Former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili has been kidnapped and thrown out of Ukraine by the regime authorities. In autumn of 2017, he re-entered western Ukraine on foot from the Polish border after being kicked out a previous time. Saakashvili was of course a former friend and colleague of the current Kiev regime leader Petro Poroshenko who appointed him governor of the traditionally Russian region of Odessa in 2015.
By late 2016 however, Saakashvili and Poroshenko had fallen out, largely due to the fact that Saakashvili had higher ambitions than the governors office in a region that he had no connection with. Saakashvili was after Poroshenko’s job and he still is. Poroshenko saw the writing on the wall and moved to strip Saakashvili of his newly acquired Ukrainian citizenship thus (temporarily) preventing the former Georgian leader from realising his dream. At the moment, he is in Poland almost certainly plotting how to return to Kiev and take power. What’s more is that Russia should help Saakashvili achieve his dream.
Conventional wisdom would dictate that Saakashvili and Poroshenko are equally enemies of Russia and of the facts do bear this out. Saakashvili unsuccessfully waged a war against the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, thus threatening to ethnically cleanse Russian citizens and peacekeepers in both regions. Russia’s military came to the aid of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and eliminated the Georgian threat in very short order. After being soundly defeated by Russia, the Georgians themselves get tired of Saakashvili due to his rampant levels of corruption. He is currently wanted on charges relating to fraud in his native Georgia and thus, set his ambitions on post-coup Ukraine.
Why would Russia want to help its old enemy?
Saakashvili remains as anti-Moscow as ever. The fact that he has been embraced by the most extreme elements of Kiev’s neo-fascist culture is proof positive that Saakashvili’s hostility has not mellowed with age. To understand why such a person may be of use to Moscow, one must turn back to how Russia’s great enemy once sent none other than Vladimir Lenin to Russia.
At the height of the First World War, Germany was willing to do anything that could foreseeably weaken Russia and ideally end Russia’s involvement in the war. The German government therefore made a deal with Lenin and his exiled followers in Europe to provide him safe passage to Petrograd in a sealed train. Thus, Lenin couldn’t foment any anti-war activity in Germany or Austria-Hungary, but he certainly could and do did so once he got back to Russia.
Things went better for the German’s who put Lenin on the proverbial “Petrograd express” than they could have imaged. After coming to power in the October Revolution of 1917, Lenin not only withdrew from the war, but in 1918, Lenin signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which ceded all of Russia’s European territories to Germany and Austria-Hungary, while Russia also agreed to give Ottoman Turkey the territory it won during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877/78. To make things ever worse for Russia and better for Germany, Lenin agreed to pay Berlin 6 billion marks.
While Saakashvili is no socialist, like Lenin, he has an unquenchable thirst for power. One way or another Saakashvili is going to get back to Kiev and he will owe whoever helps him get there, a great deal. Russia’s FSB ought to track Saakashvili down and make him an offer he can’t refuse. In exchange for safely transporting him to Kiev, perhaps with some resources that he requires to make his move on Proshenko, Moscow could then do all it its power to help him achieve his goal of taking power.
At such a point, the deal would be that in order to retain Russia’s silent support, Saakashvili would have to give up any claims on Donbass, de-facto ackolwede Crimea’s status as a restored part of the Russian Federation and in the near future, allow the peoples of parts of Ukraine that no longer which to be ruled from Kiev (Odessa, Kharkov, Mariupol, Dnepropetrovsk etc) to hold democratic referenda on how they wish to be governed in the future.
In return, Russia could give Kiev that which it desperately needs – energy and other subsistence material and could also work to quietly normalise relations with Kiev, thus giving the US and radical elements of the EU little to stand on but a militarily vanquished Ukrainian rump state run by a happy clown called Saakashvili.
For a man who is so ostensibly foolish, Mikheil Saakashvili has become a surprisingly effective campaign among the “Maidan 2.0” crowd in Kiev. He has spoken to the grievances such people have about the economic collapse that the Poroshenko regime has brought in, rampant corruption, crumbling infrastructure and collapsing wages, in an economy that was poor even before the coup of 2014.
Because of this, Saakashvili could paint the “loss” of Donbass (which is already de-facto lost to Kiev) and possibly other historically Russian regions as the fault of Proshanko, all the while he would concentrate on his version of domestic reforms. Whether or not these reforms work would be irrelevant to the outside world as Russia has no responsibility towards Kiev unless Kiev sought to rejoin a Russian lead Eurasian path, nor have the EU or US ever cared about the internal affairs of Ukraine.
Making a deal with Mikheil Saakashvili is not making a deal with the devil, but making a deal with a useful idiot who has often tried to play the role of the devil, but who always fails due to his innate incompetence and avarice. He is clearly a man who would do anything for power and if the conditions are right, Russia can help put him in a position to take power in exchange for historical justice to the people of Donbass and beyond. In a place as desperate as Ukraine, this is as close to a win-win situation as is possible.