I’ve been following the dropbox you’ve set up on the start of the SMO.
That in connection with your recent comments on Putin’s televised press conference:-https://www.moonofalabama.org/2023/06/ukraine-open-thread-2023-141/comments/page/4/#comments
Those comments showing a more accurate assessment of Putin’s take on this war than the often lurid interpretations we’re given by the Western press.Fast moving events have absorbed attention recently but I still believe that that early period, the run-up to and the start of the SMO, is the most important period when it comes to apportioning responsibility for this war.
In contradiction to Mearsheimer’s view, that this war was an inevitable response to Western pressure going back as far as the last century, I believe that the Russians were coping adequately with that Western pressure and would have continued to do so, but that they were forced against their will to military action by the immediate and urgent threat to the Donbass. This was, therefore, no „unprovoked“ war. It was provoked by the West and it was provoked on the LoC in February 2022.
The Mearsheimer account is important background. It’s put together with scholarly precision. It often shows Mearsheimer himself as a courageous man, braving the almost universal opposition he encounters in academic and wider circles. But Mearsheimer is wrong. Even from such information as was available at the time it was clear that the Russians didn’t want this war, didn’t need it, and were forced to take pre-emptive action only to prevent the threat to the Donbass.
I don’t want to flood your dropbox with references and links on that since there are commenters on b’s site who are able to put together a better informed and perhaps more concise summary.
And „concise“ is where it gets difficult. The Western story on this war, believed by almost all in the West, is more or less that Putin is a megalomaniac dictator bent on restoring old empire. That’s concise and comprehensible enough in all conscience. We can grasp it easily, it fits with so many old prejudices and misconceptions, and it’s a story that once accepted explains all and justifies all. But to contest that story detailed and often complex background knowledge is needed. We need to know what’s been happening in the Donbass for the past several years. We need to know what’s been happening in Ukraine over that period.
And for me, who am particularly concerned with the European dimension, we need to go back to at least the pre-Maidan Association Agreement negotiations, those negotiations in which Mrs Merkel played so prominent a part. When it comes to the Maidan we need to look away a little from Mrs Nuland and her cookies and examine more what Lady Ashton or Verhofstadt were doing in Kiev at the time. We need to look at the 2019 Munich Security Conference and to see there the braggart and inflammatory role already assumed by HMG that was later to lead directly to Johnson’s sabotage of the Istanbul peace talks. We need to look at a subject now seldom mentioned in the Western press.
In the light of recent statements from Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko we can now reassess the true intentions of Germany and France, when those two countries put their credibility and weight behind the duplicitous farce the Europeans made of the only settlement that could have brought true peace to the Ukraine, Minsk 2.
And we need to look at Scholz, pursuing a policy indistinguishable from that of his predecessor; and a policy fully in accordance with that of Merz and Habeck for all his pretence of reluctance or moderation. I find Scholz, with his German and EU and, regrettably, his UK colleagues, to be a more central figure than Biden when looking at the reason for this war. That view is squarely in opposition to the view of most American commentators, who regard Scholz et al merely as American puppets. As with Syria, as elsewhere, we see the Europeans attempting to leverage American financial and military power for their own ends rather than being overborne by it. For, from where I’m sitting, and figuratively speaking, the White Tiger had more to do with this conflict than the Neocon Hawk.
We also need to look at Russian military action at the very start of the SMO. Because I believe that that military action does not show, as most Western journalists assume, any intention to conquer Ukraine as a preliminary to moving on to the Baltics or other nearby countries. It shows only a clear intention to nullify the threat to the Donbass and to put it out of the power of Kiev or the West to mount any more such threats.
Only when all this is put together can we examine the nature of the threat posed by the Kiev forces on the LoC in February 2022, the Russian assessment of that threat, and the Russian response.
A necessary aside. It’s now the case that such examination is rendered more difficult because that original SMO has expanded considerably. We must not read back into what the Russians intended then what they may well, as a result of Western escalation, be intending now.
By now Russia should have been in the throes of a severe economic crisis, that leading to the fall of the Putin administration or, as some of the more hopeful thought, to the break-up of the RF itself. On the military side it had been expected that the quick Russian military victory that such as General Milley had been confidently predicting would lead to the Russian army being trapped in an unwinnable and costly insurgency. But the economic crisis didn’t happen. „Russian’s Afghanistan“ didn’t happen, though forecast often enough. Nothing we’ve done has worked and our leaders are at once irresolute, divided, and casting around for a way out of the disaster. Blindly doubling down has been the inevitable Western response and we’re now waiting to see how far that doubling down will go.
That has taken the conflict to a new level. Failing any settlement to the conflict it could be that to counter the Kiev/Western threat to the Donbass, and to Russia overall, we could well see the Russians going as far as Western Ukraine. And there have been indications recently that the Russians now intend to do more even than that and in one way or another get their 2021 European security demands met into the bargain. On none of that can we be certain, but both are now a possibility.In short, the more the West piles on the pressure the more firmly we see the Russians responding to that pressure. But these subsequent developments of the conflict should not obscure the fact that, at the beginning of the SMO, the Russian aims were limited. Nor should it obscure the essential fact that they were just.
That is a most difficult fact for us in the West to acknowledge. Who likes being in the wrong, and so disastrously? Could we in the UK, who fought Nazis for six exhausting years, ever acknowledge that we have been utilising neo-Nazis as a foreign policy tool? Could the Germans, to whom all things Nazi are anathema, ever acknowledge that Merkel and then Scholz were backing ultra-nationalists in Ukraine whose ideology, whose symbols even, derive directly from a period of German history they make such a show of repudiating?But until that is acknowledged, until that is shown to be the case, we are condemned to a state of perpetual enmity, not only with Russia but with other countries increasingly on the Russian side, that will damage Europe severely and maybe irretrievably.