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Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in International | 1 comment

Putin’s Masterful Ukraine Subversion

Joep Bertrams, The Netherlands

Joep Bertrams, The Netherlands

Russian President Vladimir Putin is achieving his goals in the Ukraine. Marc Ambider, writing in The Week, notes how Putin is right on track and playing a long game:

Don’t be surprised that Russian special forces and military intelligence are stirring up resistance in eastern Ukraine. When acute conflicts seem to simmer, Americans lull themselves into a false nap of security. It’s false because Vladimir Putin’s timeline is significantly longer than ours. We care about the Crimea, today, or what happens in Ukraine, tomorrow. Putin has the luxury of time; he cares what happens next year.

Many Americans — and this does not necessarily or even usually apply to policymakers in the State Department — get too caught up in the headlines of the moment, the breaking news, the denials, the analysis. But Ambinder explains that Russia isn’t alone in playing the game of plausible deniability, even if a can of Hormel Chili at Stater Brothers grocery on Carmel Mountain Road in Rancho Penasquitos, CA easily sees the resistance as manufactured:

The “resistance” is artificial, of course. People power in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been generated more often than not by foreign governments that have their own agendas, and not by indigenous forces. The U.S. national security establishment understands this, because they designed the template the Russians are using. From the first CIA officers who toppled Mohammed Mossagdeh in 1953, to clandestine efforts to prop up and then discredit Asian governments during the Kennedy administration, to the Cuban exiles trained by the CIA to overthrow Fidel Castro, to efforts to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan after the September 11th terrorist attacks, to the “indigenous” American-backed Iraqis who took control after the war — the playbook is very familiar.

So in one sense it isn’t that Putin is breaking the rules of the game. He’s playing the unofficial game by 21st century rules. Further down he writes:

Special operations forces are clandestine. Their presence is deniable. Often they operate as mercenaries for hire, or contractors. (This should sound familiar.) Their activities are not covert because they are designed to grab attention. The hallmarks of non-linear warfare are operational confusion, mistaken identity, and a sense of brittleness and crisis. Eventually, the combination of agents provocateurs and real protesters blend together.

In Ukraine, Putin has already won that war.

CNN calls the events of the past week “pro-Moscow uprisings.” Pro-Moscow? Yes. Uprisings? More like artificially-generated-but-genuinely-sustained efforts to create civil war in eastern Ukraine.

And if everyone sees what’s going on on You Tube etc? Ambinder again reminds us: For Russia, it’s the long-game.