Why Not 101%?

28 September 2022


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Russian Referenda Set Up End Game Putin Wants


The four Russian-occupied provinces of Ukraine taken this year held referenda on joining the Russian Federation. The results were implausibly in favor of being ruled from Moscow. No legitimate referendum has a result for or against of 90% or higher. No legitimate referendum has armed men going door to door to force people to vote. No legitimate referendum is held in a war zone. However, legitimacy does not matter to Mr. Putin. What matters is that he is setting up a political situation that would allow him to declare victory. Sadly for him, much depends on the acquiescence of Kyiv, Berlin and Washington.

Reuters reported this morning, "The self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic voted 98.2% to join with Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic was 99.23% in favor, Kherson region was 87.05% in favor and in the Zaporizhzhia region 93.1% cast their ballots to become part of Russia, according to results announced early Wednesday."

The 1937 Soviet elections resulted in the Bolsheviks winning 99.30% of the vote. Enver Hoxha, the post-war dictator of Albania, held an election in 1945 in which his communist party won 93.18% of the vote. In other words, these referenda are as artificial as those of the early communists. He may as well have claimed 101% support.

Nevertheless, the Potemkin elections have their purpose. As a matter of political theater, they allow Mr. Putin to proclaim that these territories are now Russian. That is as much victory as he needs to sell a ceasefire at home. As seen at the Russian border crossing points, there are thousands of draft-age men leaving the country. Protests against the draft have sprung up not just in St. Petersburg and Moscow but also in the smaller cities. Anything that looks like peace will be easy to sell to the Russian people.

Peace, however, requires both sides to end the fighting, and Ukraine is not about to halt its offensive. The success of the Ukrainians have had in pushing the Russians back near Kharkiv has given them little reason to stop. Moreover, the atrocities the Russians have committed, the property they have destroyed and the massive suffering they have inflicted put Ukrainians in a mood to fight rather than talk.

Mr. Putin may get some help from the weather. The autumn rains are arriving, and they will turn the ground to mud. The mud is deep and thick, and this rasputitsa is what stopped Hitler\'s tanks a lifetime ago. It will force both Russians and Ukrainians to slow their military moves for a while. Then, winter hits the poorly heated living rooms of Western Europe; they will be cold because Russia has cut off the natural gas it normally provides. If that should force NATO to cut back on supplying Ukraine, Kyiv will be hard put to keep up the attack. The war will fizzle out, and that is the best Mr. Putin can do.

However, he cannot be allowed to achieve this. If he remains in office, he will continue to be a threat to world stability -- win or lose. He may not cause any more trouble in Europe (but one would not bet on it), but his adventuring could thrive in central Asia, and possibly the Middle East and Africa.

At very least, the peace terms should include Russian recognition of an independent Ukraine (borders to be decided at a later date), acceptance that Ukraine is a soon-to-be member of the EU and NATO and acceptance of border monitoring by the UN. Mr. Putin would probably reject each and all of these, and so, the war must go on.

One man started this war. One man can end it. He must not be allowed to end it on his terms.

© Copyright 2022 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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