The Corruption, Paranoia, and Infighting of the Russian “Separatists”

Ukraine’s security service the SBU envisions three scenarios towards which Russia is working: the so-called “Somalia Scenario,” “Little Trojan Horse,” and “Big Trojan Horse.”

The first, and most extreme, refers to the theoretical Russian aim of reducing a pro-Western Ukraine to a failed state. Oleksandr Tkachuk, the SBU’s chief of staff, told VICE News: “This would involve creating political instability, causing the gradual disintegration of government structures, emphasizing different grievances among the population, and disrupting all aspects of political, economic and social life.”

Under the “Little Trojan Horse” scenario, rebel-held territories would be re-absorbed into Ukraine’s political sphere, allowing them to influence policy in Kiev and block Ukraine from further integration with European and Atlantic structures. Such a veto “could make Ukraine a grey zone between Europe and Russia,” said Tkachuk.

“Big Trojan Horse” refers to a restoration of the political regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych, ousted during the Maidan Revolution in 2014. “There is a risk that the pendulum could swing the other way,” said Tkachuk. “Some politicians that were close to Yanukovych are still quite active. A proportion of the population sympathizes with these people and there is growing dissatisfaction with current leaders who are unable to deliver what they promised before the revolution. Russia wants to restore these politicians to power and install a regime favorable to the Kremlin.”

The International Crisis Group uncovered similar evidence. It carried claims from a number of separatists that their Russian counterparts had cited “a ten-year plan to regain control over Ukraine,” combining “continued destabilization of the east” as well as economic and political pressures. . . .

The report, which VICE News has seen, suggests that a network of top rebel chiefs and high-ranking Ukrainian officials had joined forces to run a fuel-smuggling cartel operating across the frontline. Lyamin also names a number of Ukrainian fuel companies which, he says, have been granted access to these black market energy supplies. . . .

Surkov, a shadowy figure and Kremlin ideologue, often characterized as the Rasputin of modern-day Russia, oversees Ukraine’s rebel regions on Putin’s behalf and is said to refer to Moscow’s separatist proxies there as his “wards.” According to an LNR insider, Surkov’s secret visits to Luhansk in the past have been accompanied by city-wide cellphone blackouts, serving both as an extreme security precaution and a means of preventing leaks of confidential information. . . .

https://news.vice.com/article/paranoia-and-purges-the-dark-and-dirty-battle-for-power-in-rebel-held-ukraine

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