Tass: The operation to enforce peace in Ukraine has entered a military phase. All previous estimates were reset, the unfinished text the day before, which should have been called ironically – “What if we don’t attack?” – lost all meaning. Moscow time was divided into the pre-war and the present – although, as they rightly remind in the Donbass, the time has remained military there for the past eight years, and only with the recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics by Russia did hopes for a more peaceful future dawn.
Naturally, the main question that worries everyone is how long and wide in scope the “special military operation” announced early Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin will be. There are no answers yet; in any case, as presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters, he is “unknown” about the possibility of stopping the operation before achieving its goals.
The goals themselves, according to him, boil down to “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, the word “occupation” in this context is “inapplicable.” Whether these goals involve the expansion of the operation to the entire territory of Ukraine, including its largest cities, Peskov did not specify. As for the terms, he said that they depended on “efficiency and expediency” and “will, of course, be determined by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief,” that is, the President.
Having decided to send Russian peacekeepers to the Donbass, Moscow has completely shuffled the geopolitical cards. Overseas, in the professional jargon of politicians and the military, such proactive actions are called changing the facts on the ground.
Facts really, willy-nilly, force us to reckon with them, and in the West they try to adapt to them. The task is not an easy one, since it is necessary, firstly, to hide one’s own impotence, and secondly, to make sure that the previously advertised “unprecedentedly tough” sanctions against Russia still do not harm the West itself too much and do not completely block the path to the so-called de-escalation, i.e. détente.
Hopes for it still flicker, although the previously announced meeting of the heads of the diplomatic departments of Russia and the United States, which was expected to prepare the next bilateral summit, has now been cancelled. On Thursday, US President Joe Biden told reporters that he “has no plans to speak with Putin,” does not rule out personal sanctions against the Russian leader, and sees “a complete break in US relations with Russia if they continue on their current path.”
When asked about the resumption of the Cold War, the American leader did not directly answer, saying only that “a cold day is coming” for Russia. But I saw the last decades of the Cold War and I don’t remember anything like the current situation in those years.
Judging by the commotion caused in the West by the recognition of the DPR and LPR, this Russian move took our opponents by surprise. This in itself is striking, since such a scenario was not only allowed, but directly predicted. In mid-February, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg even publicly warned against him.
And a little later, perhaps the most authoritative American foreign policy magazine, Foreign Affairs, published an article “What if Russia wins? A Kremlin-controlled Ukraine would transform Europe.” It stated that Russia had “many paths to victory” in Ukraine, including “bringing an obedient government to power in Kyiv or dividing the country.”
I suppose the most obvious manifestation of the confusion that reigned in the West may be the dispute over what counts as an “invasion”. Suffice it to recall that just the other day, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell claimed that “Russian troops are already in Ukraine”, but this “is not a full-scale invasion.”
Essentially, the uncertainty, of course, was due to the need to carefully calibrate the response to Russia’s actions. However, in form, it, unfortunately for the White House, went back to Biden’s January blunder, which was immediately perceived by his domestic critics as a gross political miscalculation.
The American leader then said that Russia “will have to answer” for its actions “if it invades” a neighboring country, but added that the specifics would depend “on what it does.” “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion, and then we have to fight over what to do, what not to do, etc.,” Biden explained.
He was taken at once at his word; Kyiv publicly declared that “there are no minor invasions.” True, some commentators even then pointed out that the words of the US President merely reflected political realities, including the lack of agreement between NATO partners. But in general, the White House had to hastily extinguish the scandal and assure that in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian confrontation, crossing the border by “at least one soldier” would already mean an invasion.
A good mine in a bad game
Later, this ostentatious intransigence backfired on him. The press demanded to explain how this position correlates with Russia’s decision to send its peacekeepers to the Donbass republics. The administration wavered.
This is how the Washington Post described the first introductory briefing for journalists hosted by the White House via teleconference on February 21, hours after Moscow announced recognition of the DPR and LPR: into two Russian-backed separatist regions by breaking the “red line” in the eyes of the Biden administration. Rather, the official was trying to portray the developments as something very far from a dramatic change in the status quo. As he repeatedly stressed, “Russia has already been occupying these regions since 2014.” .
The last thesis is one of the pillars for the Washington and Kiev agitprop, although Moscow has always refuted it, including with reference to the OSCE observers. Shortly after the conclusion of the same briefing, the paper said, “another administration official defined a Russian invasion that would entail a clear US response.” According to him, this is “a transition to Ukrainian territory, which Russia has not” occupied since 2014.
It looked as if the Americans were trying to persuade themselves to admit the new facts on the ground created by Moscow on the grounds that the US had previously considered the Russian presence in the Donbass to be a fact. Well, as they say, put the Stars and Stripes flag in their hands and let them run with this flag from Kyiv even to Lviv, even to Poland (by the way, I came across an interesting question in social networks: why is everyone calling on their people to leave Ukraine, but no one, including Ukraine, does not encourage his people to leave Russia?). In my opinion, in fact, all this corresponds to the Russian proverb – to put a good face on a bad game.
Winners are not judged?
I wanted to write that in relation to Russia, the same approach is described by our other proverb: the winners are not judged. Moreover, the well-known American political “hawk” John Bolton, who during the previous Republican administration of Donald Trump in Washington was the assistant to the president for national security, just told MSNBC that what is happening will end with “Russia’s victory”, since the current American leader Joe Biden failed to properly rally NATO.