Tuesday, June 10, 2014

One more attempt at clarifying my position on Russian options

The pitfalls and risks of expressing feelings in a blog

My recent rant "Please tell me my worst fears will not come true" was clearly very poorly written and my subsequent attempt to clarify what I meant did little to improve the mess I apparently had created. To be honest, I never went to "blogger school" and I am painfully learning this trade by trial and error including a lot of errors. I naively had thought that putting enough caveats would make my intentions clear:

"I will thus readily admit that I might be over-reacting"
"my brain tells me one thing, but my gut tells me another"

How could I make it more clear that 1) I was speaking from the heart/gut and not making an analysis and 2) that I was fully aware that I was over-reacting?  I don't know about others, but to me the admission of doubts and fears is never a sign of weakness.  Courage and strength is not denying doubts and fears, but acting rationally in spite of such feelings.  Maybe that is not done in the blogosphere, or maybe I did it on a clumsy way, but I did it the best I could and with as much honesty I could.  I would have imagined that those who had called me a "Putin groupie" or "Kremlin shill" would have approved of my open admission that I truly trusted neither Putin nor the Kremlin, but somehow only those who were upset by that admission showed up.  Oh well, another valuable lesson for me: expected a beating every time you show your feelings.

But the "killer sentence" which I should never have written as I did was this one: "Russia has to act now and use her armed forces to liberate Novorossia. Not to do so would be a betrayal of the Russian people."  That was a "cri du coeur" (cry from the heart) which overshadowed all the caveats before it.  This being said, I categorically deny that I had a change of heart.  Before Poroshensko's inauguration speech I saw a set of circumstances we can call "A" while after his inauguration speech I saw a new and different set of circumstances we can call "B".  A change of heart would be to say that a the same set of circumstances warrants a change in policy.  That is not what I wrote, but I have to admit that what I did write was highly misleading: pure emotion and distress and not a rational analysis.

I also know what triggered my reaction, and here I will place the blame on Putin, Lavrov, Zurabov (Russia's ambassador to Kiev) and Peskov (Putin spoksman).  What triggered my panic attack was the totally lame and lukewarm reaction of Russia to a speech which was a real declaration of war not only on Novorossia but also on Russia herself: not only was Poroshenko's speech filled with various anti-Russian statements echoing the worst, most ignorant and most ugly Right Sector propaganda, but he even clearly spelled out that he considered Crimea has Ukrainian: that was a threat on Russian land.  And what was Russia's response?  *Nothing*. Zurabov just sat there and Putin and Lavrov stayed silent.  I have no heard a single word of criticism coming out of official Moscow.  That is what really freaked me out.  That an the *terrible* timing of the decision to strengthen the border between Russia and Novorossia.  And I still think that Russia's public policy committed a terrible "faux pas" by remaining silent in the face of such a public display of Nazi bigotry and arrogance.

I have spent the last 24 hours reading many Russian articles written by very sharp analysts, I have carefully listen to all the main news shows, I have also taken the time to listen to some specialized shows (such as Igor Korotchenko's "GenShtab" on Voice of Russia) and I have come to the conclusion that Russia will not accept a Nazi regime in Kiev nor will Russia abandon Novorossia.  Frankly, this is bigger than Putin and we should not focus on personalities too much, even political giants like Putin.  Why?  Because even in the exceedingly unlikely possibility that Putin for some reason cave to the Empire, he would be committing political suicide, Juan is absolutely correct about that.  I still think that Putin does want to do the right thing, but if not - then he will be forced to.

So what do I think (rather then feel) Russia should do?

I have to admit that there is one major argument against a direct Russian military intervention in Novorossia: it is an undeniable fact that the people from Novorossia themselves have not done enough for themselves.  Yes, the self-defense forces of Novorossia are heroes, and yes, they are fighting very well even though the force ratios in the favor of the Nazis is anywhere between 5:1 to 100:1 (depending on the day and location).  But even though more people have heard Strelkov's appeal the numbers are still nowhere near were they should be.  That is a fact that I cannot deny.

The argument that the NDF are under-equipped is being addressed right now.  I have seen footage shown on Russian TV of sophisticated air defense radars used by the NDF and I have it from several good sources that modern equipment is regularly showing up.  I have heard that today 3 Ukrainian MBTs and at least one MRLS have been destroyed by the NDF.  My feeling is that pretty soon the NDF will establish their own "no-fly" zone which the Ukies will not dare to penetrate very often (they have already lost *a lot* of their rotary and fixed wing aircraft).  This no-fly zone will soon be followed by a "no drive" zone for Ukie armor (enforced by modern anti-tanks weapon systems).  The problem of artillery can only be solved by providing the NDF with the means for counter-battery fire.  That will be tricky, especially with long range artillery.  But with no FACs on the ground or in the air, artillery strikes will not be very effective, even if still devastatingly deadly for the local civilian population.  Snipers could be found and trained, I suppose (they can make the life of an artillery unit really miserable).  Supplies, ammo dumps, and generally the logistics should be attacked and sabotaged.  In other words, as soon as it has the means to do so the NDF has to go on the offensive.

Frankly, there should be a "principle of subsidiarity" of sorts at work here: before the Russians intervene the people of the Donbass have the moral duty to to everything they can to defend themselves.  Then, if needed, Russia should intervene to prevent a genocide in Novorossia.  But first the locals have to do more.  What Russia can and should do is to provide military, technical and financial aid to Novorossia, whether covertly or overtly (why can Russia not do exactly the same as what the USA is doing in Syria?).  My understanding is that Russia is already doing that.

There is, however, something that Russia is not doing or, rather, there is something which Russia is doing and which she should stop doing: smiling at Poroshenko and sticking to this silly "our Ukrainian brothers" script:
what is left of the Ukraine today is no more no less than a Nazi Banderastan and Russia should not even bother pretending that there is a love fest between these two entities.   No need to do anything provocative or hostile, just to stop pretending like Russia is oblivious to the kind of Banderastan is being built.  As for Novorossia Russia should openly support it in the name of anti-Nazism and provide it with technical, financial, political and informational support.  As for the West, it is *already* acting as if Russia was heavily engaged in a full-scale support campaign for the breakaway regions - so why not do that anyway?!

Finally, the Russian should learn from their American counterparts and make the human rights issue a huge political stick.  Russian diplomats should simply inundate the world media with protest about every single war crime, every single human right violation, ever single violation of the freedom of the press and every single case of corruption.  Protest constantly, drown the Ukie Nazis with lawsuits on all levels, denounce them at every public events, etc.  First that will take a toll on the regime in Kiev and, second, it will show the anti-Nazi forces in the Ukraine that they are not abandoned.

There is a lot Russia can do besides using her armed forces.

Bottom line is this: my heart and my gut tell me that Russia should intervene now: impose a no-fly zone, open humanitarian corridors and destroy the Nazi death squads.  And if that happens tomorrow morning I will be elated.  But my brain has to accept that the most rational way to deal with this situation is to do everything short of an over military intervention.  I will readily admit that I am torn and that I have not found a way to reconcile the two.  There are better people out there that have done a much better job at that then I have, but I am not sure that I envy them.

One more issue: a US nuclear threat to Russia?

I have no doubt at all that this is nonsense and that the US is not contemplating such a threat or, even less so, such an attack.  Why?  Because it is absolutely and categorically impossible for the USA to strike Russia in such a manner which would prevent Russia from executing a retaliatory counter-strike.  I have already written about this and just want to repeat it here: while there probably are some politicians who dream about such an option, the US military knows that this is absolutely impossible and nothing will change that in the foreseeable future.  No matter what attack scenario you consider, Russia always will have the means to basically make the USA disappear as a society.  Of course, the same is true for the USA which Russia cannot disarm in a first counter-force strike.  Forget it!  Really.  During the Cold War we have made a lot of very fancy simulations and the result has always been the same, and all the folks in command in the USA know that.  Also, nothing has fundamentally changed since the late 1980s.  Most of the current nuclear systems date from that period and while all sorts of progress has been made, it has not resulted in some kind of breakthrough, much less so one upon which anybody could waged the survival of the entire norther hemisphere of our planet.  In fact, I would argue that the Russian nuclear forces today are both more survivable and more capable, especially the latest road-mobile ICBMs and the submarine launched ballistic missiles. So one thing I can guarantee: there is no nuclear attack threat to Russia (and nor is there one to the USA, of course).  As for a US tactical nuclear strike on a Russian force entering Novorossia, it would have an absolutely catastrophic political effect on the AngloZionist Empire, not to mention that nobody in the Ukraine will be grateful for this.  Even if the US used a "cleaner" neutron bomb the political fallout with be huge, even inside the USA.  As for Russia, it could even win this one by not retaliating in kind (remember, war is the pursuit of politics by other means).  So forget about these rumors about a US nuclear threat to Russia, even if B-2s and USN ships are moved around.  They are "showing the flag" - not threatening Russia.

I hope that this last effort of mine to fully clarify my position has been more successful than my previous one.  I know that this blog is making a lot of people angry and that they will use this opportunity to again misrepresent what I wrote or try to ridicule me.  Fine, let them.  Frankly, I don't care much about their "opinion" nor am I competing in some kind of popularity contest.  Besides.  I am confident that most of you will recognize these efforts for what they are.

Enough about doubts and fears for now - tomorrow back to the regular daily work.

Kind regards to all,

The Saker