Tag Archives: Nadia Savchenko

Savchenko the Human

This May Ukraine and its foreign supporters rejoiced at the release of ex-military pilot Nadia Savchenko. Her two year captivity was a never-ending drama of hunger strikes against a background of the bizarre, Alice and Wonderland antics of the Russian judicial system. Some compared her to Joan of Arc, particularly those who have no idea who Joan of Arc was. To be fair, the drama did lead to the creation of this awesome painting:

savchenkopainting

I think I’ve chosen a backpiece.

 

Seriously though, Nadia returned to her native Ukraine not only a hero, but also an elected member of the Rada. As such, people had high hopes for Nadia’s political career. There was a belief in the air that Nadia would come in and smash the oligarchs and set things right. My friend Maxim Eristavi tried to warn everyone in advance, but it seems he ended up being Cassandra of Troy.

Some time later, Nadia ended up making some controversial statements about the war, namely expressing the opinion that the government should negotiate directly with the leadership of the DNR and LNR and “apologize” to the residents of the Donbas. It seems almost immediately thereafter, she has gone from heroine of Ukraine to Manchurian candidate deliberately released by Russia and working for the FSB.

While I too find her comments in this regard rather perplexing, I’m afraid Ukraine’s “patriots” have no one to blame but themselves for their disappointment. They turned an ordinary person into a deity. Christopher Miller did an excellent job painting a realistic portrait of Nadia Savchenko which definitely warrants reading. Perhaps if people had reported on Savchenko in this manner while she was incarcerated in Russia, the impact of the realization that she is an ordinary person might not have been so hard to take.

And on another note. While I don’t agree with Nadia’s apparent plan for peace in the Donbas, I challenge the nationalists who think they can win this militarily to put forth their plan. I’m not saying that a military solution isn’t possible. On the contrary, I’m certain that it is the only way. The problem is that whereas my solution is unconventional (but with a generally proven track record), theirs is almost certainly going to be something that will inevitably lead to another debacle like Ilovaisk or Debaltseve. I say this based on experience, namely that which has taught me that self-proclaimed chest-thumping Ukrainian “patriots” have virtually zero understanding of the political nature of war. What is more, Ukraine has yet to win the global information war with Russia. It is still laughably vulnerable to the same weaknesses Russian propaganda has been exploiting over and over again.

svoboda

Pic TOTALLY unrelated.

The point I’m getting at here is that Nadia might have expressed a very bad idea, but it’s most likely out of hopelessness and a general lack of imagination. Unfortunately in Ukrainian politics, as in much of the world today, there is a very narrow frame of what’s considered realistic or feasible. In the case of Ukraine, the “solution” that is being put forth by Ukraine’s supposed Western “allies” entails “fulfilling Minsk,” an agreement which pretty much ensures Russian influence in Ukraine while forcing the latter to pay for its own restoration. Meanwhile rather than ratchet up sanctions on Russia for its continued support for the separatist quasi-states, Western leaders continually remind the Kremlin that sanctions can be lifted as soon as Russia starts to implement the Minsk II protocols. The fact that Russia continually denies involvement and obviously refuses to implement an agreement that would actually benefit Moscow more than anything tells you that Putin obviously isn’t listening to these gentle reminders, yet Western countries continually insist on Minsk II as the only solution.

Now put yourself in Nadia’s shoes and tell me what solution you come up with. An Operation Bagration-style offensive to recapture the Donbas isn’t on the table. If we were to assume that such an operation wouldn’t be fully known to the Russians before it got off the ground thanks to spies and informants (and idiot soldiers snapping selfies), Russia would just do the same thing it has done since the beginning of this war- let the local proxies and useless volunteers take the brunt of the fighting and then hammer the Ukrainian forces with the regular army’s artillery and armor as they near the border. Meanwhile, Ukraine possesses nothing with which it can twist Putin’s arm in order to force him to accept a deal that ultimately favors him, as already explained above. Oh I almost forgot- you’re dealing with this situation after two years in Russian captivity and numerous hunger strikes. So yeah, your mind might be a bit hazy and you might not be bringing your A-game to the brainstorming session.

In conclusion I must say that in spite of whatever disagreements I might have with Savchenko, I still respect her. I think she’s an important example for Ukraine’s women. I think her behavior in the Rada shows how ridiculous it is for its pretentiousness. And what about getting drunk on an army base out of boredom? Shit- that just brings the two of us even closer. And to the “patriots” calling her a traitor, remember this. She didn’t make herself into a demigod- you did.

The Expendables

So it finally happened. Nadia Savchenko was released from Russian captivity today and sent home to Kyiv in exchange for two captured spetsnaz soldiers Aleksandrov and Erofeev. What you are reading here is the article I had planned to write for roughly a month, after there had been rather hopeful talk about her release in late may, i.e. now. Of course I could have written this same article regardless of when she was released, so long as she was released at any point before actually serving out the 22-year sentence the court had given her.

If you’re not familiar with Nadia Savchenko, you can read an explainer here. You can also read some key testimony (which was never heard in court) here. For those of you who want the gist right now, Savchenko was captured by forces of the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” and layer conveyed across the Russian border. She would later be accused of killing two Russian journalists by directing mortar fire on them. If you want the prosecution’s basic case, it goes something like this:

Nadia Savchenko, motivated by hatred of Russian-speaking people, somehow managed to deliberately direct mortar fire onto two Russian journalists. She then decided that she, hating Russian-speakers so much, should attempt to flee into Russia claiming to be a refugee. That part about being motivated by hatred of Russian-speakers was actually part of the charge, and the second part was the story behind the charge of illegally crossing the Russian border. Every major point in this narrative, the hatred of Russian-speakers, the “murder” itself,” and the sudden decision to escape the detested Russian-speakers by illegally entering Russia, is borderline insane. But this is a political trial, so naturally Savchenko was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy she’s free, but this exchange demonstrates how sinister and cynical the Russian government can be towards its own citizens. For starters, let’s actually take the Russian side at its word. All throughout the trial, pro-Kremlin media, blogs, comment trolls etc. all labeled Savchenko a murderer long before the trial was over. If anyone showed sympathy for her plight, some pro-Kremlin jackass would angrily remind you about how she murdered two innocent journalists, thus displaying a total lack of knowledge as to how mortars work. Having declared her guilty, the court officially labeled her a murderer. As far as I know, Russian authorities insist their courts are legitimate. Hence, as far as the Russian government’s concerned, Savchenko murdered two of its citizens and then illegally crossed their borders.

And then they just let her go. Exchanged her, to be sure, but they let her go. Also while rather hasty official explanation today said that the journalists’ widows asked Putin to pardon Savchenko, this doesn’t hold much water seeing as how this exchange had been alluded to much earlier. In fact I can’t say for sure now but I’m pretty sure that people had been speculating about a Savchenko/spetsnaz exchange well into last year. Russia just let her go, not after say, dropping the charges in the middle of the trial due to any number of plausible excuses, but after they had convicted her and labeled her a murderer of Russians.

This really is an injustice. Thanks to the Russian show-trial, we may never know the exact circumstances regarding the journalists’ deaths.¬†Whether on the part of their bosses or the “rebel” fighters, negligence could very well have been a factor. And of course, there would have been no war had it not been for Putin and his clique. But if we draw the line below Putin and those responsible for coordinating the Donbas insurgency and subsequent war, there is a possibility that these journalists were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and nobody can truly be blamed. Yet even if we look at their deaths as nothing more than a random tragedy, they didn’t deserve to be used as the basis for a political trial against a person who was simply defending their homeland. Nor should their widows have been cynically used in a pathetic attempt to make Putin look merciful and wise.

Do you see the lesson yet? Have you learned something about the value of Russian life to Putin and his parasitical clique? Unable to show accountability for the deaths of two journalists killed in a war the Kremlin started, they decided to use those deaths in order to punish this Ukrainian woman, to make her an object of hate. And when this whole thing became a political mess- presto! She goes free, in spite of her conviction. Journalists? What journalists? Russians aren’t citizens, deserving rights. Like the victims of the Odessa massacre and the citizens of occupied Donbas, they’re all just props in the Kremlin’s reality show.

In case it wasn’t clear to you before, it ought to be now. Putin and his billionaire clique intend to fight down to the last Russian citizen rather than be held accountable for robbing their nation. Journalists Anton Voloshin and Igor Kornelyuk, from the perspective of the Kremlin, were expendable.The people of Russia are expendable.