International tensions hooked up to charging
The cute (pictured with Lavrov) and frightening (politically) beast, the Arctic fox crept up unnoticed. But in order to continue not to notice him, today you need to put on a clothespin, close your eyes and pour something into your ears: the predictions of the most diverse Cassandras about the inevitability of “Russia's invasion of Ukraine” are heard from all possible and impossible cracks. The German tabloid Bild, known for his hysterical tone and penchant for invention, even published a map of such a future invasion. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has never served in the army, is an accountant in her first profession, “scares Putin”, driving back and forth in a tank near the Russian border. According to Bloomberg, Lavrov and Secretary of State Tony Blinken entered into a heated squabble over diametrically opposed assessments of the 2014 events in Ukraine. And speaking about Ukraine in 2021, Joe Biden publicly declared that he “does not accept anyone’s“ red lines ”. This is the background on which the presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States should have a video conversation on December 7.
A standard feature of diplomacy at the highest level is that only a faint and many times distorted reflection of what is happening at the epicenter of events is available to the eyes of the ordinary public. We do not know what is in Putin's head and what is in Biden's head (the statement of the US President that he is not ready to reckon with someone's “red lines” should be considered a PR product aimed at a purely external effect).
We do not know what is being discussed and how during that part of the communication between Lavrov and Blinken, when they do not provide free entertainment to the participants in the solemn ministerial dinner. We can judge what is happening only by indirect signs. And these indirect signs are as follows. At the end of October this year, at a meeting of the Valdai Club, the authoritative Kiev political scientist Mikhail Pogrebinsky, who adheres to balanced and realistic views on what is happening, asked Putin a question-statement: “If this story with the Okolonatov infrastructure continues to be realized, then the formation process is not yet very stable. anti-Russia in Ukraine will be cemented for many years … How can this process be stopped? “
From the reaction of the Russian leader it clearly followed that Pogrebinsky's question hit the bull's eye: “I don’t know yet the answer to this question … But the threat you just mentioned is of significant importance for us … When formal NATO membership may not take place, but the military development of the territory is already underway, it really poses a threat to the Russian Federation. ” It is unlikely that, having asked Putin his question, the Kiev political scientist “opened America to the head of the Russian Federation.” But in recent weeks, the forgotten topic of relations between Ukraine and NATO has returned to the forefront of world politics. Russia demanded from the West guarantees of its security, pointing out that the formal or informal merger of Ukraine with NATO poses a direct military threat to our country. The West – at least in the public sphere – “turned on the fool.” They say that NATO is a purely defensive alliance, and we will decide for ourselves who to accept or not to accept, without unnecessary advice from Moscow.
This, apparently, is the background to the panicky statements from the United States and Europe that Russia “will invade Ukraine around the New Year.” And this is the agenda of the video summit of Putin and Biden. I do not want to prejudge the decisions of the two presidents (or the absence of any decisions, which is also a quite possible result of the summit). However, here's what seems obvious to me. Either NATO is rolling back, or Russia is invading Ukraine – this is a false choice that is being imposed on us in an effort to drive Moscow into a political trap. Russia must be ready for a military confrontation with its neighbor. But this readiness must be purely defensive in nature. Those “hot guys” (as well as girls) in Kiev who believe that they are knee-deep in the sea, and Russia is a colossus with feet of clay, should periodically be reminded of Putin's 2018 statement: any attempts to forcefully solve the problem of Donbass will lead to “very grave consequences for the Ukrainian statehood. ”
However, Russia should by no means act as the initiator of a military confrontation with Ukraine. Ivan Timofeev, Program Director of the Valdai Club, has recently prepared a detailed analysis of the consequences that this hypothetical option will have for Russian statehood. Here is the main conclusion of this analysis: “The costs of a possible war between Russia and Ukraine significantly outweigh the benefits … Such a military conflict is unlikely to be completed with any intelligible agreement. Victory over the armed forces of Ukraine will not by itself lead to a quick peace. The war can develop into a long and sluggish confrontation. ” In other words, along with the already existing rebellious republics of Donbass, we will get another “Donbass” – only of a much larger scale. Russia will get stuck in a Ukrainian swamp, attempts to get out of which will consume all our energy for many decades.
And this is only one of seven points of Timofeev. Among its other points: a sharp increase in the supply of the most modern Western weapons to Ukraine, the introduction of new, incomparably more powerful economic sanctions against the Russian Federation, the risk of internal political turmoil in Russia itself, the inability to control even many regions of Eastern Ukraine, whose population is not delighted with Westerners, but at the same time, it is not ready to be loyal to Russia. I agree with this analysis almost 100%. The hypothetical attack from Moscow predicted by the West will be heavenly manna for Zelensky and all those forces in different countries who want to deprive Russia of the status of a great power that has returned to it. The simplest and most obvious “solution” to the problem of rapprochement between Ukraine and NATO is at the same time the most incorrect. I would even hesitate to call it a “solution.” Russia should look for alternative, asymmetric options for responding to the challenge that our country is now facing face to face. I am sure that there are such options. He who seeks will always find – at least, having the various resources that our state has.