After the Istanbul round of talks between Moscow and Kiev fell through, observers expect the fighting in southeastern Ukraine to intensify. According to political analyst Alexander Morozov, the negotiation process was doomed from the start because the Russian elite had never formed a «peace party» that could influence Putin.
On March 29, Vladimir Medinski stated after the talks in Istanbul that the Ukrainian side's proposals were a constructive step toward finding a compromise, while Moscow, in turn, was making two steps toward it by reducing military activity in the Kiev and Chernihiv directions and agreeing to a meeting between Zelenski and Putin. On March 31, the European media reported, citing the Pentagon, that Russian troops began withdrawing from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant area to Belarus. On April 2, the BBC, citing the deputy defense minister of Ukraine, reported that Russian troops had left the Kiev region.
Experts' comments were cautious. They boiled down to the fact that troops would be redeployed to the south, where the Kremlin would expand military action. The negotiations were thought to have resulted in nothing. In Russia, though, wide audiences were assured that a cease-fire was imminent. Because of Medinsky's statements many people had the false impression that Kiev was ready to accept the «territorial gains» Russian troops had made by March 30. Many began to think that Putin was ready to end the campaign now, or at least by May 9. And everything would end with the «expansion of the DNR/LNR» and the creation of the «KhNR» in the Kherson region.
Party of War and Party of Victims
On March 31, Russian troops left Bucha; on April 1-2, the first pictures from there appeared in the news; on April 3 and 4, the world media published headlines about massacre of civilians and genocide, as well as looting, violence, and torture perpetrated by of Russian soldiers. Peskov and Lavrov immediately began denying those stories, claiming it was all «staged.» The final «meltdown of the collective mind» of the ruling elite began in Moscow: the reaction to Bucha exposed two positions in the government - and both of them were absurd.
The first one is now embodied by Peskov and Medinsky, followed by all those who play the game of «negotiating a truce» and «positive developments.» The second is Medvedev and Kadyrov, along with the numerous bloodthirsty authors of RIA Novosti, Regnum, etc. Those people advocate a «final solution to the Ukrainian question.» Medvedev published a text about a merciless war with «deep Ukrainianism,» which clearly recalls Goebbels' famous «total war» speech of February 18, 1943.
Goebbels' Total War Speech
At the same time, a public controversy erupted between Peskov and Kadyrov over the «stars» who had left Russia. Peskov mildly stated they had gone on vacation, while Kadyrov exclaimed: what kind of vacation can there be in the conditions of war? They're traitors. Peskov replied: there's no need to measure whose «patriotism» is bigger. All this led to the fact that by April 6 there were two versions of what was happening in and around the Kremlin. The first theory was that a «war party» and a «peace party» had formed here. The war party believes that since the Ukrainian population did not welcome the Russian army with flowers, the next three generations of Ukrainians should be «denazified» (as Timofey Sergeitsev, a columnist for RIA Novosti, put it), and that Zelensky and the entire Ukrainian political establishment should be executed without mercy (as Dmitry Medvedev directly alluded to by mentioning Sudoplatov and Bandera). The Peace Party claims that Zelensky is the legally elected president, and that negotiations should be conducted with him, and that it is even possible to agree to Ukraine's joining the European Union in exchange for giving up «everything else.»
The Regnum authors clearly oppose this stance: «Against this background, Medvedev and Kadyrov look good, giving a sharp and articulate rebuff to the sect of peace with the Kiev regime and its sister sect of «Witnesses to Urgant's Patriotism.» Soon, the controversy became engulfed in conspirology. Some think Chubais left for a reason, but with an errand to find a settlement. Others believe that a group of people is behind Abramovich's participation in the negotiations. Behind these conspirological theories is the hope of many a system manager that the war is not just progressing on its own toward a tactical nuclear strike, but rather is moving toward a truce at the very least and that the «domino effect» caused by the cascading sanctions can be stopped.
However, these expectations are for nothing. There is no «party of peace» in Russia right now, there's a «party of victims.» And these victims simply quit and leave their positions. They have no influence whatsoever on Putin or the Security Council. Some of them have already left, like many in the Central Bank apparatus or like the CEO of Yandex, while others are still discussing whether or not it's still a «market» economy or a «mobilization» (i.e. non-market) economy?
Those who disagree with the war simply quit, they have no influence over Putin
Nezavisimaya Gazeta presents a report by Dmitri Belousov, one of the heads of the Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting (CMASTF), about two scenarios: a «long winter» (in case peace talks or another form of cessation of active hostilities succeed) and a «protracted military conflict». The second is undoubtedly worse, the authors of the report believe. Can they be considered supporters of the «peace party»? Hardly. They have not created any consolidated environment. They are simply officials who are close to the government which is waiting in terror for the «transport sanctions», i.e. the blocking of ports and rail traffic. There is another explanation for the actions of Medinsky and the imaginary «party of peace»: it is a «Stalinist maneuver» by Putin. By putting Medinsky in the limelight with his «search for a compromise,» Putin simply wants to see the reaction of the political apparatus, the members of the government, and the oligarchs. And when he identifies those who are too happy about the approaching cease-fire, he will quickly sic the special services on them and turn them into «national traitors».
Perhaps Medinsky's search for a compromise via negotiations is Putin's way of identifying «national traitors»
Medvedev, well aware of the panic in this milieu, publishes his unsettling columns on his Telegram channel, hoping to show Putin he is «loyal to the grave,» along with Patrushev, Kadyrov, and other demons of war. Medvedev's column about the extermination of «deep Ukrainianism,» in which he invokes the ghost of Sudoplatov, as well as Sergeitsev's text for RIA Novosti, and Zyuganov's statement on waging a «great patriotic war» with Ukrainians until total victory, are certainly a response to the «heroic despair» roaming Moscow's corridors of power: Putin should be removed, sent to honorary retirement, but no one can do it, therefore under Putin, peace is impossible.
Instead of the «party of peace,» a mentality is being reinforced in Moscow which allows the «victims» to distance themselves from the events: it was not us who started the war but the United States, which is enslaving Europe. And Russia is just a casualty in this plan to re-establish the U.S. rule. Biden has been pushing poor Putin into a narrowing corridor, every next step he takes will inevitably turn into a defeat in the information war with the global West. So, we'll all go down together with a bang: the party of victims led by the party of war.
Waiting for massacre
The peace talks have moved to Istanbul. Turkish diplomacy would like to bring matters to a meeting between Putin and Zelensky. However, it is not possible yet. In this connection Lukashenko made a nervous statement, saying Belarus was being squeezed out of the negotiation process. Abramovich is involved in the organization of a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol. The fighting won't end there. Although the Ukrainian army units are offered evacuation by sea.
Today is April 8 and everyone who follows troop movements expects carnage in Donbass over the next three days. Russian troops are about to advance, while the Ukrainian side is all set to defend itself. Negotiations are at a standstill. Kiev believes the Kremlin withdrew troops from the Kiev region in anticipation of the negotiations in Istanbul. Moscow wanted guarantees sanctions would be lifted in exchange for a peace treaty. Kiev responded by including «the issue of Crimea» in the text of a possible treaty. Lavrov immediately retorted: this breaks the negotiating pattern.
However, we must understand that is no negotiating pattern. Moscow's demands are not feasible. On April 7, Peskov admitted Russia had suffered «significant losses» during its military intervention in Ukraine. This was perceived as a public gesture of the «party of peace.» However, one should not be deceived. The Kremlin is going to storm eastern Ukraine in the next few days. A massacre is coming. Whereafter the Kremlin will reiterate its demands via negotiations.