from Paul Goble
Staunton, April 20 – Many are asking what and how Vladimir Putin hopes to achieve in Ukraine, Mikhail Rostovsky says; but the answers are clear from his actions in 2014, his own comments as long ago as 2018, and the statements of some of his political loyalists in recent days, Mikhail Rostovsky says.
The Kremlin leader wants to create peoples republics as he did in 2014, he sees this as a way of destroying a united Ukrainian state that the West could use against Russia, and he wants to organize referenda as soon as the guns fall silent in particular regions to achieve that end, the Moskovsky komsomolets commentator says (mk.ru/politics/2022/04/21/s-planov-putina-spolzla-zavesa-tayny-ukrainu-pokroshat-referendumami.html).
As a result of this policy, Rostovsky says, “the number of ‘peoples republics’ can be significantly increased,” although there is a limit, he suggests. “No one in Moscow will want to make a second attempt to ‘re-educate’” Ukrainian speakers in the western oblasts of Ukraine who have shown themselves recalcitrant to all such attempts.
Rostovsky says that at present, of course, this is only one possible scenario for Putin’s actions; but a survey of what the Russian military authorities and the other agencies of Russian power following behind them are doing in areas where the Ukrainian army has been forced out at least for the present provides strong support for his contention.
The Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reports that “the Russian military are preparing a number of pseudo-referenda” to attempt to legitimize their occupation (facebook.com/DefenceIntelligenceofUkraine/posts/295027096142051 and graniru.org/Politics/World/Europe/Ukraine/m.285015.html).
According to the ministry, propaganda materials and ballots for such a pseudo-referendum are already being prepared in Kherson. Residents there are convinced that no real voting will occur. The Russian occupiers will limit themselves, they believe, to staged voting in order to make points in Russia and in the international community.