Awareness of the new reality that Russia has passed into comes in waves and is updated almost every day. Now, three weeks after the start of the military operation in Ukraine, the outlines and possible ways of developing two processes, of different scale, but of existential significance, are becoming clearer.
First, a special military operation in Ukraine, which launched a reshaping of the world. The flow of news from the front has now slowed down, but let’s leave military analysis and assessments to specialists. As for the military-political component, the West is determined to drag out the conflict in the near and long term, and the military resources promised to Ukraine actively contribute to this goal. President Biden on March 16 approved $800 million in military aid to Kiev, in addition to the $200 million approved on March 12. Thus, the demilitarization of Ukraine is not visible on any planning horizon, neither near nor far.
Moreover, from the point of view of the West, an escalation of the conflict is also possible. Although Joe Biden and other administration officials have repeatedly said that a no-fly zone is not planned, such a solution cannot be completely ruled out. The White House is watching the development of the situation and is refining its actions step by step. If at present there is no such need, this does not mean that in a few months such a need will not appear. Recall that the no-fly zone, contrary to the “peaceful” sound of the term, implies the patrolling of the airspace by military aircraft and the operation of air defense systems, that is, a direct military conflict between the Russian Armed Forces and NATO. Although, of course, the sight of American fighters falling in the fire is not beneficial either to Washington or to manufacturers of military equipment.
On Wednesday, March 16, President Zelensky addressed the US Congress, once again demanding a no-fly zone and the supply of weapons. His speech, with an accompanying video, served to further psychologically mobilize the American establishment and the general public against Russia. From Zelensky in Congress, only acting skills in artistic reading were required. Howe-ver, in essence, the speech expressed the position of the US military machine in favor of a direct war with Russia. This American “hawkish” lobby demanded the introduction of a no-fly zone in the words of the actor Zelensky.
In parallel, peace talks are underway between representatives of Russia and Ukraine. While this process looks like a necessary formality, but no more. Representatives of Ukraine offer an Austrian or Swedish version of a neutral demilitarized state with its own army, and Turkey offers itself as one of the guarantors of the agreement. At this stage, this sounds quite out of touch with reality; perhaps later in some way these formulas will acquire materiality.
But who is interested in the world now? Zelensky? After a series of militaristic speeches and an emotionally hysterical speech in the US Congress, can the new hero and favorite of the general Western public suddenly turn 180 degrees and ask for peace? Hardly. But even if such miracles would happen, how much Zelensky still manages the situation in Ukraine? And Washington definitely does not want peace: the American war lobby has long been waiting for an excuse to unleash an open conflict against Russia at the hands of the Ukrainians, and now, from their point of view, everything is going well. And the longer it goes on, the better. The death of the civilian population is not an argument. The lives of Ukrainian citizens for overseas strategists mean as little as the lives of Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians in wars in the Middle East or a multinational population during bombingBelgrade.
Is it possible to imagine that Zelensky will suddenly get out of American control and want peace himself? After all, for him, probably, the lives of fellow citizens matter. “What does he think of himself?!” – hear Zelensky shout from Washington. “We appointed him, armed him for the war with Russia, and he went against us with peace?” – his curators will drive him back to the rank of vassal. For the only way out of being a puppet is death. And cruel, as in the case of Saddam Hussein or, even worse, Muammar Gaddafi. And there are far more Nazis in Ukraine who want to settle scores with a Jewish boy from a good family than is required.
It is not yet clear how long Kyiv plans to remain in a state of siege. Let us assume that Ukraine will be divided as a result of a military operation. But wherever the new border runs, the western part of Ukraine will be the most heavily armed territory in Europe. Or maybe in the world – with the closest competitor in terms of armament, Israel, which is in a state of permanent military conflict. The eastern part will be under constant military pressure, and it will not be easy to guarantee a peaceful life for the suffered residents of the recognized DPR and LPR. We repeat that the demilitarization of Ukraine is not considered in Washington at all, and the US Congress has never canceled the military budget.
The second, much larger process is the US economic war against Russia, which naturally covers the entire territory of our country. The White House explained that there were two options: start a physical war with Russia, or make Russia “pay a heavy price” by imposing blanket sanctions. Due to the instinct of self-preservation, the choice is obvious. This economic war – in earnest and, according to Washington’s plans, “to the bitter end” – is like the destruction of the Soviet Union for the Reagan administration. The lifting of sanctions is as unlikely as the demilitarization of Ukraine.
Inside Russia, for more than twenty years, almost all the government’s efforts have been aimed at integrating the country into the global economy with a focus on the West. National private and state capital received large dividends from this, a small part, according to the laws of Reaganomics, seeped into the middle class. Investment and trade tied Russia to the West with thousands of connections. A lot has happened in the humanitarian and sports fields: the Sochi Olympics, the World Cup and dozens of other major events have transformed Russia into a vibrant, attractive destination for a variety of initiatives.
Now these ties with the West have been severed, soft power has been abolished, and the government is required to do almost the opposite: to build an independent economy and ties with other countries and regions. Of course, with the departure of Western business, opportunities for Russian business that have not been seen since the late 1990s are opening up, and the government has already announced many measures to support the economy in the new conditions. Success will depend on many factors, including the dedication of officials to the well-being of the country and people.
It is obvious that uprooting Russia from the world market will cost the West too. The consequences of rising prices for energy resources, fertilizers, grain will shake up not only the economy in Europe. The middle class and all those who are poorer will not be able to pay for heating, especially with a parallel rise in prices for everything that has an energy component. How long will Europeans freeze before they take to the streets against their governments? How many governments in Europe will collapse as a result? These new problems fall on the crisis of the Western social system, which was deepening even before the start of recent events.
Meanwhile, the risks may still get worse. One of the rare sound voices in Washington, George Beebe, vice president and director of research at the Center for the National Interest, warns against the American drive to force the Kremlin to “surrender” and orchestrate “regime change” in Russia: “Superpower leaders must not drive each other into situations where they have to choose between losing face and starting a nuclear war.” According to Kennedy, Beebe recalls, this was the main lesson of the Cuban missile crisis.
George Beebe warns of the risk of a military clash between the US and Russia: if Russia’s security demands are not heard, we will no longer have a cold, but a “very hot” war. How to avoid it? “We must face the painful reality that they need a viable path to a future where sanctions are eased and NATO troops are not stationed in Ukraine to keep it (Russia) safe,” the expert suggests.
Will Washington be able to come to terms with such a “painful” reality? George Beebe himself, with a similar balanced approach, stayed at the CIA at the head of the analysis department for Russia for only three years, in 2005-2007, and then was sent to work on open sources. Probably, weighted positions did not fit into the goal-setting of the system. And in today’s situation, such opinions have minimal weight.
The huge debt and internal contradictions in the US are forcing the world hegemon to use increasingly aggressive means to maintain an elusive status. Gaining control of Middle Eastern energy resources has cost nearly twenty years of wars in the region. But now it has come to more difficult tasks, such as taking away Russia’s energy markets and opportunities. The problem for the West is that the Russian army is no match for what the NATO military had to deal with in Iraq or Syria.
By the sum of two processes – Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and the economic war of the West against Russia – Russia and the world, together with it, have entered a period of profound transformation. The success of the “reboot” depends on whose system will last longer in crisis conditions and be able to successfully adapt to new formats.
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