Ihor Zhdanov, Information Defence Project, The Open Policy Foundation
Putin stubbornly steps on the same rake again and again, hoping that Ukrainians will meet the russian occupiers with bread and salt. Publicly despised and odious characters of Ukrainian politics are being recruited by the kremlin as anathematic ambassadors of its completely duplicitous ‘charm offensive’ for ‘peace’ on its own terms.
This is not about Muraev, Azarov or Portnov. russia once again “bets” on trying to use Viktor Yanukovych, convicted of treason, in a new geopolitical game called ‘USSR version 2.0’.
New puppeteers - new plans
For a long time, the Ukrainian question in the kremlin was overseen by Vladislav Surkov, author of the idea of "sovereign democracy." It was under his "wise" leadership that the so-called "DNR" and "LNR" (Donets People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic) were created, their leaders were appointed and changed, financial flows were distributed and the war against Ukraine was waged.
However, now, after the beginning of russia's large-scale aggression against Ukraine, after the russian occupiers were greeted not with flowers but with "Javelins" and "Stingers", Vladislav Surkov fell into disgrace. It is rumored that he is even under house arrest.
Sergey Kiriyenko has become the new curator of the Ukrainian issue in the kremlin administration. He is remembered as the head of the russian government, which led to default in 1998 and who was briefly seen as Boris Yeltsin's successor, nicknamed the "Kinder Surprise".
So with the arrival of Sergey Kiriyenko, the strategic plans for the future of Ukraine and its temporarily occupied territories, which the kremlin puppet masters paint in their painful imagination, have also changed.
The author has repeatedly written that the aggressor state does not have a clearly defined and agreed strategy for our state. putin is constantly casting Ukrainophobic ideas: supporting the existence of separate quasi-states, terrorist "LPR" and "DPR", the formation of the so-called Novorossia, the disintegration of Ukraine into russian-controlled separate state entities. The only thing that unites these plans is their absolute russo-utopianism and impossibility of implementation, because they absolutely do not correspond to the military, political and social realities of Ukraine.
However, at the present stage, the project, which according to insider information is being promoted by the first deputy head of the Kremlin administration, Sergey Kirienko, has won so far - the project of the USSR version 2.0.
The Union of Slavic States as the new USSR
putin once called the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century. In the political subconscious of the russian dictator himself and his entourage, the restoration of the Soviet Union remained forever a fixed idea, which largely determined russia's foreign policy.
Kiriyenko's plan is to the kremlin's liking. The project is full of allusions and symbolism, because the new Agreement on the Establishment of the Union of Slavic States is proposed to be signed in Puszcza Bialowiezska by the same countries that signed the agreement on the termination of the USSR - russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
But the list of signatory countries now raises only additional questions. And if russia is the engine of this process, what is the political interest in Belarus? At first glance, Ukraine's participation in general is fanciful and unrealistic to say the least.
First about Belarus.
Self-proclaimed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been leading putin by the nose for decades, promising to restore the Soviet Union in a new format. He even went for the formation of the Union State of russia and Belarus, which, however, has no recognition in the international arena.
Moreover, Lukashenko has not explicitly sided with russia in the russian-Ukrainian war, though it has in many ways supported it thus far, and continues feeding Moscow with constant promises. According to insider information, at a recent meeting with putin, Lukashenko received “the Chinese warning” about Belarus’s dark future if does not go to war on russia’s side and sign the agreement on the creation of the USSR version 2.0.
What role is prepared for Ukraine in this game?
It seems that under no circumstances is Ukraine ready to conclude an agreement on the restoration of the USSR. Therefore, the russian project proposes to return from political obsolescence the fugitive President, sentenced to 13 years for treason and aiding russia's aggression against Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and reimpose him as puppet-leader.
The use of a traitor was already envisaged after the start of russia's large-scale aggression. In autumn of 2021, numerous lawsuits were filed in Ukrainian courts to legitimize Viktor Yanukovych as head of state of Ukraine. He was even brought to Belarus, but something did not gel together.
According to the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, Oleksii Danilov, ex-chairman of the Constitutional Court, Oleksandr Tupytskyi, who secretly fled abroad after February 24, was to take part in this process.
Now they have decided to update the plan, because both Yanukovych and Tupytskyi are in the hands of the russian secret services. They can be brought into the temporarily occupied territories, court decisions can be made to repeal the law on the removal of the fugitive prime minister and have him reinstated.
Well, then everything is clear. Under the protection of the FSO, Yanukovych is brought to Belovezhska Pushcha, where he, together with putin and the "broken" Lukashenko, will sign a new agreement on the creation of USSR version 2.0.
russian plans and the new reality
Theoretically, the implementation of the above plan is possible. It is possible that putin will really be able to "break" Lukashenko. However, so far, he has not been able to do so.
And what consequences will this have for Ukraine?
Inside our state, there are zero consequences for that. The vast majority of Ukrainians will only smile when they learn of this news and mock the name of the Ukrainian dictator-who-never-happened.
In the international arena, the consequences will also be close to zero. russia's satellites, which traditionally follow in the footsteps of its foreign policy, such as Cuba or Venezuela, are the only countries to recognize the embryonic USSR 2.0. And that's all.
So, most likely, the formation of a new union will only be recognized within russian culture as another of putin's make-believe achievements paving his way to hell.