After Having Ukraine Surrounded, Putin Is Ready to "Provoke" Himself

December 12, 2018


The way how events in the Sea of Azov will unfold is only one fragment of the political landscape. Without a doubt, Putin has far-reaching strategic goals. Heightening of tensions in some regions are ad hoc steps, and by upping the ante in the Azov Putin wants to cut Ukraine's exports capacities. This will certainly displease companies operating in Mariupol. In other words, we are talking about intensification of the internal political situation in this region and in Ukraine as a whole.

This is his tactics — to create both external and internal pressure. He sees his adversary’s weaknesses and tries to distribute resources in rather rational manner. Russian troops of 80 thousand men are located along the Ukrainian border; there are additional groups in the Crimea and in Transnistria. If necessary, sleeper cells inside Ukraine will wake up; and not forget the Belarusian border. In other words, we are surrounded on all sides. Those who doubt that Belarus can support such actions, I assure you — this will be their first gift to Putin. The foundation there has been laid, and Lukashenko is no particular obstruction for Putin.

These acute situations in some regions form the general picture. Putin’s main goal is not to destroy Ukraine, as it is simply impossible, but to turn it into its satellite, not allowing Ukraine to join the EU and NATO.

It is difficult to predict Putin's strategy ahead of the Ukrainian elections. "His people" in Ukraine clearly report what is happening. As he keeps track of all political movements, he may trigger escalation if necessary. Everything depends on his decision. Therefore, it is pointless to say: let us not provoke him in the Sea of Azov. Whenever he needs it, he will "provoke" himself.


Mykola Sunhurovskyi

Director, Military Programmes

Born in 1951 in Moscow.


Orenburg Higher Military Air Defence Forces School (1972);

Kyiv Air Defence Forces Academy (1982);

Higher School of Entrepreneurship, Kyiv Institute of National Economy (1991).

Ph. D. in Technical Sciences, Senior Research Fellow, the author of more than 90 publications.

Colonel (Ret.) with 31 years of military service, half of that term — at research institutions. Research profile — systems analysis, strategic planning, analysis methods, national security.


Most recent position in state bodies — Department Chief at the Analytical Service of Ukraine's NSDC Staff;

Since December 1999 — Razumkov Centre Programme Co-ordinator;

Since February 2000 — Freelance Consultant to the National Security and Defence Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

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