"U.S. has its knee to the neck of Europe in the form of NATO: an interview 1 March with Radio Belarus"
by Gilbert Doctorow
gilbertdoctorow.com (February 26, 2022)
I offer visitors to my website the link to yesterday’s 20 minute video interview with the Belarus radio and television broadcaster.
This chat dealt with issues raised in my latest written report on Day Five of Russia’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine, but it went further to probe the reasons why America’s success in provoking Russia to engage in a war with Ukraine will likely not achieve its intended purpose of burying talk of a revised security architecture in Europe. On the contrary, both sides, the U.S.-led West and Russia, are escalating their aggressiveness precisely because the struggle is, in the last analysis, about expanding and enhancing NATO or smashing it to pieces. Ukraine just happens to be the field of combat for this historic struggle that will shape the world order for decades to come.
The murder in the U.S. of George Floyd gave momentum to the Black Lives Matter movement and also provided an image that captured the imagination of the nation and the world: the knee on the neck of a prone victim. That image is entirely appropriate to describe the essential nature of the NATO alliance and of the European Union, which NATO has de facto taken hostage. It is absolutely stunning to witness how in the days since Russia launched its ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine the whole of Europe has snapped to attention and is doing its very best to implement the orders coming from Washington.
Should the Russians succeed in their mission in Ukraine and continue on their way in the face of the ‘nuclear bomb’ economic sanctions that Washington and Brussels have directed at Moscow, the whole NATO alliance will appear to be a sham, and the security umbrella of Washington will be blown inside out by gale force winds.
I call attention to the fact that until now the Russians have not responded to the latest waves of sanctions apart from their closing their air space to all nations that have shut out Russian airlines, meaning the entire EU. However, the freezing of Bank of Russia assets in the West remains without a response, as does the partial exclusion from SWIFT. This is not for lack of options on the Russian side to inflict extreme pain on the West. The confiscation of all Western corporate assets in Russia would largely balance the frozen Russian assets in the West. The shut-off of gas and oil supplies, of uranium for French and other European power plants, and of still other essential raw materials that are largely or even exclusively sourced in Russia would be very damaging to the European economies. None of this has been done because the Russians expect to finish up their business in Ukraine rather soon, and then to negotiate a gradual return to normality with the West.
Fortunately such colossal confrontations as we are now witnessing come along once in several generations. Let us hope that this one will end sooner rather than later, and will see us all through safe and sound to a new world order that is better balanced and just than the one that we have known till now.
These are busy days for Russia specialists, I am sad to say. My ongoing vacation in the Lisbon area has not provided the rest and battery recharge it was supposed to do because of a flow of demands from broadcasters and others to grant extensive interviews or to participate in panel discussions of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
In this connection, I close this note with mention of the podcast chat with me that Tom Woods released on the internet a day ago: https://tomwoods.com/ep-2074-russia-ukraine-and-nato/
The podcast is well over an hour long, which made it possible to go into the history of the present conflict in and over Ukraine in some depth. I hope listeners will find it especially informative.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022
The Video Interview with Radio International Belarus
Grigory Mityushkinov: ". . . Introductory remarks about negotiations between Russia and the coup-authorities in Ukraine . . ."
Gilbert Doctorow: "I think it's very important that Belarus made available to both parties its [territory] for purposes of negotiation. However, the nature of those negotiations has to be understood in a specific context in which Russia wanted to appear reasonable and civilized and open to diplomacy, even as it pursues its military objectives on the territory of Ukraine. Accordingly, both sides sent to these negotiations parties which are not at the highest level and were more for show than for substance. In the case of the Russians, it was headed by the former Minister of Culture who has no reputation, whatsoever, in dealing with international affairs such as this. He looked very well. He has a good suit. And I'm sure he meant well. But to believe that he could be capable of a breakthrough in negotiations with the Ukrainian side, which also not headed by ... [unintelligible interjection] . ... Medinsky is a very strong Russian patriot. He showed that during his tenure as Minister of Culture. But that does not make you an international negotiator. He was holding up the Russian side. He looked good for the television cameras. And that's about all you could or should expect from those particular talks."
"It is good that the sides can sit down together in a civilized way and I hope it will proceed that way. Because the alternative is quite ugly. However, to look at the big picture, the Russians have in no way achieved or come close to the military victory forcing the Ukrainian side to accept their end game solutions, which they stated very concisely as denazification and demilitarization, turning Ukraine into a neutral state, to which they added in the last few days a third condition: namely, recognition of the Russian possession, permanently and forever, of the Crimea. Those terms are still unacceptable to the Ukrainian side because they are not yet convinced that they have lost this war."
[4:02] "The war has been pursued in a very specific way by the Russians, for a number of reasons. Not least of which, this war is a fratricidal war. It is a war between two nations that are very close. Peoples that are very close, extensively intermarried and who have relatives on either side of the border. And for those considerations the Russian authorities were very careful not to do what the Americans do typically, in their style of war, which is "shock and awe," to come and destroy everything in their path and every one in their path, both civilians and combattants. That's how the Americans behaved in Afghanistan. That's how the Americans behaved in Iraq. And these are wars that America lost, even without the consideration that there were very few relatives of the peoples they were attacking in the United States. Whereas Russia is pursuing military action in a country where a lot of people have relatives.
[5:13] "Now, people reading the Western newspapers, you would think that these sanctions imposed on Russian oligarchs could change the Putin regime. Could do something to destabilize and produce a regime change in Russia. That is only a demonstration of how little Western political analysts and Western leaders understand the nature of Russia. The greater challenge, or threat to the stability in Moscow would be widespread popular dissatisfaction with the conduct of a brutal war against a country where so many people have relatives."
Grigory Mityushkinov: "... was the incursion a surprise ..."
Gilbert Doctorow: ""President Biden, in answer to some journalists questions said that he trusted American intelligence. Unfortunately, that is a mistaken trust. American intelligence was very clearly misled by superior Russian intelligence who fed, through Estonia, through Poland and through other intermediary countries word of an impending Russian attack which Washington immediately picked up as if it were god-given and true. It wasn't god-given and true. It was intended and used by Moscow to expose Washington's completely unprofessional intelligence operations. They did that. And even the journalists in D.C. attendiing Biden's press conference were laughing behind his back about the completely foolish statements about an impending Russian invasion. Finally, an incursion did come, but when it came it was indeed a surprise. And Washington had so frequently cried 'Wolf!' in the preceding two weeks that nobody believed they would take place. It did. It took place in the early morning hours, about 4:30 local time, at a time when civilians would not be on the streets. A time when casualties would be negligible, if at all, on the civilian side. And so it did come, despite all the warnings of its being impending the preceding three weeks, then it came as a surprise."
Grigory Mityushkinov: "Do you think that Russia wants to occupy Ukraine?"
Gilbert Doctorow: "No. Occupation is out of the question. And the best example of this, Russia's intentions with respect to the future of Ukraine, and I must say, at the outset, that the Russian intentions, the end game, have been changing and will change, according to the nature of the forces on the ground and how they actually resolve the military challenge, will shape the end result. But as a general observation, it is fairly obvious that Russia wants regime change in Ukraine, possibly to divide Ukraine into three parts. A large part of Ukraine with a capital in Kiev being both ethnic Russian and ethnic Ukrainian in a government of tolerance in which both majority and minority populations feel compfortable. That is one possibility. A very large Ukraine, a "western" Ukraine, which is the cradle of extreme nationalists presently in power and who have been in power since the coup d'etat of February 2014, the center being Lviv to which American and other embassies evacuated. That could also be another state of Ukraine which will very quickly be brought into NATO and the EU. And the Russians will have no objections, because that type of Ukraine, a land-locked Ukraine, which is removed at some greater distance, some hundreds of kilometers to the West of the present center of Ukraine, Kiev, will pose no particular military threat than NATO forces in Slovakia and Poland do to Russia."
"So there you have it. What happens now to the two Republics, the Donbass republics, Lugansk and Donetsk I think it is very important to point out that Russia has given very limited news coverage to its military operation in Ukraine. Virtually the only coverage that you see from Russian television for the last few days has been the movement, the progressive movement of the local forces of Donetsk and Lugansk against their enemies, the Ukranian nationalist forces and the special battalions of radicals and the Recovery of town by town of the greater part of the territory of each of these republics when they were still oblasts, or regions, of Ukraine that were lost in 2014 and 2015 to superior Ukrainian military forces. And when the line of demarcation was made, which became the basis of the Minsk accords, these majority territories of the former republics were outside their control. In the past few days we have seen them progressively, the local forces take back these territories with only minor Russian assistance. Why is that so?"
[11:35] "I think it is a very important factor. First of all, for Russians in Russia, they see that the local people in these republics are fighting for their own freedom and are not being given this freedom on a silver platter by Moscow. That is important for these republics also for their self-awareness and for their pride. That they were not just neutral observers while Russia restored them their territory. They have restored their territory by their own forces, their own sacrifices of their fighters. And they will be well prepared from the bottom up, to be independent countries. Independent of Russia. That is a major point which no one in the Western media pays attention to." [12:28] Grigory Mityushkinov: "[... Did not the Belorussian president say that Russia was provoked into this miltary action?...]"
"President Lucashenko's joining this campaign, first of all by inviting in the Russian military and hosting them, as they prepared themselves for the eventuality of an incursion into Ukraine was of decisive importance in guiding the Kremlin on its military strategy and on its likely outcome of the conflict. The possiblilty of Belarus participation directly in the operations in Ukraine is, I am sure, a very great comfort, not only because of the real physical contribution but because of the moral contribution at a time when Russia is facing a barrage of information and economic warfare attacks coming from the West. So your country and your president have been an important factor in the way this war is being conducted and its likely outcome."
[14:12] Grigory Mityushkinov: " "
Gilbert Doctorow: "Yes, that is the case. And I'm sure that there are a lot of propagadists in the state department, in the American political establishment who take comfort that their plans have played out. That Russia's emphasis in December when it laid out its complaints about the security architecture in Europe have been put aside and that all attention is now proceeding on the conflict in Ukraine. That surely wasn't what the Russians wanted, although Moscow did everything possible to prepare for such a conflict, both diplomatically in the world at large. For example the visits of President Putin to Deli, in India, and to Beijing, in China, in preparation for what we now see. But that was not their first preference. It was clear that the first prerence of Washington was to bait Moscow and to provoke it into a military action.
"Well that has happened. Now water over the dam. I think there is a high likelihood of Russian military succes, although they are in the process of changing their tactics, and indeed their strategy for victory as they see their results on the ground. There has been a lot of talk in Western media, based on very little evidence because there is so much secrecy about how these miliary activities are being carried on. But there is the expression, by supposed experts, not even by real experts, of military affairs in the West that the Russians are gone very slowly and have encounterd greater resistance than they expected. I think there is a lot of truth in that. The Russian strategy was based on its ability to separate the professional Ukrainian from the radicals, the Azov Battalion, and the other gangsters or jihadists of the kind Mr Putin denounced and said would be subject to a denazification campaign."
"Well, it turns out that after 8 years, with a lot of assistance from America and other NATO instructors, the Ukrainian military has been able to impose greater discipline on soldiers and officers than existed in 2014. Moreover, I think there is reason to believe that very much, like in the early Soviet Union, the communist party took control at the unit level in its military through policy coordinators, through communist party zealots who threatened immediate execution who disputed or discussed orders. I thinkk a similar thing has happened in Ukraine so that the ability to separate the sheep and the goats, the bad soldiers from the very bad soldiers has been diminished. And in that situaton, I think the Russians are slowly, or maybe not so slowly, changing both strategy and tactics. We will see, today, tomorrow whether this is so now that the so-called 'cauldron' or surrounding of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion and other irregulars as well as regular military forces in the area of Mariupol reaches its culmination and the first direct battle engagements between the Russian army and these ultranationalists takes place. I think it is likely that there will be a complete surrounding and the combattants will be given a choice of surrendering or fighting to the death. We'll see how that plays out. And how it plays out in Mariupol will be a very good indication of Russian strategy and tactics going forward in the rest of Ukrain.
[19:30] Grigory Mityushkinov: "Will this lead to a shift from a uni-polar to a multi-polar world? A painful transformation, but it is taking place."
Gilbert Doctorow: "I think you are very correct in that assessment. We are witnesses to history, the kind of history that you see once in a generation. In the 1990s I was a witness to history when I was working for ten years in Moscow and St. Petersburg. There was no question but that what I saw around me in Moscow was of momentous imporance. It was seventy years of a mainspring being wound and wound and wound. And then one moment in the early 1990s the spring was let loose and you had a flow of events that were many times faster than history usually unfolds. We are witnessing the same thing today on the global level. Russia is standing, bravely or foolishly, it depends on your perspective as the champion of a multi-polar world against the world's single-handed hegemon, the United States. All of Europe snapped to attention. I was asked on an interview yesterday why the United States pursued NATO when the objectives of NATO should have been conclusively won when the Soviet Union broke up. And I answered, and I answer today that your listeners should consider that a kind of image that crossed America and the world in the last year coming from the brutal murder of one black man that brought about the BLM or Black Lives Matter movement and that is the image of the knee to the neck. The United States has its knee to the neck of Europe in the form of NATO. Through NATO and through this strangle-hold on Europe, the United States has its knee to the neck of the world's throat. If Russians are successful in moving, in forcing the United States to withdraw its knee to the neck of Europe, that will have enormous consequences for the entire world. The beneficiaries will be not only China -- obviously first beneficiary -- but virtually every country in the world will benefit by there being a more equitable distribution of global power among the countries -- the major powers in particular -- who sit at the board of directors table of the world."