Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Path to War

Here’s the unfinished post I was composing when I heard the news about Russian "military action" in Ukraine. 

In my previous post on the subject, I said that Russian actions in recognizing the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LDNR) had placed the U.S./NATO bloc in a lose-lose situation. I maintain that, but I also realize that the United States has developed quite a propensity to lose in a way that destroys everybody’s chance of “winning” any positive outcome. Think Libya, Syria, Iraq, etc. Further details that have emerged about the Russian-LDNR position indicate how their way forward can be turned into a path toward war and generalized destruction.

In a brief press conference last night, Vladimir Putin clarified the Russian position. First, and of most immediate significance, he confirmed that Russia is recognizing the LDNR republics within their administrative borders, as defined before the conflict broke out in 2014. This includes territory now controlled by Kiev forces, including the port city of Mariupol. He also stated that Ukraine should recognize Crimea as Russian territory, should explicitly renounce any intention of joining NATO, and should “demilitarize”—that is, give up “advanced weaponry.”

While he put no timetable on achieving these goals (“It is impossible to predict the scenario that will unfold”), he also, when asked, did not abjure the use of force (“good should be able to defend itself”). The Russian posture now is on the offensive and impatient. As he keeps saying, Putin feels that Russia has been strung along on Ukraine for eight years, it has amassed the necessary forces, and is in no mood to stand down without definitively resolving the major issues.

The question of LDNR territory poses a significant political quandary for Russia. Russia recognizing and intervening to “protect” the LDNR republics in the territory under they currently control, in order to defend them from the Kiev siege has different political valence than Russia intervening to support an LDNR offensive to capture more territory.

Whether Russia and LDNR are right or wrong in their construal of the new legal status of the republics and their territory, and no matter that it actually fixes limits of military advance, such specifically offensive action will be more easily turned to the political benefit of Kiev/US/NATO.  US/NATO would, of course, pour weapons into the defense of the Kiev lines, and, if it were capable (which it’s not), Kiev could help itself by immediately making the people in those areas the most pampered of its subjects.

And there will be pressure from LDNR militias and from Russian military and political circles to take that offensive action. It’s the logical result of the recognition, and there will never be a better time to do it. If this territorial issue is not resolved, and those limits set, now, for how long will it fester? Precisely, why allow any time for US/NATO weaponry and Kiev social seduction to come in?

My sense is that Russia/LDNR will act very soon. Russia cares a lot more about resolving the situation than avoiding somewhat more of a political attack that it will get anyway. This means an offensive, initiated by them against Kiev forces. This will result in tremendous pressure for US/NATO to join in the defense of Kiev, and if they do—even in the guise of undeclared, not-really-there special forces or stand-off missile attacks—that will result in European and/or American casualties and attacks on any launching platforms, anywhere. If necessary, in such a fight, Russia will strike behind the lines, including at Kiev itself—not to take over the country, but to disrupt the leadership and create a crisis that forces withdrawal from the LDNR territories. If it doesn’t force direct US/NATO attack on Russian territory. The danger of war is real and imminent, and no one can be sure how bad it will get.

This is only in relation to the territorial issue. The other issues—renouncing NATO membership, restricting advanced weaponry, etc.—are at least as imperative for Russia, and can easily lead down the same path to war.

Russia knows very well the hurt it will suffer. The Europeans should. The Americans do not.

It is important for Americans to realize that Russia is not bluffing, and will not back down. The card of escalation dominance that the United States has played for decades no longer intimidates Russia, which, certainly in this theater, has a better version of it in its own hand. There will be peace when there is a political resolution that satisfies Russia’s concerns—before or after a deadly military conflict.

—-interrupted by news of Russian military action in Ukraine—

Related articles: The Battle of Ukraine and the War It’s Part Of New World Order. The US Lost.  From 2014: Charge of the Right Brigade: Ukraine and the Dynamics of Capitalist InsurrectionGood for the Gander: Ukraine's Demise Accelerates. From 2018: The Warm War: Russiamania At The Boiling Point.

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