Ukraine put herself checkmate against Russia, and gave her the means to intervene legally in Donbass
Ukraine, after shooting herself in each foot with the blockade of Donbass, which the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) have turned back to her, Ukraine is engaged in pulling the trigger of the gun that she put on her head during the Maidan of 2014.
As the last few days and weeks go by, Vladimir Putin's plan for Ukraine, which many had considered as "soft" in his reactions to the massacre of Donbass population, is beginning to unfold.
But let's take the story from the beginning. During the Maidan, in February 2014, Viktor Yanukovych, the legitimately elected president of Ukraine, was overthrown by a coup d'etat, which all Western chancelleries have declared as legitimate. The big problem is that it was not, even with regard to the Ukrainian constitution.
Vladimir Oleinik, who until 2014, was a member of the Rada, wrote a complete report on the events (which was translated into English), where he shows that the February 2014 coup was totally unconstitutional.
To summarize: once Yanukovych left, the pro-Maidanists via the Rada changed the Ukrainian constitution, returning to an earlier version, in order to legitimize their coup. These changes were signed and published by Turchynov, who was considered as the acting President as chairman of the Rada. The problem is that until the publication of this new constitution in an official way, Turchynov is not entitled to validate it by its signature. It was up to Yanukovych's Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, to validate it.
Moreover, the Rada adopted these constitutional changes with a resolution, not a law, which is also contrary to the Ukrainian constitution. And the deputies will not be able to claim that they did not know that what they were doing is illegal, because they put in this resolution “… that the compliance of the procedure of making amendments, established by the Ukrainian Constitution, the XIII chapter, is one of the basic conditions of the legitimacy of the constitutional order in Ukraine”.
Furthermore, these amendments were based on a law of 2004 which was invalidated by the Ukrainian Constitutional Court. Application of decisions of the Ukrainian Constitutional Court is mandatory on the territory of Ukraine, and these decisions are final and can not be disputed. So, the new Ukrainian authorities violated the constitution, but they also violated a decision from the constitutional court, which is the only institution able to decide what is constitutional or not.
And if we take a closer look to the impeachment of Viktor Yanukovych, here we get the jackpot. The article N° 108 of the Ukrainian constitution details clearly the only four reasons which could justify an early termination of the mandate of the Ukrainian President:
2. inability to exercise his or her powers for reasons of health;
3. removal from office in the case of impeachment;
The problem is that Yanukovych did not resign, he had no health problems, and he is not dead (we better understand now why Yanukovych was chased in Eastern Ukraine after the coup d'etat to be assassinated, it would have solved the problem of the legitimacy of his impeachment; by saving him, Russia let a huge thorn in the foot of the current Ukrainian authorities).
The only legal way for the putschists was the impeachment procedure. The article N°111 of the Ukrainian constitution is very clear on the reasons which can justify such a procedure: “The president of Ukraine may be removed from office by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by the procedure of impeachment, in the event that he or she commits state treason or other crime”.
But it was not this reason which was referred to in order to impeach him. The decree states that “President of Ukraine V. Yanukovych has unconstitutionally removed himself from performing his constitutional powers as President and acting as one, and that he is not performing his duties”.
However, such a point does not exist and is not foreseen in the Ukrainian constitution to impeach a president. Thus, the impeachment decree against Yanukovych is also completely unconstitutional.
Clearly, the current Ukrainian authorities are totally and undoubtedly illegitimate with regard to the Ukrainian constitution and law, and therefore Viktor Yanukovych is still the legitimate Ukrainian president.
And now you will tell me that, as the current authorities are supported by the international community, it does not change anything for Ukraine and Donbass. Until now, yes. But not anymore.
Because in their russophobic madness, and trying to prove that Yanukovych committed a crime of state treason to justify lately their coup d'etat, the current Ukrainian authorities just put themselves the gun on the head and are ready to pull the trigger.
Indeed, mid-January, some pro-Maidan media like Radio Svoboda, published an information known since 2014, but on which light was shed after the request by Ukraine to UN to provide a certified copy of the letter that Vitaly Churkin, the Russian representative, has shown during a meeting of the UN Security Council, on 4 March 2014.
“As the legally elected President of Ukraine, I hereby make the following statement.
The events on the Maidan and the illegal seizure of power in Kyiv have brought Ukraine to the brink of civil war. Chaos and anarchy reign in the country, and people’s lives, safety and human rights are under threat, particularly in the south-east and in Crimea. With the influence of Western countries, open acts of terror and violence are being perpetrated and people are being persecuted on political and linguistic grounds.
I therefore appeal to the President of Russia, V. V. Putin, to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to restore law and order, peace and stability and to protect the people of Ukraine.”
Then you will wonder why did Russia not do it? You have to remember that, at this moment, Russia has already the Crimean case to manage. Crimea, refusing the coup d'etat, has launched the organisation of the referendum asking if the inhabitants want to come back to Russia. Initially planned in May, the date of the referendum is advanced to 30 March, the very same day that Yanukovych wrote this letter, then the date will be advanced one more time to 16 March five days later.
When Churkin shows this letter in front of the UN Security Council, events in Crimea are accelerating in a way which is already difficult to control, and the Russian intervention to protect the peninsula inhabitants from the threats of Ukrainian neo-Nazis groups already allows the US and their valets to shout about Russian invasion.
If Russia would have answered to Yanukovych' request, it would have meant taking the responsibility on Ukraine, which is a money pit (without speaking about the political mess), while Russia does not want to play the role of world policeman; US and NATO would have had the prefect excuse to launch a war, and Russia already had to manage the Crimean case. After, it will be the frenzy, the return of Crimea is validated by the referendum, and situation in Donbass degenerates. And in Syria it was not much better. There were too many fronts to manage, and too much risks, both internally and internationally, Russia thus temporised.
The most urgent was to manage Crimea. A highly strategic point that Russia could not afford to lose. And faithful to the Russian tradition, the authorities of the country preferred to try to negotiate and discuss rather than to use weapons. This is the very essence of Minsk-1, then Minsk-2. The Russians, remembering what cost them the Second World War, prefer a bad deal to a good war.
“Let’s immediately say that the Minsk Agreements were not implemented from the day they were signed in February 2015. This was a temporary measure on the side of the Ukraine and, I will be honest, a deliberate deception. Remember that the first Minsk Agreement was signed following the military disaster near Ilovaisk when we had no forces to defend the front from Donetsk to Mariupol. The second Minsk Agreement was signed following the treacherous Russian aggression on Debaltsevo and the formation of the “Debaltsevo Cauldron”. These agreements are not international agreements or anything else.” (translation by the Saker)
Unfortunately for Gerashchenko, since the UN resolution on these agreements, they are an international agreement, that Ukrainian authorities openly admit not to respect.
So, what could be Putin's plan? I will give you here my intuition, without any guarantee that it exactly reflects what he thinks (it would be pretentious from me), or what he did, but what I think is simply highly plausible.
As he had to manage several serious crisis, Putin chose to temporise, be patient, and negotiate to delay the use of weapons, while letting his opponent reveal his game, his true face and his intentions, and offer on a silver plate the stick to be beaten with.
In front of Trump's failure to block the neoconservative forces, Putin considered that patience has lasted long enough, and that the fight was inevitable. Thus he now needs to give himself the means to win it. And for this, as the good lawyer and judoka he is, all the preliminary preparation done by Russia can now be used. Including the rescue of Yanukovych.
It began with increasingly firm warnings against Ukraine over any attempt to break the Minsk agreements. Then, facing the new escalation on the front in late January-early February, and the blockade of Donbass, it was the recognition of the official documents of the DPR and LPR in order to open up the two republics from a humanitarian and economic point of view, while recognising by the tangent the legitimacy of the authorities issuing these documents (which will be very useful for the rest of the plan).
This maneuver also aims to be a final warning to Ukraine in order to avoid the bloodbath. If she still wants to settle the Donbass conflict by force as claimed by more and more Ukrainian officials, then Russia could well use its major asset: Yanukovych, and the fact that legally he is still President of Ukraine. Whatever the Western chancelleries say.
But then, why is it Ukraine which has published this old story of letter to UN, and not Russia? I think that it is also a part of Putin's plan. If Russia would have published this story, westerners could have accused her to try to justify in advance her future invasion of Ukraine. But, if it is Ukraine which comes out with this old sea snake, then nobody could say anything against it if Russia uses it after (and I think Russia pushed Ukraine to comes out with this by cleverly providing information to the most russophobic forces of the country).
If Ukraine launches a new offensive, and if the Russian intervention is inevitable, then like al-Assad in September 2015, Yanukovych could repeat his request of military intervention of Russia in Ukraine, by limiting it to Donbass, in order to stop the bloodbath while not imposing a too heavy financial burden on Russia. A request which would be accepted this time by Russia, which would have then the legal basis to intervene under international law, and the moral right to do it after having let more than two years to Ukraine to implement the peace agreements she signed, and never respected.
The Western chancelleries will howl, as during the war in South Ossetia in 2008, but in fact, from a legal point of view, they will not be able to do anything about it, and Russia will be able to confront them with their inaction in enforcing the Minsk agreements, to silence the most reluctant.
And if, in nearly three years, the Ukrainian army did not succeed to defeat a people's militia, I let you imagine in which state it will end in front of the Russian army. Then Russia will be able to openly recognize the DPR and LPR, or integrate them into the Russian Federation according to the choice of the population, thanks to the first stone of legitimization set by the recognition of the documents and therefore the authorities of the two Republics (if the authorities are legitimate, their acts are also legitimate, including organising a referendum).
This is how, with patience and determination, Russia just put the current Ukrainian authorities “checkmate” with their active participation. As the Viking proverb says: “By making laws you build a state, and by violating them you destroy it”. The new Ukrainian authorities, and the neoconservatives should have meditated on this proverb.
Translation from French by Tom Winter (Fort Russ) and Christelle Néant