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PUTIN'S DANGEROUS UNDECLARED WAR AGAINST EUROPE

As winter approaches, Putin has inordinate leverage over Europe’s energy market

 

Diane Francis

Nov 26, 2021

Financial Post

 

Finally, western leaders are waking up to the fact that Vladimir Putin has been waging an undeclared war against Europe and the west since 2014 when it annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

This is because he has escalated his warfare. In August, he weaponized energy exports by throttling back natural gas shipments, creating shortages and enormous price hikes. Also during the summer, Putin’s proxy, Belarus, weaponized migration. Thousands of residents from the Middle East were encouraged to fly to Minsk, then were transported to the border with Poland where they were promised they could easily sneak into the European Union (EU).

This gambit, designed to damage the EU, was impeded by Poland and Lithuanian troops. It gained world headlines as these migrants were caught, like human ping pong balls, between an odious regime in Belarus (likely urged by Russia) pushing them to break fencing and defy soldiers — and the Polish army using tear gas and water cannons to prevent a flood of illegal migrants. Belarus recently backed down and has begun to fly these people back to the Middle East.

In April, Putin amassed about 100,000 troops, tanks and warships near Ukraine’s borders, and has continued this deployment despite requests by the United States and others to de-escalate. This, plus the other crises, have finally led the British and French governments, both nuclear powers, to demand de-escalation.

What the West may finally be admitting is that Putin is a dangerous revanchist who described the demise of the Soviet empire as the greatest “geopolitical catastrophe in history” in a 2005 speech. Ever since, he has set out to reverse history. But the dissolution of the Soviet Union was welcome to most Europeans. Ukraine and other former Soviet republics such as the Baltic states were liberated, as was Poland and the Soviet satellites in eastern and central Europe.

But Putin wants it all back and his “War” against Europe has gone mostly unnoticed because he wages two kinds of warfare. He undertakes “hot wars” or traditional conflicts but these are hidden and involve unidentified armed forces or operatives, who are former Russian military soldiers working as mercenaries. Hot wars against European nation-states included Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, both of which are now partially occupied by Russian “operatives” — territories equivalent in size to the country of Bulgaria, or the State of Colorado.

More commonly, Putin conducts “hybrid warfare” against targets which also include the United States, all NATO members, and former Soviet vassal nations. In these battles, his arsenal includes cyber warfare, political sabotage, disinformation, propaganda, lawsuits, election intervention, diplomatic maneuvers, bombings, poisonings, assassinations, gaslighting, and most dramatically this year, the mobilization of forces capable of invading Ukraine as well as the weaponization of energy and migration.

One of Putin’s most effective “hybrid war” tools is the Wagner Group , a large private army that sprawls across continents. It was heavily involved in the capture of Ukrainian territory, helped Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian civil war, the Libyan civil war, and is actively fighting or cyber-attacking former European colonies across Africa and around the world. The Kremlin denies any links with Wagner.

So far, Putin’s biggest “recapture” occurred in 2020 when Russia took control over Belarus without a single shot fired after its dictator lost re-election, rigged results and faced mass protests in the streets. Its leader, Alexandre Lukashenko, was only able to cling to power with Russian military and financial backing, and now takes orders from the Kremlin.

Now of greater concern, as winter approaches, is the possibility that Russia may invade Ukraine again. The Pentagon has warned that this is possible, given the nature of the increasing military deployment along Ukraine’s borders with Belarus and Russia, as well as the Black Sea. This warning, plus pressure from Washington, has finally drawn out strong remarks — by Britain and France — that Ukraine’s borders must not be breached. The British have sent troops and warships as well and France says it will defend Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Such pushbacks have resulted in a partial climbdown by Putin. The Belarus migration situation has calmed  and Putin’s rhetoric has toned down somewhat. But winter approaches and he has inordinate leverage over Europe’s energy market. The reality is that Putin plays a long game, and tested the limits this year. But he will never end his war and hopefully Europe realizes this and will remain vigilant and fortified.

 

 

 

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UKRAINE’S ZELENSKY ALLEGES RUSSIA PLOTTING COUP AGAINST HIM FOR NEXT WEEK

The Ukrainian president said the country’s richest man, his rival, was being drawn into the plot.

By David L. Stern

November 26, 2021

The Washington Post

 

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that a group of Russians and Ukrainians is planning to stage a coup d’etat in Ukraine next month and that the plotters are trying to enlist the help of the country’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov.

 

Zelensky, speaking at a “press marathon” for local and international media, said that audio recordings, obtained by Ukraine’s security services, caught plotters discussing their plans and mentioning Akhmetov’s name. Akhmetov was not involved in the actual coup plot, however, Zelensky said.

 

“I believe [Akhmetov] is being dragged into the war against Ukraine,” Zelensky said. “This will be a big mistake, because it is impossible to fight against the people, against the president elected by the people of Ukraine.”

 

Zelensky said the alleged coup was being planned for Dec. 1 or 2. He did not provide further details, however.

 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied any Russian role in the alleged plot.

 

“Russia never engages in such things. There have never been such plans,” he said.

 

Ukrainian media in recent weeks have commented on the growing tensions between Zelensky and Akhmetov. Zelensky has launched a “de-oligarchization”campaign to reduce the political influence of Ukraine’s richest people, who control key sections of the economy.

 

Akhmetov, a mining and steel tycoon, also owns media holdings, which in recent weeks have increased their criticism of Zelensky and his administration.

 

Zelensky’s comments also come against a backdrop of rising tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.

 

Western and Ukrainian officials say that they have observed a buildup of Russian forces on the country’s border with Ukraine.

 

The reasons for the buildup are unclear, but officials say that it could be in preparation for an invasion or an escalation in the seven-year-old conflict in eastern Ukraine with anti-Kyiv forces, backed by Moscow, according to Western officials and independent researchers.

The Ukrainian president said that his country was prepared for any scenario. “We are in full control of our borders and ready if there will be an escalation,” Zelensky said.

 

 

Robyn Dixon in Moscow contributed to this report.

 

 

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RUSSIAN SABRE-RATTLING SHAKES UKRAINE BONDS

Government-debt markets shrugged off earlier Russian troop buildups but this time is different, some investors say

By Matt Wirz

Nov. 26, 2021

The Wall Street Journal

 

Escalating Russian military activity on the border with Ukraine is rattling foreign investors, pushing prices of Ukrainian government bonds to their lowest levels in more than a year.

Warnings by U.S. government officials about the potential threat of a Russian invasion worsened the selloff in recent days.

The price of Ukraine’s $1.3 billion 7.75% bond due 2024 fell to around 100 cents on the dollar on Wednesday from around 107 cents two weeks earlier, its lowest level since October 2020, according to Advantage Data. A bond due 2040 with payments linked to Ukraine’s economic performance has fallen about 16% since mid-November to 89 cents on the dollar.

Emerging-markets investors have been willing to buy Ukrainian debt this year despite simmering tensions with the Kremlin because it pays high interest. Russian military exercises on the border in April and September weighed prices down slightly, but they quickly recovered.

“Ukraine has been the second- or third-most crowded trade in emerging markets,” said Dan Shaykevich, co-head of emerging markets at Vanguard Group. “It’s a country that has plenty of risk but is generally on a positive trajectory. Fundamentally, we think there is value.”

Still, bond prices have dropped further and for a longer period in November, reflecting fears of an attack akin to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Moscow also supported a separatist movement in eastern Ukraine with troops and weapons in a long war with Ukraine’s army.

“I do think there is significant risk of escalation,” said Tim Ash, a strategist at BlueBay Asset Management. “This is very different from April and September.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has added a new “red line” warning Western countries not to supply Ukraine with military equipment to his previous doctrine against Ukraine integrating with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Mr. Ash said. The recent warnings from U.S. officials are also different in their tone and their specificity about the potential threat, he said.

Energy politics may also have emboldened Mr. Putin concerning Ukraine.

“There’s a significant gas shortage in Europe and Ukraine, and Russia holds the key,” said Kaan Nazli, a London-based bond portfolio manager at Neuberger Berman Group.

Russia supplies almost half of the gas imports in Europe, and an energy crunch has sent prices soaring across the continent. Russia has slowed gas deliveries to Europe, leverage it can use to pressure countries such as France and Germany in diplomacy over Ukraine, investors said.

Neuberger still sees value in Ukraine bonds, in part because Russian aggression—short of war—tends to have unintended consequences, Mr. Nazli said.

“It’s a reform story,” Mr. Nazli said. “Any tension with Russia makes the West more likely to support Ukraine and gives the government ammunition to go after domestic oligarchs.”

The International Monetary Fund announced on Nov. 22 the release of a long-awaited $700 million portion of its standby arrangement with Ukraine. The IMF provided the financial lifeline after Ukraine’s government adopted measures to combat corruption.

 

Write to Matt Wirz at matthieu.wirz@wsj.com

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U.S. LOOKS TO NATO TO DETER RUSSIAN AGGRESSION AS UKRAINE WARNS OF POSSIBLE COUP

Biden administration considers options from deterrence to diplomacy and wants a NATO meeting next week to discuss common actions

By Michael R. Gordon, Vivian Salama and Ann M. Simmons

Nov. 26, 2021

The Wall Street Journal

 

The Biden administration plans to use a meeting of NATO foreign ministers to focus on how the alliance should respond to Russian military pressure on Ukraine as the Ukrainian president warned Friday of a possible Moscow-backed coup attempt.

The meeting, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, comes amid debate within the alliance’s ranks about how to be firm about the possibility of Russian aggression, as it masses troops near Ukraine, while keeping political channels open to Moscow.

Karen Donfried, the top State Department official for European affairs, said Friday that the U.S. is deeply concerned about “large and unusual” Russian troop movements near Ukraine, which American officials have warned allies could be a prelude to invasion.

She said the U.S. is looking at a range of options and wants to use the NATO meeting to discuss how the alliance can act together.

Although she declined to specify which options are under consideration, they range from more military support for Ukraine to stepped-up diplomacy to de-escalate the conflict, according to U.S. officials.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, accused Russia of backing a plan to overthrow him.

Mr. Zelensky told reporters Friday that he had received information through Ukrainian security services that a coup would be undertaken on Dec. 1-2, according to Ukraine’s national news agency, Ukrinform. He said the Ukrainian government had intelligence as well as audio intercepts in which Russian and Ukrainian conspirators were heard discussing the possible participation of billionaire Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov in the alleged plot.

Mr. Akhmetov’s spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the allegation.

President Biden said Friday he is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and that “we object to anything remotely approaching” the alleged coup plot. He told reporters in Nantucket, Mass., that he would likely talk with Mr. Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Biden administration has yet to spell out what the consequences of Russian aggression would be.

The gathering of NATO foreign ministers, however, offers an opportunity for the West’s premier military alliance to take a unified stance against Russia’s saber rattling. But the alliance operates on the basis of consensus and perceptions of imminence of Russian action within the organization vary.

Karen Donfried, the top State Department official for European affairs, said Friday the U.S. is deeply concerned about ‘large and unusual’ Russian troop movements near Ukraine.

Ukraine, while not a NATO member, will take part in the discussion at the alliance’s meeting of foreign ministers, said Ms. Donfried.

Ahead of the meeting, which takes place in the Latvian capital of Riga, Biden administration officials have discussed varied options should Moscow take military action against Ukraine in the next several months, the U.S. officials said.

Options include steps to strengthen Ukraine’s defenses, including providing more air defenses and other military support, and imposing tougher economic sanctions on Russia.

Other options are designed to reduce the risk of a confrontation with Moscow, including constraining U.S. military exercises in Europe, which the Russians complain are provocative and pausing military aid to Ukraine, the officials said.

“There’s a tool kit that includes a whole range of options,” Ms. Donfried said. “We will begin that conversation of what are the options that are on the table and what is it that NATO as an alliance would like to do together.”

The Biden administration is also considering taking a more assertive role in the “Minsk process”—a diplomatic effort between Ukraine, Russia and Europe to find a solution for the Ukraine crisis, which was triggered in 2014 by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continuing support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Stepped-up diplomatic efforts could appeal to NATO members who are anxious to keep political channels open with Moscow and might facilitate efforts to forge a common stance within the alliance, former officials said.

The diverse array of options reflects the broader debate over Russia policy within the Biden administration. The Pentagon and State Department have stressed the importance of strengthening deterrence while the White House has looked for ways to maintain a “stable and predictable” relationship with Moscow as Washington focuses on China and domestic issues, U.S. officials say.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke Friday with Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential administration in Ukraine. Afterward, the White House issued a statement expressing concern about Russia’s military activities and calling on “all sides” to pursue diplomacy to de-escalate tensions.

There is no sense that a Russian invasion is imminent. Rather, the concern is that a substantial force has been positioned near Ukraine, and that more men and material could be rushed in relatively quickly, which would beef up the Kremlin’s military options.

Russia has said that it isn’t planning an invasion. Some current and former U.S. officials worry that Mr. Putin remains deeply suspicious of the West’s intentions and could precipitate a crisis when he calculates that Europe is more dependent on Russian energy, Mr. Zelensky is weak, and NATO is experiencing residual tensions over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“It is a major test for the Biden administration, a test they would have preferred to avoid,” said Daniel Fried, a former ambassador to Poland who served as the top State Department coordinator on sanctions policy from 2013 to 2017.

Mr. Fried said that the Biden administration has done a good job of highlighting concerns and sharing intelligence over Russia’s military moves with European allies. He said that the U.S. should do more by providing additional arms and training to Ukraine forces, preparing sanctions to impose in the event of Russian aggression and stepping up diplomacy that wouldn’t compromise Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“There is a lot of headroom in sanctions, particularly financial sanctions,” he said. “We should prepare sanctions tough enough to hurt, but not so tough that you can’t actually use them.”

Mr. Putin may not have made a final decision on what he intends to do, regional security specialists said, nor does Russia need to mount a full scale invasion to obtain some of its important goals.

Ivan Safranchuk, a professor at Moscow State University of International Relations, said that Mr. Putin may merely be seeking a change in the Ukraine government, led by Mr. Zelensky. Ukraine’s leader has taken an increasingly hard line toward Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s eastern regions, and has targeted pro-Russian political actors in Kyiv with political and economic sanctions.

Although the U.S. and NATO allies call Mr. Putin’s interference in Kyiv’s political affairs unacceptable, Mr. Putin sees Ukraine and other former Soviet states as part of its sphere of influence, and in the past he has tested the West’s resolve in stopping him there. In 2008, Russia launched an invasion of Georgia after Tbilisi tried to reassert control of the separatist statelet of South Ossetia. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 came after what Moscow regarded as an illegal change of power in Kyiv.

 

Alan Cullison and Alex Leary contributed to this article.

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com, Vivian Salama at vivian.salama@wsj.com and Ann M. Simmons at ann.simmons@wsj.com.

 

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THE LETTER FROM HELL

by Victor Rud

Nov 26, 2021

Russia’s most recent military build-up at the borders of Europe’s largest country may be preparatory to a possible expansion of its invasion and ongoing occupation since 2014, writes Victor Rud.

And it’s weaponising of human suffering is not new, this time with the engineered refugee crisis at the Belorussian/Polish border.

The two are integrated moves on the chessboard and, minimally, the final test of Western resolve. Seemingly long ago, immediate post WWII Europe spoke to the West’s ossified, sell-defeating mindset that has led to the tinder box in Europe’s East today, but not at all the way Western foreign policy gurus, and certainly its politicians, deign to discuss.

The document is damning. It’s an appeal “To the Pontius Pilates Who Wash Their Hands,” dated March 4, 1946, by a group of Ukrainians in Hanover, Germany, and describes the plight of Ukrainian refugees from the USSR who found themselves in the “displaced persons” camps of Western Europe. Having survived Russian “international socialism” and then Germany’s “national socialism,” the refugees idolized Great Britain and America as their salvation.

They were desperate to tell the West their message: security and stability would only come with the dissolution of the USSR, and then ensuring against a recidivist Russia.

But Stalin need not have been alarmed. Theirs was a warning the West refused to hear. The victims were not just disbelieved. They became the prey in the largest manhunt in history — the forced repatriation by a joint venture of the two great democracies and the Soviet NKVD. The elderly, the sick, the handicapped, infants and toddlers — all were to be delivered to the surviving tyrant who conspired with the other to unleash the cataclysm that engulfed the globe.

“Our number has been decreasing. We have nowhere to hide and nowhere to go. Civil society of Britain, the USA and the rest of the world is quiet and is simply watching.

“What did we do? Give us an answer!”

For the U.S., “Operation Keelhaul” was one of multiple specific operations, jointly with the British, but has since come to designate the entirety of America’s relay race with the NKVD in the ultimate hunt. The moniker – Washington’s not Stalin’s – was all you had to know about the underlying mens rea and the fate inflicted upon human flotsam. “Without regard to their personal wishes and by force if necessary” was the repatriation order of January 4, 1946, of the Headquarters, U.S. Armed Forces, European Theatre.

The U.S. and Britain were implementing the Yalta Agreement signed with Stalin toward the end of the war. Some seek to rationalize the sycophancy as necessary to ensure the Soviet return of Allied POW’s. But a mere three weeks after Yalta, on March 5, 1945, Stalin cabled FDR that “On the territory of Poland and in other places liberated by the Red Army, there are no groups of American prisoners of war.” Three days afterward, U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, Averell Harriman, cabled FDR: “We have been baffled by promises which have not been fulfilled.” (In 1992, President Yeltsin’s emissary to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA’s testified that Stalin had “summarily executed” an undetermined number of American POWs.) Regardless, we should have realised that Stalin’s claiming private property rights to human lives foretold the war’s geopolitical aftermath. Why, then, the sycophancy?

President Roosevelt and normally hard-headed Winston Churchill remained enamored of a hallucination. Churchill reported to the House of Commons: “Marshal Stalin and the Soviet leaders wish to live in honourable friendship and equality with the Western democracies. I feel also that their word is their bond. I know of no Government which stands to its obligations, even in its own despite, more solidly than the Russian Soviet Government. I decline absolutely to embark here on a discussion about Russian good faith.”

President Roosevelt was obsequious in seeking Stalin’s approbation: “I think that if I give him everything that I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work for a world of democracy and peace.” Returning from Yalta, he told his Cabinet that Stalin’s stint as a seminarian ensures that “something entered into his nature of the way in which a Christian gentleman should behave.”

After Roosevelt’s death, President Truman was equally effusive, writing in his diary: “I can deal with Stalin. He is honest.“

Soviet rule over Eastern Europe was thus something not to be challenged, but to be accommodated and assisted. “Russia [sic] must be given every assistance and every effort must be made to obtain her friendship.” Two months later, on November 14, 1945, Assistant Secretary of State Dean Acheson was also unambiguous: “To have friendly governments along her borders is essential both for the security of the Soviet Union and the peace of the world.”

“In times of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.” Little wonder that the truthtellers were dismissed by the democratic West. We criminalised the victims for fleeing Soviet despotism and delivered them to NKVD Major General Alexander M. Davidov at Allied Headquarters in Frankfurt. Some were killed earlier during the dragnet or by suicide en route or while still in the DP camps.

“We are human beings! We cannot and do not want to be executed quietly.”

It was our “ethnic cleansing” of the truthtellers, where hapless American and British soldiers were merely “following orders.” That was the same excuse that was being concurrently intoned in Nuremberg. So adamant were the two Allies “not to provoke the Russians” that at least one British officer was court-martialed for refusing to obey an order of the NKVD.

It was thorough. George Orwell had written a special introduction to Animal Farm, translated for the Ukrainians by a 21-year-old refugee. (The translator, Ihor Shevchenko, went on to become the world’s pre-eminent scholar of Byzantine studies and one of my instructors in college.)

Deeming the book too provocative, the U.S. confiscated copies of the book and delivered them to the NKVD General. It was the same self-conditioned response (“it would upset the Russians”) that earlier led fourteen publishers to reject Orwell’s manuscript, among them was poet T. S. Eliot. General Anders’ Polish forces in exile also were denied participation in London’s June 8, 1946 victory parade because “the Russians wouldn’t like it.” (Two generations later, exiled Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky ran into the same mentality, waiting more than two decades before a Western publisher accepted the English translation of his Judgment in Moscow: Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity.)

The refugees did not know that their plight was sealed by the same reality denial that prostituted the Nuremberg Tribunal. I wrote elsewhere: “Telford Taylor, America’s chief counsel, wrote in his memoirs that the Tribunal did its best to protect the Kremlin from embarrassment. It obliged Stalin’s demand that the 1939 Pact never be introduced into evidence so as not to “strain relations.” Moscow’s war crimes, such as Stalin’s massacre of Polish officers at Katyn in 1940, and its atrocities against civilians and military in and outside the Soviet Union during WWII, simply didn’t exist.”

Ukrainians were not the only target. (Belorussians and other nations of the USSR were also targeted in the manhunt. This included the Balts even though they were not “Soviet citizens” in 1939, the trigger date.)

But Stalin’s phobia was not irrational. The Ukrainians were the most numerous nationality, and their case was the most dangerous to the Kremlin. They were the survivors, just thirteen years earlier, of Stalin’s genocidal starvation of Ukraine.

It was intended to kill any prospects for Ukrainian statehood, wrote Oxford’s Professor Norman Davies, thereby ensuring the viability of the Soviet Union. Western governments actively suppressed the news. The British Foreign Office described the calculus: “We do not want to make it [information about the genocide] public, however, because the Soviet Government would resent it and our relationship with them would be prejudiced. We cannot give this explanation in public.”

Washington went further and fed the Third Horseman. On November 16, 1933 , the U.S. extended diplomatic recognition—that is, legitimacy and acceptance—to a state that had anointed itself the vanguard in a global war to destroy the host of the diplomatic soiree. What did the U.S. learn from Moscow’s commitment “to refrain from any act overt or covert liable in any way whatsoever to injure the tranquility, prosperity, order, or security of the whole or any part of the United States, in particular any agitation or propaganda?” Today, the genocidaire’s biggest enthusiast ups the assault exponentially.

The irony multiplies. On the day of Germany’s surrender, General George Patton spoke to the press corps of the U.S. Third Army in Frankfurt. It was a preview of the warning in his impending, post-retirement tour of the U.S., revealing Washington’s naivete about the Kremlin. It was not to be. The Ukrainians warned Washington of Stalin’s plan to assassinate Patton. Instead of extending thanks and support, Washington sought to arrest the Ukrainian informers. The search failed, but in the late 1950’s, Moscow completed the task with a specially designed cyanide pistol.

The history of forced repatriation betrays the synapses that have been driving the West’s dealing with Russia for decades. “Don’t provoke the Russians” translates seamlessly into obeisance and the embarrassing theatrics of supplicatory “resets,” whatever the moniker du jour. The mentality was pictured on the cover of Time magazine shortly after President Obama’s election showing him asking a Russian bear, “Can we be friends?” Little has changed from President Truman’s “I’m not afraid of Russia. They’ve always been our friend and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be, so let’s get along.” It has been a bi-partisan pathology, however. During the Nixon Administration and détente, “reducing tensions” resulted in America’s loss of nuclear superiority and the expansion of Moscow’s worldwide real estate. And former President Trump assured: “Getting along with Russia is a good thing,”

The underlying mentality is the scaffolding for appeasement, and the terminology is code for failure of will. It has invited ever increasing predation. Putin has obliged the latest invitation for “stability and predictability” by RSVP’ing, exploiting our pathology with aplomb. Sanctions? After Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, one of the sanctioned individuals, deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, tweeted: “It seems to me that some kind of joker wrote the U.S. president’s order.” As of this past July, US trade with Russia was up 41% year over year.

* * *

Three months after Yalta, Hitler’s co-conspirator was left standing, succeeding to more territory, more countries, and more humanity than his erstwhile partner ever ruled. The subsequent cost–and mortal risk–for the world were immeasurable. It was a wrenching awakening for the West, but not wrenching enough.

“We are human beings! What did we do? Give us an answer!”

Seventy-five years ago, the Pontius Pilates of the world never did. Seventy-five years later, what must happen before we bleed out our naivete? Look to Europe’s East today. And then look further East.

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ГОЛОДОМОР-ГЕНОЦИД 1932-1933 В УКРАЇНІ: ВИЗНАННЯ ЗАРАДИ ВІЛЬНОГО МАЙБУТНЬОГО СВІТУ

26 листопада 2021

Сергій Кузан

Український Центр Безпеки та Співпраці

 

Щорічно в останню суботу листопада українці та усі вільні народи світу вшановують пам’ять мільйонів людей, які загинули від штучного голоду – цілеспрямованого геноциду, організованого в Україні комуністичним окупаційним режимом впродовж 1932-1933 років.

 

Після завершення Першої світової війни, коли імперії впали, а поневолені народи здобули свободу, українці розпочали боротьбу за власну державність. На жаль, після довгого збройного спротиву, ці прагнення зазнали краху. У 1921 році більша частина українських земель опинилися під контролем російських більшовиків. Однак окупація України не означала підкорення її народу, який продовжував опір окупантам.

 

Щоб зберегти «імперію зла» кремлівські керманичі, на чолі зі Сталіним, вчинили один із наймасштабніших злочинів ХХ століття – Голодомор-геноцид українського народу, який полягав у:

•Повній конфіскації зерна та будь яких продуктів харчування у населення представниками совєтської влади, які супроводжувалися терором та вбивствами;

•Військовій блокаді території України для унеможливлення порятунку людей від голоду шляхом втечі за кордон, на територію Росії чи до великих міст;

•Запереченні советським керівництвом геноциду та відмови від міжнародної допомоги Україні для порятунку помираючих.

 

Комуністичний режим намагався усіляко приховати свій злочин, знищуючи документи про рівень смертності, адже мова йде про мільйони загиблих. На думку дослідників, лише за перше півріччя 1933 року загинуло понад 4 мільйони людей в Україні. Остаточна цифра вбитих значно більша, над її встановленням досі працюють дослідники.

 

Сучасна Росія у своїй агресії проти України та західних демократій все більше опирається на комуністичну спадщину намагаючись виправдати злочини та мільйонні жертви тоталітаризму. Комунізм, на відміну від нацизму, так і не був засуджений. Світова спільнота досі навіть не спромоглася на відповідну резолюцію Генеральної асамблеї ООН. Це одна із причин чому за останні роки світ знову скотився до часів «холодної війни», адже непокаране зло – зростає.

 

Українці продовжують боронити демократію та власний євроатлантичний вибір. Заплативши високу ціну вбитими і пораненими військовими та цивільними, мільйонами біженців, окупованими Росією територіями Криму, Донеччини та

Луганщини. Тому визнання геноциду українців у 1932-1933 роках демократичними державами — це питання вільного майбутнього світу, справедливості та невідворотності покарання для злочинців.

 

Ми закликаємо кожного порушити питання остаточного визнання Голодомору-Геноциду 1932-1933 років та привернути увагу світової спільноти до трагедії, надіславши відповідне звернення на адресу урядовців та парламентарів демократичних держав.

 

«Ми все розуміємо – це може бути незручна правда. Але якщо ми її не скажемо, то ми ніколи не станемо власне вільними людьми» – Антон Дробович, голова Українського інституту національної пам’яті. 

 

Антон Дробович – голова Українського інституту національної пам’яті, експерт у сфері комунікацій, освіти і культури. Представник Уряду України в Опікунській раді фонду «Пам’ять, відповідальність і майбутнє» Федеративної Республіки Німеччина.

 

«Ми живемо у світі, де уряди лібералів і демократів досі не хочуть ідентифікувати Голодомор як геноцид, бо не хочуть образити Москву» – Любомир Луцюк, канадський політичний географ, професор Королівського військового коледжу Канади.

 

Любомир Луцюк  – професор Королівського військового коледжу Канади, канадський політичний георгаф та дослідник українського походження. Спеціалізується на політичній географії Східної Європи та колишнього Радянського Союзу, дослідженнях біженців, етнічній та імміграційній історії Канади.

 

«Я витратив чимало часу на вивчення геноциду, і розглядаючи Голодомор, – на мою думку, він є геноцидом. Немає причин, щоб говорити по-іншому» – Норман Наймарк, американський історик, професор Стенфордського університету.

 

Норман Наймарк – американський історик, фахівець із сучасної історії Східної Європи, а також з тем геноциду та етнічних чисток у регіоні, професор у Стенфордського університету.

 

«Сталін та керівництво російської комуністичної партії, більшовики, як їх називали в ті часи, вчинили геноцид проти української нації» – Федеріго Аргентьєрі, італійський історик, директор Guarini Institute for Public Affairs.

 

Федеріго Аргентьєрі – італійський науковець та академік, директор Guarini Institute for Public Affairs в John Cabot University у Римі, член Асоціації слов’янських, східноєвропейських та євразійських досліджень.

«Беручи до уваги усі проведені мною дослідження Голодомору, я переконаний в тому, що це був геноцид» – Олег Воловина, директор Центру демографічних та соціально-економічних досліджень українців у США.

 

Олег Воловина – соціолог та демограф, директор Центру демографічних та соціально-економічних досліджень українців у США при Науковому товаристві імені Шевченка в Нью-Йорку. Дослідник Центру Славістики, Євразії та Східної Європи Університету Північної Кароліни в Чапель Гілл, США. Дослідження проведені спільно з командою Інституту демографії та соціальних досліджень України

 

“Путін вкрай негативно ставиться до викриття Голодомору, адже це була спроба стерти ідею цієї незалежної української нації” – Дональд Ріттер, американський екс-конгресмен, член Правління Фонду Пам’яті жертв комунізму.

 

Дональд Ріттер – екс-конгресмен, член Правління Фонду Пам’яті жертв комунізму створення якого було схвалено Актом Конгресу США у 1993 році. Почесний президент Афгансько-американської торгової палати та старший радник Афганської міжнародної торгової палати.

 

«Віддати шану усім загиблим від комунізму та російського імперіалізму» – Марта Федорів, радниця директора Фонду пам’яті жертв комунізму.

 

Марта Федорів – радниця директора Фонду пам’яті жертв комунізму, одна із лідерок української громади США.

 

 

  

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HOLODOMOR REMEMBRANCE DAY: WHY THE PAST MATTERS FOR THE FUTURE

By Victor Rud

Nov 21, 2021

Ukraine Alert, Atlantic Council        

As Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving meals on the last Thursday in November, Ukrainians will be commemorating the memory of millions who were murdered in 1932-33. The last Saturday in November is Holodomor Remembrance Day in Ukraine, a time to mark the anniversary of Joseph Stalin’s engineered starvation of the nation. In the West, the date should also be remembered as a pivotal event that ensured the viability of the Soviet Union, with its consequent implications for hundreds of millions in the free world.

 

The Holodomor in Ukraine is too often mistakenly grouped together in the West with the generic Soviet collectivization of agriculture. While collectivization was extant throughout the Soviet Union, it was distinct in purpose and result in Ukraine. There, wrote Proletarska Pravda in 1930, collectivization was intended “to destroy the social basis of Ukrainian nationalism.” Indeed, though collectivization in Ukraine was virtually complete by the spring of 1932, Moscow pressed on. Having eliminated Ukraine’s political, cultural, and religious strata, Stalin turned against the villages. It was there that Ukrainian traditions and self-awareness were rooted, and where the overwhelming majority of the population resided. The task, wrote historian Norman Davies, was to forever inter any notion of independence. The countryside was stripped not simply of grain but of anything remotely edible. Cooking utensils and farming tools were confiscated. The borders were sealed, and no food was allowed in. No one was allowed out. And not just in Ukraine, but also in the heavily Ukrainian ethnographic regions absorbed by neighboring Russia. Entire villages simply disappeared. A year later, one of Stalin’s sycophants, Pavel Postyshev boasted: “We have annihilated the nationalist counter-revolution during the past year, we have exposed and destroyed nationalist deviationism.”

 

Estimates of the number of victims range from four to ten million.  Italian diplomatic dispatches at the time concluded: “The current disaster will bring about a predominantly Russian colonization of Ukraine.” In 1953, Raphael Lemkin, author of the UN Genocide Convention, passionately condemned not just the murder of millions but also the evisceration of Ukraine’s national ethos. “This is not simply a case of mass murder. It is a case of genocide, of destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation.” But it was not until the eve of their independence in 1991 that Ukrainians even dared to whisper about the Holodomor among themselves.

 

Some news about the Holodomor was carried in the Western press. France’s Le Matin wrote, “The systematically organized famine has as its objective the destruction of a

nation, whose only crime is that it is striving for freedom.” Mainly, however, the news was spiked by Western media. The New York Times’ Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty, a Pulitzer Prize winner, categorically denied the horror. Washington knew the dirty secret: Duranty had earlier admitted to US Embassy personnel in Berlin that “in agreement with the New York Times and the Soviet authorities, his official dispatches always reflect the official opinion of the Soviet government and not his own.” Privately, however, to the British Embassy in Moscow Duranty confessed a “ghastly horror,” and that Ukraine “has been bled white.”

 

Western governments had their own calculus. The British Foreign Office wrote: “We do not want to make [information about the Holodomor] public…because the Soviet Government would resent it and our relationship with them would be prejudiced. We cannot give this explanation in public.” After taking a Potemkin village tour of the starving Ukrainian countryside, former French Prime Minister Herriot returned to France and ridiculed the notion of any starvation.

 

Western betrayal of Ukraine soon became official. On November 16, 1933, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union. Legitimacy, approval, and acceptance were stamped on a netherworld dedicated to the destruction of Roosevelt’s own country. American and Soviet celebrants dined on caviar and beef stroganoff at the Waldorf Astoria as Ukraine became one vast necropolis. One might say that at that moment, a great and noble nation bartered away its moral clarity.

 

Twelve years later, outside the court windows in Nuremberg in post-war Europe, the United States and United Kingdom, overseen by the Soviet Union’s secret police, “repatriated” hundreds of thousands of Holodomor survivors and others back to that same netherworld. That was the second betrayal, inked in Yalta.

 

Fast forward to 1991. Despite President George H.W. Bush’s efforts to discourage Ukraine from withdrawing from the Soviet Union, the nation voted for independence, catalyzing the dissolution of the USSR. Shortly after, however, Moscow became the beneficiary of a third deal: Ukraine surrendered its nuclear arsenal in return for US, UK, and Russian commitments to its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 

In 2004, the Ukrainian community in the United States warned National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s game plan: that there would be only one player. Washington remained somnolent, and in 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine, occupying and annexing its territory. With scarcely a whimper from the West, Putin savaged the world order overnight.

 

This year as never before, Holodomor Remembrance Day requires more than the commemoration of innocents. It requires that, at long last, Washington take an accurate measure of the Kremlin. Even more so, it must reassess its own impulse toward deal making, something that long predates the election of the new US president-elect. That approach did not establish a laudable record. If Ukraine is not secured as a counterweight of freedom and stability, any “deal” will condemn the West to a dangerous past.

Victor Rud is a board member of the Ukrainian American Bar Association and chairman of its Committee on Foreign Affairs.

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RUSSIA WON’T LET UKRAINE GO WITHOUT A FIGHT

By Michael Kimmage and Michael Kofman

November 22, 2021

Foreign Affairs

Ominous signs indicate that Russia may conduct a military offensive in Ukraine as early as the coming winter. Moscow has quietly built up its forces along the Ukrainian border over the past several months, which could be a prelude to a military operation that aims to resolve the political deadlock in Ukraine in its favor. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin may once again be engaging in coercive diplomacy, this time around Moscow may not be bluffing. If no agreement is reached, the conflict may renew on a much larger scale.

Why would Putin risk geopolitical and economic upheaval by reigniting the military confrontation with Ukraine? After all, he has good reason to be invested in the regional status quo. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, walking away with one of the largest land grabs in Europe since World War II. Western sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion have not bitten particularly hard, and Russia’s macroeconomic situation is stable. Russia also retains a firm hold on the European energy market: the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will cement German dependence on Russian natural gas, marches toward activation despite legal snags. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia are in the midst of strategic stability talks. Putin met with U.S. President Joe Biden in June as part of the effort to build a more predictable relationship between the countries.

Below the surface, however, Russia and Ukraine are on the trajectory toward renewal of this unresolved conflict, which may redraw the map of Europe once more and upend Washington’s efforts at stabilizing its relationship with Russia. Year by year, Moscow has been losing political influence in Ukraine. The government in Kyiv took a strong stance on Russian demands last year, indicating it would not compromise for the sake of working with Putin. European nations appear to have backed Ukraine’s position, and Kyiv has simultaneously expanded its security cooperation with Russia’s American and European rivals.

As Moscow has been growing more confident politically and economically, Washington’s shift of attention and resources to its competition with China may have convinced Putin that Ukraine is now a peripheral interest for the United States. Russian leaders have signaled that they have grown tired of diplomacy and find Ukraine’s growing integration with the United States and NATO intolerable. The stage is set for Moscow to reset this equation through force—unless Moscow, Washington, and Kyiv are able to find a peaceful resolution.

PREPARING FOR WAR

Russia’s force posture does not suggest that invasion is imminent. Quite possibly, no political decision to launch a military operation has been made. That said, Russian military activity in recent months is well outside the normal training cycle. Units from thousands of miles have deployed to the Western Military District, which borders Ukraine. Armies from the Caucasus

have sent units into Crimea. These are not routine training activities but rather an effort to preposition units and equipment for potential military action. Furthermore, many of the units appear to be moving at night to avoid closer scrutiny, unlike the previous buildup in March and April. 

The scenario of a wider war is entirely plausible. Should it come to pass, Putin’s choice to expand a simmering conflict will not be impulsive. The legacy of the 2014 Ukraine crisis remains more conducive to escalation than to the freezing of this conflict into an uneasy peace.

What has changed over the past year? First, Russian strategy in Ukraine has not yielded a political solution that Moscow can accept. After a 2018 campaign that suggested some openness to dialogue, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hard turn away from seeking a compromise with Russia a year ago eliminated any hope that Moscow can achieve its objectives through diplomatic engagement. Moscow sees no path out from Western sanctions, and talks between Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France aimed at resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine are going nowhere. As these political and diplomatic efforts flounder, Moscow knows that previous efforts to use force have paid dividends.

At the same time, Ukraine is expanding its partnerships with the United States, the United Kingdom, and other NATO states. The United States has provided lethal military assistance, and NATO is helping to train the Ukrainian military. These ties are a thorn in Moscow’s side, and Russia has slowly shifted from considering Ukraine’s membership in NATO as a redline to opposing the growing structural Ukrainian defense cooperation with its Western adversaries. From the Kremlin’s point of view, if Ukrainian territory is to become an instrument against Russia in the service of the United States, and the Russian military retains the ability to do something about it, then the use of force is a more than viable option.

Zelensky’s administration also appears weak and increasingly desperate to find domestic support. He has not done much to reduce corruption or to separate Ukraine from its long tradition of oligarchic rule. His October 2021 approval rating, according to the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, stands at 24.7 percent. Russian officials have made clear that they see no point in negotiating with Zelensky and have spent the year actively delegitimizing his administration. If Moscow has dispensed with even the pretense of diplomatic engagement, this suggests that the use of force is growing ever more likely.

Russia’s domestic position and broader geopolitical developments are no less important. Putin’s regime appears secure and the opposition is heavily repressed. Moscow has rebuilt its financial position since the onset of Western sanctions in 2014 and currently has some $620 billion in foreign currency reserves. Russia also may have considerable leverage over Europe this year, owing to surging gas prices and energy supply shortages. Meanwhile, Europe has been mired in handwringing after the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan and is still struggling to define its goal of “strategic autonomy.” The Biden administration is focused on China, signaling that Russia is lower on the agenda and Europe is not a top policy priority. Ukraine thus represents a secondary interest within a secondary theater.

Over the course of the past year, the Russian leadership has used stark rhetoric, drawing attention to its redlines in Ukraine. Moscow does not believe that the United States has been taking it seriously. In October 2021, Putin noted that although Ukraine may not formally be granted membership into NATO, “military development of the territory is already underway. And this really poses a threat to Russia.”

It is doubtful that these are empty words. Russian leadership sees no prospect for a diplomatic resolution and thinks Ukraine is slipping into the U.S. security orbit. It may for this reason see war as inevitable. Russian leaders do not believe using force would be easy or cost free—but they perceive that Ukraine is on an unacceptable trajectory and that they have few options to salvage their preexisting policy. They may also have concluded that resorting to military options will be less costly now than it will be in the future.

DEADLOCKED DIPLOMACY

Russia won a peculiar victory during its 2014–15 military offensive in Ukraine. It forced unfavorable cease-fire agreements on Kyiv. Ukraine’s military has improved considerably since then, but so has Russia’s. The margin of Russian quantitative and qualitative superiority remains substantial. Russia’s success on the battlefield, however, did not translate into diplomatic success in 2014 or thereafter. The agreement that emerged from the war was called the Minsk Protocol, after the city in which it was negotiated. It proved to be a lose-lose settlement: Ukraine never regained its territorial sovereignty. The United States and its European allies, which avoided a potentially escalating conflict with a nuclear power, failed to compel Russia to withdraw through sanctions. And Russian influence over Ukraine—apart from the territories it either annexed or invaded—has since 2015 been steadily diminishing.

Ukraine signed an association agreement with the European Union in 2014, which brought it into the fold of European regulation. This was the very outcome Russia had been trying to prevent. Kyiv has continued to press for NATO membership, and even though it has no immediate prospect of entering the alliance, its defense cooperation with NATO members has only deepened. Although Zelensky ran on a platform of negotiations with Moscow and attempted some diplomatic engagement after taking office, he reversed course in 2020, shutting down pro-Russian TV stations and taking a hard line on Russian demands. The Zelensky administration has placed Ukraine on a path to “Euro-Atlantic integration,” the phrase that American diplomats consistently use to describe Ukraine’s strategic orientation—the road that leads away from Russia.

Although the fighting in eastern Ukraine subsided after 2016, the simmering conflict has obscured an unstable state of affairs in Europe. Russia and the United States, whose influence overlaps in eastern Europe, are set to be adversaries in what Washington now terms a “strategic competition.” But since 2014, the gap between U.S. rhetoric and action in Ukraine and elsewhere remains open to exploitation.

The Syrian conflict exposed a lack of American resolve with regard to its stated goal: “Assad must go.” Washington did not push back against a Russian military presence, allowing Moscow to expand its influence across the Middle East. The messy U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

and the dustup over the AUKUS (Australia–United Kingdom–United States) submarine deal with Australia, which left out and angered France, have revealed serious problems of coordination within the transatlantic alliance. Washington appears war weary, and Russia likely questions whether its declarations of political support for Ukraine are backed by credible resolve.

If Putin assesses U.S. officials’ support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be insincere—and there is not much to suggest otherwise—he will not be deterred from changing the regional balance of power through force. It would be foolish for him to attempt to conquer all of Ukraine, an enormous country of more than 40 million people, but it would not be unrealistic for him to try to divide the country in two or impose a new settlement that seeks to reverse Ukraine’s slide into “Euro-Atlantic integration” and security cooperation with the United States. 

Moscow has long sought to revise the post–Cold War settlement. Russian leaders might imagine that rather than yielding further efforts at containment, a war on this scale would over time compel a conversation on Russia’s role in European security. Russia’s goal has long been to restore a regional order in which Russia and the West have equal say on security outcomes in Europe. It is doubtful that Putin believes he can achieve such a settlement through persuasion or conventional diplomacy. Russian military action could scare leading European states—some of whom see themselves relegated to a secondary place in U.S. strategy and wish to position themselves between China and the United States—into accepting a new arrangement with Moscow. This is not to say that such an outcome is likely, but it may be the possibility on which Russian leaders are focusing.

FINDING STABILITY IN CONFLICT

The United States should draw two conclusions from Russia’s military buildup around Ukraine. The first is that this is not likely to be merely another coercive display, despite mixed messaging from Moscow. “Our recent warnings have been noticed and are having an effect,” Putin declared on November 18. One day earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry published private letters from France and Germany on diplomacy related to Ukraine, an insult to Russia’s Minsk partners. The key to Washington’s response will be to prepare for the possibility that a war could unfold in 2022, to conduct anticipatory coordination with European allies, and to make clear the consequences of such action to Moscow. By acting now, the United States can work with its European partners to raise the economic and political costs for Russia of military action, possibly decreasing the likelihood of war.

The failure to develop a coordinated response to Russian aggression has previously cost Ukraine dearly. In 2014, it was not until Russian-backed separatists shot down a civilian passenger jet in July—long after the Russian annexation of Crimea and invasion of the Donbas region—that Europe got onboard with sanctions. The United States must avoid that ruinous precedent of piecemeal and reactive policymaking this time around. While Washington may wish to preserve certain covert options, it should publicly describe the basic outlines of its support for Ukrainian sovereignty in tandem with its European allies, and well before the outbreak of major military conflict. That would require a detailed articulation of Western resolve and Western redlines in the next few weeks. The humanitarian and strategic magnitude of a large-scale Russian invasion calls for nothing less.

Although on November 18 Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland characterized the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as “ironclad,” the language of treaty allies, the United States extends no formal security commitments to Ukraine. Such statements are eerily reminiscent of political support signaled to Georgia in the run-up to the Russia-Georgia war in 2008. Not only is Russia unlikely to be deterred by diplomatic terms of art that lack credibility, it will try to injure the United States’ reputation when Washington appears so overextended. The United States must act, but it should take care not to mislead Ukrainian leadership into expecting support that will not materialize. If the White House does not see a military role for itself in Ukraine, as was the case in 2014, it should tell this privately and candidly to Kyiv so that Ukraine’s leaders can operate with a full awareness of the geopolitical reality.

Secondly, whether or not a war breaks out in Ukraine in the coming months, the United States and its European allies need to be more honest about the current diplomatic cul-de-sac in which they find themselves. Russia is not in a geopolitical retreat, and Ukraine is unlikely to yield. A continued contest for influence in Ukraine is unavoidable and will get worse before it gets better. However, that does not preclude the search for a diplomatic solution that reduces the risk of the rivalry spiraling out of control.

Ukraine is at the center of that solution, and these conversations must reflect Ukrainian agency. But paradoxically, it is not Ukraine but Washington that has been visibly absent from the diplomatic process. The ongoing conflict is the single most important source of instability between Russia and the United States—Washington needs to tackle it head on. The search for strategic stability will struggle to coexist with conflict. But as competition between the world’s two major nuclear powers intensifies, it is not a luxury or a mirage. It is a necessity.

 

MICHAEL KIMMAGE is Professor of History at the Catholic University of America and a Fellow at the German Marshall Fund. From 2014 to 2016, he served on the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, where he held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio.

MICHAEL KOFMAN is Director of the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses and a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

 

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THE RUSSIAN PUBLIC IS BEING PRIMED FOR ANOTHER OF PUTIN’S WARS

The Kremlin’s propaganda campaign at home is getting people ready for a ‘reluctant’ move into Ukraine.

 

Julia Davis

Nov. 24, 2021

The Daily Beast

 

Domestic propagandists and state TV pundits are promoting the idea of an inevitable confrontation with the West as Russia’s military posture grows increasingly hostile, causing major concern for its nearest neighbors and NATO. Ukraine remains the crown jewel for the Kremlin and the Russian public is being primed for the intended absorption of more territories under the umbrella of the Russian Federation, while NATO is being accused of fomenting the potential escalation.

Whether or not the Kremlin is planning to speed up its creeping assault against Ukraine’s Donbas region in the near future is a mystery even to the most knowledgeable experts with close access to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nonetheless, they eagerly fulfill the Russian leader’s express intent to keep NATO—and the West in general—in a state of hypervigilance.

Ukraine’s non-affiliation with NATO remains at the top of the Kremlin’s long wish list, with Putin demanding “serious long-term guarantees that ensure Russia’s security” in the region. The real issue is not that NATO presents an acute threat to the Kremlin, but rather that its involvement stands in the way of Russia swallowing additional Ukrainian territories. Putin’s objectives with respect to subverting Ukraine remain the same, with two different paths to getting there: by securing Ukraine’s submission and undermining its sovereignty through unwarranted concessions from the West, or by escalating Russia’s military aggression.

State TV propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov—notorious for boasting that “Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash”—explained that Moscow’s moves are explicitly designed to affect the U.S. and NATO. On his Sunday show, Vesti Nedeli, Kiselyov said that Russia’s tests of its Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile and its recent anti-satellite test were “arguments” to reinforce Russia’s “red lines” with respect to Ukraine.

Kiselyov boasted: “By stepping over the “red line,” NATO risks losing all 32 GPS satellites at once, which will blind all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention the ground forces. Americans are paying attention to this—they can’t afford not to.”

State TV experts equivocate between two conflicting messages: on one hand, claiming that Russia is not planning to invade Ukraine, but then immediately pointing out that “the Ukrainian problem” could be solved “very quickly,” due to Russia’s superior military might. They argue that the U.S.-led NATO needs to be taught a lesson and brag that “underpaid and underfed American soldiers” are no match for the Russians. Blustery proclamations are promptly followed up by the claim that none of the participants is interested in a hot war.

Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Public Council and editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine, said the military movements that concern Western and Ukrainian officials serve as an intentional signal, designed to elicit a reaction. In a message addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the state TV show 60 Minutes this Monday, Korotchenko said about Russia’s military buildup: “If your satellites are seeing this, that means it is being shown to you. Any American military analyst at the Pentagon can tell you that. You don’t know—and won’t know—Russia’s real plans and goals. Your HUMINT [intelligence gathered by means of interpersonal contact] is either blocked, neutralized, or is feeding you disinformation in the course of the operations conducted by Russian intelligence services. You need to relax and aim towards constructive interaction.”

Calling out the U.S. for being concerned with Russia’s activities, the rabidly anti-American host of 60 Minutes, Olga Skabeeva, insisted: “Mind your own business.” However, Russian state media does not abide by the same principles, with obsessive interest in American elections and internal affairs, dwelling on everything from QAnon and turkey prices to the sentencing of Jacob Chansley and the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse. America is at the forefront of the Kremlin’s attention, so resorting to provocation in order to be acknowledged as an equal and to extract concessions would almost make sense.

During a speech to Russian diplomats last week, Putin complained: ” We understand that our partners are very peculiar and, to put it mildly, do not take all our warnings and talks on red lines seriously.” He added: “Our recent warnings have had a certain effect, tensions have risen. It is important for them to remain in this state for as long as possible.”

Russian state TV pundits and propagandists took Putin’s message to heart and snapped into action. Appearing on 60 Minutes the day after Putin’s speech, Igor Korotchenko warned: “Let’s be straightforward about it. World War III is knocking at our door. It will come from the direction of Poland and Ukraine.” Korotchenko argued that Russia can fight back against alleged Western provocations by demonstrating its military might: “We need to grab the West by the udders, they should feel our hand and we should feel their fearful pulse. The best defense is an offense. Our military fist should be at the face of every Western politician.”

On state TV show Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, lawmaker Oleg Morozov asserted: “The level of relations is so catastrophically low, that the possibility of a local hot conflict in the Ukrainian region is higher than ever. If this conflict takes place, it will break the entire construct of world relations. It will redraw the geographical map of Europe and change its political lines. The result will be what was promised by our president: the end of Ukrainian statehood. It will lead to total sanctions against Russia and the breakdown of all negotiations.”

Adding fuel to the fire, host Vladimir Soloviev asked: “Then why should we stop at Ukraine? Why not solve all of our problems at once?” Soloviev argued that since it’s unlikely that the major world powers would resort to nuclear war, Russia can move forward with achieving its objectives undeterred: “If we have to end up behind the Iron Curtain, why not collect some more lands and peoples first?”

The head of the State Duma Committee on Defense, Andrei Kartapolov, suggested on the same show that the Ukrainian problem could be solved militarily in a matter of hours. He said: “If they intend to turn us into a pariah, there is no reason to stop at Ukraine. If they want to make us tremble, we should make them tremble.” Morozov chimed in with a sly grin: “Which is what Putin said. Keep them on the edge of their seats.”

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СИТУАЦІЯ НАВКОЛО РОСІЙСЬКОЇ АГРЕСІЇ В УКРАЇНІ

Посольство України в Канаді

26 листопада 2021

 

Російська Федерація продовжує збройну агресію проти України та вживає заходів з недопущення інтеграції української держави до європейських структур безпеки.

 

Основною метою політики Російської Федерації щодо України є знищення української державності та встановлення над нею повного контролю.

 

При цьому керівництво Росії червоними лініями для себе визначило наближення НАТО до кордонів з Росією та повноправне членство України в Альянсі.

 

Для досягнення своїх політичних цілей Російська Федерація розпочала збройну агресію проти України та значно наростила воєнний потенціал на Південно-Західному напрямку. З 2014 року в Південному та Західному військових округах були створені дві загальновійськові армії та розгорнуто армійський корпус в окупованому Криму. Чисельність сухопутного компонента збройних сил Російської Федерації безпосередньо поблизу кордону з Україною збільшилась з 9 тис. до 94 тис. військовослужбовців. Значно зріс наступальний потенціал російських військ за рахунок суттєвого збільшення танків, артилерійських систем та бойової авіації.

 

З початку цього року Російська Федерація періодично здійснювала нарощування угруповань військ поблизу кордону України за рахунок розгортання батальйонних тактичних груп, перекидання на територію Криму підрозділів 76 десантно-штурмової дивізії, посилення Чорноморського флоту бойовими кораблями та катерами Північного і Балтійського флотів та Каспійської флотилії.

 

У квітні Росія відпрацювала швидке розгортання БТГр поблизу українського кордону та в окупованому Криму. Створене угруповання військ набуло повної готовності до проведення повномасштабної операції проти нашої держави.

 

Кількість батальйонних тактичних груп з початку року змінювалася і становила: у лютому – 28, березні – 46, квітні – 53, травні – 45, червні – 39, липні – 37, серпні – 44, вересні – 51, жовтні – 38, у тому числі з урахуванням стратегічного навчання “Запад-2021”.

 

На сьогодні 40 БТГр розгорнуто біля нашого кордону.

 

Загалом зосереджено близько 94 тис. військовослужбовців сухопутного компонента, 1200 танків, 1600 артилерійських систем, 330 літаків та 240 вертольотів.

 

Це є кремлівською стратегією ескалації з періодичною деескалацією напруженості. Спочатку Росія значно нарощує угруповання військ поблизу України, а через

певний проміжок часу – частково його скорочує. Проте загальна чисельність військ постійно зростає.

 

В цьому році російські війська провели широкомасштабні навчання поблизу державного кордону, включаючи стратегічні навчання збройних сил Росії та Білорусі “Запад-2021”. Однією з особливостей заходів оперативної підготовки збройних сил Росії є те, що значна кількість військ та озброєння залишились в Західному військовому окрузі.

 

Іншою особливістю діяльності збройних сил Росії є активізація розвідки території України з використанням розвідувальної авіації, засобів технічної розвідки. Застосовуються літаки-розвідники Іл-20, Су-24мр, Су-34, маневрені групи РЕР, розвідувальні супутники та кораблі Чорноморського флоту Росії.

 

Москва продовжує мілітаризацію Кримського півострову, а в цьому році значно збільшила кількість навчань, які проводяться у Чорному морі та на Кримському півострові. Зокрема, у квітні ц.р. РФ провела широкомасштабні навчання повітряно-десантних військ, Чорноморського флоту та авіації.

 

Вперше в цьому році всі найбільші навчання Південного військового округу, навчання 49 армії, 58 армії, 7 десантно-штурмової дивізії були проведені на полігоні Опук. Відпрацьовувалися наступальні операції, десантні та протидесантні операції. Були розгорнуті системи управління Південного військового округу та загальновійськових армій. Залучалися бойові катери Каспійської флотилії.

 

Відпрацьовано питання розгортання двох дивізій територіальних військ на Кримському півострові з використанням можливостей 943 центру забезпечення мобілізаційного розгортання, н.п. Новоозерне.

 

Всі заходи проводились за єдиним сценарієм та мали наступальних характер.

 

Загалом протягом цього року Російська Федерація провела на території Криму 90 навчань різних рівнів.

 

Крім того, Москва демонструє готовність до застосування наявного озброєння для ураження повітряних та морських засобів України і НАТО у Чорному морі.

 

Кремль продовжує практику закриття морських районів в Азовському та Чорному морях під приводом проведення навчань, що обмежує  свободу мореплавства у регіоні.

 

У 2021 році Росія активно освоює територію та військову інфраструктуру Білорусі. Постійно проводяться двосторонні навчання сухопутних, повітряних та повітряно-десантних підрозділів на території Білорусі. Під приводом створення спільного навчального центру, в ході навчання “Запад-2021” у серпні до Гродно переміщено зенітний ракетний підрозділ С-400 “Триумф” 1 армії ППО-ПРО. У вересні на

аеродром Барановичі перебазовано 3 літаки Су-30СМ 6 армії ВПС та ППО, які заступили на бойове чергування.

 

Росія відновила польоти стратегічної авіації в повітряному просторі Білорусі. Зафіксовано польоти літаків Ту-22М3 та Ту-160 10 і 11 листопада. Відповідно до заяв російського та білоруського керівництва, такі польоти будуть проводитись на регулярній основі.

 

Використовуючи як привід т.зв. міграційну кризу 12 листопада Росія провела навчання батальйонної тактичної групи 76 повітряно-десантної дивізії в районі Гродно з відпрацювання питань захоплення та утримання плацдарму, пошук та знищення противника, а також ізоляції окремого району. Такі питання Росія постійно відпрацьовує на території Білорусі.

 

Москва повністю контролює територію Білорусі у воєнному відношенні, у т.ч. із застосуванням своїх збройних сил.

 

Водночас, значне накопичення спеціальними службами незаконних мігрантів на території Республіки Білорусь (близько 15 тис. осіб) та безуспішність їхнього прориву до Польщі та Литви, можуть становити загрозу для України. Оскільки, міграційна хвиля вірогідно спрямується в сторону нашої держави.

 

За цих умов прогнозуються такі негативні наслідки міграційної кризи для України та країн Балтії і Східної Європи:

 

  • підвищення рівня терористичних загроз у результаті виникнення сприятливих умов для інфільтрації радикальних терористичних угруповань;

 

  • зростання ймовірності виникнення збройних сутичок на кордоні з Білоруссю;

 

  • погіршення соціально-політичної обстановки пов’язане зі зростанням навантаження на державні бюджети країн через концентрацію незаконних мігрантів.

 

Щодо ситуації на сході України.

 

Поточну ситуацію характеризують такі аспекти:

 

•             регулярні провокації проти українських військ для їх звинувачення у порушенні режиму припинення вогню;

 

•             наявність заборонених Мінськими домовленостями російського озброєння (у т.ч. РСЗО, ОБТ, міномети) поблизу лінії зіткнення;

 

•             розвідка позицій частин (підрозділів) Об’єднаних сил за допомогою російських БпЛА;

 

•             снайперський вогонь вздовж лінії зіткнення;

 

•             поповнення запасів ОВТ, боєприпасів, ПММ тощо, що доставляються до окупованих районів Донецької та Луганської областей з території Росії;

 

•             блокування підрозділами 1, 2 АК роботи спеціальної моніторингової місії ОБСЄ.

 

Загалом ситуація в районі проведення операції Об’єднаних сил залишається складною. Спостерігається збільшення кількості обстрілів наших підрозділів та населених пунктів у порівнянні з 2020 роком. У середньому, щодоби близько 10 випадків застосування зброї. З них 40% артилерійських систем.

 

Воєнна розвідка України зафіксувала такі особливості діяльності російських окупаційних військ на сході України:

 

•             з початку року проведено 9 мобілізаційних навчань. В навчаннях взяли участь близько 30 тис. резервістів;

 

•             зросла кількість застосування БпЛА “Орлан-10” для ведення розвідки наших позицій і тилових районів та застосування БпЛА типу “квадрокоптер” в ударному варіанті;

 

•             збільшилась кількість перевірок військ 1 та 2 корпусу комісіями ЗС Росії. З 8 листопада в корпусах працює комісія ГШ ЗС РФ;

 

•             Російська Федерація посилює протиповітряну оборону окупаційних військ. З початку цього року Росія додатково розгорнула на окупованих територіях 4 РЛС Каста-2Е1. Штаб Південного військового округу планує посилити систему протиповітряної оборони за рахунок розгортання на окупованих територіях та поблизу кордону України додаткових систем ППО;

 

•             встановлено проведення чергової ротації на командних посадах у 1, 2 АК кадрових офіцерів ЗС РФ.

 

Однією з загроз для України є надання російського громадянства населенню окупованих районів. Станом на сьогодні, близько 650 тис. осіб отримали російські паспорти. У вересні близько 220 тис. осіб взяли участь у виборах до Державної Думи Росії.

 

В подальшому Російська Федерація може використовувати цей факт для дестабілізації ситуації на сході України або як привід широкомасштабного вторгнення на територію нашої держави для захисту громадян Росії.

 

Таким чином актуальними загрозами для України, країн Балтії, Східної Європи та Середземномор’я можна вважати:

 

•             збройна агресія проти України, нарощування угруповань російських військ на західних кордонах Білорусі, РФ та Автономної Республіки Крим;

 

•             провокування напруженості на сході України;

 

•             провокування напруженості через штучно створену РФ міграційну кризу;

 

•             мілітаризація Азово-Чорноморського регіону та спроби введення морської блокади України;

 

•             розвідувально-підривна діяльність Росії;

 

•             порушення стабільного функціонування енергетичного сектора економіки;

 

•             паспортизація “російськомовного” населення;

 

•             нав’язування у країнах світу питання привабливості так званого “російського світу”.