The US did not provide Russia with any answer on Friday. By itself, this is not very surprising, the levels of infighting in the US ruling elites have made it impossible to agree on a reply on such short notice, especially during the various end of year celebrations in the West.
As for the Russians, they are fine with that, since their own deadline was mid-January. So as of right now, nothing significant has changed, what we observe is only a lot of statements by anybody and everybody, most of these statements make little or no sense and they typically all contradict each other. We should not get too caught up in the “he said this, she said that” thingie, as this is, quite literally, just hot air.
In terms of actions, again we see contradictory developments: some sources report that NATO is preparing for a major war while other report that the US Americans and UK personnel are preparing an emergency evacuation.
There appears to be a meeting between Putin and Biden in the making, according to same sources after the Orthodox Nativity, so sometime around or soon after January 8th. If so, I welcome that.
Also, Stoltenberg has said that there will be a meeting between NATO and Russia on the 12th. But then, Stoltenberg is a powerless clown whose verbal emissions mean nothing. He was the one who totally rejected any negotiations with Russia just a week ago, and now he is offering to negotiate…
I spent the last 3 days reading opinions on the Runet, listening to talk shows and watching various officials and personalities expressing their opinion and I want to share my conclusion with you: there is absolutely overwhelming evidence that the Russians are NOT bluffing, that they really mean every word they said. There is even a growing chorus of voices saying that it would be better for Russia if the West would simply reject all the Russian demands out of hand. Many clearly hope that the West will try that as this would completely untie Russia’s hands (or, if you prefer, her bear claws).
Most military officials seem to believe that a full-scale war against NATO will not happen, but that some kind of conflict with the Ukraine is now inevitable. I tend agree with them.
Many observers also seem to be really fed up. Fed up with the constant bloodletting in the LDNR, fed up with the constant presence of western military “advisors” in the Ukraine, fed up with the grandstanding and pompous declarations by EU/NATO officials whom the Russians don’t even take seriously. This entire topic has become a huge abscess in the mind of many Russians and an increasing number of them now want this abscess to be cut open, disinfected and healed. “More of the same” is just not something anybody is willing to accept.
But while I am sure that the Russians are not bluffing, I am not so sure at all whether decision-makers in the West realize that. Judging by the nonsense spewed by western officials and the AngloZionist media, I would say that no, they mostly don’t (there are a few notable exceptions like this one).
So I would say that there are definitely clouds on the horizon.
But the fact that the US and Russia seem to be preparing for some kind of summit is definitely a good sign as it shows that there is still a chance for the two sides to make some kind of deal avoiding the worst (if the US Americans only wanted to meet to issue more threats or to dismiss the Russian demands, neither side would bother with organizing a meeting).
The biggest risk now is that the US Americans will try to talk their way out and just let the clock run down without ever giving a clear answer to the Russians. Deputy Foreign Minister Riabkov said this about that “we don’t need negotiations, we need security guarantees, and very soon”. The Russians won’t take unilateral action unless and until they become convinced that the West is not willing to restrain itself and offer any legally biding and verifiable security guarantees. The other side of this coin is that should the West not be willing to restrain itself and refuse to offer any legally biding a verifiable security guarantees, then the Russians will be free take unilateral action. In other words, the Russians are saying this: look, we will get what we want, one way or another, whether we do that by means of a bilateral/multilateral negotiation or unilaterally now depends on you. For us, either way is fine, and we will achieve our objective in any scenario. The key message here is this: there is nothing you, the collective West or the USA, can do to prevent that outcome.
I conclude that the Russian ultimatum was really the very last effort by Russia to settle the problem diplomatically. If this effort fails, then the West better prepare itself for a lot of unilateral Russian actions.
As they say in Russia “those who will not listen to Lavrov will have to deal with Shoigu“. Even Lavrov himself seems to agree.
We will soon find out I suppose.
I invite you all to share your views in the open thread below.
PS: in the meantime, the LDNR authorities have identified the chemical substances US PMCs have brought to the cities of Mariupol, Krasnyi Liman and Avdeevka: botulinum toxin and dibenzoxazepine. These chemical weapon were brought over from the USA by USAF contracted aircraft and are now deployed by 120 US mercenaries.