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Ukraine | Russia’s New Gulag

The False Flag Tripwire


In the face of 200,000 Russian troops encircling Ukraine, many western former notable government officials including the Ukrainian president Zelensky have called for the issuance of draconian sanctions on Russia to discourage it from invading.


However the pre-bellicose initiation of sanctions is a tripwire that gives Russia justification to invade because from its perspective, it’s not being threatened, rather attacked preemptively without having placed one military boot on Ukrainian territory. Furthermore, Russia can falsely claim that sanctions were imposed as justification.


Post-Invasion/Occupation


I believe that Putin will go “all in” with respect to invading at least the key governmental and infrastructure areas of Ukraine which include Kyiv and the six major ports in the south. It’s debatable whether he’ll cut off the corridor to western Ukraine, the gateway to freedom for Ukrainians to Poland, Hungary and Romania.


The Ukrainian Gulag


Here’s how the post-invasion and occupation ritual might play out. Harking back to Putin’s imaginary “good old days” of the Soviet Union, an aggressive roundup of the “Usual Suspects”, already identified and targeted by Russia’s security services also known as siloviki,, will begin. This operation will include the inevitable arrest and indefinite detention of real and imagined political enemies and sympathizers of the Kremlin.


Putin may feel compelled to arrest and detain indefinitely all influential anti-Russian elements to silence or at least limit Ukrainian resistance. In a kangaroo court atmosphere Putin will use the autocratic judicial playbook by accusing them of being western collaborators and sentencing them to house arrest for the leadership and prison for lower-level refusniks.


In prison these lower level enemies of Russia might be tortured or disappear as have many of them in the Donbas region since 2014 under pro-Russian separatists.


Shredding the Geneva Convention Protocols


Another disturbing issue is how will the Russian military handle the inevitable partisan attacks; not only against captured partisans but also their friends and family.


The Geneva Convention is made up of four treaties and three protocols. Interestingly in late 2019 Russia revoked Additional Protocol I signed by the Soviet Union in 1989. The purpose of this protocol was to incorporate non-international armed conflicts vs. the originally stated international armed conflicts. Although the US and other countries have not ratified it, Russia revoked it altogether.


This brings up the issue as to how will Russia behave post-Ukraine invasion as a signatory to the Geneva Convention? International investigations confirmed that Russia was in violation of the Geneva Convention protocols during 2014 battles in the Donbas regions and annexation of Crimea by utilizing “little green men” who did not wear any identifiable insignia.


In hindsight the timing of this revocation in 2019 was a red flag because it coincided with Russia’s aggressive de-dollarisation the same year that created an “economic fortress”.


One creative way for Russia to implement occupation security services that are neither officially or legally connected to the Kremlin, and skirt Geneva Convention protocols completely, would be the utilization of the Wagner Group consisting of ethnic Russian mercenaries. Their reputation already precedes them with recent accusations by the international community of severe human rights abuses in former French colonies in the Sahel while combatting terrorists.


Belarus | Russia’s Reluctant Co-Conspirator


Paraphrasing the saying, “With neighbors like these, who needs enemies?” Ukraine has the misfortune of sharing the border with Belarus whose government is cooperating fully with Russia in allowing the menacing military buildup on their southern border which is a mere 200-250 miles from Kyiv.


To be fair, Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, the strongman for the past 28 years, is the unwilling co-conspirator to Putin in “hosting” Russian armed forces and using his country as a staging ground to capture Kyiv. For the past several years internal problems forced Lukashenko to call upon Putin several times for various types of assistance to maintain control. For this reason, Lukashenko is compelled to support Putin’s revised historical saga and present-day ambitions.


In the following self-explanatory chart entitled International Reports Highlight Scale of Problems in Belarus provided by Respective Reports gives a litany of measurements by independent international sources as to the extent of deep corruption and lack of freedoms, the perfect governmental “personality” and environment for collaboration with a powerful mafia state.



Ukraine | The Best of the Imperfect Post-Soviet Democracies


Undoubtedly Ukraine has struggled with its relatively new status as a democracy after decades of Nazi and Soviet occupation and domination. Nonetheless it ranks # 1 with respect to approaching that of a functioning democracy since its independence in 1991 as indicated by the following comparative chart entitled The State of Post-Soviet Democracy provided by the Bertelsmann Transformation Index.



Russia developed a taste for consuming Ukrainian democracy with the annexation of Crimea in 2014 as the appetizer and has developed a more voracious appetite to consumer Ukraine as the main course.


The New Jewish Question


This topic is perhaps has been ignored or overlooked in the immediate larger picture of a Russian invasion.


According to Israel there are an estimated 48,000 Ukrainian Jews with upwards of 75,000 additional Ukrainian citizens eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Israeli Law of Return. With respect to emigration to Israel 2,971 emigrated in 2020 and 3,080 emigrated in 2021.


Though Ukrainian Jews represent a tiny percent of the population of 44 million, this still brings up the uber sensitive question of whether Russia will permit the exodus of up to 75,000 Ukrainians eligible to return to Israel particularly if some are on Russian security’s detainee list.


The main person of interest for the Russians would be Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish and whose grandfather served in the Red Army during WW II. Zelenskyy’s high-profile as a Jewish leader makes this matter quite personal for the Jewish State.


Although Israel is prepared to accept many Ukrainian Jews there’s the issue whether the Russians will permit a post-invasion large scale airlift operation. Furthermore, will the remaining Ukrainian Jews be openly identified and/or treated any differently than their Christian Ukrainians neighbors?


Conclusion


Russia’s conduct during its occupation of Ukraine, whether officially sanctioned or not, will burnish its global image for generations to come just like it did to post-WW II.



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The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.