Paris, March 2, 2015 – What has the past year of war inside Ukraine been about? The night of the coup or putsch in Kiev, a member of the Ukrainian parliament called for a law prohibiting the use of the Russian language in Ukraine – a supremely stupid act, quickly repudiated by his fellows. But was this what the Ukrainian-language majority sought, and for which it had obtained the support of the United States government? Certainly not.
On the other hand, was the war the debut of a Russian offensive, as Washington claimed, meant to produce the annexation to modern Russia Crimea and other territories that once belonged to Imperial Russia at the height of its extent and power? A certain number of people in Washington think that this is what Vladimir Putin intended, even though this would seem a large and extraordinarily dangerous undertaking in the face of NATO opposition.
A Russian acquaintance of mine has argued that the American-promoted coup was meant to provide for Russia the example of a liberal and pro-Western government, inspiring an eventual new democratic “Maidian” uprising by the Russian people, deposing Mr. Putin and led – why not? – by the late Boris Nemsov.
The immense demonstration inspired in Moscow by Mr. Nemsov’s murder suggest that he would have been a plausible candidate to lead such an uprising, but the opinion mostly expressed in Moscow now is that he had lost favor. But then, when since the revolutionary events of 1917-18. have the people changed the course of Russian events? And that was not a popular movement by the “masses” but a violent seizure of power by a revolutionary cabal of intellectuals.
The fear in the countries on Russia’s margins today is of a conspiracy developed among the minority of Russian loyalists in one or another of the Baltic states, possibly with the assistance of those little green men who appeared in Crimea and the Russian-speaking East of Ukraine to assist in overturning Ukrainian institutions and installing new pro-Russian authorities.