UKRAINE: RUSSIA MUST NOW DECIDE WHICH IS THE LEAST WORST, & PERHAPS BEST OPTION
The Ukraine situation is down to the wire. The next few weeks may bring momentous events.
All the relevant geopolitical facts are now in. Russia has received an answer to its demands that its national security red lines be observed.
The response has been overwhelmingly negative from both the U.S. state and NATO, Russia can expect no guarantees of its future safety and unhindered development. In addition Russia knows that it will continue to be a target as an adversary if not an outright enemy of both the USA and UK and the majority of those within the European Union, the chief antagonists among them being Poland and the Baltic States.
Russia can hope for no better than that which is offered now, some vague assurances from the U.S. that talks are possible regarding some form of agreements on lesser issues than those sought by it. From NATO all that was received was a shallow document permeated with ideological dogma.
You can read both documents, leaked in the last 24 hours, here:
Zelensky, president of Ukraine has also made his views clear in recent days. He has rejected the Minsk agreements which create a pathway to peace and reconciliation with both Russia and the autonomy-seeking republics. His rhetoric has been full of allusions to taking the path to war. Russia has been left in no doubt that the Minsk agreements are dead, killed off by Kiev and by the lack of any intention by the western powers to pressure Ukraine to make good on its promises to talk directly to the leadership of the republics or create federalized status for the Donbass.
There is no room for further doubt, nor hope. Russia has all it needs now to make the decision before it.
Whether to sit still and do nothing while Ukraine (and Georgia) move closer to joining NATO and further threatening Russia’s security and general peace of mind. It can allow a gradually increasing army of enemies to approach its borders with ever greater access to weaponry that can destroy targets within Russia in five minutes or less. Or it can take the offensive and secure the Donbass and effect the preservation of its largely pro-Russian population and ensure no NATO facilities, weaponry or troops ever sit on its border threatening it. It can take the fight to NATO in other words instead of hoping for some outbreak of good sense from it. NATO after all has every motivation to make the situation regarding Russia as fraught as possible, constantly needing to justify its need to exist.
Of course, if Russia does take this step (which it is largely being forced to by the West and the increasing threats from Kiev) it will face an uproar of criticism and immediate calls to hit it with every sanction and prohibition possible. Although German, France and Italy will not wish for Russia to be excluded from SWIFT this may well be demanded by the U.S. and Britain. Whether they will stand up to this pressure is uncertain, however, they know that crushing financial penalties will arise for themselves as well as any intended for Russia.
NordStream 2 would no doubt be refused its permit to activate natural gas supplies to Germany and onward to the rest of Europe. In response it is highly likely that Russia will cease all supplies to the nations attacking it. Any attempt by the West to find alternative suppliers have failed so far. Biden’s recent visit to Qatar in an attempt to secure a supply of natural gas to Europe instead of that from Russia will not be sufficient and analysts in the field agree that the Russian gas supply cannot be replaced as a whole.
Russia of course has prepared for the eventuality of an economic war now looming. Its relations with China are at an all-time high with cooperation occurring across a wide spectrum of economic and now military areas. A second pipeline from the Siberian oil and gas fields to China is currently being built and it doesn’t take any expert in geopolitics to understand what this portends for the future. Russia has created an alternative to SWIFT and has also readied an alternative to accepting the West-based internet system. Finding new trading partners was a vital necessity for Russia after the reunification of Crimea and the crisis in south-eastern Ukraine in 2014-15. This has been accomplished with a high degree of success. Russia has also arranged for alternative currencies to the dollar within its international trading network. Russia’s national debt is low. It has been reduced year after year and now stands at an historic low. Its holdings of the U.S. dollar have been massively depleted also and its holdings in gold have been built to significant levels enabling it to weather the most severe of economic storms.
Has Russia done enough to hold firm and survive the attacks that will inevitably be unleashed upon it if it decides to intervene in the Donbass? I suspect so. With Russians fully aware of the war being waged against it by the West, economic or otherwise, it is a reasonable assumption that they will rally to support their president and government. The ‘Stalingrad Spirit’ will obviously work to the advantage of the Russian authorities at every level and could well spark a greater entrenchment of anti-western policies resulting in the banning of western news entities, NGOs and much else. It will also mean a likely formalized military pact with China and quite possibly with others such as Iran, Syria, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. And who knows, perhaps even Yemen, the Sudan, Mali and others under threat from the USA, UK, EU and their allies.
We are at the brink of a hot war, the USA, UK, EU and others having chosen to support the coup in Ukraine and the relentless encroachment of NATO to Russia’s borders. The western powers have brought this situation into existence and, unwilling to do anything but double down while rejecting any credence being given to Russia’s needs for national security, they are driving Russia to make the most momentous decision of our lifetimes. Whether its interests lie in continuing to be aggressively oppressed on all sides, slandered mercilessly, treated as a pariah and with Ukraine constantly used as a battering-ram to destabilize it... or to use its now extremely efficient and professional military forces to rid itself of those who seek its demise.
These must surely be the thoughts being focused upon now in the Kremlin, weighing one option against the other to judge which may be the least worst option and more importantly which is the one that will safeguard Russian national security in perpetuity.