Mykola Azarov’s call for early elections and “total regime change” in Kiev was a bit of a head-scratcher. The ousted Ukrainian prime minister, after all, is deeply unpopular in his homeland and—with the exception of Ukrainian prosecutors who want to put him on trial—largely forgotten.
But in a high-profile press conference in Moscow on August 3 that was carried live on Russian state television, Azarov announced the creation of a Ukraine Salvation Committee that aims to oust the pro-Western government of President Petro Poroshenko.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said Moscow has nothing to do with the initiative. But that has about as much credibility as Peskov’s claim that the $620,000 watch he was photographed wearing at his wedding was a gift. In fact, Azarov’s announcement fits into a pattern that suggests that the Kremlin is giving up on the Minsk accords as a means to achieve its objectives in Ukraine and is shifting to other methods of pressuring Kiev.