Avraham Shmulevych, Israeli political scientist, president of the Institute of Eastern Partnership and adviser to the Circassian Congress, has studied problems of the Caucasus for years. He has also contributed significantly to recognition by the Parliament of Georgia of the Circassian genocide.
Russia After its Crimea Adventure
The Kremlin’s interference in Ukraine is the beginning of the collapse of the Russian Federation. The Caucasus is getting ready to depart. Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria are getting ready to be shut down.
I don’t believe that Russia will be able to annex Crimea.
Putin’s regime has finally lost all touch with reality.
1. This isn’t 1991.
2. Direct military intervention in the middle of Europe, in the business of a country of 50 million whose territorial integrity and sovereignty are guaranteed, not only by standard international law, but also by a specific agreement with the US and the UK… is something no one will allow.
3. Above all, they will not allow it because if they do, the entire system of international conventions will fall apart, leading to a chain reaction of violent restructuring of borders.
4. Turkey has its own interests in Crimea and will be unable not to get involved. Within a few hours after the launch of the open phase of conflict, Turkey had already declared the Crimean Tatars its compatriots.
5. The experience of recent decades, starting with the soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Falklands War, the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq, and the civil war in Yugoslavia have shown that in similar situations, the West started out responding indecisively, wavered for a long time, but then began to attack full force.
6. The world still has not understood what happened on the Maidan—a slaughter in the heat of Europe with hundreds of people shot, carried out by Yanukovych with the direct involvement of Russia, is an unprecedented affair. When this event finally reaches the consciousness of public opinion and politicians, the impact will be felt for decades. But Putin personally and Russia as a whole will find themselves paying the piper a lot sooner, which will also have an impact on reactions to Russia’s actions in Crimea.
7. The Kremlin is betting on the most pathetic of personages and on force. To be unable to find anyone better than a toilet thief with a clearly deviant psychology in a country of many millions—you really have to try hard. Those forces in Crimea on whom the Kremlin is now placing its bets have been demonstrating their impotence for the last 20 years. Other than pathetic whining along the lines of “Putin, save us!” they have been unable to organize anything else: not a mass movement, not a campaign, nothing. Relying on such a contingent is conducive to the success of the operation.
8. Meanwhile, events in Kyiv and events in Crimea have been organized with a fantastic lack of professionalism. Russia’s imprint could be seen from the very start. The abundance of actual opportunities for developing an operation is not used and almost always the worst possible course of action is chosen. From the very start, time was hopelessly wasted and everything that was done was done in the ugliest manner possible. This kind of mutiny cannot end successfully.
9. For this reason, time itself is needed to think what will happen after the end of this venture, and to prepare for it in advance.
10. Moscow was unable to organize things such that the role of the Black Sea Fleet remained imperceptible. Even before the operation started, it was obvious that the agreement on the presence of Russian forces in Crimea had been violated and that the RF was engaged in gross interference in the affairs of a sovereign Ukraine. For this reason, even if the Kremlin suddenly finds a grain of prudence and curtails the operation, consequences will be unavoidable. The Black Sea Fleet will be driven off Ukrainian territory, which will seriously alter the situation in the Black Sea-Caspian region, in the Mediterranean, and in the Middle East.
11. If Moscow finds the strength right now to stop and withdraws its troops from Ukrainian territory, then the consequences will be limited to the withdrawal of the Black Sea Fleet from Ukraine. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that the Kremlin will give up on its little adventure.
12. Should the situation escalate into open conflict and attempts to separate Crimea [from Ukraine], the consequences will be as follows:
13. Russia can expect a swift membership or association of Ukraine with the EU and NATO, including the appearance of the Alliance’s forces in Ukraine. A few hours after the start of open conflict, the EU announced, for the first time, that Ukraine would be offered the prospects of membership.
14. The Baltics, Belarus, the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia will begin to distance themselves from the Russian Federation.
15. Sanctions, let alone a war, will deal a deathblow to Russia’s economy. There is a great likelihood that an armed overthrow of Putin or mass revolution will take place.
16. Moscow will not be able to pay the national elites, primarily in the Caucasus regions, as before and the economic situation will sharply deteriorate. A strong move to separate from Russia will emerge.
17. Separatism in national regions and oblasts, even separatism among Russians themselves, will find systemic support from the part of various external forces in the East, West and South.
18. Prior to recent events, the West looked at Moscow as a stabilizing force, especially in the Northern Caucasus, and recognized its special interests in the post-soviet arena. This will now come to an end. Relations between the main global players and Russia will continue like those with a dangerous, unpredictable and destructive force and will launch a policy of containing and crushing it.
19. As to the Northern Caucasus, Moscow’s rule will begin to be looked upon as an undesirable one that admitted to horrific violations of human rights that led to destabilization and the emergence of Islamic extremism.
20. The search will be on for and emergence of local political forces capable of developing the Northern Caucasus as a territory independent of Moscow, and the establishment of political entities that are stable and do not pose a threat to the West or Turkey.
21. This will be followed by pressure on Moscow using all possible leverage, from economic sanctions to political ones and covert military support for armed resistance, which will quickly drive Russia from the Northern Caucasus.
22. In its operation to separate Crimea, Moscow is using the same approaches and political dirty tricks that it used in Abkhazia, Northern Ossetia and Transnistria. The similarities are glaring. Right until now, there was an understanding in relations with the territories that they were not only a cover for Russian occupation, but also a reflection of the will of the indigenous people in those lands. This attitude will slowly fade. Their disappearance will be seen as a guarantee of the unacceptability of such methods in the future and they themselves will begin to be seen as only springboards for the Kremlin’s further aggression, established on foreign territories that had been illegally occupied. This means that these states will be seen as completely illegitimate and undesirable—and ultimately threatening the world order. For the West and Turkey, efforts will begin to close them down.
23. Moreover, events taking place around Ukraine will also affect the situation in the Far East, in the Kuril Islands, and possibly bringing the question of Sakhalin and Kaliningrad to the fore.
24. Steps will be taken to remove Vladimir Putin from power.
25. At the initial stage, the West is unlikely to build up or support any forces within Russia itself that want to see the Kremlin’s regime brought to an end as such or a radical change of the system of government in Russia. Still, if such forces emerge and are able to independently pose a threat to the Kremlin’s power, they will have a good chance of gaining serious support.