Read original article at 112.ua
Nowadays the possibility of implementing the so-called "Croatian scenario" for Ukraine in the matter of returning Donbas is being discussed in the Ukrainian information space, quite often with engagement of various experts.
In short, its essence consisted of several periods:
1) the defeat and retreat of the Croatian Armed Forces;
2) the process of internal restructuring of Croatia and preparations for the resumption of war with local and generally successful battles on the front line;
3) a successful attack, Operation "Storm", when, without any warning for 4 days, Croatia returned the territories lost earlier;
4) the peaceful reintegration of the returned territories into the Croatian state.
The similarity of the first two stages with the situation in Donbas is obvious, perhaps this caused similar analogies, but, compared with Croatia, the situation in Ukraine is still seriously different. This difference consists in the involvement in the conflict of one of the largest and strongest states on the planet - the Russian Federation, which is certainly superior in strength to Ukraine and supports separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk "people's republics".
However, this circumstance is taken into account in the statements of experts and has its reservations - that the power return of temporarily uncontrolled territories of Donbas is possible only with the guarantees of Russia's non-interference in this process.
Indeed, as the events of recent months have shown, the "armed forces" of the self-proclaimed "people's republics" have problems with personnel and its training, supply, and, most importantly, morale, without which the advantage in the rest of the indicators means essentially nothing.
During the battles of recent months, the Armed Forces have achieved successes and victories, even local ones, in the form of a couple of protected settlements or several kilometers of empty land, but they have confirmed the advantage of the regular units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces before the "contractual" formations of the "armed forces" of the self-proclaimed republics.
However, a similar situation occurred in June-July 2014, when a successful offensive of Ukrainian army led it to the Russian-Ukrainian border, but the suddenly blowing "north wind" of August radically changed the entire alignment of forces. That is why non-intervention by the Russian Federation is critically important.
The possible future implementation of the "Croatian scenario" is closely related to the forthcoming presidential elections in Ukraine in 2019, the task of winning which the present guarantor of the Constitution, Petro Poroshenko, clearly faces.
The chances of winning elections based on the social and economic situation in the country, frankly speaking, are insignificant, only a loud victory can change the situation. And judging by the activation of the discussion of the forcible Donbas return, many people see the loud victory precisely in the return of seized territories.
Proceeding from the absence of LNR and DNR official recognition, the Russian Federation has no plans to integrate part of Donbas into its composition, which means that this territory may be returned under control Ukraine. In this direction, the intentions of Ukraine and Russia coincide, the only difference is their vision of ways to return the region.
We can return it in two ways:
The military return of Donbas, which can be implemented in 2018, will have to become a springboard for the second presidential term for Petro Poroshenko in the 2019 elections. But then there comes a contradiction - the forcible return of Donbas and the triumph of Poroshenko unambiguously mean the defeat of Vladimir Putin, which unlikely will lead to some serious upheavals within the Russian Federation, but will definitely bring him problems.
True, there may be an option that has also been exaggerated for a long time - the "exchange" of Donbas for Crimea, but this option is extremely problematic. The fact of such an exchange, fixed officially in any treaty, will devalue the return of Donbas and may prevent Petro Poroshenko from becoming president again, and the winner of this agreement can also challenge it in the future.
Some behind-the-scenes arrangements, not officially fixed, are also problematic for two reasons:
1) distrust of both sides to each other, which is confirmed by permanent non-compliance with the Minsk agreements;
2) the possibility of changing the public opinion of the Ukrainian society after the forceful return of Donbas and the demand for the same return of Crimea, which, given the inequality of the forces of the countries, is impossible. As well as it’s doubtful to admit that the "triumph" in Donbas has become possible, because Russia just allowed it. However, in extreme cases, the president of Ukraine will simply have to wasting time in this issue until the end of his term, fighting off the attacks of political opponents who want to play the "Crimean" card after 2019.
However, the Ukrainian leadership is clearly counting on the fact that it is possible for Russia to make concessions on Donbas issue under the pressure of external circumstances, for example, strengthening sanctions for the Russian economy, which will prompt them in exchange for their total or partial abolition to abandon Donbas support.
It is also possible that the Russian Federation would be further involved in Middle East policy, which, given the clearly increased interest from the United States towards this region, will lead to their further rivalry. There are two possible options:
1) The Russian Federation will transfer priority to the Middle East policy and, having decided to concentrate resources in this direction, will abandon Donbas;
2) Russia, on the contrary, will leave Syria and Middle East politics and, thus, will be able to concentrate on the Donbas, which, of course, is not in the interests of Ukraine.
The diplomatic return of Donbas is based on the Russian plan of giving guarantees for Russian-speaking residents of this territory and the special status of the region, the main thing in which should be the possibility of imposing a veto in one way or another on a possible decision on Ukraine's accession to NATO.
Of course, such an option will be viewed by public opinion as Putin's victory and Poroshenko's defeat, which also unambiguously closes the path of Ukrainian president to the second presidential term and therefore does not suit the top leadership of Ukraine.
Finally, there is another option. Periodical talks about the "Croatian scenario" for Ukraine in the matter of solving the Donbas problem are tactical operations of the Ukrainian special services designed to increase mistrust and nervousness, and even to grow panic in the ranks of the leadership of the self-proclaimed "people's republics" and the personnel of the "armed forces" of the latter.
By the way, it is not so difficult to do this, the growth of distrust to the Russian Federation is facilitated not only by the non-inclusion of part of Donbas to Russia, or at least by the absence of official recognition of LNR and DNR, but also by the facts of disregard for the population of seemingly "brotherly" republics.
One of the most striking examples of this – is the story of the former pro-rector of the Donetsk National University, named in the media as "mother of Donetsk's federalism" Tatyana Marmazova, who by court order should leave the Tula region of Russia so that she was forced in a video message to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to grant her citizenship. All this is because in Ukraine she’ll be convicted, and in the self-proclaimed DNR, perhaps, she will face something even worse.