Friday, 28 January 2022 — Moon of Alabama
The U.S. has responded to the security demands Russia had laid out in two draft treaties. It has rejected all major ones and is only willing to negotiate on secondary issues. Russia will response to that within a few weeks.
Meanwhile the U.S. is still claiming that Russia intends to attack the Ukraine any moment now. But the Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky publicly disagrees with that false evaluation. He sees no war coming and wants to avoid one as much as possible. That might mean that he has to be removed before a war can be launched.
Alastair Crooke sets this into the larger U.S. strategy:
The key to China’s security riposte to the U.S. is linked to two words that go unstated in U.S. formal policy documents, but whose silent presence nevertheless suffuses and colour-washes the text of the 2022 National Defence Authorisation Act.
The term ‘containment’ never appears, neither does the word ‘encirclement’. Yet, as Professor Michael Klare writes, the Act “provides a detailed blueprint for surrounding China with a potentially suffocating network of U.S. bases, military forces, and increasingly militarized partner states. The goal is to enable Washington to barricade that country’s military inside its own territory; and potentially to cripple its economy in any future crisis”.
The current attempt to isolate Russia is part of the overall scheme:
The point here is that ‘encirclement’ and ‘containment’ effectively have become Biden’s default foreign policy. The attempt to cement-in this meta-doctrine currently is being enacted out via Russia (as the initial step). The essential buy-in by Europe is the ‘party-piece’ to Russia’s physical containment and encirclement.
The EU is coming under intense pressure from Washington to commit to sanctions – the financial ‘mode’ to encirclement – as EU officials negotiate what would be considered their ‘red line’. Jake Sullivan however, made the new doctrine and what he expects from Europe very clear last November, when he said: “we want the terms of the [international] system to be favourable to American interests and values: It is rather, a favourable disposition in which the U.S. and its allies can shape the international rules of the road on the sorts of issues that are fundamentally going to matter to the people of [America] …”.
The above is by now quite obvious and it makes it a joke that the U.S. is urging China to push Russia to agree with the U.S. Beijing would do that to then become the next target?
The notion that Russia is massing troops with an intent of attack doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. First, Russia not unreasonably has service members near its borders. Those who want to depict Russia as a a belligerent are throwing in units not stationed close enough to be part of a strike force. Moreover, while it’s hard to get good numbers, any increase has not been huge (on the order of 100,000 soldiers) and took place early in 2021, contrary to claims of aggressive increases in October and November. On top of that, Russia has not put in place the logistical support needed for combat, such as medical teams. By contrast, the first sign the US was serious about invading Iraq was that it started pre-positioning hospital ships nine months before the attack.
The U.S. wants to ‘secure’ Europe as a proxy force that can be used against Russia and China. The way to do that is by pushing Russia into an invasion of the Ukraine and to then proclaim that it is ‘threatening Europe’. In consequence the Nord-Stream 2 pipeline, on which Germany’s energy security depends, would never be used to provide gas from Russia. Europe’s economy would falter and it would become more dependent on the United States. It would come under full NATO control and could then be pushed to help with the great isolation of China.
But how can the U.S. push Russia to invade the Ukraine? Events in the spring of last year demonstrated how it can be done:
Last March 24, the Ukrainian president decreed that Ukraine would take Crimea back from Russia, with “military measures” to achieve “de-occupation.” The U.S. and NATO voiced “unwavering” support.
In April NATO backed a Ukrainian offensive in its civil war against Russian-allied separatists in the eastern provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk. That is when Russia moved more troops to its borders with Ukraine, signaling it would defend its allies.
After seeing that Russia would response with force Zelensky backed off his plans.
The idea in Washington is that if the U.S. can instigate Ukraine to attack the Donbas region Russia would have to step in at least with extended suppliesto the Donbas rebels. With the help of the media the talk of a ‘Russian invasion’ would then become reality. It would trigger ‘western’ sanctions and Russia would be isolated.
However, the Ukrainian leadership knows what would happen should it attack Donbas and it currently has no interest in fighting for U.S. strategic purposes without any chances to win.
During a press conference in late December Ukraine’s President Zelensky rejected plans to retake Donbas by force (machine translation):
Zelensky’s direct speech: “The probability of escalation (at the border and in the ORDLO on the part of Russia – ed.)
I think that those political forces that say that we need to go (in the offensive – UE), go to war, it seems, do not imagine and do not think… More precisely, do not think about our army.
We will not go anywhere now. I believe that people come first. We cannot lose our entire army. She is powerful, she will take more than… But… It is impossible today. I think that’s wrong today.”
The White House however is urging Zelensky to launch a war. That he is pushing against that became obvious when the anti-Russia agitator Julia Ioffe was sent out to trash him:
Moon of Alabama @MoonofA – 8:16 UTC · Jan 27, 2022
White House urges Zelensky to attack south-east rebels but he declined?
Julia Ioffe @juliaioffe · Jan 25
“The White House and its Democratic allies have just about had it with president Zelensky. According to three sources in the administration and on the Hill, the Ukrainian president is by turns annoying, infuriating, and downright counterproductive.”
From Ioffe’s smear piece:
As strongly as the Biden administration has been backing Ukraine, the White House as well as its Democratic allies have just about had it with president Zelensky. According to three sources in the administration and on Capitol Hill whom I’ve spoken to in the last couple months, the Ukrainian president is by turns annoying, infuriating, and downright counterproductive.
There’s a sense that Zelensky isn’t very good at navigating American politics and is stepping on all the wrong feet. Perhaps it’s because he is frantically trying to save his own country; perhaps it’s because the former TV star had no preparation for, or education in, geopolitics. It is also, unfortunately, the plight of a country that is caught between two behemoths fighting over its fate. Supplicating while maintaining your dignity is hard enough; doing so while not pissing off your geopolitical backer is harder still.
The U.S. talk of war in Ukraine is destroying its economy. Zelensky is trying to calm down any talk of war even while the U.S. is pushing it. Here is another sign that Zelensky is not willing to do what the U.S. is demanding from him:
A call between US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday “did not go well,” a senior Ukrainian official told CNN, amid disagreements over the “risk levels” of a Russian attack.
Zelensky urged his American counterpart to “calm down the messaging,” warning of the economic impact of panic, according to the official. He also said Ukrainian intelligence sees the threat differently.
The Ukrainian leader pointed to a recent breakthrough in negotiations with Russia in Paris, saying that he hoped a ceasefire agreement with rebels in eastern Ukraine would be maintained. He also said the talks between the US, Russia and NATO still had some distance to run before diplomatic efforts had been exhausted, the official said.
As Zelensky is not willing to do Washington’s bidding he must be pushed out.
Zelensky is in a weak position. His poll numbers are way down. The U.S. has him by the balls over his offshore accounts and money laundering. His attempt to arrest former president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, who recently returned to the Ukraine, was stopped by the U.S. embassy. That the U.S. wanted Poroshenko back in the Ukraine in the first place may point to a replacement strategy.
Leonid Ragozin believes that to be the case:
[T]hroughout the year Zelenskiy has been forced to devote significant time and attention to an attempt by the radical part of the security community, close to Poroshenko, to launch an impeachment process through the so-called Wagnergate affair. They claimed that Zelenskiy committed an act of treason through a last-minute cancellation of a madcap plan, hatched by Ukrainian military intelligence, which envisaged the forced landing of a civilian Turkish plane carrying mercenaries from the infamous Russian Wagner group. The affair resulted in an open rebellion by the military intelligence chief, which Zelenskiy had to put down in September.
By the time the US went into red alert mode over “imminent” Russian aggression, Zelenskiy was clearly more preoccupied with domestic politics and the threat of a coup. His messaging became confused as he tried to link his foes, such as oligarch Rinat Akhmetov and ex-president Poroshenko to Russia, while it was clear that if any great power were behind them, then it would be the United States of America.
Akhmetov is one of the top sponsors of the Atlantic Council. The militant street movement, which backs Poroshenko and keeps the threat of a new Maidan alive, is run by Andriy Levus, an activist and former security official directly linked to diaspora organisations created by Nazi collaborators who found refuge in North America under the auspices of the CIA.
The Ukrainians have reasons to suspect that the United States and Britain, with their radical rhetoric unmatched by the real level of threat as well as their enthusiasm about “brave Ukrainians” fighting and dying for the Western cause, are prepared to throw Ukraine under the bus so as to get Russia bogged down in a devastating war. The vision of “a new Chechen war” was evoked by British PM Boris Johnson. Former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas went as far as calling for the US to form a new “coalition of the willing” and engage in a direct conflict with Russia over Ukraine.
Zelenskiy also has good reasons to believe that his allies see him as an impediment.
Then again Zelensky may not be needed:
A false-flag provocation against Russian-friendly rebels in Eastern Ukraine or even convincing US-aligned elements of that country’s military-intelligence communities to attack them without President Zelensky’s approval is all that it could take to trigger a regional war.
Zelensky, meanwhile, is still trying to give off an air of calm and control despite obviously becoming more anxious and increasingly losing control over the situation.
The West’s recent reports that Russia is plotting a regime change against him might actually be meant to precondition the public into accepting his removal by one means or another, including through the US simply standing by and letting him either be overthrown by the opposition or even his own military.
His sacrifice, up to and including in the most literal way, might be considered necessary to galvanize global opinion against Russia.
To get the war the U.S. wants started some provocation has to be launched in east Ukraine that is significant enough to lead to a wider war. Either that or Zelensky has to be replaced with someone who is willing to sacrifice the Ukraine by outright attacking Donbas.
My best guess is that Zelensky will soon be pushed out by a militant nazis coup and that a willing replacement will be found. He himself warned today that it might happen:
The president said he saw great unrest on the streets of Ukrainian cities. “There is no one person in the state, and calmness is returning on the streets, people are at the President’s Office or blocked the parliament. And they do not care if there is COVID-19. They are engaged in daily opportunistic steps, the split of our state,” the head of state said.
After a coup the war against Donbas could finally proceed. Russia will then be accused of fighting it and sanctions will be implemented to cut it off from Europe.
But there is still a part of the plan that is unlikely to work out. The U.S. hopes that Russia would response to a war on Donbas the way it threatened to respond last spring. That Russia would attack the Ukraine and could be seen as doing that. That plan however misjudges one of the main actors in the game.
Russia does not want to play the part the U.S. has written for it in its script. At least not by the rules the U.S. tries to make up:
Andrey Kartapolov, Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee:
The West is doing everything to force Zelensky to do another stupid thing. It is clear that they have already blamed Russia for everything. And they don’t think differently.
But they will not understand one thing – the degree of pain they will experience will be adequate to the degree of stupidity that they are now doing.
They need a war, they need a sacred sacrifice in the form of Ukraine. So that later they could say: look, we stopped Putin.
The Anglo-Saxons understand the war in such a way that it should take place somewhere not with them, others will fight, and then they will come and skim off the cream.
Putin will never act according to their scenario. He will do everything as they do not expect. And I repeat once again – they will be very hurt.
I have no idea what Russian capability Kartapolov is alluding to.
The U.S. has responded to the Russia’s ultimatum that had come in mid December in the form of two draft treaties. It has rejected all of Russia’s primary demands – no Ukraine in Nato, no nukes nearby etc. The U.S. has offered talks on secondary issues. That however is insufficient for Russia. A response by Russia will come, but not today or tomorrow.
No one knows in what the ‘military technical’ measures that Russia had promised to deploy if the U.S. does not agree to its demands really mean.
However, this unconfirmed report says that Russia will soon deploy nearly all of its navy (vid, English sub):
In a matter of weeks, the berths of the main bases of the Northern, Pacific, Black Sea and Baltic fleets will be almost empty. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, at the end of January and in February, almost all combat-ready ships, submarines, boats and support vessels will simultaneously and obviously according to a single plan be simultaneously withdrawn to combat training grounds in the Mediterranean, North, Okhotsk Seas, in the northeast parts of the Atlantic and the Pacific.
What could be the intention of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces?
That is another good question for which I have no answer.