Putin’s brutal letter to Ukraine under Medvedev’s signature
The Kremlin issued an open letter to and on Ukraine, full of insults and threats. An official public document in such a style seemed inconceivable in contemporary international relations, but the Kremlin turned the inconceivable into reality with this letter. Published in the Moscow daily Kommersant (“Why it is foolish to deal with the current Ukrainian leadership”, Kommersant, October 11) and widely rebroadcast by Russian media, the letter bears the signature of Russian Security Council Vice-President (and former President and Prime Minister) Dmitry Medvedev. However, hardly anyone in Ukraine, Russia or the West would doubt that President (and President of the Security Council) Vladimir Putin was the true sender of this letter.
The Kremlin is targeting three main audiences with this epistle: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his entourage, a range of groups in Ukrainian society and the Western powers who are now launching negotiations to end the war between Russia and the United States. Ukraine. uncertain terms (see below). The Kremlin’s open letter aims to intimidate the Zelensky presidency, sow discord and arouse old resentments among various groups in Ukrainian society and, with its menacing tone, underscore Russia’s superiority ahead of the upcoming negotiations.
The letter from “Medvedev” opens with a threat, formulated in the form of a Ukrainian proverb: “When the goat becomes entangled with the wolf, only the skin of the goat will remain. The document does not seek to justify Russia’s actions in the Donbass and Crimea. Instead, he attacks Zelenskyy and some of his associates (none named), portraying them as opportunists with no national identity or allegiance:
âUkrainian leaders, especially those at the top, cannot clearly define themselvesâ¦ What country are they citizens of? where are their roots? what is their historical allegiance? their ethnic substance? which god are they praying to? Do they feel like real Ukrainians? as “Europeans”? as Russians? as Jews? as Tatars? as a Hungarian? like Karaite? The current president, with his clear ethnic roots, a longtime Russian speaker who worked in Russia and earned a lot of Russian money, nonetheless completely reoriented himself, politically and morally, after becoming president, out of fear of a another Maidan against his personal power. . Basically he gave up his own identity. He became a devoted servant [sic] of Ukraine’s most fervent nationalist forces. With them, he glorifies the âterrorists of Banderaâ. Comparing Zelenskyy to a “mad German Jew who volunteered for the SS,” the pseudonym Medvedev claims Zelenskyy is afraid of nationalists who might pin him a yellow star. The president âtherefore acts more like a nationalist than the most radical nationalistsâ.
This collective portrait is inspired by the late Stalinist image of ârootless cosmopolitansâ. This is the first time that Putin’s Kremlin has borrowed this image, adjusting it to current Ukrainian circumstances in this case. The allusion to Zelenskyy’s inner circle is obvious.
The letter rejects Zelenskyy’s quest to meet and make “peace” with Putin. The pseudonym “Medvedev” invokes five pretexts for refusing to meet and speak with Zelenskyy:
1) This president is, intentionally or not, “playing with the most radical nationalist forces in Ukraine” (see above). “Can we, in this situation, negotiate and conclude agreements with him?” Certainly not.”
2) The current Ukrainian rulers depend on “foreign management” and “money injections” from the West, are controlled by “their American masters through the intelligence agencies” and help the United States to “contain the Russia â, hoping in vain to join Western alliances. âTherefore, it makes no sense for us to deal with these vassals. We should deal with the overlord [the US]. ”
3) “Ukraine’s rulers are fragile, striving only to line their pockets and keep money abroadâ¦ and even make money from hated Russia.” Thus, âit is useless to have to deal with such fragile characters; they could betray [us] for pennies anytime.
4) âDealing with the current rulers of Ukraine is foolish and even harmful, because they do not keep their wordâ¦ They sign the Minsk agreements, conclude agreements in the Norman format [Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine], but then, faced with the uproar in parliament or in the streets, or instructions from across the ocean, they turn around and turn the deal into its diametrically opposite. They constantly lie to us and our [Western] counterparts. The problem does not only concern one Ukrainian leader in particular, but all Ukrainian negotiators. This means that negotiating with them is absolutely insane.
5) Russia âwill therefore wait for the emergence of a more reasonable Ukrainian leadership, which does not aim for a total confrontation with Russia on the verge of war, but rather aims for mutually beneficial relations with Russia. Such Ukrainian leadership would be worth addressing. Russia can wait. We are a patient nation. This suggests that Putin would refuse to meet Zelensky even if the latter accepts Putin’s request to exclude Donbass and Crimea from the meeting’s agenda.
Stung, one of Zelenskyy’s gaff-prone advisers, suggested that Medvedev may not have the authority to speak for Putin (Ukrinform, October 11). Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov quickly replied that “the [Medvedev] the publication is very important because it names a lot of things by their names …
The Kremlin’s move is closely linked to the resumption of two parallel international negotiation processes concerning the de facto seizure by Russia of the Donbass in Ukraine. These two negotiation processes remained inactive for a long time: US-Russia and the Norman format (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine).
Joseph Biden’s administration has launched (practically solicited) bilateral negotiations with Russia on a full set of contentious strategic issues. Of these, Ukraine holds top priority for Russia, but not for the Biden administration. The publication of the letter from “Medvedev” on October 11 welcomed US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland arriving in Moscow the same day with this package to be negotiated.
It was also on October 11 that Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Zelenskyy agreed by videoconference to relaunch the deadlocked âNormanâ process, with a sudden sense of urgency. (TASS, Bundeskanzlerin.de, Elysee.fr, President.gov.ua, October 11).
The Kremlin letter attempts to intimidate and intimidate Kiev at the start of these reactivated processes. It’s also designed to show that Russia can treat Zelenskyy like an outcast. This treatment appears to be Russia’s new method of rejecting the bilateral negotiations Zelenskyy so ardently seeks.
A âtÃªte-Ã -tÃªteâ (in Zelenskyy’s words) with Putin could be a reckless adventure. Zelenskyy and his assistant Andriy Yermak would almost certainly be easy targets for their counterparts, Putin and Dmitry Kozak, in a bilateral negotiation. The Kremlin nevertheless seems determined to refuse a bilateral negotiation because it would expose the real role of Russia as a party to what this conflict really is: an interstate conflict between Russia and Ukraine. A bilateral negotiation process with Ukraine could nullify Russia’s thesis that this conflict is internal to Ukraine and Russia’s claim of mediating role.