Two days ago, the most unexpected confession came from the commander of the Vostok Battalion, Alexander Khodakovsky, In an exclusive interview with Reuters, he admitted, basically, that (a) the terrorists had BUKs, (b) some of them most likely did come from Russia, although he wasn’t 100% sure, and (c) likely the “rebels” used them on the day of the crash to fight off Ukrainian air bombing, so if they did shoot MH17 down, then it is Kiev’s fault for provoking them.
The following day, talking to Russian mainstream media, Khodakovsky withdrew his “confession”, also in an odd way. First he was quoted as accusing Reuters of down and right lying, saying he has a tape of the interview and can prove he never said any of (a), (b) or (c). This “quote” first appeared on the state-owned news agency RIA’s website, and was immediately quoted by basically all Russian media, including RussiaToday.
Shortly thereafter, however, this quote disappeared from RIA’s website, although it can still befound in (Russian Google) Yandex’s cache.
What is “wag-the-dog-grade” surreal is that RIA then republished a pared-down version of the quote, but already citing RussiaToday – even though the story on RussiaToday cited RIA.
Now, for those that don’t know, Khodakovsky is a rather controversial rebel commander within Russia. He is basically the only native Ukrainian amongst separatists military commanders, and was formerly a head of an Alpha Unit in Donetsk under Yanukovich. Recently he got into an armed stand-off with his co-“rebel” commander Igor Girkin, arguing over yet-to-be disclosed “differences of opinion on how to wage the war”. This stand-off has caused the ideologues of Russian expansionism (notably Dugin) to brand Khodakovsky a “Ukrainian spy sent to destroy the rebel movement from within”.
Now, all of this is bullshit talk for the domestic audience. Here is what is really happening.
Khodakovsky is not a spy for Kiev. If he is anyone’s spy, he is Putin’s spy. Back in May I wrote about the strong feeling of loss of control over the invasion of Ukraine that was overtaking Putin (Please read to understand the context, if you haven’t). As an attempt to partially get a foothold in the military side of the invasion – and compete with Malofeev’s private army – Putin sent the Vostok Battalion. That is the only battalion that represents Putin’s interests in the war in Eastern Ukraine. Period.
So here comes that strange confession, which puts the blame on Kiev for “provoking” the crash, mind you, not for “shooting” at MH17. Does this sound remotely familiar, though? Well, it should. Because that is exactly what Putin first said on the night after the tragedy. He said, quoting by memory
“Kiev should bear the blame for creating conditions for the tragedy by not stopping the ATO attacks on DNR/LNR”
But why would Putin’s commander say something as damning as what he said to Reuters (and later half-withdraw it?)
The logic is already analyzed in the report I co-wrote yesterday. Putin knows the truth about what really happened with MH17 (or, in a much less likely scenario, still doesn’t know for sure). So he has two choices, to side with the (guilty) “rebels”, or to go against them and acknowledge their blame.
But acknowledging their blame is a route pregnant with a major attack on Putin himself by the “orthodox hawk lobby”. Furthermore, a large part of the country – and most military staff – will see Putin as a traitor, and Girkin & co as the heroes.
So Putin desperately needs a Plan B. Plan B includes (a) cracking the door open for continuing to blame Kiev when the smoking gun for the terrorists’ genesis of the crash is found, and – crucially – (b) to have at least a PART of the armed rebels side with Putin, and not with the “orthodox hawk lobby”. This would dilute the “he’s the traitor” shout of the returning Russian rebels, amplified by Dugin’s epistolary madness, and thus will reduce (but only reduce) the risk for an attack on Putin himself – and I am talking a real, “GRADs on the Kremlin” attack.
Sort of a 1993 deja-vu, but with a rogue army that just got hands-on training with Putin’s own help.
(to be continued)