Saturday, 19 February 2022 — Moon of Alabama
Over the years Joe Biden has said a lot of nonsense. This though might top it all.
Speaking from the Roosevelt Room in the White House, Mr. Biden said “we have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days,” adding that “we believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people.”
Asked whether he thinks that Mr. Putin is still wavering about whether to invade, Mr. Biden said, “I’m convinced he’s made the decision.” Later, he added that his impression of Mr. Putin’s intentions is based on “a significant intelligence capability.”
Russia will not attack the Ukraine and will not target Kiev unless Russia itself is attacked in significant ways. Paul Robinson explains why:
For the past 15 years, ever since the Munich speech, Russian officials have been arguing against the unilateral use of force and demanding a UN-centered security system founded on international law. Were we to wake up one day and find that Russian tanks were rolling towards Kiev without any kind of excuse, it would amount to a complete abandonment of 15 years of argumentation as well as a negation of the entire legal/moral position built up by the Russian Federation in that period, a position reinforced just this month in the Putin/Xi statement.
It would also be very odd. For you can hardly achieve the objective of a multipolar world based on the principles of UN supremacy and international law by means of a massive breach of those very same principles. It would be extraordinarily self-defeating. A certain skepticism about the allegedly “imminent” Russian invasion of Ukraine is therefore due. It’s not impossible, but one has to wonder why, after so many years of consistency, Putin would suddenly change his position in such a drastic way.
Russia will help the rebellious Donbas region should it be attacked by Ukrainian government forces. The support will be in form of supplies and long range artillery assaults on Ukrainian troop concentrations.
The border of the Donbas region to Ukraine is definitely heating up.
Yesterday the OSCE observer mission, which covers the border, recorded a record number of incidents:
These ceasefire violations were mostly by small to medium artillery rounds with unknown targets. The Donetsk militia also reported (vid) the interception of an Ukrainian sabotage group.
The OSCE observer mission also wanted to investigate the alleged attack on a kindergarten on the Ukrainian side:
The SMM was only able to conduct its assessment from a distance of about 50m from the north-eastern facade and of about 30m from the south-western facade of the damaged building, as a law enforcement officer did not allow the Mission to access the site saying that an investigation was ongoing.
This seems to support claims that the attack was a false flag created by the Ukrainian side.
Denis Pushilin, the leader of Donetsk, and Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of Luhansk, have ordered the evacuation of all civilians from the Donetzk and Luhansk regions to Russia. Moscow has activated its civil emergency agencies to provide for the refugees. Together the regions have some 4.6 million inhabitants.
All able men in the regions were called up for duty in the militia.
This evacuation follows a Russian plan Dimitri Orlof described ten months ago:
[W]e have to pay careful attention to the official pronouncements Putin has made over the years, and to take them as face value. First, he said that Russia does not need any more territory; it has all the land it could ever want. Second, he said that Russia will follow the path of maximum liberalization in granting citizenship to compatriots and that, in turn, the well-being of Russia’s citizens is a top priority. Third, he said that resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine through military means is unacceptable. Given these constraints, what courses of action remain open?
The answer, I believe, is obvious: evacuation. There are around 3.2 million residents in Donetsk People’s Republic and 1.4 million in Lugansk People’s Republic, for a total of some 4.6 million residents. This may seem like a huge number, but it’s moderate by the scale of World War II evacuations. Keep in mind that Russia has already absorbed over a million Ukrainian migrants and refugees without much of a problem. Also, Russia is currently experiencing a major labor shortage, and an infusion of able-bodied Russians would be most welcome.
Domestically, the evacuation would likely be quite popular: Russia is doing right by its own people by pulling them out of harm’s way. The patriotic base would be energized and the already very active Russian volunteer movement would swing into action to assist the Emergencies Ministry in helping move and resettle the evacuees.
The negative optics of surrendering territory can be countered by not surrendering any territory. As a guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, Russia must refuse to surrender the Donbass to the Ukrainian government until it fulfills the terms of these agreements, which it has shown no intention of doing for seven years now and which it has recently repudiated altogether. It is important to note that the Russian military can shoot straight across all of Donbass without setting foot on Ukrainian soil. Should the Ukrainian forces attempt to enter Donbass, they will be dealt with …
The Donbas authorities published a map with the presumed attack directions of Ukrainian forces should these try to regain control of the region.
The whole frontline can be covered by Russian artillery (vid) without any Russian setting a foot onto Ukrainian grounds.
The Ukrainian Nazis are prepared and eager to fight:
Alexander Marquardt @MarquardtA –12:44 UTC · Feb 19, 2022
In Mariupol, praying for peace and readying for a fight. “Everyone is ready to tear Russians up with their own hands,” a Right Sector fighter tells me. A military chaplain says “we prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
On Thursday Russia has delivered its response to the U.S. security proposals for East Europe. The U.S. proposal was a response to Russian demands for new security treaties which are needed to prevent a further NATO expansion towards the east. The document rejects the U.S. response as it did not cover the main demands it had made and adds more points that will have to be negotiated.
Russia’s argument gets support from a newly recovered document (report in German) from the British national archive. It is a protocol of a meeting of the political directors of the foreign ministries of the USA, Britain, France and Germany on March 6 1991. It again proves, like many other documents from that time, that Russia was definitely promised that NATO would never expand towards the east.
The Russian strategy of showing strength while negotiating is so far successful. It has put the Ukraine issue back on the front pages, it showed that the U.S. and NATO are unwilling to fight for the Ukraine and it has demonstrated disunity within NATO. The U.S. made some concession by offering negotiations over minor issues which Russia had previously requested.
The whole U.S. campaign of a ‘Russian invasion’ is disinformation designed to give cover for the upcoming attack of Ukraine on its rebellious Donbas region.
Russia just made another proposal to prevent that:
The situation in two self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics in Ukraine’s Donbass region is on a knife-edge after rebel leaders declared a full mobilisation of their forces and asked civilians to evacuate to Russia following shelling which Ukraine and the separatist rebels blame on each other.
In an interview conducted before that evacuation began, Stanislav Zas, secretary general of the Moscow-based Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), said the body could despatch peacekeepers to Donbass if there was an international consensus for such a deployment.
“Hypothetically you can imagine it (such a deployment) if there were goodwill from Ukraine – it is after all their territory – if there was a U.N. Security Council mandate, and if it was needed and such a decision was supported by all our governments,” Zas, a Belarusian lieutenant-general, told Reuters in what aides said was his first Western media interview.
CSTO peacekeepers on the line could be a good solution to separate the Ukrainian army and the Donbas rebels. But the U.S. will only agree to that after the Ukrainian attack decisively fails and with high casualties.
That may soon be the case.