Good Things Come in Threes

Putin was wrong about Ukraine in 2004, 2014, and 2022.
If Ukraine recaptures Kherson, Russia may fall apart.
However, Ukrainians should not sign any treaties with the enemy
(except the capitulation) because they won’t work anyway.

Image by modified by author, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Russian troops are practically stopped in Donbass and the stage 3 of the war has apparently begun. Mr. Putin is unable to capture the entire Donbass (stage 2), as it was announced after failing to capture Kiev (stage 1). Moreover, the Ukrainians have the intention to liberate the city of Kherson (the coming 3rd stage) which is the only regional center that the Russians managed to seize. This would be a catastrophic political defeat for Mr. Putin, which no any "good will" could conceal. The loss of Kherson could blow the first big hole in the Russian average citizen's mind, poisoned by Putin's propaganda, and this could destroy Putin's entire vertical of power and launch the subsequent breakup of Russia into pieces. The war could end very soon if the Ukrainians succeed in recapturing Kherson. This will be a turning point in the war, and Putin cannot allow this to happen.

Authoritarian regimes differ from democracies by the presence of rigid vertical of power. That's why they collapse all at once (Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Spanish, Russian, British, German empires, Nazi Germany, USSR) and then new states emerge from the wreckage.

Ukraine's victory in the war and the subsequent inevitable collapse of Russia is becoming increasingly possible because the Ukrainians continue to resist the aggression fiercely and the collective West, albeit slowly, is increasing arms supplies to Ukraine, including high-precision and effective HIMARS systems.

Mr. Putin is a good tactician, but a bad strategist (a good strategist would not start a war with Ukraine now), so he has to somehow get out of the trap he got into on February 24, 2022. The Russians have almost succeeded in reaching the administrative boundaries of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and capturing quite large chunks of southern Ukraine. However, the Russian troops are severely depleted by the stubborn resistance of the Ukrainians.

That's why Putin really needs a pause in the war (or a truce) now.

First, he needs to rebuild forces to continue the offensive in southeastern Ukraine without a general mobilization in the Russia (this puts Putin's genius into question).

Secondly, if the offensive cannot be continued, this pause is needed to annex the captured territories of southeastern Ukraine, thus almost cutting Ukraine off from the sea, and then to keep on negotiating.

Mr. Putin has apparently realized somewhere in April-May 2022 that he would not be able to make significant progress in Ukraine even by directing all his forces to Donbass, but he had to constantly present some victories to his Russians. That is why since the end of May 2022 the voices of his sympathizers in the West have been heard actively speaking about the necessity of Ukraine's reconciliation with Russia. In particular, the former U.S. Secretary of State H. Kissinger spoke in favor of territorial concessions to the Russians. On June 16, 2022, the leaders of Germany, France and Italy came to Kyiv with similar proposals to Ukrainian President Zelenskiy, which some Ukrainian officials called “Minsk-3”. Let me remind you that "Minsk-1" and "Minsk-2" were completely failed negotiations between Russia, Ukraine and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) with mediation by the leaders of France and Germany about the cessation of hostilities in the same Donbass since 2014.

Russian troops are now actively entrenching in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, and it will be increasingly difficult to dislodge them after a while. Having received a respite, Mr. Putin will restore the combat effectiveness of his troops and can continue the war. At the same time, the ORDLO-tested scenario will be put into effect: pseudo-referendums will be held in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, and a big piece of Ukrainian southeast will be annexed by Russia under the name "Malorossia" or "Novorossia”. Putin can present that as a victory to his Russians and any negotiations with Ukraine about peace (really about consolidating of the territorial concessions) will be very useful here, because many countries (Germany, France, Italy) are getting tired of Putin's blackmailing and will be pushing Ukraine towards such a peace. Peace is a good thing, right? And it doesn’t matter that such peace today will turn into a new war tomorrow.

Mr. Putin badly needs such (Putin's) peace NOW, before he is knocked out of Kherson and can dictate some terms. Hence his energy blackmailing of the EU by gas shortages began as well as, of course, his another "peace initiative" - the "grain deal" with Ukraine.

On July 22, 2022, Ukraine and Russia have signed mirror separate agreements in Istanbul with Turkey and the UN on the export of Ukrainian grain. Why?
Officially, Ukraine wants to earn some money on the sale of its grain, while helping to rid the world of the threat of famine. Russia will also get from the deal an “unimpeded access to global markets for Russian fertilizer and other products”. And the most important thing is written between the lines - the process of negotiating a truce with Ukraine is starting, which Mr. Putin needs so much now and doesn’t want to ask by himself.

And the world rejoices. Ukraine will start exporting its 20 million tons of grain. Just from the news of this the price of wheat on the world market fell by 2%. At last. Everything seems to be all right, the peace process is underway, Turkey and the UN are well-known and respected mediators, the issue of Russian gas and oil supply to the EU remains to be resolved, which, of course, will reduce world energy prices, inflation in various countries will go down... Turkish President R. Erdogan even expressed a cautious hope that «Ukraine and Russia will hopefully revive the path to peace» …

- The secretary-general of the United Nations Mr. Guterres immediately expressed his opinion on the future of Russian-Ukrainian relations: "At the present moment, I see no conditions for a peace process."

- The same Mr. Guterres honestly reported that “UN had no means of punishing Russia should it breach the deal.” This is a sad truth. The UN is an impotent organization with a huge budget.

- The words of Otto von Bismarck are widely known: the agreements with Russia are not worth the paper on which they are written. And indeed, Russians would not be Russians if they did not ruin everything they touch. The day after the signing of the treaty on grain export with Ukraine Russia has hit a grain terminal in Odessa port with missiles, then denied the fact, but finally "explained" that it meant to hit a military object.

If EU, UN and Turkey insistently push Ukraine to a "peaceful settlement" (this process has already begun in Istanbul on July 22), and Ukraine agrees to it, the US and Britain will stop their help soon and Mr. Putin will get almost what he wants: Ukraine will be totally dependent on Russia economically, cut off from several of its best agricultural regions and access to the sea (without Odessa so far).
The Russians may take over Odessa later.

I very much wish Ukraine (and all those who support it) a victory over Russia just on the battlefield. Any negotiations keep the Russian people (not just the Russian elite) in an aggressive, invasive mentality, and this means just a delayed war.

And I am very much afraid of one thing - that the Ukrainian elite will collude with Russians and surrender the Ukrainian national interests (they may sign some kind of peace on Russian terms in the name of "the interests of Ukraine") like they have done many times before. For example, in December 2013 the government of President V. Yanukovych refused to sign Association Agreement with EU allegedly because Russia offered US$15 billion loan on better terms. Then (in 2014) that led to Euromaidan.


I have been observing the mentality of the Ukrainian nation for quite a long time.

There have always been quite a lot of people among Ukrainians who were ready to live off the deception of other Ukrainians or sell their piece of Ukraine to anyone who offered some money for that, i.e. people without dignity, conscience and honor. Especially many (almost all) of such kind of people were among the Ukrainian elite, including all presidents of Ukraine (except maybe Leonid Kravchuk - the first president of independent Ukraine).

The Ukrainian elite has always been selling Ukraine wholesale to the same Russians. I am referring here to the adoption by all (!!) Ukrainian governments the laws and decrees (for Russian money, I believe) that are detrimental to the independence of Ukraine (e.g. the longstanding energy dependence from Russian oil and gas). There has always been a powerful pro-Russian lobby in the Ukrainian parliament which could existed only for Russian money. Many top Ukrainian officials moved to or fled to Russia and easily obtained Russian citizenship there.

Ordinary people sold their little pieces of Ukraine by participating in rallies of various parties for money. Young tough guys joined the titushky groups and arranged provocations at these rallies for money.

The main problem of Ukraine has always been the Ukrainians with their mentality, although they always see many other reasons for their misfortunes. Now Ukrainians blame everything on Mr. Putin, not seeing that, for example, the historical slopes of the Dnipro river and the center of Kyiv were built up with ugly skyscrapers not by Russians, but Ukrainians.

Mr. Putin actually is the most apparent problem of Ukraine (especially now), but not the main one.

The bundle of words "victory" - "betrayal" has become very common in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution (2004). It was a beginning of division of the nation into two parts – relative "democrats" (presidents V. Yushchenko, then P. Poroshenko, now V. Zelenskiy), who always lacked the power that democracy gave them, and relative "bandits" (president V. Yanukovych), who pretended to be "democrats" and also sought to take as much power in their hands as possible.

The people of Ukraine also began to divide into two parts - the admirers of these two political forces - and therefore any political decision in the country has always been perceived by one half of the nation as a "victory" and by another one - as a "betrayal”. I called this state of the country a "swamp" then for myself, when neither good nor bad decisions could be implemented. This "swamp" lasted until Ukraine has lost Crimea and part of Donbass in 2014. Many people in Ukraine (me including) believe that the Ukrainian elite (the entire elite - both "democrats" and "bandits") simply surrendered then Crimea to the Russians in 2014. When hostilities began in Donbass in March 2014 all of Ukraine's online resources were shouting about a huge number of military and civilian traitors selling secret information to the Russians. A friend of mine - at that time a serving senior officer of Security Service of Ukraine, who took part in the combat operations in Donbass - confirmed that to me.

And then (in spring-summer of 2014) something completely unforeseen (for me and for Mr. Putin, too) happened. It turned out that a lot of the Ukrainians needed that "hopeless Ukraine” for some reason and wanted to help it!! A very powerful volunteer movement has grown throughout Ukraine (both in the West and in the East) to counter Russian aggression and Russian culture in general.

Ukrainian volunteers found money to arm and equip the army, which was almost destroyed by V. Yanukovych. They were the ones who enlisted in volunteer battalions and stopped Putin at the borders of ORDLO. They were the ones who came out to rallies and forced the Ukrainian elite to rarely, but still pass the laws Ukraine needed. They were the ones who persecuted the guys like Mr. Svinarchuk-Gladkovsky. They are the ones who have kept the country from falling apart so far. They are the ones who have conscience, honor, and national dignity. They are the ones who have been called "Ukronazis" by Putin for a long while. They are the ones who are at war with the Russians now and who are dying there. They are the main problem for Mr. Putin because otherwise the Ukrainian elite would have agreed with Mr. Putin the creation of a vassal "Ukrainian People's Republic" long ago. They are the healthy part of the Ukrainian nation.

And seemingly their number in Ukraine is increasing.

Let's call them "true patriots of Ukraine”. These are people with honor and conscience, who want to build a healthy, strong and beautiful Ukraine (they don't know how yet, but that’s a different story). The main question is how many of them are in Ukraine at any given time.

I left Ukraine in 2009 and it seemed there were practically no such "true patriots of Ukraine" in the country at that time. Basically, there were no things to be proud of in Ukraine then (for me, at least). Many people adopted the thievish habits of the elite and everyone tried to get their piece of the pie “by hook or crook” without thinking about conscience and Ukraine. As the consequence, Ukraine had almost no justice at that time. The might (the one who had more money) was right. My friends and acquaintances were all decent people, but their lives (like mine) went on in constant frustration because their vision of life in Ukraine was the opposite to reality. And yet because of the fact they could do nothing about that.

I understood that it was all about the Ukrainian elite, which simply parasitized on the people which could not put the elite at work for the benefit of the country because all the laws and rules had been established by this very elite. I couldn’t do anything about that, I couldn't explain that to the Ukrainians either and I left the country for not being a part of the mess. I still think I did the right thing.

As far as I can see now the number of "true patriots of Ukraine" in the nation has greatly increased since the start of the war in Donbass (2014), however the Ukrainian elite had to keep its thievish and traitorous essence from my subjective point of view.

I know that the mentality of a nation cannot be changed in a decade and read the news from Ukraine about Putin's "collaborators" with a familiar sense of distaste. President Zelenskiy recently fired the head of the Security Service and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and mentioned that “more than 60 former employees were now working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied areas. A total of 651 collaboration and treason cases had been opened against law enforcement officials.

Maybe something has changed in the country for the better. Putin's "collaborators" used to occupy the highest positions in the country before.

A couple of years ago Ukrainians coined an interesting and very accurate expression about themselves: "Ukraine never misses a chance to miss a chance”. I really hope this is a thing of the past, but...

Ukraine has entered the negotiation process with the Russians (albeit through intermediaries) under the important (?) pretext of ensuring the export of its grain and saving the world from famine. Then again Ukrainians had to shout that the Russians violate their obligations (which everyone already knows for a long time) after the next day Russian missiles stroke the Odessa port. Everything repeats itself. I’m afraid that negotiations may expand to the newly seized by Russia southeastern territories of Ukraine and then the Ukrainian elite may agree to another pseudo-peace like “Minsk-1” and “Minsk-2” under the pressure of the EU countries, which are tired of war and energy blackmailing. Ukraine may stop fighting and then it will turn into an annex of the Russian Empire, completely dependent economically, cut off from several of the best agricultural areas and access to the sea.

I think this is what Mr. Putin really wants, and this is his plan to achieve that.

Mr. Putin was wrong about Ukraine in 2004 (the Orange Revolution prevented his protégé V. Yanukovych from becoming the president) and in 2014 (the Revolution of Dignity drove most of his “fifth column” from Party of Regions out of Ukraine).

Please God, he was fatally wrong on February 24, 2022, too. All good things come in threes. I do not want the current "true patriots of Ukraine" to be betrayed again by the elite of Ukraine as it has very often happened in the modern history of the country. I consider signing an agreement with a vile and cynical enemy (even under the plausible pretext of exporting Ukrainian grain) is at least stupidity. Or it is a betrayal of Ukraine.

P.S. My friends who still live in Ukraine confirm that Ukrainians have changed a lot since 2014. It is about the mentality of the nation. I don't know, I don't think it can happen so quickly, but ... If the civil society of Ukraine somehow manages to prevent the surrender of Ukrainian interests by Ukrainian elite to the Russians - it really means that the mentality of the nation has changed a lot over the past 8 years and "true patriots of Ukraine" prevail in the country.

By the way, that happened mostly due to the war with Russians and longstanding mean-spirited Mr. Putin at the helm of Russia.


P.P.S. Dear Reader! I am very much interested in your opinion on the subject of this article. Please, write a comment or ask a question if you want to clarify something.
Igor Chykalov
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