Why and what did Russia win with the Savchenko exchange

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May 26, 2016 – 

Ruslan Ostashko, PolitRussia – 

Translated by J. Arnoldski

Savchenko has been exchanged. Kiev is full of glee and Poroshenko can enjoy a PR victory. In Russian social-networks, the patriotic public is breaking spears and throwing a rage in comment sections. Some believe that Savchenko should not have been exchanged regardless of the proposed terms, while others, on the contrary, believe that this was quite alright. 

If we look at the very essence of the event while ignoring the formalities, then it turns out that we have just witnessed an exchange of prisoners of an undeclared hybrid war. One can talk about the unequal weight of the exchange, just as it can be argued that Russian propaganda has not made the Russian prisoners into national heroes, and still more one can argue that murderers should not be exchanged for soldiers. All these emotions are understandable, as is a negative reaction, but I would suggest that the situation be looked at from a different angle.

We could have shot Savchenko, but in doing so we would have only strengthened the myth that Ukrainian PRists built around her. Russia could have left her to rot in jail, but again this only would have aided the myth of Savchenko which has made her into some kind of Ukrainian Nelson Mandela. Exchanging her, ironically, was the only way to kill and destroy the myth created around her.

Euromaidan supporters will definitely drag Savchenko into politics, and this is wonderful because so many Ukrainians believe that if the current Ukrainian politicians are replaced with “honest”, “un-bribable” ones ideologically charged by the ATO zone, such as Savchenko, then Ukraine will blossom before our very eyes. Savchenko has huge political potential, and this is a guarantee that after several months in public politics she will necessarily be discredited and the myth so painstakingly constructed by Ukrainian PR will be killed. 

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This Ukrainian Joan of Arc is but a banal fool and psychopath. We should remember this immortal quote of Vitaly Klitschko as the highest manifestation of political wisdom in modern Ukraine. The realization of this bitter truth will cause the Maidan herd serious psychological injury. If Savcheko gets into a ministerial or, as some would like, a prime ministerial position, then this would be quite alright, because the psychological damage will be complemented by economic damage.

Those who are analyzing the exchange of Savchenko should pay attention to three important points:

  1. The Ukrainian side long ago said that it was ready for such an exchange. If we agreed to it only today, then it is logical to assume that the Ukrainians wanted to add something else to the trade earlier, which the media has not talked about.
  2. The exchange took place in Russia. International practice suggests that in the case of an equivalent exchange, it should take place on a neutral territory. It is therefore logical to assume that the exchange’s occurrence on Russian territory was largely beneficial for Russia and for sure cannot be called equal.
  3. Not so long ago, Ukrainian Prime Minister Groysman stated that there was an agreement with the IMF on getting a new loan this summer. But here’s the thing: the conditions for obtaining this loan were never disclosed. If one remembers the whole story of the IMF, then Ukraine can apply for a new loan only in the case of reaching a decision on the 3 billion Eurobonds in debt with Russia and after adopting a law which essentially puts all major assets of the country up for sale to other countries.

Perhaps these facts are not associated with the release of Savchenko and are merely a coincidence, but I don’t think so. The topic of Savchenko will be the main one in the Ukrainian information field for a while, while other, more important developments for the country’s life, the newest “victories,” will not be given any attention.

Lastly, perhaps after this exchange someone might come up with the illusion that Russian citizens can be hunted without punishment. But, on the other hand, it seems to me more important that our soldiers, and our citizens in general, know that they can be rescued even from the most hopeless of all situations. The security of our country is much more important than the punishment of Savchenko. 

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