You have to wonder what the Kremlin has been thinking. I mean, did they really think they were going to get away with it? I guess the official narrative is still mainly for domestic consumption, but internationally, the Ukrainian cat is officially out of the bag.
Earlier this week, Business Life, a Russian finance periodical, posted budget data that appeared to show exact figures for payments made for dead soldiers and those maimed in combat, Ukrainian combat that is. The data showed approximately 2,000 killed in action and another 3,200 declared an “invalid” due to war injuries. We’re talking Russian troops here. The West doesn’t need to heed the words of retired U.S. Army Gen. Scales to kill as many Russians as possible to end the conflict. The Ukrainian military seems to be doing a fine job of that all by themselves. Beside the obvious question of how long the offender who accidently posted the data (it was immediately removed by Kremlin censors) is going to spend in hard labor in Siberia, one has to wonder. I mean, did Moscow actually think, in the age of the Internet and the 90-minute news cycle, really think they could wage a major war and hide all the evidence?
Even worse, how does a government prevent mothers of dead and maimed soldiers from finding out the truth of what happened to their sons? It has been reported that the families are threatened with the loss of financial benefits if they discuss the fate of their children, siblings, fathers, etc. It certainly is not a government that cares about the Russian-speaking people as the Kremlin purports to do. I think this is what the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, was talking about when he said that Russia does not share Western values.
To borrow a phrase from the prison warden in “Cool Hand Luke,” what we have here is a failure to communicate (the right information). What we also have in Ukraine is a really nasty, Slavic civil war. As Russian President Vladimir Putin famously told George W. Bush, “You see George, Ukraine is not a country.” Ordinary Russians see Ukraine as their little brother, the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, a place for a nice dacha in the countryside. The Kremlin sees Ukraine as the source of much of its military hardware. Novorossiya, or East Ukraine, is really just a euphemism for the heart of Soviet military industry. It’s obvious why Russia wanted Crimea, Black Sea access and all. The same goes for East Ukraine — heavy industry takes time to replace, especially with Western sanctions hollowing out the Russian military. And to put icing on the cake, how about a land bridge between the two?
So now you see why Moscow risked it all to directly use the Russian active-duty military in East Ukraine. It simply is a bridge too far for the Kremlin to see Ukraine go over to the dark, Western side. Therefore, Mr. Putin has thrown in the kitchen sink. He’s burned the bodies. He’s continued the lie. But as Hillary Clinton is finding out, eventually, somebody screws up and you get caught red-handed. Even if the majority of the Russian people don’t believe it, the rest of the world does.