bandera, but a parody of a respectable Fuehrer


    By Eduard Birov

    Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

    The phrase “cynical banderites” was a signal from Poroshenko. It was, moreover, a smoke signal announcing the beginning of a new campaign in Ukraine. What is its objective? Ideological de-banderization of the country?

    Of course not—without Russophobia everything else loses its meaning. Battle against radical extremists committing crimes under the cover of volunteer battalions? Partially. But only as a part of a larger process. What is the process, then?

    We can understand the process by synthesizing Poroshenko’s seemingly contradictory behavior and Ukraine’s internal political trends. The meaning is perfectly simple: maximum centralization of authority in one pair of hands, mopping up of the political battlefield to eliminate various clans and any forces not directly controlled by the president, including militarized ones.

    The process had started in summer and fall of 2014 when Poroshenko succeeded in subordinating the Rada, most of the government, and neutralized first Timoshenko and then Yatsenyuk and Turchinov (which entailed a certain compromise).

    In December Poroshenko announced the government would be cleansed of oligarchs. At the time the promise seemed like just another example of pandering to the masses, with no chance of even an attempt to implement. However, in March 2015 the de-oligarchization became the top priority for Poroshenko.

    After Kolomoysky was deprived of control over Ukrnafta and the Dnepropetrovsk Region with US support, it became clear those were not empty words. Next in line are Akhmetov, Pinchuk, Firtash, and all other oligarchs.

    The principle is most likely this: the oligarch is offered the return of major infrastructure assets crucial to Kiev under nominal state control, and is then allowed to take care of his remaining business without trying to interfere with Poroshenko’s actions.

    I think that Kolomoysky agreed to something along those lines, and retained the control of Privat Bank. He was also allowed to create an “loyal opposition.” In other words, Ukraine’s oligarchs and feudals are to become ordinary businessmen, otherwise the US will refuse to support them.

    It’s also obvious that any nominally nationalized property will de-facto come under Poroshenko’s control. Ukraine will transition from the state of several fiefdoms into a unified US colony under the control of a grand chieftain. The battle of oligarchs for the sake of the interests of the main oligarchs is the essence of Ukraine’s de-oligarchization campaign.

    That could have been done only with US support and absence of Russia’s opposition. Many wanted Moscow to promote internecine feuds among the oligarchs and to support Kolomoysky against Poroshenko. But the Kremlin had already decided that, prior to a direct clash with the West over the entire Ukraine, the best option is to freeze the conflict in place, while the break-up of Ukraine into individual fiefdoms would not be in Russia’s interest.

    Kiev’s decision to disband the volunteer battalions is part of the same strategy. It’s obvious that the private oligarch-financed armies represent a permanent threat by the power sector to overthrow the government or to separate another region. Banning the oligarchs’ “pocket armies” and launching a major campaign against “bandits in the ATO zone”, Poroshenko is in practice eliminating those who brought him to power on the Maidan, and then helped the junta to keep power by terrorizing the population.

    It’s doubtful he’ll treat them like Hitler did with Roehm’s SA stormtroopers, some of whom were physically liquidated. But the point is that the volunteer punitive troops have become inconvenient and unnecessary to Kiev, so they were outlawed. They suddenly became bandits and threats to Ukraine’s interests.

    At the same time, it’s virtually guaranteed that many Dnepr or Aidar volunteers will enter the UAF or the MVD which will carry out the same punitive functions, but in a systematic manner, officially, and under the control of a single power center.

    So it’s the same approach, but more legalistic and without freelancing. They will keep destroying “separatists” and dissidents methodically and even with pleasure, just as the Nazis did. Poroshenko is not doing it as part of some secret agreement with Putin, but in accordance with the logic of national socialist regimes. Hitler did not become less of a Nazi after he wiped out the SA.

    In that sense, the battle against “cynical banderites” is not a change of ideology but simply giving respectability to a Russophobic ideology. The Russophobes in the Kiev elite are not going anywhere, there will be no rapprochement with Russia, children will continue to be raised to hate the Russian language and the Russians, and there will be no contrition before the Donbass.

    Simply the tactics have changed. Washington does not need Ukraine crawling with sociopathic militant detachments—they have failed to mop up the Donbass and therefore they will be written off. Washington needs an authoritarian, russophobic, fascist Ukraine which will prepare to launch suicidal aggression against Russia.

    They don’t need a Bandera in charge of Ukraine (that’s the level of dug-outs in forests), but a Fuehrer—a leader of a big country preparing for a Drang nach Osten or, in the new interpretation, a march against Mordor in the name of the Free World.

    It would seem that Poroshenko is being transformed into a controllable little Fuehrer who will enjoy absolute power on his own territory. Not a sociopathic banderite leader, but an outwardly respectable, wealthy, and self-assured leader, with a trained army and an SS.

    Hence Poroshenko’s military get-up, his posing with weapons, behind the wheel of armored vehicles, and the constant contacts with Biden and the representatives of Western elites, the trips to international for a and press conferences.

    Hence the campaign to establish order within the country, the sensational arrests of officials, lustration, struggle against oligarchs, against uncontrollable paramilitaries, SBU activities against the separatists. All of that is creating the image of a strong leader capable of making the hardest of decisions.

    At least, that’s the intent. However, it is extremely doubtful it can be implemented. Ukrainians are not Germans, the Kiev regime does not have the level of effectiveness of Hitler’s Germany, and Ukraine’s economy cannot be transformed to run like German machinery no matter now much money IMF plows into it.

    The absence of any discipline and the soft Little Russian mentality will not allow anything remotely similar to Hitler’s army from being created. You could send thousands of NATO instructors and place a German next to every Ukrainian, and you’d still fail. On the other hand, that’s what the Americans would like: something hastily slapped together and laughable, but aggressively predisposed toward Moscow. They believe that Russia is so weak that its destabilization could be achieved by a strike by even as flimsy a battering ram as today’s Ukraine.

    It seems that a war with Ukraine is becoming more likely—a pointless, rapid war with a pre-ordained outcome, but a war nonetheless. It is exceptionally important not to allow it.

    J.Hawk’s Comment: There is a tendency to exaggerate the role of the US, both here and, well, pretty much everywhere else in the Russian media and the blogosphere. Yet only a few months ago everyone predicted that the Americans were going to overthrow Poroshenko and  replace him with Turchinov, Parubiy, Yatsenyuk, whoever. What happened to those alleged plans? Why did the US change its mind, supposedly?

    The US had no such plans, it barely has a strategy for dealing with Ukraine or Russia, the support for the Maidan was opportunistic and rather badly thought through, and the best evidence for that is the absence of billions of dollars of aid flowing to Kiev that would be a surefire sign that Ukraine is of some importance to Washington. But it isn’t.

    Which, of course, doesn’t sit well with Poroshenko so he is trying to make it become of importance. My take is that Poroshenko is suffering from “Israel envy”—how about we make Ukraine into the US outpost in the Eastern Europe to hold back the Russian hordes. Once we prove ourselves effective in that role, as Israel did when it came to Soviet-supported Arab governments, billions of dollars of annual aid will drop in our lap. That’s the role Poroshenko is auditioning for, that’s the point of the military fatigues and the Glock on the hip.

    This, incidentally, is why Israel will never have peace with any of its neighbors—once there is peace, what’s the point of showering Israel with money? The problem, of course, is that Israel does not border with a country even remotely comparable to Russia, and that, unlike in the case of the Middle East, Brussels and Berlin don’t want to see a militarized and fascistic US outpost in Eastern Europe, whether it be Poland, Estonia, or Ukraine.
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