Note: in late November I was interviewed by the Russian website Geofor. Here is the English language translation of this interview.
GEOFOR: Mr. Raevsky, no sooner have the American warships left the Black Sea than the British went in there. Apparently, “unscheduled exercises” of NATO ships and Ukrainian watercraft are about to commence, again. Again, near the maritime borders of the Russian Federation. Moreover, a couple of American military boats were delivered to Odessa (although, politely speaking, not quite new). As a military analyst with experience in intelligence, how do you assess the degree of threats from this incessant demonstration of force in terms of the possibility of provoking a military conflict with far-reaching consequences?
Andrei Raevsky: From a military point of view, I assess the degree of direct threat from these forces as zero. Firstly, any ship that enters the waters of the Black Sea can be instantly destroyed by a number of Russian coastal defense systems and/or the Russian Aerospace Forces. So, the degree of threat from them is zero. Secondly, they are equipped with rather outdated Tomahawk missiles. They have a relatively low flight speed, and they do not pose a great threat to Russian air defense systems.
On the other hand, there is an indirect threat from these NATO ships. And very serious. They are nudging Ukrainians in the same way as in 2008 they nudged Saakashvili in Georgia. They give Kiev a mistaken feeling being under an umbrella, under the protection of the US Navy or, say, NATO bomber planes, which is a complete deception and delusion, but this is the real danger.
GEOFOR: Does Russia have the ability to protect itself if it comes to launching Tomahawks? And how is this perceived in Pentagon and NATO headquarters? In the same context: what, in your opinion, is behind the decision of the Russian president to reject the Ministry of Defense’s offer to hold its unscheduled exercises on the Black Sea simultaneously with the United States and NATO? How will it be perceived in the Washington military-political establishment – as confidence in the capabilities of the Russian military to respond adequately to provocative actions or, as a desire not to take a potentially dangerous situation to the extreme?
Andrei Raevsky: Yes, of course, Russia can defend itself. As I just said, these are relatively slow and outdated cruise missiles, which do not pose a great danger to the multi-layered integrated air defense of the Crimea and the South of Russia and the entire Southern Military District of the Russian Federation. You can remember what the US missile strike on Syria was like, where most of them [Tomahawks] were shot down not by the Russian contingent in Syria – this is very important to emphasize – but by the Syrians with their relatively simpler air defense system.
Thus. I don’t think that all these Tomahawks threaten Russia very much.
I will also add that if the United States and NATO wanted to hit Russia with Tomahawks, it would be better for them to get out of the Black Sea and go to the Mediterranean Sea and move away to the maximum distance – just so as not to be instantly sunk.
Putin’s decision not to conduct simultaneous maneuvers in the Black Sea, in my opinion, is absolutely reasonable.
In Washington, this is likely to make an impression, in a certain sense, of a staged scene: Shoigu says: “I am ready”, and Putin takes such a peacemaking, pacifying step. This is what in the West is called “Good cop – bad cop.” In fact, they are, of course, united in terms of developing principles and strategies for protecting Russia from possible aggression.
GEOFOR: And now a little more about Ukraine and the situation around it. Russian analysts find many analogies in the situation in Ukraine now and the one that was in Georgia on the eve of August 2008. How would you characterize the factors (internal and external) that could lead to Kiev deciding on an open armed conflict? And what will this lead Ukraine and Europe as a whole to? Who, in the end, may be the beneficiary?
Andrei Raevsky: Yes, the situation is very similar to that. And I would even say that the situation Zelensky is in, is worse than the one Saakashvili was in.
I’m afraid that his rating is such that he really has nothing to lose. The question of whether Kiev will decide on an open armed conflict implies that Kiev has an opportunity to solve something. I doubt it very much. Without getting the “go-ahead” from the “Washington Regional Party Committee” Kiev will not move. Thus, if Kiev moves, it will be, at least, in the presence of a “tacit” – not even consent – order, when the West gives the command “Attack!”. Few people in the West care that Kiev will then “get its ass kicked.”
But the most important thing in this context is to remember that the goal is not to “liberate ORDLO from Muscovites” (Note: “ORLDO” is the current official Ukie legal term for the LDNR) or “restore democracy and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and so on. The goal is to force Russia to openly invade Ukraine and start a war: so that it cannot be denied, in order to totally sink energy projects between Russia and the EU and make the EU completely dependent, first of all, on American shale gas and other energy carriers. And to achieve these goals, Ukraine does not need any victory at all – it’s enough to just say: “Here, these evil Putin’s “green men” have seized even more territory! Oh, how bad they are!”
We can say that from a military point of view, Russia will win very quickly. But from a political point of view, it will be a victory for the United States.
GEOFOR: Do you consider it possible that, with NATO’s symbolic support in the Black Sea, as well as the presence of various American, British and other instructors on land, Kiev will decide on a military provocation not in the Donbas, but in the Black Sea? After all, it is known that everyone is waiting for the Ukrainian military offensive in the east of the country, and why, for example, Zelensky not follow the path of his predecessor Poroshenko, who sent boats to break through the Kerch Strait, and, creating a conflict situation, disrupted the already agreed meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin? Moreover, the second meeting of the Russian and American presidents this year is now being prepared…
Andrei Raevsky: Yes, such a provocation in the Black Sea is very likely. It is enough to recall their provocation when Ukrainian boats tried to pass into the Kerch Strait. And it was without any presence of Americans. Of course, this is possible. I think this is not only possible, but it will definitely happen.
And if there really are plans to arrange a meeting between Biden and Putin, then Ukrainians have very little time left. In December, Americans convene their “Democracy Forum”, then there are holidays…
If there is this meeting – and we don’t know if there will be one – there could be a lot of things that could undermine it. For supporters of the war – both in the United States and in Ukraine – this is a very important moment that cannot be missed.
GEOFOR: And in conclusion. If it is likely that the ongoing Russian-American consultations (the arrival of the Deputy Secretary of State and the director of the CIA in Moscow, for example) and the dialogue between the two leaders, which, hopefully, will take place, will lead to at least some stabilization, both around the Ukrainian problem and in bilateral relations. What problems in this regard could you highlight?
Andrei Raevsky: These consultations are very important, and this is a very desirable development of the situation because American officials of this level have not come to Moscow twice to present some kind of ultimatum.
To present an ultimatum, you can simply use a consul.
To do this, there is absolutely no need to send the highest representatives of the American authorities to Moscow.
The conversations that took place – whatever they were – were to the point. And they were serious. As long as both sides are talking, at least they are not shooting. And this is very desirable.
And we can only hope that such consultations will continue in the future.
Of course, the Americans are the most dangerous enemy for Russia. This needs to be understood.
This is not a get-together with a “vodka-herring” menu to just shoot the breeze. Neither is this a friendly meeting.
But this is a direct dialogue of those who can really make decisions in a difficult situation and influence the situation.
And in this regard, it is very important.
Therefore, there is no need to fall into the mistake that Americans very often fall into when they say: “We don’t talk to such and such.” We don’t talk to terrorists, we don’t talk to states and “regimes” that we don’t recognize. This is a very big mistake.
You need to talk to everyone, often including the fiercest enemies.
Андрей Раевский: решится ли Киев на открытый вооруженный конфликт
Nice interview Saker. I’m glad you are reaching the Russian audience.
and my articles in English are now regularly translated on 3 Russian websites (Svpressa, KONT and vpknews) while GEOFOR regularly interviews me.
that makes me quite happy indeed :-)
Parabéns The saker. Ainda gostaria de ver os seus artigos e colunistas traduzidos para Português Brasileiro. E uma pena que muitos aqui nao tem acesso a informação de qualidade como voce produz.
Automatic Translation to English
Congratulations The saker. I would still like to see your articles and columnists translated into Brazilian Portuguese. It’s a shame that many here don’t have access to quality information like you produce.
You can go to the Latin American Saker blog: http://sakerlatam.es/
they translate my articles in Spanish and/or Brazilian.
“You can remember what the US missile strike on Syria was like, where most of them [Tomahawks] were shot down not by the Russian contingent in Syria – this is very important to emphasize – but by the Syrians with their relatively simpler air defense system.”
It hadn’t occurred to me before. Was the Syria strike meant to test out and hopefully prove the Tomahawks against Russian supplied systems?
I’d always assumed it was a botched attack because everyone knew the evidence was faked. Trump was been challenged to back up his red lines, and given the choice between calling US media and CIA liars or a soft attack he chose a sloppy and deliberately ineffective attack. Sending missiles to a “CW factory” on the edge of Damascus was always a funny way of punishing Assad for using CW on his own people.
You are being noticed and are moving up.
After the many years I have followed you blog, your articles are proper, well researched, always turning every stone to find a fair solution to geopolitical issues, and calling out BS whenever you see it.
You deserve to be heard.
My Best Regards and Wishes.
Will Kiev decide on an open armed conflict?
Is it up to Kiev to decide? Kiev is a pawn, a puppet, a marionette, as it was South VietNam military junta during the Gulf of Tonking false flag, which led to an escalation of the VietNam war for the next 11 years. The US is exacerbating the conflict in Ukraine, arming the neo-nazis, and creating a war-like environment where the “fog of war” can cover up any false flag, and trigger a larger conflict. Ukraine is violating Belarus airspace, attacking the Russian population in Donbass, playing with new toys of war they can barely manage, all under the supervision of the CIA hawks, whose job is to develop conditions on the ground that will force a Russian intervention.
Meanwhile, the US/NATO/Eurostan MSM is going full blast 24/7 condemning the “Russian aggression,” warning “the Russians are coming,” justifying the arming of the Ukronazis, turning Banderastan into a de facto NATO bastion. For Russia, the red line is the formal admission of Ukraine into NATO, which given Ukraine status as a failed state, other things being equal, is not going to happen any time soon, unless…a larger conflict develops, and NATO goes into full gear adopting Banderastan in a fast process, regardless of proper procedure. There are many other goals, as the Saker points out, such as gas sales and energy projects between Russia and Eurostan the US has targeted for long time, and will continue to target.
Nord Stream 2 has been recently completed despite large scale sanctions that delayed the project substantially, however, it is waiting approval from regulators for gas to start flowing. An escalation of the war in Donbass that forces a Russian intervention will kick in the US/Eurostan Pavlovian sanctions mechanism, of which they have a long list ready to pull the trigger, always foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs waiting to be unleashed. As Saker well pointed out, Russia might win the battle, but lose the war. Putin is a master strategist, and together with Shoigu and Lavrov, they make a formidable, powerful troika for any enemy to reckon with. They are taking all precautionary measures not to be taken by surprise a-la “Operation Barbarrosa,” at the same time warning the greedy Western elites to be careful with their geopolitical games. When Shoigu says, “we are ready,” he’s not bluffing.
In the meantime, the Russian army gets an opportunity to test and train their logistics and deployment, in preparation for a real conflict. Donbass will benefit from the presence of the Russian army on the border, a few tanks, missiles, and EW systems can find themselves moving across the border, just to pay a visit to the rag-tag Banderastan army. As always, let’s hope for the best, prepare for the worst…
The bigger issue is that it is even being reported on, exposing ones weakness has its pains, and you dont want growing ones.
There is something else a foot that is bothering the elite so much, that they must expose the underbelly of the beast, in order to spread the warning.
Translate at ones own risk.
I’m wondering – Russia ‘wins’ the war, but ‘loses’ the politics – may be true for the U.S. and its puppets in the west, but what happens in the ‘rest of the world’? I would think the politics would be won there.
And if there is a significant east-west split without nuclear war, who wins then…? The west will collapse on its own debt burden and internal irrationalizations and the east….?
I don’t want war, but why is everyone saying Russia loses the politics of it all….?
“War is politics by other means”
Karl von Clausewitz
Russia will destroy Ukrainian forces in 30 minutes, and NATO forces concentrated in Eastern Europe in 48 hours. First of all, Russia will destroy all nuclear warehouses in Germany with hypersonic missiles, which enable Russia to shoot down American bombers on the German border. It will then destroy all communications satellites in orbit. That is why Norway withdrew from participating in the Russian border.
The concern is that if Russia attacks Ukraine, whether now, or after a major attack by Kiev against Donbass, analogous to Georgia’s attack in 2008, that the NS2 will get shut down. But that hurts Germany more than Russia. Germany’s economy and much of Europe’s needs Russia’s cheap gas.
So it is the US that would lose because the EU, under the crushing of its economy, is the one suffering. That would put even more stress on the EU to break apart, possibly even NATO itself. The US would lose control of Europe and even NATO.
Therefore, Ukraine is in a no win situation of its own making, along with the US that created the situation in 2014.
In Georgia 2008, Russia was forced to rush in armored units to retake parts of Ossetia and penetrate Georgia.
This time around they could do targeted strikes in the DMZ. The U.S. could lie and claim it was an invasion but perhaps the Ukies will know better.
It is time for Syria, with Russian support, retake Al-Tanf. US occupation there is completely illegal and unjustified. Russia must move S-400 within range to provide air cover for Syria should US attempt to use aircraft to attack Syrian troops. Next Syria begins artillery assault on Al-Tanf “rebels” to retake the ground. any US aircraft attempting to stop this will be shot down.
This will distract from situation in Ukraine, be a demonstration of Russian abilities, and will not appear as if
Russia is the aggressor
It does not matter what Russia or the Syrian government do, or not do, they will be “aggressors” in the western press.
George Orwell wrote a lovely passage in his essay on the Spanish civil war, Val Lisitsa posted it on her Twitter page, back when Twitter had any meaningful commentary on the Donbass — been a while since I read it, but he wrote about how the reporters would describe great battles where nothing had happened, brave soldiers were denounced as traitors, cowards were awarded medals,etc. I’m misquoting here, but recall that he said the stories were less related to what happened than an ordinary lie. And these fictitious tales would be printed in London and Paris, where the intelligentsia would clutch their pearls and hyperventilate over them…
Maybe so regarding the perceived aggressor, yet the US is extremely vulnerable in Al-Tanf. Their presence there is indefensible politically or militarily save the US going for full scale war in Syria. It is a perfect opportunity for the US to get a lesson in a place where they are vulnerable, much more so than in Ukraine, and it might convince US not to escalate further in Ukraine
American people must go out in the streets. Millions in front of white house, pentagon. Grinding the Empire dead in the tracks. Civil disobedience, people in the streets day in day out. I disagree with Dr. Roberts. Neither Russia or China can do much, without risking destruction of the world. I believe both Russian and Chinese leadership fears and rightly so the consequence of being more aggressive towards Empire. Because if Russia and China humiliate Empire in front of the whole world, the worry is whether neocons take down the whole world by launcing nukes in desperation. Restraint is in my opinion good strategy.
No revolution succeeds until significant part of ruling class apparatus defects. It is up to Western people to create conditions, where foot soldiers of AZ elites refuse orders. Once this happens, the Empire is finished.
This haapen before, and it is worth a shot, no matter how remote it looks. If AZ elites see their power seriously threatened by axis of resistance, they may lash out in a very self destructive manner. For China and Russia, dealing with the Empire is like dealing with a mental, delusional person who has a bomb strapped to his chest and finger on the botton. The people in US and Europe. It is up to them to confirm the elites.
Russia can take Donbass whenever she chooses. If Donbass were to hold an election to join the Russian Federation; to would pass with a large majority of the people supporting unification with Russia. It is always difficult to ignore the will of the people and still be an advocate for Democracy. Russia could re-deplo
y her troops on the Western border of Donbass on the Eastern border of Ukraine proper. If Ukraine hesitates, they will never attack. If they do attack, they will be beaten badly. The USA and NATO will protest, but do nothing. The West will fight Russia down to the last Ukrainian. Russia wins again.
@Cliff, this was covered recently here at the Vineyard. There was a poll taken in the Donbass about joining Russia and there was little support for it. I think it was something like 27% in favor. Young people there are mostly anti -Russian Andrei Martanyov says.
Poroshenko , Avakov and the rest of the Nazi scum are ready to overthrow Zelensky. One how’s that Nazi Battalion leaders is ready to testify against war crimes that they committed
Medvedchuk leader of Aidar has documents on all of the neo Nazis. Admits to killing civilians and watching other members of his group kill civilians he’s ready to testify whenever that time comes
I have said it before I say it again
GLT Erich von Lewinski called von Manstein with his 11 army is not available this time, and Crimea can not be taken from the sea.