“War proves a rough master. Words change their ordinary meaning. Reckless audacity becomes courage; prudent hesitation, cowardice. Frantic violence becomes bravery. The advocate of extreme measures is always trustworthy; his opponent, a man to be suspected. Promises of reconciliation hold only so long as no other weapon is at hand. Meanwhile, moderate citizens perish between the two sides, either for not joining in the quarrel or from malice.”
“Revolution runs its course from city to city, and the places which it arrived at last, from having heard what had been done before, carried to a still greater excess the atrocity of their reprisals.”
from Thucydides, “The Civil War at Corcyra,” III:10.
The real end of the history of the 20th century, argues Vladimir Pastukhov, was marked by Russia’s annexation of Crimea c.2014. As the new century dawns, Russia and the West are “at war with each other,” a condition each “all but openly declares.”
Compared to this self-assessment, Ukraine’s lot is less auspicious. Its misfortune, Pastukhov writes, was to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time. It has become a bargaining chip between Russia and the West. Like 18th century Poland, “we must come to terms with the fact that Ukraine, in the form in which we are accustomed to see her for the past twenty years, has ceased to exist.” Thus, another’s characterization of the 17 April Geneva accord as “this senseless piece of paper.”
Ukraine “is at risk of dismemberment,” writes Andrey Illarionov, because those upon whom she relied to defend her position at Geneva betrayed her. Illarionov’s “those” are in equal measure Ukraine’s leaders— he calls acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and acting President Oleksandr Turchynov “traitors”— and the West, whose actions legitimized Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian territory “without the use of tanks.”
From the perspective of Russia, events in Ukraine are less important for any ephemeral effect on its standing in the world than for their transformative effect on Russian society, according to Vasily Kashin:
«События приняли уже неотвратимый характер, и их ход не может быть изменен ни в Москве, ни в Вашингтоне, ни в Киеве. Конфронтация с Западом сформирует новое российское общество, и вопрос состоит только в том, каким образом использовать новые условия, чтобы предстоящие годы не были потерянным временем для России.»
“Events [in eastern Ukraine] have taken on a character of the inevitable and their course cannot be changed, not in Moscow nor Washington nor Kiev. Russia’s confrontation with the West will form a new society.”
PUTIN’S “NEW WARFARE”. War has indeed proved a rough master in Ukraine. Russian journalist Yuliya Latynina writes on the independent media website Yezhednevny Zhurnal (Daily Journal) that Putin has conceived a fundamentally “new kind of warfare” (Russian: новой войне. Russian transl.: novoy voyne) for the new international order. It is conceptually rooted in the following observation:
«Cовременный Запад осуждает любое применение силы со стороны государства, но не замечает насилия в том случае, если оно исходит от «активистов», «общественных организаций» или «народа». Это дает бесконечную свободу злой воле.»
“The modern West condemns the use of force by a state, but excuses violence if it comes from ‘activists,’ ‘community organizations,’ or ‘the people.’ This gives infinite freedom to malicious intent.”
New Warfare employs four tactics. The first is to use noncombatants, especially women and children, as “human shields,” something reputedly borrowed from “Palestinian terrorists.” The second is a media component, which she elaborates as follows: “If the main purpose of conventional warfare is victory, then the main purpose of the New Warfare is public relations.” The third is to “accuse others of what you are doing yourself.” This involves provocateurs masquerading as local irregular forces to assume the role of victim-cum-avenger, something Russia employed to great effect during its c.2008 intervention in South Ossetia. The fourth is a somewhat twisted variation of “hearts and minds”—зомбируется (Russian transl.: zombiruyetsya)—figuratively, to capture the mind of “liberated” populations and turn them into “zombies” that attack Russia’s enemies via “pogroms and ethnic cleansing,” and by so doing form “a human shield” between Russia and “enemy” [here, read: Ukrainian] troops.
While the tactics of the New Warfare are clear, does it have a comparably clear strategic objective? Among the many answers to this question, Aleksandr Vdovin offers one of the more interesting. Citing Lenin’s unfulfilled “call for the transformation of the Russian Empire into the Russian Republic,” he writes:
«Для этого требуется многое: сдвиги в национальной политике в сторону акцентов на государствообразующем русском народе, православии, соединении советской и российской истории, державности. Требуется очищение исторического наследия от русофобства, выработка мер по преодолению негативных последствий разделенности русского народа, узаконение пропорционального представительства всех народов в органах власти, избавление от асимметричного федерализма.»
“We want a united and indivisible republic with solid power, which can only be derived from the voluntary consent of the people. With due deference to good intentions, we must recognize that it is long since time for Russia to establish a Republic form of government. Building the Russian Republic requires many things, in particular, transformative national policies to emphasize supporting ethnic Russians who seek to form their own states; the Orthodox Church; the continuity between Soviet and Russian history; and Russia’s great power status. It requires cleansing the historical heritage of Russophobia; developing measures to reverse the adverse consequences to ethnic Russians of partition; legalizing proportional representation by ethnic group; and ending asymmetrical federalism.”
THE DIALECTIC OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. The 19th century political economist Frédéric Bastiat wrote famously of unintended effects:
“There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.”
The same may well be said of politicians.
Of Putin’s New Warfare, what effects must we foresee? For one, it has created a “fulminate mixture” inside Ukraine that “is not only accelerating the collapse of Ukrainian statehood but sharpening regional conflicts within Ukraine”:
«Эксперты уже давно предупреждали, что к политическому кризису на Украине скоро прибавится социальный. Подобная гремучая протестная смесь может привести к непредсказуемым последствия.»
“Experts have long warned that the political crisis in Ukraine would soon acquire a social dimension. The consequences of such an explosive mixture within the protest movement could be unpredictable.”
Put another way, the protest movement fomented by Russia has unintentionally given rise to a social movement, a dialectic of unintended consequences of a sort. Or to return to Bastiat, “it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous.”
As a result of the rise of this social movement, Boris Shmelev warns, “the war in southeast Ukraine is against not only Kyev but also the Ukrainian oligarchs”:
«Кстати, именно недовольство олигархами увеличивает число тех, кто ориентирован на Россию на Украине. Если предположить, что Россия реинтегрирует Донецкую, Луганскую, Одесскую и ещё какие-то области Юго-Востока Украины, то там уже российское руководство будет «разруливать» ситуацию с украинскими олигархами. Между тем, у населения юго-восточной Украины сложился имидж Путина, как борца с олигархами. Это, конечно, сильно преувеличенное представление, но в народной мифологии этот образ прижился. Путин представляется, как человек, который подавил олигархат в России. Россия воспринимается здесь как страна, которая может помочь «разобраться» с украинскими олигархами. Последние, кстати, при нынешней киевской власти только укрепили свои позиции.»
“Discontent with the Ukrainian oligarchs increases the orientation toward Russia within Ukraine. There is a belief within the protest movement, should Russia annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Odessa, and other parts of southeast Ukraine, that Putin will ‘resolve’ the situation with the Ukrainian oligarchs. This reflects a popular mythology within the movement of Putin as the man who crushed the oligarchs in Russia. Russia is perceived [in southeast Ukraine] as the only country that can ‘deal’ with the Ukrainian oligarchs, who incidentally have only strengthened their position in the current Kyev government.”
A second, and this time perhaps not wholly unintended consequence of the New Warfare is the inability of Ukraine’s armed forces to mount effective resistance. This reflects two factors, one specific to Ukraine; and the other, a general rule that applies to standing armies. To the former, writing under the headline “It’s not the Ukrainian army that’s keeping Putin out,” Anshel Pfeiffer notes, “There was no reason to expect the Ukrainian military to function any better than the failing country it serves, especially when taking into account that it grew out of the Red Army and many of its officers continue to see the comrades from across the border as brothers in arms.” To the latter, Andrew Bowen writes:
“[N]o military, much less Ukraine’s, is designed or trained to deal with situations like the one they are facing now. Militaries are designed to fight other militaries, not to quash internal dissent and adapt to an internal policing role…”
The post-Maidan emergence of Ukrainian nationalist paramilitaries revives, for both Russians and Ukrainians, the unresolved legacy of “the OUN-UPA problem.” The following quote from an analysis written by a serving officer in the Ukraine Armed Forces is interesting for its parallel to contemporary events:
“The 1940s-1950s Ukrainian insurgency eventually was unsuccessful because the international community did not support the movement and because the Soviet government was simply too large, too well organized, too ruthless, and too powerful for the insurgency to overcome.”
Extremist groups such as Svoboda (“Freedom”)— which control one-quarter of Ukraine’s government ministries, including defense—and Pravyi Sektor (“Right Sector”)—a member of which is deputy chair of Ukraine’s National Security Council—operate political and paramilitary branches. Within twenty-four hours of “forming a special battalion in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine,”Pravyi Sektor assured an Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission that it “had dissolved its militant wing. It was transforming into a political party and did not consider itself to be a part of the ‘armed groups’ mentioned in the Geneva Statement.” [emphasis added]. Ominously, OSCE monitors reported:
“The Lviv team met with the Head of the Right Sector in the city. He declared that all activities of the Right Sector were aimed at supporting the efforts to enhance the defense of the country (including registering volunteers, providing them with basic physical training without weapons) and that they were coordinated with the National Security Council of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
Some argue a shared memory is necessary for the unity of any nation, which in turn is necessary for the stability and viability of a state. As Anthony Smith wrote, “no memory, no identity; no identity, no nation.” Short of that, Ukraine might find its own pacto de olvido, a “pact of forgetting” such as Spain instituted during its democratic transition. By agreeing not to reckon with a painful historical past, Spaniards hoped to avoid a repetition of bloody civil conflict. It is not, however, the pathway evident in Ukraine of “historical simplification, omission, and outright lies.”
The historical narrative dominant in southern and eastern Ukraine (and of course, in Russia) holds that Russians and Ukrainians “shared common historical origins and in effect belonged to one pan-Russian nationality.” For many Ukrainians, accepting that narrative is tantamount to denying the legitimacy and normalcy of Ukrainian state independence. One encapsulation of “the OUN-UPA problem” perhaps best characterizes the danger posed by the emergence of nationalist militias in the vacuum formed by an ineffectual national defense force:
“For Lviv and Western Ukraine, UPA fighters are heroes, perhaps the biggest heroes in the history of Ukrainians struggle for independence. But for Eastern Ukraine, the UPA is a band of bandits, traitors, and collaborationists. The UPA is the single most controversial phenomena in the history of Ukraine. Nothing divides our society more.”
Aleksandr Dugin offers a more theoretical (and distinctly Russian) perspective:
«Украинская драма наглядно иллюстрирует этот закон геополитики: в этой стране геополитическая граница проходит ровно посередине – на Юго-Востоке и в Крыму народ наделен ярко выраженной евразийской, сухопутной, пророссийской идентичностью; на Западе и отчасти в Центре – проамериканской, атлантистской. Именно эта геополитическая полярность и стала причиной гибели незрелой украинской государственности в 2014 году. Пришедшие в ходе государственного переворота радикальные атлантисты немедленно столкнулись с жесткой оппозицией в Крыму и на Юго-Востоке, что закончилось уходом Крыма в Россию и гражданской войной.»
“The Ukraine drama illustrates the law of geopolitics in a country in which the geopolitical border is exactly in the middle— in the southeast and in the Crimea, people have a Eurasian, pro-Russian identity; in western Ukraine and in part of central Ukraine, they are pro-American Atlanticists. It is this geopolitical polarity that led to the death of the nascent Ukrainian state in 2014. The radical Atlanticists who came to power during the coup immediately encountered stiff opposition in the Crimea and in southeast Ukraine, ending in the Crimean secession and a civil war.”
NOVYE RUSSKIYE 3; REST OF WORLD, NIL. How then will this situation develop? From the perspective of one Russian:
«В современном мире могут существовать только крупные государства или государственные объединения…На мой взгляд, у Юго-Востока Украины, который я люблю называть историческим именем Новороссия, есть только один путь преодоления кризиса— влиться в состав России. Мы все прекрасно знаем, что и тут далеко не рай, проблем хватает, но вместе их решать будет легче.»
“In the modern world, only large states or federated states are viable…In Southeast Ukraine, which I like to call by the historic name Novorussia, there is only one way to overcome the crisis— to join Russia. We all know this is far from a perfect solution to the problem, but at the same time, it will be easier to solve.”
What is clear is that the situation in Ukraine has mutated from a political crisis to an existential one, or at a minimum, is poised at the event horizon to do so at any moment.
The economic sanctions imposed so far on Russia are not warfare of any class, economic or otherwise: while sanctions seek “to coerce target governments into particular avenues of response,” economic pressure applied to achieved a defined set of political goals is different from economic denial to limit an adversary’s military capabilities and expose it to military defeat. Economic sanctions can be credited with success if they meet three criteria: (1) the target state concedes to a significant part of the coercer’s demands; (2) economic sanctions were applied before the target state altered its behavior; and (3) no more-credible explanations exist for the target state’s change of behavior. It seems unlikely today that these criteria will be satisfied in any meaningful sense. Moreover, showing that economic sanctions have some effect does not imply economic sanctions alone can achieve comparable ends to military force alone, or to the employment of the two together. One question that ought to be assessed honestly in the current circumstance is whether imposing sanctions simply yields greater domestic political benefits than refusing calls for sanctions or resorting to military force. Economic sanctions may make threats of force more credible, but they do not substitute for them.
What of the economic sanctions imposed on Russia? Consider the view of one Russian analyst:
«За революцию— не важно, левая она или правая— надо платить высокую цену. «Консервативная революция» дорого стоит. Эту цену придется платить вовсе не потому, что Путин поссорился с конкретным президентом США или канцлером Германии. А просто потому, что сумасшествие само по себе дорого стоит. У него очень высокая цена. Ее платят все сословия, все семьи— и те, кто радовался наступлению «консервативной революции», и те, кто был против.»
“For a revolution—no matter left or right—you have to pay a high price. Revanchism [literal translation: ‘conservative revolution’] is expensive. The price is high not because Putin quarreled with a specific American president or German chancellor. It is expensive simply because it is madness. And it will be high for everybody—those who rejoiced in Putin’s revolution, and those who were opposed, too.”
Coming full circle around, Henry Luce wrote, “The 20th Century is the American Century.” Of course, such prognostications have more often than not missed their mark: in 1904, Canadian Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier declared, “The 20th Century Will Be the Century of Canada.” But if, as Vladimir Pastukhov believes, Russia’s annexation of Crimea marked the real end of the history of the 20th century, does it mark the end of “The American Century,” too?
It is claimed the emergence of peer competitors—something that has resulted historically in regional instability—and not terrorism presents the greatest long-term threat to United States national security. Consider, then, Morozov’s admonition, “At the head of the Russian Federation stands a ‘conservative revolutionary,’ a revanchist player who is prepared to sacrifice the Russian Federation’s standing in the world in its entirety in order to threaten the world order that emerged as a result of events in the 20th century.” That much, at least, is clear. What is less clear is what the West will do about it, and how far it will go to preserve that order.
 Pastukhov, a lawyer and visiting fellow in Russian law & politics at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, writes, “Крымом исторически закончился XX век” [“Crimea marks the historical end of the 20th Century”]. See: Pastukhov (2014). “Украина – это Польша XXI века.” [“Ukraine is the Poland of the 21st Century.”] 14 April 2014. https://polit.ru/article/2014/04/14/ukraine/. Last accessed 23 April 2014.
«Естественно, внешняя угроза сегодня играет на руку старому национализму; милитаризм и национализм всегда работают в паре…Самое популярное слово сейчас во Львове — не «революция», не «война», а «провокация». Провокаций все боятся, и все их ждут; в первую очередь, сами националисты. Провокатором называют человека с мегафоном.»
“The external threat today naturally plays into the hands of the old nationalism; militarism and nationalism always work in pairs…The most popular word in Lviv now is not ‘revolution,’ it is not ‘war’: it is ‘provocation.’ Everyone is afraid of provocations, and everyone is waiting for one, especially the nationalists. The provocateur is the person with a megaphone.”
See: Andrew Archangel (2014). «Львов: все сложно Андрей Архангельский побывал во Львове и увидел, что Западноукраинский Национализм — совсем не то, что нам кажется.» (“Lions: It’s Complicated. Andrew Archangel visited Lviv and saw that Western Ukrainian nationalism is not what we think.”). Colta. Online Russian language version, 30 April 2014. https://www.colta.ru/articles/society/3075. Last accessed 30 April 2014.
 Russian: Погромы и этнические чистки. Russian transl.: pogromy i etnicheskiye chistki.
 Russian: Встает живым щитом перед войсками противника. Russian transl.: vstayet zhivym shchitom pered voyskami protivnika.
 Vdovin is a revisionist historian and member of the Russian Academy of Humanitarian Sciences. In 2010 he co-authored the highly controversial Russian language textbook, A History of Russia 1917-2009.
Aleksandr Vdovin (2014). “Пропаганда космополитизма и мирового правительства в СССР и РФ.” 26 апреля 2014 [“Cosmopolitan propaganda and world government in the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation.”] https://rossiyanavsegda.ru/read/1926/. Last accessed 28 April 2014.
 As used here, “partition” refers to the Soviet era policy of национально-территориальное размежевание [Russian transl.: Natsionalno-territorialnoye razmezhevaniye) under which territorial boundaries were set without specific reference to ethnic considerations. The term is sometimes translated as delimitation to convey the sense that territorial boundaries were delimited from the geographic distribution of ethnic groups.
 As used here, the term “asymmetrical federalism” refers to the post-Soviet devolution of power within the Russian Federation, and the emergence of non-Russian ethnic separatism. See: Gail W. Lapidus (1999). “Asymmetrical Federalism and State Breakdown in Russia.” Post-Soviet Affairs. 15:1, pp. 74-82. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/1060586X.1999.10641463. Last accessed 28 April 2014.
 Aleksey Verkhoyantsev (2014). “Гремучая протестная смесь: На Востоке Украины недовольны не только политикой Киева, но и собственными олигархами.” [“The protest’s fulminate mixture: In eastern Ukraine, protesters are dissatisfied not only with Kiev’s policies but also with their own oligarchs.”]. Свободная пресса (Svobodnaya Pressa). Online Russian language edition, 23 April 2014. https://svpressa.ru/politic/article/86185/. Last accessed 29 April 2014.
 Original Russian language text: “Мы сейчас являемся свидетелями не только нарастающего краха украинской государственности и обострения региональных противоречий на Украине.” Ibid.
 The “OUN-UPA problem” refers to two WW2-era paramilitary groups, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (Orhanizatsyia Ukrainskykh Natsionalistiv or OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgency Army (Ukrainskykh Povstanska Armia or UPA). The OUN was established in 1929 and coordinated wartime underground activities in Soviet-occupied western Ukraine. It operated openly in Nazi-occupied Poland, and formed two Ukrainian battalions within the Wehrmacht. The OPA grew out of a 1940 split within the OUN to operate in western Ukraine in the 1940s and the 1950s, fighting at different times both Nazi and Soviet forces. At the war’s end, the OUN and the UPA effectively became a single organization once again. As the Soviet Union reestablished control over the territory of Ukraine, however, armed resistance by the OUN-UPA in western Ukraine diminished and eventually ended by the mid-1950s marking the end of the nationalist liberation movement in Ukraine.
 Major Pavlo Savchenko, Armed Forces of Ukraine (2012). “The Insurgent Movement in Ukraine during 1940s-1950s. Lessons Learned from the Case Study of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA).” A thesis presented to the Faculty of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, p. 77.
 Oxana Shevel (2009). “The politics of memory in a divided society: A comparison of post-Franco Spain and post-Soviet Ukraine.” Paper prepared for presentation at the 5th Annual Danyliw Research Seminar on Contemporary Ukrainian Studies, University of Ottawa, 29-31 October 2009, p. 21. https://ase.tufts.edu/polsci/faculty/shevel/PoliticsofMemory.pdf. Last accessed 29 April 2014.
 Anthony Smith (1996). “Memory and modernity: reflections on Ernest Gellner’s theory of nationalism.” Nations and Nationalism. 2:3, p. 383.
 Dugin is a controversial Russian political theorist and the founder of the ”International Eurasian Movement.” In June 2007, Ukraine declared him persona non grata and banned him from entering the country for a period of five years. This decision was later retracted, then reinstated in October 2007 after IEM members defaced a symbol of Ukrainian nationhood. See: Yigal Liverant (2009). “The Prophet of the New Russian Empire.” Azure Online. 2009:35. https://azure.org.il/article.php?id=483. Last accessed 30 April 2014.
 Aleksandr Morozov (2014). “Консервативная революция. Смысл Крыма’ [“A Conservative Revolution – The Meaning of Crimea”]. Colta.ru. Online Russian language edition, 17 Match 2014. https://www.colta.ru/articles/society/2477. Last accessed 29 April 2014.