The Saker has written an article on the subject of the recent murder in the Donetsk People’s Republic of the militia leader Motorola. In it he calls for the Russian authorities to take over the investigation of Motorola’s murder and to take steps to ensure security in the Donbass.
Normally I avoid expressing views on these sort of issues, but on this occasion I will make an exception. The precarious security situation in the Donbass (masterfully dissected by the Saker in his article), the importance of this conflict to the peace of Europe and the world, and considerations of basic humanity, make doing so appropriate and necessary.
I completely agree with and support the Saker’s view and call.
I suspect that the reason the Russian authorities have not previously acted in the way he suggests is because they have been concerned that an overt role by Russian law enforcement and security agencies in the Donbass would be cited as proof in Ukraine and the West that Russia really is intervening there, and really is pulling the strings of the people Kiev and the Western powers call “the separatists”.
Whilst I understand this concern, in my opinion it is out of date, events having moved long since beyond it.
Though the Saker discounts the possibility the Ukrainian security services were behind Motorola’s murder and the other murders, that possibility has to be there, and in light of what the Ukrainian security services recently attempted in Crimea, it would fit a pattern. Moreover no less a person than Putin himself has publicly blamed the Ukrainian security services for the recent murder attempt on the Lugansk political leader Plotnitsky.
If it is the Ukrainians who are behind these murders then not only is that unconscionable, but it would also be a case of murders carried out by the Ukrainian authorities on territory which they still say is theirs, of people who they say are their own citizens.
This sort of death squad activity is of course totally illegal and immoral. It would also incidentally be a gross violation of the Minsk II agreement, which not only calls for a ceasefire in the Donbass, but which also requires the Ukrainian authorities to enter into direct talks with the Donbass leaders its security agencies would in that case be killing or trying to kill.
If this is indeed what is happening then it is very much in Russia’s interests – and the world’s – to know it.
Obviously the Western powers and the Ukrainians will reject the results of any Russian investigations. However if the results of these investigations are such as would convince reasonable people, then as the muted Western response to the Crimean incident shows, they would still have the potential to cause embarrassment. At the very least they would feed the growing doubts of many people in the West (in southern Europe especially) who have been questioning for some time where the West’s open ended commitment to the regime in Kiev is taking them.
Following from this, I would add that there is no risk in my opinion of Russia facing any additional sectoral sanctions as a result of Russia assuming an open role in the investigation of these murders and in security issues in the Donbass.
The Western leaders are struggling to keep the existing sanctions in place in the face of growing skepticism in southern Europe and elsewhere. That would not change simply because the Russians were openly doing what Western leaders have long accused them of doing, especially in circumstances where it was obviously appropriate that they should do so. Besides Russia is already acting on the assumption that the existing sectoral sanctions are going to be extended in January, and will remain in place for at least a further three years.
Of course if it is not the Ukrainians who are responsible for these murders then in the interests of basic humanity it is still important to bring the murderers to justice – or at least to identify who they are – and to restore law and order to the Donbass. As the Saker says, it is only Russia that can do this, and it is therefore Russia’s responsibility to do it.
Like the Saker I would also say that I completely discount the possibility that it is the Russian security agencies who are behind these murders. I can see no conceivable motive for them doing it, and I am sure that they are not doing it.
Lastly I should say that I have no doubt that the highly professional and experienced investigators and security officials Russia can call on would have no difficult undertaking these sort of tasks and carrying them out moreover at minimal cost.
In every case of murder I know of (including Motorola’s) the murderers have left behind them a trail of clues. I have no doubt that properly qualified investigators such as those from Russia would have no difficulty quickly identifying them, and if they are still on Donbass territory, apprehending them.
For all these reasons I completely agree with the Saker that Russia should take over the investigation of Motorola’s murder and of the other murders that have happened in the Donbass, and should assume a greater security role there, and I support his call that it should do so.