Vladimir Putin’s regime continues to issue ultimatums. The hate speech of the Kremlin propaganda machine has become extraordinarily garish. The art of lying on the administrative level goes beyond the achievements of the Stalin era. The onslaught of weapons of mass procrastination (trolls, fake news and accusations, etc.) is in full swing.
Russia continues its barbaric campaign of destruction in Ukraine, threatening humanitarian catastrophe (a new Holodomor), chemical attacks, nuclear strikes and spillover of conflict. Naturally, the fault lies with others – Ukraine and the West.
The purpose of the escalating psychological terror is to force Ukraine to surrender, to divide the West and leave it wavering, to save Putin’s regime and shift the blame.
The Kremlin satrap is entrenched in his secret bunker in the Urals, plotting revenge against Ukraine and the entire free world for daring to stand up to and punish Russia. Putin and his devoted supporters cannot understand the fact that Ukraine and its people exist, that they are neither Russia nor Russians, that they will fight and prevail.
The final collapse of the Soviet Union takes place today
The final collapse of the Soviet Union did not happen in December 1991 – it is happening now. The progressive communists did not pit Russians and Ukrainians against each other, but gave freedom to both. The communists did not think to emulate the fascist Germany invasion and occupation scenario that Putin is now trying to put into practice. This is not to praise the Communists of the Soviet Union, but rather to realize how diabolical Great Russian chauvinism, rabid and paranoid, can become.
Kremlin mirrors are curved. Political technologists in Moscow are busy trying to find justification for aggression in hindsight, perhaps thinking back to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iraq had no weapons of destruction massive (or at least none were found). Neither does Ukraine. However, unlike the Americans in Iraq, Russia could nevertheless “find” weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine and use chemical or biological weapons against the Ukrainian people.
The situation in Mariupol looks more like the siege of Leningrad with each pass. The Russian armed forces attack children’s hospitals which they call “military objects” and kill women, children and the elderly. People fight for food. Their cruel attack on Ukraine aimed at destroying the country and its people is completely unjustified and unprovoked. Who here needs to be denazified?
The Kremlin butchers were not tried in Nuremberg. This left Moscow harboring illusions of impunity and a belief that for the victors of World War II, whatever atrocities were authorized (and therefore “justified”).
The fall of communism in Europe was not followed by mental and cultural-ideological cleansing in Russia. These are the bitter fruits that we taste today. Many believed that Russia’s (state) capitalism, its ties to the world economy and freedom of movement, even under the conditions of a “guided” democracy, would not allow the darkest pages of the history repeat itself.
We need to be prepared to defend against cyberattacks
Let’s go back to modern times. Cyberspace is eerily quiet ahead of Russia’s planned separation from the web. This means that we must be ready to ward off Russian cyberattacks.
Ukraine is trying to save as many innocent civilians as possible through negotiations. Russia argues that Ukraine must submit and accept a puppet regime, recognize Crimea as part of Russia and the independence of the so-called people’s republics, and abandon plans for NATO membership.
I’m sure that list would start growing as soon as Ukraine agreed to even one of these ultimatum-like conditions. Moscow says nothing about its own plans, including for a cessation of hostilities, let alone a full troop withdrawal.
It is now clear that Russia’s campaign in Ukraine is not progressing to Putin’s liking. No part of besieged Ukraine, no city or town shows support for the occupiers. But Putin tries to give an air of courage: we must take Kiev and Kharkiv and establish a land connection with Crimea. This is probably his minimum program.
Russia finds itself in a desperate struggle to save the ruble and its foreign exchange reserves, as it battles windmills. Putin is probably considering – in a bid to rally the Russian people – the formation of a Greater Russia by annexing (currently and eventually) the occupied territories in Ukraine, including all of Donbass, but also Belarus, Abkhazia , South Ossetia and Transnistria to Russia. Federation.
He also dreams of the Baltic. If not in terms of occupation, at least in terms of pro-Russian governments and status outside of NATO. [Russian Foreign Minister] Sergei Lavrov said there was no threat to the Baltic countries. This means that there are, if Russia succeeds in Ukraine.
Western unity is collapsing
The war is far from over and could go on forever, while it is all but lost from Russia’s point of view, provided the followers of Western dialogue can refrain from repeating their mistakes of 2008 and overcome the desire to return to “normality” as soon as possible, thus saving Putin’s criminal regime.
Unfortunately, the Western unity that we have witnessed so far, and which has been described as unprecedented, is crumbling. Signals of weakness and indecision are sent. There is apparently no way to send MIG-21 fighters to Ukraine, with messages attached saying they wouldn’t do much anyway.
Finland’s defense minister said now is not the time to join NATO. When if not now? Their president does not take a position even if it is precisely what he expected of him. Germany and other EU member states say independence from Russian gas will happen by 2030 (if we’re lucky)…
Russia is also betting on millions of Ukrainian war refugees creating similar processes in Europe to those the Syrians have had since 2015 – EU destabilization and international (and domestic) quarrels, activation of radical right-wing populist parties and movements.
Ukraine is disappointed not to be immediately accepted into the European family. Member States should appease Ukrainians and explain that the process takes time. We don’t even know the borders of Ukraine as they would apply because the war is on and there is no solution in sight. At the same time, we must give Ukraine hope that once the war is over, the country will rebuild and prepare for EU membership.
But the most important thing is that the time has come to present our conditions to Russia. Ukraine, together with the members of NATO and the European Union, must demand not only an immediate cessation of hostilities, but also a complete, disciplined and rapid withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, including all Donbass.
Second, Russia must recognize that its “special military operation” is a war of aggression and accept the corresponding consequences in accordance with international law, including in terms of war crimes committed.
Third, Russia must pay (for example, from frozen assets in the West) reparations to Ukraine for property damage and people (Ukrainian residents) killed and injured.
Fourth, the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 will prepare a draft resolution on the status and demilitarization of Crimea which will be submitted to the vote of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Each state with one vote and no veto power.
Western Russian sanctions will remain in effect until Russia fully complies with all of these conditions. There has to be motivation.
Only then could we, in good faith, talk about the European security architecture and arms control, including confidence-building measures. Respecting, of course, the inalienable and equal rights of each State.
These conditions may, of course, seem utopian and unachievable, when they are quite justified and fair (from the point of view of international law). We have no reason to demand less from Russia.
To respond to Putin and Lavrov’s reasoning for ultimatums
The indivisibility of European security represents the attempt of European and North American states (members of the OSCE) to avoid a new cold war and the division of Europe into spheres of influence. This is the meaning of the principle since the cold war was declared over (unfortunately, prematurely). It was supposed to be a single zone of influence, democracy and rule of law from Vladivostok to Vancouver. Russia left this area during Putin’s time.
On the other hand, no country can improve its security at the expense of others. Of course, I agree, but I would ask Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu or Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov to explain whether the principle has not been constantly violated by Russia. Its aggression against Ukraine is the clearest example of this.
Finally, Moscow is fulfilling the only obligation it has assumed by supplying Europe with gas. Why? Because he desperately needs foreign currency to run his war machine. What conclusion should we draw from this?