No Let-up in Putin’s Hybrid War

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No Let-up in Putin’s Hybrid War

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD
http://www.the-american- interest.com/2015/02/22/no- let-up-in-putins-hybrid-war/
Just as the Western press was spooling up stories about the peace deal negotiated in Minsk taking hold-prisoner exchanges taking place, heavy weapons being pulled back from the front-when a bomb exploded in Kharkiv, killing two and injuring several at a pro-Ukrainian march. Kharkiv is a city of 1.4 million people, 140 miles away from the front-lines, and though it has not been completely at peace-six people were wounded in a similar blast in January-it has largely remained calm as the war has raged around Donetsk and Luhansk. This is the first fatal bomb attack, though bombs have been going off sporadically all across Ukraine-as far afield as Odessa.

Kharkiv

The bombs across Ukraine are meant as a reminder that Russia has many friends and agents well beyond the territories that it has conquered. In much of the country, the police and criminal gangs have effectively merged and the loyalties of the criminal syndicates and oligarchs who control much of what happens on the ground in Ukraine are up for sale.

Putin is fighting three campaigns: One is the military campaign that nibbles away at Ukrainian territory in the east. One is the political campaign aimed at keeping the West off-balance and undecided. One is a campaign to destabilize and undermine the “New Ukraine” that Ukrainian reformers and their Western allies are trying to build.

Meanwhile, Putin continues to keep the west confused by mixing peace proposals and half measures along with steady moves to consolidate and expand his military dominance in the east. He knows that both Europe and Washington are desperate for fig leaves and just want the whole Ukraine mess to go away. Putin’s hope-not unreasonable at this point-is that the West will do its best to overlook the violence in Kharkiv in order to continue pretending to itself that nothing happening in Ukraine represents a serious threat to European and American self-absorption.

Posted: Feb 22, 2015 – 11:53 am – WRM

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