Putin’s Chess Moves on Ukraine

Vladimir PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin is playing a multidimensional geopolitical chess game, while the Obama administration and our European allies remain in a defensive, reactive stance. In his latest Ukraine gambit, Putin is playing the diplomatic offensive. He offered what he called “goodwill gestures” following a phone call with Didier Burkhalter, the Swiss president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He has also spoken with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Evidently, President Obama is no longer on Putin’s speed dial for Ukraine discussions. However, they may cross paths next month in France at the ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy, which both Obama and Putin have said they plan to attend. 

As part of Putin’s “goodwill gestures” he sent signals that he intended to de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine by withdrawing Russian troops from the Russia-Ukraine border and by calling for pro-Russian separatists to postpone their local referendum on sovereignty scheduled for this Sunday. Putin also indicated his willingness to accept the plan for Ukraine’s presidential election to proceed on May 25th so long as the Russian demand for autonomy in eastern Ukraine was met. And Putin took up Chancellor Merkel’s suggestion for a round-table discussion among the Ukrainian factions.

That all sounds like a potential diplomatic break-through. However, more likely what we are witnessing instead is just another set of chess moves in which Putin is willing to sacrifice a minor chess piece for something of more value and is employing a decoy strategy.

“He really promised nothing,” Kirill Rogov, an economic analyst and political commentator in Moscow was quoted in a front page May 8th New York Times article as saying. “He demonstrated that he controls the level of tension in Ukraine. He can return the situation to the high levels of violence at any moment. He did not refuse the referendum, but only proposed delaying it.”

NATO officials have stated that they had not seen any signs of Russian troop withdrawal so far. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s Secretary General said: “So far we haven’t seen any indications that they are pulling back their troops. Let me assure you that if we get visible evidence that they are actually pulling back their troops, I would be the very first to welcome it.”

Even if Putin does withdraw some troops, it may consist of nothing more than the token withdrawal from the border that happened once before. Moreover, to prove Russia’s military might and reach, on May 8th Putin oversaw military exercises throughout Russian territory involving Russia’s nuclear forces. Intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched as part of the exercise from land and sea. But Putin is not content for his country to just be seen as a “regional” power, as President Obama so naively described Russia.

Ominously for the United States, Russia has sent intercontinental strategic bombers across the Pacific Ocean that, according to an Associated Press report on May 5th, have been flying along the Californian coast. Such provocative activity has not occurred since the end of the Cold War. The Associated Press stated in its report that Gen. Herbert Carlisle (who is the Commander of Pacific Air Forces; Air Component Commander for U.S. Pacific Command; and Executive Director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii) linked the flights “to the situation in the Ukraine. He said Russia was demonstrating its capabilities and gathering intelligence on U.S. military exercises.”

As for the pro-Russian separatists, they said at first that they would consider Putin’s request for a delay of Sunday’s referendum, but then decided to go ahead with it. Denis Pushilin, the self-declared chairman of the Donetsk People’s Republic said, as quoted by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti: “After the vote that was held today, the unanimous decision was to go ahead with the referendum May 11.”

The question on the referendum ballot will be:  “Do you support the act of proclamation of independent sovereignty for the Donetsk People’s Republic?” Ultimately, a vote for “independent sovereignty” could lead to an attempt at full secession from Ukraine, a request to join the Russian Federation or a demand for complete autonomy while remaining nominally within Ukraine.

This appearance of “self-determination” will allow Putin to say that he “tried” to use his influence with the separatists, but that he can’t force them to bend to his will. A referendum declaring independence from the central government in Kiev or a desire to become part of Russia could then be used by Putin to legitimize his demand that the separatists have an equal place at the table in discussions with the central government in order to “reform” the constitution. Reform in Putin’s mind means complete decentralization of power in Ukraine away from Kiev, allowing Russia to treat eastern and portions of southern Ukraine as satellite regions within its sphere of influence. That will accomplish his main goal without having to incur the risk of Russian casualties in an all-out invasion or to take full responsibility for the economy in those portions of Ukraine as he has effectively done in Crimea. To that end, Putin is still sowing the seeds of discord by expressing sympathy for the separatists whom have forcibly occupied government buildings and effectively are in control in major parts of eastern Ukraine.

“I can understand the people in southeast Ukraine, who say that if others can do what they like in Kiev, carry out a coup d’état, take up arms and seize government buildings, police stations and military garrisons, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to defend their interests and lawful rights?” Putin said at a Kremlin news conference.

Of course, unlike the game of chess, real world events on the ground in Ukraine are not in the hands of any single player, even one as clever as Putin. Once the passions of the pro-Russian separatist movement are released, it may be very difficult to put them back into the bottle. On the other hand, if recent polls are correct, nearly seventy percent of the residents of eastern Ukraine want Ukraine to maintain its current borders and reject the idea of Russia sending in its troops to supposedly protect Russian-speaking citizens. If the referendum vote is not rigged – a very iffy assumption, to be sure – Putin may be unpleasantly surprised by the result.

Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin retains the upper hand in Ukraine and continues to outmaneuver President Obama and our European allies who are struggling to put together an effective counter-strategy. A weakened residue of western Ukraine left in Kiev’s hands, while the rest of Ukraine and its valuable natural resources and industrial base move firmly within Russia’s orbit, is Putin’s strategic objective, which he is on his way to achieving by hook or crook.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

Subscribe to Frontpage’s TV show, The Glazov Gang, and LIKE it on Facebook.

  • gerry d welder

    Angela can’t see her NSA files, Germany’s gold has been apparently confiscated while the IMF’s gold is piling up, Angela doesn’t seem to be part of the elite globalist club. McCain is now bad mouthing Angela to get her ‘in line’ while Germany’s power brokers and MSM are distancing themselves from her as Germany’s top officials are partying with Putin…wow.

    NATO’s buildup of troops and bases in Poland, intended to deal with the Russians in the Ukraine, now in an unintended consequence has Germany also conveniently surrounded.

    While acquiescing to the IMF and NATO, Poland might pay more attention to goings on in Germany and consider how, really, has the world asset stripping debt collector IMF ‘helped’ Greece or any other EU country? I would expect Poland’s gold will also soon disappear as did the Ukraine’s and Germany’s (… and Libya’s, Egypt’s, etc.)

    Sometimes things just don’t feel right?

    If Germany told the IMF, NATO and McCain to f*ck OFF and Poland did the same, geopolitically, Poland could (instead of getting demolished) become the new ‘silk road’ due to German/Russian/China/India commerce and be sandwiched in-between two very powerful allies while the EU, NATO would be substantially weakened militarily and economically and no doubt causing many other IMF victim countries to immediately align themselves with the Asian powerhouse and other BRICS.

    The Ukraine problem would correct itself overnight and save many lives along with Ukraine’s physical heritage.

    Who, exactly, gets to see the US taxpayer funded NSA files if even Merkel can’t?

    Hey Angela, here’s who sees your files:

    Understand the problem and your already on your way to fixing it.

    Check out the last 30 seconds of 2, then watch the whole thing:

    youtube: Obama and Rockefeller 1

    youtube: Obama and Rockefeller 2

    And look who else gets to sleep in the White House:
    Listen to the last 3 minutes and ask why NOT A WORD FROM THE UN (sarcasm):

    youtube: The Rothschilds Exposed 3/3

    youtube: Slave Queen
    by TruthNeverTold

  • BagLady
    • Erudite Mavin

      Your link is to a site that is right out of the Soros play book.
      Also full of blame America. 9/11 Truthers, gives excuses for
      the Boston Terrorists and other assorted Radical Left and Libertarian

      • BagLady

        I was referring to one article not the political persuasion of the site itself.

  • guest

    We could have gone into syria the way we went into iraq, and these guys would have retired and never dreamed of doing what they’re doing now. Now we get war. You could still send in some AC130’s into crimea and cut these guys to pieces. Should have gone big, now you’ll have to make a statement big enough to make them think three times.

    • BagLady

      You could still send in some AC130’s into crimea and cut these guys to pieces.”

      “You”? Who is this maniac with his AC130, who will fly to a foreign land far away and indiscriminately mow people down from the sky?

      The reason there will be bloodshed is because NATO, the World Bank and IMF are on the move east, and they’re stopping off in the Ukraine.

      • lapin.grove


    • Chris

      I’m sure the Russians are thinking the same thing, good luck to them, the world needs someone to oppose America and the bankers.

  • nimbii

    Poor Ukraine. They gave up their nukes in exchange for promises from the West for protection and Russia to respect their borders. Now everyone else is deciding their fate.

    This is the classic example of Benjamin Franklin’s classic line, “Those who beat the swords into plowshares generally wind up plowing the fields of those who did not.”

  • BagLady

    “…..Such provocative activity has not occurred since the end of the Cold War”

    Then you’re all very lucky. Have you seen how many Marines comb the shores of the North Pacific and Indian Ocean? Provocative, or what?

  • http://www.adwokat-lodz.com.pl/ limmar

    Problemy prawne to bolączka niejednej osoby. To kłopotliwe, życie adoruje płatać figle oraz aktywować różne kłopoty, które najzwyczajniej w świecie nie dają o sobie zapomnieć. Jeśli Państwa również spotkała taka sytuacja, adwokat łódź to link, który na pewno pomoże. Prowadzi on do witryny, gdzie opisywana jest kancelaria adwokatów. Czas oddać sprawy w ręce ludzi, którzy znają się na swojej pracy oraz zdają sobie sprawę z tego, w jaki sposób pokonywać miarodajne tarapaty dotyczące zwyczajności. Najwyższy czas zacząć życie bez problemów prawnych, które wykluczą prawnicy, znający się na swoim fachu. Serdecznie zapraszamy już dzisiaj!

  • AlgorithmicAnalyst

    Playing a strategy game, some chess elements, but not just chess.

  • lapin.grove

    2 unarmed civilians shot dead today at a polling place by Ukrainian National guard, filmed by MANY people. One seriously wounded…. IS THIS AMERICAN STYLE elections. I have watched several videos of them…one man was SHOT IN THE BACK! He died right on the street!
    The USA needs to butt out and allow the people of those regions in the Ukraine to VOTE and decide for themselves. The EU is stupid and just another FASCIST style government run by RICH ELITES and NOT the people of Europe!
    Scotland gets to vote, Cataluna in Spain gets to vote and Venice even got to vote to leave Italy if it likes.
    WHY not a VOTE for these people who obviously do NOT like the homosexual man that the US and the EU set up as their PUPPET!
    We do not even share a border with those people and EVEN CNN cannot even find it on a world map! Obummer is a fool and so is anybody who thinks we have any right to interfere with Eastern Ukraine.

  • BagLady

    Once again Ukrainians vote overwhelmingly against an EU take over in Kyiv but the Troika don’t accept the word of the people. They are firmly on the side of the “duly elected” [Obama] coup government and will have the country come hell or high water.

    So, Ukrainians, you believe in western democracy? More fools you. You are naught but a cheap trade route and the powers that be will fight over your land and to Hell with you.

    It’s saddening that the media can portray the situation with Putin as the aggressor and Europe on the defensive with such gauche language.

    Did we ever get around to thanking Russia for winning our II World War for us at such great loss to its sons?

    It’s probably taken this long to replace Her fighting force.

  • antioli

    We need not be reminded that Bush rushed missiles up to the Russian border and pointed them at Russia. As the Communists no longer ruled Russia and we were assured Communism was the enemy what was the reason to commit such a hostile act. On top of it Bush said the missiles were to protect Russia from Iran. Such comment caused mirth through out the US .
    The missile move proved to Russia that the US was still on the war path against Russia.
    So who is really playing chess?