"To prevent the storm: Russian Operation in Ukraine"
By Ljubiša Malenica
The Vinyhard of the Saker (March 8, 2022)
Since the beginning of Russian military operation in Ukraine, Western countries and their elected representatives have been competing who will express greater disgust over violations of international law, as they call it, who will threaten Moscow more harshly and who will lament more mournfully over the fate of Kiev. At the same time, which of the Western powers can condemn Russia’s behavior from a legitimate moral position? We don’t have to go far into the past, we can limit ourselves to the last three to four decades. Which Western state can unreservedly point out itself as a model of justice and respect for international laws, a model that by its very existence and actions can serve as a condemnation of the Russian Federation? The answer is quite clear. Not a single one.
It is interesting to note how Westerners somehow suddenly remembered this set of rules called international law. Highly interesting given that they themselves participated in its creation and design. Where were these guardians of international law when NATO bombs blew up civilian trains in Serbia or when Serbian journalists were killed while at work, the same journalists who were protected by a series of conventions, declarations and other agreements that are barely worth the paper they were written on. We all know they were nowhere to be found. Personal opinion of the author is that international law has been steadily degraded since the moment of dissolution of ex-Yugoslavia, exactly due to the role western nations played in that process.
Nothing of this will come as a surprise to those who have been, even a little bit, acquainted with world and local political events from the 1990s to the present, so statements by western officials on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity should not be taken as an illustration of real concern but rather as another example of classic hypocrisy. If we accept this as a factual situation, it is logical to ask why the drama that we can observe both in western media and in western institutions, both national and international. The West is not protesting against the possible disappearance of Ukraine from the map, but due to significant setback to its own designs. Back in 2014, it was sarcastically noted that Western countries are ready to fight for Ukraine to the last Ukrainian. We now see quite clearly, thanks to the behavior of the collective West, that sarcasm has been replaced by reality.
Washington, accompanied by its neoliberal camp, announced the strongest possible sanctions against Russia and an additional 7.000 American soldiers were transferred to Germany. As in the previous deployment of troops, exclusively in NATO countries, this also comes down to symbolism. Russia is criticized within all international forums, expelled from various organizations and deprived the role of host of world sporting events. Everyone in the West is verbally advocating for Ukraine, social networks are full of prayers for Kiev and condemnation at the expense of Russia and Putin, but there is no real help, embodied in the physical presence of NATO troops on Ukrainian soil. Judging by Biden’s recent statements, there won’t be any troops at all. NATO troops are there to protect the territory of the alliance and nothing more.
Western media and political dogs continue to bark as convoys “Z” push on.
Moscow’s perspective has been expressed on numerous occasions, by Russian officials of all categories, both within Russia itself and within various Western conferences and summits. For more than two decades Russian Federation has reiterated that it perceives NATO’s expansion to the east of the European continent as a pervasive danger to its own existence. Led by Washington, West refused to accept Russia’s position and continue to act on the inertia of the 1990s. The propaganda machine of the United States and EU countries, which includes official state media houses, continued to promote neoliberal values, despite increasingly clear signs of their detrition and the corruption of the system created upon them. Business as usual, as the saying goes.
Along with the expansion of the NATO pact to the east, the process of dismantling the continental security structure, created during the Cold War, took place. This process was initiated and implemented exclusively by the United States. The mentioned security architecture was developed and set up with the aim of creating as many obstacles as possible on the path of rapid escalation towards the nuclear conflict between the then two nuclear superpowers, the Soviet Union and the USA. Given that, due to its global geographical characteristics, Europe inevitably imposes itself as a military battleground between Russia and America, European countries have benefited the most from these agreements and should have been most interested in maintaining them. This unraveling of security agreements began during the Bush administration, when the then US president announced in 2002 that Washington would withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Agreement, which limited the number of defense systems that each of the two superpowers could deploy on its territory. The next step was the withdrawal of US from Mid-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement in 2019 followed by withdrawal of Washington, also during Trump’s term, from the Open Skies Agreement in 2020, which allowed signatory countries to monitor each other openly in order to reduce possible military tensions. Each of these moves further strained relations between Russia and the West while making it clear that, judging by these actions, the collective West was not interested in negotiating on an equal footing.
In addition to Washington’s moves, Kiev’s actions contributed to further destabilizing the situation when it refused to renew the Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The Ukrainian side justified its moves by the fact Russia was in control of Crimea, but the text of the agreement clearly emphasizes obligation not to endanger territorial security of two countries by both Moscow and Kiev. It is not difficult to understand why Russia has previously recognized Kiev’s behavior and efforts to join NATO as a breach of these contractual obligations. For the reminders sake, Ukraine was together with Georgia invited to join NATO as early as 2008.
Simultaneously with these processes, in actuality a continuation of the same by other means, a coup d’etat took place through colored revolution in Ukraine in 2014. There is no doubt about the nature of events on Maidan when a democratically elected president was removed through foreign intervention. It should not be forgotten that Victoria Nuland, then one of the key American diplomatic figures in Kiev, visited the protesters, handing out muffins, and thus openly choosing a side in what was supposed to be an internal Ukrainian matter. Shortly after Maidan, a recording of a telephone conversation between Nuland and US Ambassador Jeffrey Pyat was published, only illustrating the depth of US influence on the choice of political figures and their duties within Ukraine.
New elections and new president in Kiev changed nothing of significance. Ukraine’s political elite has repeatedly shown its will to join NATO, while the fight against Donetsk and Luhansk had continued with somewhat lessened intensity, without any indication that regime in Kiev was interested in carrying out it’s part of the Minsk accords. Given the previously mentioned telephone conversation, Hunter Biden/Joe Biden criminal activities in Ukraine and certainly high degree of American involvement in the political life of Kiev, questioning Ukrainian ability to act as a sovereign actor is justified. To what extent was Ukraine capable of acting as an independent actor in the political field? In one of his recent speeches, President Putin pointed out that there is a process of transformation taking place within Ukraine which is turning it into a sort of “anti-Russia”, a country whose sole basis for identity would be founded on a negative perception and rejection of everything Russian. This process could not have originated exclusively from Ukraine itself, and it can be assumed that Russia recognizes this radicalization of Ukraine and its population as a product of external influences.
Faced with a frivolous, shamefully uneducated and for dialogue uninterested Western diplomatic elite together with Ukraine, which has been behaving less and less as a rational actor, Russia had no other choice but to take military action. The necessity of combat operations becomes especially important when one takes into account the fact that Kiev has been accumulating troops and equipment near the contact line with Donetsk and Luhansk for some time. Judging by the concentration of troops and the fighting currently taking place in eastern Ukraine, the Russian attack most likely thwarted Kiev regime attempt to repeat the Croatian operation “Storm”. As with Croatian one, the Ukrainian “Storm” would most likely be planned in cooperation with Western advisers as well. According to some analysts, 60.000 to 100.000 Ukrainian troops have been deployed in the east of the country, opposite the two republics. This concentration of forces in the previous year provoked Russian military exercises and initiated the increase in number of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine.
Western countries were warned regarding their relations with Russia and the issue of Ukraine by their own diplomatic officials and experts, those who were known as some of the best people in their field, such as Henry Kissinger and Stephen Cohen, among others. Kissinger has repeatedly advised that American interests must be firmly represented in the dialogue with Russia, but that Moscow must be taken as a serious interlocutor, especially on the issue of Ukraine, which he pointed out was “not just another country” for Russians. Stephen Cohen, who has spent his working life studying Russia,  has criticized the overall US policy towards Moscow since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with special reference to the manic demonization of the Russian president by the Western media, the same media which celebrated drunken Yeltsin as a great leader and a democrat. China has already shown support for Russia, India, maintaining its neutral status did not side with western countries, while Brazilian President Bolsonaro refused to impose sanctions on Russia, stating that the Ukrainians “trusted a comedian with the fate of a nation”.
While military actions and diplomatic contacts are continuing at their own pace, the western propaganda machine is attacking Russia by aiming at Vladimir Putin himself. In every media format you can find headlines that emphasize how this is not a war by Russia or the Russian people, but war of Vladimir Putin, this is Putin’s restoration of the USSR or the Russian Empire, these are Putin’s complexes in action, this is Putin’s attack on peace in Europe, this is Putin’s attack on democracy, (as if democracy existed in Ukraine or for that matter in US) only Putin and Putin everywhere. It seems that, like Trump in the past, Putin lives rent free in the minds of western “journalists” and spin doctors. The one example author personally found most interesting was the Times cover with Russian armored vehicles and a headline “The return of history – how Putin shattered Europe’s dreams”. For a moment, let’s ignore Putin, the war, the world if you wish and consider the level of hubris or idiocy that motivates someone to act as if history waits for any man or nation, as if history leaves or stops at one’s bidding. Still in the phantasm of Fukuyama’s making I see.
The hatred of Putin is clear, and we all understand why. Putin is not Yeltsin. Unlike Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin has always tried to preserve resources of the Russian Federation, regardless of whether we are referring to natural resources or human potential, for the Russian people themselves. The catastrophe of the 1990s did not happen upon Russia ex nihilo, but was in large part orchestrated by Yeltsin western advisers together with foreign private “investors” who rushed to acquire huge national potentials for pittance, all in agreement with members of the local quasi-elite, the oligarchs, ready to sell all interests of the Russian people for those American greenbacks. Vladimir Putin worked to put an end to all of that and, despite the fact some objective critique could be placed on Russian leadership for different policies, he did transform Russia into the state we know today, both internally and externally. This might be his great sin that “exceptional” western nations will never forgive him. The attacks on Putin are nothing but another psychological operation aimed at encouraging divisions within Russian society in order to ease activities of the fifth column in Russia itself.
The operation in Ukraine is unnerving Western countries for several reasons, and democracy, state sovereignty and human rights most certainly are not among them. The very fact that Russia used military force, defying all the warnings of the collective West, shows a clear change in the balance of power and the commitment of Russia, but also China, to creating an alternative system of international relations. Undoubtedly Beijing is closely watching unfolding events while developing its plans for Taiwan accordingly. Other countries are watching as well, and those who refused to close their skies for Russian flights and to impose sanctions on Moscow are in the dozens. The fact that Serbia is one of the few countries in Europe that has neither imposed sanctions on Russia nor banned Russian planes from flying over its territory speaks not so much of Belgrade’s strength as of the political and diplomatic misery in rest of Europe, unable to contain Washington for the sake of its own economic and political interests.
Within the European continent, no security structure, certainly one planned for the long run, can be built without the constructive participation of Russia, the same Russia that is now demonized in the “advanced democracies” of the West, both collectively and individually. Veritable verbal storm, rising for months both from European, US and NATO officials, provided little of real benefit to regime in Kiev. Zelensky’s request, which is apparently desperate enough to release war criminals on condition that they fight, for Ukraine’s urgent accession to the EU was rejected.
NATO troops stationed in the east of the continent, by all current indicators, will not be fighting for Kiev, which, despite propaganda, has been forced to recruit civilians and foreign mercenaries four days after first Russian troops passed the border. In author’s layman opinion, this is not a behavior of a side that is winning. Zelensky himself seemed a man desperate and defeated in his conversation with journalists on the 3rd of March. Since then, news of his departure for Poland, though still uncorroborated at moment of this writing, started to circle the internet. Ukraine’s behavior is not so important here. A pro-West regime, which seems to have been significantly permeated by Nazi elements, is trying everything to save its own skin. Far more important is the behavior of those who encouraged Ukrainians to clash with Russia all these years, those who now, as emperor in the story, look completely naked. New arms deliveries are not negligible, but question how much they can change situation on the ground remains valid, considering that according to several sources, Ukrainian troops are starting to run out of modern anti-tank weapons from the West and Kiev has already requested another batch of Baryaktar drones from Turkey. The initial hope of roughly fifty to seventy new Sukhois for Ukrainian air force has evaporated when Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia said they would not give their Soviet-made planes to Kiev.
Once again, author is a layman when it comes to military affairs, however, it does not seem a good sign if after roughly five days of fighting, country is forced to ask for donations in high-grade military hardware. What exactly happened to the much praised Turkish drones? As it currently stands, there is very few propaganda pieces related to Baryaktars and one would presume Ukrainian infowar effort would use this kind of footage to the greatest extent. Not only would Kiev celebrate its victories but these video records would quickly find their way to the MSM media, and yet, nothing similar happened. On the contrary, much of Ukrainian supposedly genuine combat footage turned out to be fake.
While Ukrainians are hoping for help, Western journalists are unable to rid themselves of chauvinistic tendencies, so Charlie D’Agata, a CBS correspondent, calls Ukraine “relatively civilized” but only when compared to Iraq and Afghanistan. In comparison to Western civilization, another backwater, and that’s being polite. During the State of the Union, Joe Biden calls Ukrainians Iranians (for a significant number of Westerners, it’s all close enough). Judging by some commentators from the European and American media, the western attachment to Ukrainian refugees is based on the fact that they have blonde hair, blue eyes, drive US or EU vehicles and are dressed in western fashion.
In the whole storm of media reports, propaganda and psychological operations, the interesting observation of Dilyana Gaytandzhieva from Bulgaria, an independent journalist, went unnoticed. Namely, she pointed out that all information about eleven American biolaboratories on the territory of Ukraine was deleted from the website of the American Embassy in Kiev. A few years earlier, President Putin had warned of the activities of American NGOs that collected DNA samples exclusively from the Russian population. Samples were collected by the US Department of Defense for an alleged military injury research project. American media immediately dismissed them as conspiracy theories, which should automatically cause caution, given that the CIA itself constructed and uses this term to degrade and marginalize undesirable sources of information. We now even have official statement by Russian Ministry of Defense regarding exactly this issue and providing the public with captured material pertaining to this issue, material captured on the battlefield which implicates US in military biological research on territory of Ukraine.
At the same time, within the United States itself, military authorities have banned personnel from providing DNA samples, citing security risks, while the CDC refuses to release large amounts of pandemic data, citing “fears of misinterpretation” of the given information. This vector of observation regarding Russian military operation in Ukraine, although currently rather murky, should be kept in mind. Biological warfare is nothing new nor should anyone be surprised by the fact that the great powers are developing their potential in this area, especially after the highly questionable origin of the corona virus, but to develop it on the very doorstep of your geopolitical rival, that is something else. For comparison, just imagine eleven Chinese biolaboratories in Mexico and Cuba. I rest my case.
The economic picture changes from day to day and seems to be all very fluid. Only constant, it would seem, are the rising prices of oil and gas, record prices by the way. Russia is the largest exporter of nickel and 6th globally exporter of aluminum. Prices of both have jumped significantly. The same happened, as already noticed by Andrei Martyanov, with price of wheat. Russia and Ukraine are the largest exporters of this cereal, but if we observe a map of soil type in Ukraine, those areas of highest interest to Moscow, south and northeastern Ukraine, happen also to be richest in chernozem (black earth), excellent type of soil for farming. Depending how this war and subsequent diplomatic efforts are concluded, we might see Russian dominance in wheat export grow even more if these valuable lands are added to the already existing agricultural sector of the Russian Federation. Even now, less than two weeks into the war, impacts of the conflict on globalized food supply chains are being felt.
Shutdown of the Russian media in English language and hysteria of the western ones, which after a few days of military operations began to predict the collapse of Russian progress, to talk about falling Russian morale, to celebrate non-existent Ukrainian heroes such as “Ghost of Kiev”, speaks volumes regarding their objectivity, ability and alternative agenda. It was likewise interesting to note how “advanced democracies” were first to censure Russian media, while “authoritarian tyranny” did the same afterwards and only as reciprocal response. Funny how that liberty of media and freedom of speech work.
It is obvious that the comparisons related to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 are ignored. It is a fair point that comparison itself is not the best, but it seems certain parameters of that invasion put the current Russian operation into clearer operative parameters. Today, Ukraine has a population of, officially, 44 million, while Iraq had 25 million twenty years ago. In terms of area, Ukraine is approximately 200,000 square kilometers larger than Iraq. Despite all this, the American coalition, technologically far superior, waged war for 40 days to conquer the country. Allied troops spent three weeks advancing to Baghdad, and then spent another week fighting for control of the city. Most of Ukraine’s cities with more than a million inhabitants are located in the east of the country, and most of the Ukrainian troops are stationed there as well. Heaviest fighting is to be expected here. Unlike coalition air campaign which lasted well into the second and third week of the war and caused appropriate “collateral damage” (civilian casualties), Russian air forces were used in a limited fashion and mostly avoided targets in proximity of civilian areas, which Ukrainian troops have been using to their advantage. All these elements taken together, including Russian efforts to avoid civilian casualties, have influenced the course of the conflict, but despite all of it, Russian units seem to be advancing in all directions. RF troops reached outskirts of Kiev on the second or third day of combat operations while several vital Ukrainian cities have been circumvented and placed under siege. Ukrainian air force seems to be nonexistent and the same could be said for the navy. Ukrainians themselves have sunk their flagship to prevent it from falling into hands of the Russians. Very few in the West are trying to give a more realistic picture of what is happening on the ground, retired colonel Douglas Macgregor seeming being one of them. In his assessment of the situation, Ukrainians may fight but they have no chances of victory. Interestingly enough, Macgregor seems not to be a fan of Zelensky either, calling him a “puppet”. It does not hurt to remind, finally, that the strongest military alliance in the history of this planet waged war against Yugoslavia, country with around 8 million people, for 78 days.
Majority of this purposefully remains out of the reach of the western media, including the serious Nazi problem within Ukraine these very western media reported on years ago, and we all understand why. Weapon shipments and sanctions aside, apart from the propaganda machine, the West does not have a leverage that can influence war in Ukraine without risking possible nuclear destruction. Even in the most catastrophic outcome for Russia, which would be a military defeat followed by the political fall of Vladimir Putin and social unrest, the fact that one country decided to actively oppose the West cannot be erased, nor can the fact that same West, faced with such a challenge to its own prestige, was reduced to the imposition of sanctions and media propaganda. We all understand that anything more could mean the end of us all. Sanctions depend on the dollar, a lesson that everyone already knows. Propaganda depends on the willingness to allow western media local access, which can be prevented. Dedollarisation and nationalization of the Internet, two directions of development for non-western countries that are shaping up as desirable directions for the development of rest of the world, could be just some of outcomes from this conflict, both of them completely complementary with the emerging multipolar order.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/20/health/covid-cdc-data.html ↑ https://nypost.com/2022/02/22/cdc-withholding-covid-data-over-fears-of-misinterpretation/ ↑
https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2022/03/well-so-much-for-unity.html ↑ https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Distribution-of-Subtypes-in-Ukrainian-Chernozems_fig3_263537923 ↑