by Vladislav Shurigin

Note: this is a machine translation of an article I came across on the Runet.  The Saker

Today, commenting on the response received from Washington, Lavrov quite unexpectedly plunged into lengthy explanations on the topic that the American response, being in essence and in meaning a frank counter-ultimatum of Russia (in which we were quite unequivocally sent on an erotic journey on foot on all key topics for Russia – the non-admission of Ukraine to NATO, the non-proliferation of NATO further East and a return to the geopolitical situation of 1999), is quite productive and meaningful, in which there are rational grains. “We received only the day before yesterday answers that in such a Western style cast a shadow on the fence in many ways, but there are rational grains, as I have already said, on secondary issues,” the minister said in an interview with Sputnik, Echo of Moscow, Moscow Speaks and Komsomolskaya Pravda radio stations.

What kind of “grains” did Mr. Lavrov find, rubbing between his fingers the American substance that they piled on our demands? According to him, among such topics that would be important for Russia is a return to negotiations on medium- and shorter-range missiles, a moratorium on the deployment of which in Europe was previously proposed by the President of the Russian Federation. In addition, Russia offered to coordinate verification measures for such a withdrawal.

“Then it was ignored, and now it is included in their proposals. Just as our initiatives introduced by the General Staff were ignored, on the withdrawal of exercises away from the border on both sides, on the coordination of the maximum distance for the rapprochement of combat aircraft and ships, a number of other de-escalation and deconfliction measures, confidence-building measures,” the minister said and almost happily added: “All this has been rejected over the past two or three years, now it is proposed to discuss all this.”

And now I want to remind you of my own text “The Calm before the Storm”, written exactly a month ago, immediately after the publication of our demands to the United States and NATO: “… Washington faces the task of winning time from Moscow, during which the AFU will be strengthened to the level, as already mentioned above, at which they will be able to wage war with Russia for quite a long time with the massive military-technical assistance of Western allies and their limited participation (Air Force, air defense, intelligence, special forces).

Having reached this level, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will certainly begin hostilities against the republics at any convenient occasion or provocation, and Russia will face the prospect of getting involved in an exhausting war and finding itself in complete economic isolation after the introduction of new “total” sanctions – or resign itself and cede Donbass to Ukraine with all the reputational consequences for itself.

According to experts, it takes another 18-24 months to “pump up” Ukraine, provided maximum military supplies of equipment and weapons to Ukraine, as well as the deployment of NATO military contingents and its logistics infrastructure along the Ukrainian borders. Actually, this task – the gain of time – is now determined by the US policy towards Russia. Maximum pressure in all directions, accusations that Russia is going to attack Ukraine in the near future, demands for the withdrawal of troops – on the one hand. And on the other – the constant generation of illusions of negotiations, meetings of diplomats and even direct contacts of presidents. All this has one goal in mind – to draw Russia into an endless process that has no implementation.”

Then, two weeks later, commenting on the first reviews of Americans on our demands on the radio station “Moscow Speaks”, I literally said the following: “It’s good when you know the player opposite for many years and how he bluffs. Of our three main positions, they chose one, but the one that is really important to them is to agree on missiles. Because we are seriously outperforming them here, we are leading in the latest weapons in a number of areas. They need a time reserve. Therefore, they say that they are ready to discuss the topic of disarmament with us – here they are the darlings themselves. And they are not ready to discuss everything else.”

I am not an employee of the Russian Foreign Ministry and certainly do not have my sources in the US State Department, but even my modest experience of third-party observation of how Americans have been behaving with Russia for the last thirty years was enough to predict how they will behave today. This is nothing new!

The key question is another – how will we continue to behave? To answer it, we will try to understand at what point of the Ukrainian crisis we are at today.

We completely missed the chance to “reset” Ukraine in 2014, when after the February coup in Kiev, we could completely change the political landscape of the “nezalezhnaya”. Pro-Russian forces (at that time the most powerful among the political movements of Ukraine), relying on our power, political and economic support, could politically “wall up” the pro-Western, pro-American Maidan in Kiev together with the Bandera Nazis who fully supported it, create a parallel power center headed by legitimate President Yanukovych in Kharkiv and unite the regions of the east and south-east of Ukraine around it, depriving Kiev not only of two-thirds of the economic potential and access to sea trade routes, but also most of the army and even legitimacy, after all, the coup took place the day after the agreements signed between the leaders of the Maidan and Yanukovych on resolving the political crisis. It was the perfect opportunity, but we missed it. Who in the Kremlin insisted on recognizing the legitimacy of the coup in Kiev, we will find out after the publication of the materials of the meetings of the Security Council, but today, according to the reshuffle in the leadership of the presidential administration soon after these events, we can understand who it was.

In 2014-2015, we did not use the chance to change the “configuration” of Novorossiya – Donbass, which spontaneously appeared on the political map of Ukraine, when, after the start of Kiev’s punitive operation against the rebellious self-proclaimed republics, Kiev suffered a crushing military defeat – first in the summer of 2014, and then in January-February 2015, which would allow pushing the borders of Novorossiya beyond Mariupol and northwest to the political border of the Luhansk region. Instead, the Kremlin again went to the preservation of the Kiev regime and agreed to negotiations in Minsk, hoping thereby to somehow cajole the collective West, maintain partnership relations with it, and at the same time “send a signal” to Kiev about the senselessness of further war.

Once again, the Kremlin made a strategic miscalculation. It was not possible to “appease” the West – a “crusade” was launched against Russia, led by the leader of the Western world, the United States. All kinds of sanctions were imposed, unprecedented pressure on Moscow began, and the largest operation since the Soviet era was launched to destabilize the internal situation in Russia, form a pro-Western irreconcilable opposition in it and prepare for the “orange revolution”. At the same time, Ukraine received a full military-political protectorate of the United States and NATO, then modern equipment and weapons went to Ukraine, military reform was initiated and carried out under American and NATO control. In parallel with this, in 2015-2017, a large-scale cleansing of the political and information space was carried out from any, even minimally suspected of “pro-Russian” leaders, movements and the media. An unprecedented information and propaganda campaign has been launched to mobilize the population of Ukraine against the main historical enemy – Russia.

The Kremlin has not responded to this threat in any way.

Over the next four years, not even a minimally effective information pool was created, broadcasting to Ukraine and working with the Ukrainian population. Apart from a few websites and a couple of informational programs on Russian TV, there is absolutely nothing in this space of war! And this allows the Kiev leadership to be absolutely confident in the reliable control of the anti-Russian sentiments of the majority of the population of Ukraine. We have completely lost the information campaign for the minds of Ukrainians.

Apparently, the Kremlin began to realize the drama of the situation only at the end of 2020, when it became finally clear that Ukraine, under the new President Zelensky, was not only not going to somehow restore relations with Russia, but, on the contrary, was increasingly openly opposing Russia and preparing for war with it, rapidly developing and increasing its Armed Forces. It became clear that there would be no peaceful resolution of the crisis in Donbas. That Ukraine’s “curators” no longer consider it as a potential defenseless victim of Russian aggression, but are increasingly openly preparing it as a trap into which Russia will have to fall when Ukraine’s military power is brought to a level that allows it to effectively fight against Moscow for sufficient time, during which large-scale military-technical assistance will be launched and the price of victory for Moscow will become unacceptable. This means that Russia will either have to get involved in this military conflict with unclear military and domestic political consequences, or accept and cede Donbass to Ukraine, as Milosevic had to give in to Western pressure and “surrender” Serbian Bosnia and Serbian Krajina, which will also lead to disastrous domestic political consequences for the Kremlin’s rating.

Both are equally satisfied with Washington and London, who are building this trap for Moscow today.

The testing of this plan, or rather, its first stage could be a sharp aggravation of the situation in the Donbas in February – March last year. Even a local offensive by the Ukrainian army would require Russian military intervention. And this would be immediately used to break Russia’s economic ties with the EEC, completely stop the Nord Stream-2 and “marginalize” Russia as an “aggressor”.


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