Putin’s Speech & Developments in the Russo-Ukrainian Crisis
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Political Observation - Putin’s Speech & Developments in the Russo-Ukrainian Crisis
In his annual speech yesterday, 9 May, marking the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany, an annual celebration that Putin has been harnessing throughout his term of office to corroborate Russia’s presence as a world military power, Russian President Putin linked the “spirit of victory” and the sacrifices of the former “great patriotic war” to the patriotism of Russia today and her struggle to remain a political and military player at the world stage. He stressed that Russia’s decision to go to war in Ukraine was right and deemed it the decision of a sovereign, powerful and independent state.
President Putin accentuated Ukraine’s centrality in the orthodox patriotic thought upon which he has built his domestic and foreign policy. His speech carried several messages with domestic and foreign themes. He glorified several important battles in Ukrainian cities during the “great patriotic war”, and stressed that the current battle was a historical communication. He said “Today, as in the past, you are fighting for our people in Donbass, for the security of our motherland, for Russia.” He also blamed America, Ukraine and NATO, justifying his decision to go to war by the security alerts he had received, including Ukraine’s preparations for a “punitive operation in Donbass”, Kiev declaring “that it could attain nuclear weapons,” and “Nato began the active military assimilation of territories along our borders,” adding that “an absolutely unacceptable threat to us was steadily being created right on our borders”, and that “Russia launched a pre-emptive strike at the aggression…. The decision of a sovereign, strong and independent country.”
These statements by the Russian president came as Washington continued to escalate the crisis by imposing sanctions on Moscow and pursuing her support for Ukraine; this was reflected in the request by the White House to Congress to approve military support and an extra $33 billion for Ukraine. It was reflected also in Biden’s decision to sign on the same day the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act into law. The law dates back to the Second World War and it was enacted to support Ukraine against Hitler by speeding up the dispatch of military equipment to Ukraine.
The US escalation is vividly reflected in the support given to Zelensky’s efforts to incite European public opinion against any country, organisation and company dealing with Russia by using very poignant expressions such as “your hands are stained with our blood”, and in the obstacles preventing reaching a solution that could throw Putin a lifeline or spare Europe from the Russian security threat such as Zelensky’s insistence on clinging to all Ukrainian territory including the Crimean Peninsula. America has also been pushing the British prime minister and his foreign secretary to incite against Russia and provoke her and press Europe to accept the sanctions imposed on Russia in the energy sector. Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph has exposed France and Germany’s cooperation with Russia and the logistical support they lent her in the form of thermal monoculars for tanks and navigation systems for jetfighters. The US escalation is also clearly reflected in the statement delivered by NATO’s secretary general following Putin’s speech in which he said NATO stood firmly behind Ukraine and would continue to support her right to defend herself. Those were the very words of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken which alluded to giving Zelensky the green light to escalate the situation and widen the scope of the war beyond Ukraine. This is corroborated by the continued supplies to the Ukrainian army with means of resistance and sophisticated assault weapons, as well as intelligence reports that helped the Ukrainian army sink the Russian ship Moskva, and by America’s decision to raise the issue of the separatist region in the republic of Moldova, namely Transnistria, which is adjacent to Ukraine and occupied by the Russians, through the security tensions in the separatist region and the military deployments on the border routes, in addition to the provocative behaviour of the Moldovan government against Russia by turning Moldova into a military supplies bridge for Ukraine, and the West’s decision to supply Moldova with a bundle of military aid and prevent the Moldovan government from celebrating the Russian victory day which it used to mark each year.
The Ukrainian crisis has so far enabled America to execute a host of measures to isolate Russia, drive a wedge into her relationship with Europe and empower NATO member states and upgrade their military systems by increasing their military expenditure, an enterprise that several US administrations had focused on achieving. The clearest sign for this prospect is Germany’s precipitated decision to inject approximately €100 billion into her defence budget and to approve a bill for increasing the annual military spend to 2% of GDP; Italy also proceeded with a similar measure. The EU for its part issued a resolution pertinent to achieving European energy security by reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy and opening the European market for liquid gas supplies from America with the shipping costs being covered by the increase in gas prices during the crisis. America has also given Ukraine a platform for armament with the most sophisticated US military equipment including Javelin and Stinger missiles to test the effectiveness of her weapons against Russian weapons. America wanted also to test her intelligence capabilities by passing on to Ukraine data on Russian warships which led to sinking the Russian battleship Moskova and information on how to target and incapacitate the Russian frigate Admiral Marakov, and how to target Russian military commanders. She also tested the capabilities of the “co-operators” aka the “Belarusian saboteurs” in executing support actions such as disrupting the supply chains and supply routes of the Russian forces on the Kiev battlefront.
On the other hand, the bundle of sanctions on Russia has started to impact the progress of her military operation; UK defence department commented on the Russian army’s consumption of substantial quantities of sophisticated ammunition, most of which depends on European components and spare parts whose export to Russia has been banned. All this was summed up by the statement of UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in which he emphasised the West’s policy vis-à-vis the crisis by saying “"Putin must fail in Ukraine is our key policy mission, but we mustn't avoid the fundamentals here, which is that it is for Ukraine to choose how it ends this conflict, how it makes Russia end this conflict.” This is expressive of an Anglo-American persistence to compel Russia and Europe to adhere to the rules of the new political and security game by giving Ukraine all the means enabling her to deplete Russia and force her to fail by arming and training Ukrainian forces so as to impose a reality on the battleground to the point where Russia could never win this war in a meaningful way, and which would compel her to opt for the least damaging outcome from among the colours of failure, and which would lead Russia into an impasse and force her to move to plan C which would necessitate focusing her military operations in the area of Donbass and south Ukraine, and even the seaport of Odessa in the southwest, and establishing a buffer zone to cut off Western supplies. And this is the American aim which has been dwarfing Russian objectives. Pushing Putin towards plan C would enable America to achieve the objective from which she is hoping to shape the appropriate security climate for the continuance of NATO and its hegemony over European sovereign decisions, namely keeping Russia as a scarecrow for the European states, especially as that is what America wants the war to lead to as Putin continues to defy the US administration which is forcing him to cling to the regions of Donbass and Crimea and making this the end of his wishes, so that Ukraine may remain a hotbed of tension on Europe’s eastern borders, and so that Russia may also remain a source of anxiety, tension and fear for Europe through the war of attrition, or through subjugating Putin and harnessing him for that purpose. In this context, America managed to bide time, which is an important factor in warfare, and compelled Western states to bankroll Ukraine and arm her with what she needed for a war of attrition in eastern Ukraine; she has also prepared them for the new security climate which will include keeping them under the American cloak and under her nuclear umbrella. The US jibes at Putin, making him brandish nuclear weapons, by leaking the report on CIA supplying the Ukrainian army with the data of Russian warships and the locations of Russian generals on the battlefields, as well as Boris Johnson’s taunting of Russia by visiting Ukraine, fall perhaps within this context. This means the American plan for the battle will compel him to stay militarily in Ukraine, thus luring him into a devastating war of attrition; it will also keep Ukraine a hotbed of tension forcing the European states to proceed behind America even at the expense of their own interests. This explains Macron’s apprehensions and his proposal to establish a European bloc in parallel to the EU with the aim of bulwarking the European standpoint vis-à-vis any Russian dispute with neighbouring European countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, and averting any direct clash between Europe and Russia which would impact European interests, especially in the energy sector, and also with the aim of circumventing the project of inviting European countries to apply for EU and NATO membership, which is a source of worry for Russia, and thus, the parallel bloc would act as the alternative for all of this and would nullify America’s pretexts to lead Europe towards what she wants; nevertheless Macron is still willing to give America what she wants in respect of the “war of models” by determining democracy, freedoms and the rule of law as commitments for the parallel European bloc. This is because America is redrawing the geopolitical and value-based boundaries which would redefine the “West” and make it an international political tool in the political, economic and value-based war of models and in initiating the integration of Europe in the potential battle with China. Although Putin projected self-confidence, his speech revealed the weightiness of the unprecedented sanctions imposed on Russia, the scale of international pressure and the domestic embarrassment to the Russian leadership, especially after the relationship between Russia and "Israel" had been strained due to Lavrov’s scathing attack which was unbecoming of conventional diplomacy. It is also clear that the Russian leadership is facing a crisis and its room for manoeuvre is narrow and limited. On the other face of the coin, it is clear that Europe is shackled, perturbed and lacking willpower; she submitted to America despite her strategic and geopolitical interests being with Russia rather than America, and despite her inability to abandon Russian energy, at least for the time being. Europe relies on gas imports exceeding 150 billion cubic metres a year, while America can only supply her with 10 billion cubic metres.
Hence, the progress of the Russo-Ukrainian crisis, amid American superiority and the diversity of components of its power, and amid Putin’s reliance on oppressive military power and his ability to muzzle domestic opposition, is heading towards forcing Putin to resort for one of these options: either total defeat and international isolation, depletion, or submission; and if Putin were to acquiesce to this scenario, it would disrupt the interactants of the Russian military power and its cornerstone, break the silence of the Russian masses, destroy the foundations of the regime and its willpower, dismantle the hard nucleus supporting Putin and herald his downfall to seize Russia’s reins, downsize her, plunder her resources, control her relationship with Europe and neutralise her in any potential struggle with China.
10 Shawwal 1443h
11 May 2022