Three instruments of Kremlin against Ukraine

Author : Andreas Umland

Source : 112 Ukraine

Moscow weakens European integration project: the EU will have to invest large sums in Ukraine for many years to keep the basic functions of the Ukrainian state
14:07, 4 March 2016

Read the original text at Evropeiska Pravda.

In recent months, due to the relative calm in Russo-Ukrainian war in Donbas, many Western observers began to classify this confrontation as another "frozen conflict" in the former Soviet Union.

Yet even if large-scale Russian military actions have stopped, this analogy is misleading. Not everyone in the West understands that the eastern neighbor Ukraine actively uses three tools in order to extend the shaky state of the Ukraine.

First, Ukraine fell victim (even if informal) of a "traditional" military aggression of Russia, which reduced, but still continues.

Secondly, it also suffers from the serious economic consequences of this classic war.

Finally, the Kremlin is - as part of its "hybrid" war - both unarmed multi-vector attack against Ukraine, which is only partly seen in the West.

Related: Tymoshenko: Putin provoked war in Ukraine

This carefully coordinated and partially hidden undermine of Ukrainian state is achieved by applying a wide range of different non-military methods: economic sanctions, operations intelligence, propaganda campaigns, targeted cyber attacks, diplomatic clashes, and political pressure. For example,

Moscow has provided its puppet regimes in Donbas with one of Europe's largest tank armies - far bigger than the tanks park of Ukraine or Germany.

Huge and rapid build-up of military strength of the so-called "people's republics" is probably not only preparation for a new military offensive. It is used primarily for designing Kremlin authorities in eastern Ukraine and a permanent threat for Kyiv, which in military sense is weaker than Moscow.

Russia’s arming of two pseudo-satellites in Donbas and significant deployment of Russian forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border prevents Ukrainian society to focus on its internal problems. A dangerous situation in the east of debilitating physical, financial and human resources that are used to strengthen the defense capacity of Ukraine, and not for other pressing needs.

Related: Pope Francis: No one knows who started war in Ukraine

Perhaps the most important aspect of "hybrid" war of the Kremlin is not its direct impact on Ukraine, but rather psycho-social, political, and economic calculation that lie at its core. Ukrainians should be exhausted as uncertainty continues over many years between calm periods and tensions, war and peace, instability and silence.

This should lead, in particular, to constant instability in those regions which are bordering with Russia, and along the Black and Azov Seas. Local entrepreneurs should be embarrassed, graduates should be not sure in the future, civil society activists should be unsettled, international partners – desperate, and foreign investors - scared.

This tactic, after all, is to deteriorate the territories of the so-called "Novorossia", the south-eastern Ukraine, to the extent that they drown in isolation, depression, radicalization, and violence. By the logic of the Kremlin's approach, this tired region should sooner or later turn itself towards Moscow.

Related: Russia started information war against Germany, - Poroshenko

"Hybrid" war between Moscow and Kyiv should distract from the necessary reforms, making them meaningless.

Undoubtedly, the major internal factors such as the persistence of oligarchic networks of corruption, crime among officials, and corruption of many politicians, are primarily responsible for the failure of reform in Ukraine. The effects of "hybrid" war for Ukrainian state mean that reformative efforts so far have not given fruits.

Implementation of reforms are constantly undermined by economic, political, psychological, military and diplomatic harassment of Russia.

After all, even thoroughly reformed Ukraine will remain a dysfunctional state in the conditions of continuing Russian threat, pressure and sabotage. Russia is too close, very powerful and ruthless and it has a long border with Ukraine. Kyiv just could not afford simply to cut itself from its neighbor.

The Kremlin’s "hybrid" war could kill three birds with one stone. First, it prevents consolidation, recovery and Europeanization of Ukraine, and the emergence of East-counter model as an alternative to Putin's system.

Second, Moscow weakens European integration project for the EU will have to invest large sums in Ukraine for many years to keep intact the basic functions of the Ukrainian state.

Third, Kremlin lays the foundation for a new territorial expansion if its destabilizing tactics and frustration in southeastern Ukraine are successful.

Related: Russia conducts hybrid war not only against Ukraine, but also against EU

Related: War and peace in Donbas: the main expectations of 2016 year

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