Tim Judah on Ukraine

Via Wolfgang and Lee, this excellent NYRB article on the situation in eastern Ukraine by Tim Judah.


Is Putin behind all this, and if so what is his goal? No one seemed to know for sure. Yuriy Temirov, an analyst at Donetsk’s university, says that he believes some local oligarchs have been financing the rebel organization, though others are clearly supporting Ukraine. Russia certainly has its interests in Ukraine and there is strong, although disputed, evidence suggesting that Russian military and intelligence agents were involved in the takeovers; but Putin’s interests are not the same as those of the oligarchs financing the rebels. “The local bosses don’t want any authority here, either state or Russia,” Temirov told me. But Putin, he believes, has made “efficient” use of the local bosses, who have unwittingly “done the dirty work of the Kremlin.” One of them is widely believed to be Oleksandr Yanukovych, the son of the former president, who had been a dentist and then became fabulously wealthy when his father was in power.

And an ominous final two sentences:

In the early hours of Easter Sunday, a shootout at a rebel checkpoint surrounded by fields at Bylbasovka, near Sloviansk, led to a number of dead, though how many and exactly what had happened was unclear. The phony war teetered on the edge of turning real.


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