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A whistleblower claiming to be from the FSB (Russia’s successor to the Soviet KGB) has disclosed what he or she purports to be the Kremlin’s victory plan now that negotiations have begun. The concept is to gain through negotiations what Russia’s military could not win on the field of battle. 

The plan reads as follows, and the italics are mine:

“Zelenskiy will be pressured to sign an outwardly soft peace treaty, where he will recognize Crimea as Russia, and the Luhansk and Donetsk regions will go to the LDNR (the Luhansk and Donetsk Peoples Republics). Our negotiators will focus on the two republics and their nuances, but this is a distraction. The key point should be about demilitarization, which will actually ban Ukrainian special services, primarily counterintelligence.

“Our approach is viewed as more promising: In a matter of years, we, perhaps, with some (minimal) help from the GRU [Russian military intelligence], will carry out a total purge of the [Ukrainian] socio-political field. And then after that we can introduce any kind of our own authority in Kyiv.  

With a high probability, this plan will prevail in the Kremlin as it adjusts its strategy, although nobody can rule out scenarios of madness with aggression on other fronts. In theory, such a thing could happen, but how it will work in practice we do not know. There can be no military victory here.

“There are a lot of nuances, but the main thing is that, after the agreement is signed, we can actually violate it at any moment when we have the strength to turn the tide. For this second phase, troops will no longer be involved. Instead, we will have "black ravens” [cars for the transport of political prisoners] carrying those accused of violating the agreement on the Ukrainian side.

“This scenario is not as crazy as others, but everything is based on the opportunity to put pressure on Kyiv in the negotiations. Now foreign contacts are being worked on at the highest level - there is a search for those countries whose leadership could tacitly support our position and put pressure on Zelenskiy.” 

Ukraine fears an accord resembling the Munich Agreement of 1938. Kyiv’s fear is that Russia could agree on such a deal with the United States, or with larger European countries such as France or Germany. As the FSB victory plan notes, Russian political forces are already working on foreign politicians with these arguments: save lives, lose a little territory, and get rid of these sanctions that are hurting our businesses. Arguing against such a so-called soft agreement is the intense cost of treasure and soldiers that Russia is expending each day of battle. As the war continues, more and more Russian citizens will realize that Putin has lied to them and betrayed them with his false narrative of an impending attack by Ukriane. They will learn that a Rsussian invasion — and not a special military operation — has destroyed their already low living standard and has killed thousands of their young people. 

The FSB’s argument that Russia can achieve a “political victory” from within ignores the intense hatred of the Ukrainian people toward Russia, which has uprooted them from their homes, bombarded their apartments, destroyed their schools and hospitals, and killed their husbands and sons in battle. They do not want a “soft agreement.”  They want to see Putin in the dock of a war tribunal.

Paul Roderick Gregory is a professor of economics at the University of Houston, Texas, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a research fellow at the German Institute for Economic Research.