The time for quick fixes is over
“President Putin outlined the tasks facing the special military operation. Completion of these tasks will mean the end of a special military operation, ”the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov answered a question about the likely timing of the completion of what began on February 24 at the end of this week. Clear, specific, understandable – but not very informative. Against the background of such a lack of information content, the statements of high-ranking people who are in the subject, who nevertheless decide to make more definite time forecasts, are all the more valuable. Interview of a deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, one of the closest associates of Ramzan Kadyrov, Adam Delimkhanov, to the RIA Novosti agency. Question: “In your opinion, given your combat experience, is it possible to expect that the special operation in Ukraine will end before the end of the year. It is clear that this can only be said approximately. Answer: We hope. I think it won't go on anymore.”
Can this statement be considered an important political signal? Let's figure it out. “We can only talk about this approximately”, “I think”, “we hope” – both from the very wording of the question and from the very wording of the answer it clearly follows that we are by no means talking about something firmly guaranteed. But is it possible, in principle, in this context, to consider something guaranteed? Another important point. Delimkhanov's words are a remark not taken out of context, thrown by him in response to a question during a fleeting meeting with a journalist. These words are part of a fairly extensive interview with the main state news agency. As the author of a fairly large number of interviews with prominent Russian political figures, I can “open a crack in the journalistic kitchen”: in our country, such texts are usually carefully edited, verified and necessarily endorsed. There is nothing “random” about them.
It is probably not accidental that the end of this year is increasingly slipping in expert assessments as some very important reference point. Here, for example, is a key fragment of a very high-quality, well-thought-out and convincing article by the famous political scientist Vasily Kashin in the Profile magazine: autumn-winter 2022, when the collapse of the Ukrainian infrastructure, the energy crisis with the disruption of the heating season, the lack of fuel, food and further deterioration of the living conditions of the Ukrainian population will begin to affect.
“It may become a breaking point” – or it may not. Vasily Kashin's forecast also does not contain any “firm guarantees”. But this, in my opinion, only gives his words more weight. Weighted expert assessments are generally better understood not as indications of certain specific dates, but as indications of trends: in which direction is the “political wind blowing”? In the direction of what probable outcome is everything developing? Do not consider that I contradict myself, but I am still ready to name one specific date – the start date of one extremely important political trend. Optimistic statements by Moscow officials following their last face-to-face meeting with the Ukrainian delegation in Istanbul on March 29 were greeted with deep skepticism in Russian society. And this skepticism was fully justified. Official Kyiv very quickly disavowed the agreements reached (or still not fully reached?).
But here's what a surprising (first of all, for myself) conclusion I came to, having collected scraps of information into a big picture: on March 29, there was no game or show from the Kremlin. Moscow was indeed ready to negotiate with Kyiv on the agreed terms. But since such readiness was not “mirrored” by the counter readiness of the Zelensky regime, “the concept has changed.” Now, on the part of Moscow, this “concept”, in my opinion, looks like this: the more they drag and persist, the more they will eventually lose. Will this “end result” coincide with the end of 2022? Time will tell. This is the only “conclusion” that can now be considered 100% correct.