The Russian is clever, but always too late.Russian Proverb
The Russian will never be able to dispense with the German.”Otto von Bismarck
In the Russian-occupied oblasts of Ukraine, the voting is over. According to Russian officials, 95 percent of the voters want to be Russian. It seems that the people of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk loved being invaded by Russia so much, they want to be annexed as well. It hardly matters that most of these people are non-Russian. The benefits of Russian citizenship are so appealing and so chocolate-filled, they could not resist. Everyone in Southwest Ukraine just loved how the Russians flattened the city of Mariupol. They admired so much the Russian artillerymen who attacked hospitals and apartment buildings. And the biggest bonus of all: A real KGB-man is now their president, instead of that Jewish comedian in Kiev.
Of course, the evil G7 has condemned this Russian exercise in democracy. “We will never recognize these referenda which appear to be a step toward Russian annexation….” On Friday Russia annexed Southwest Ukraine, which President Putin put into context as follows: “In 1991, at Belovezh Forest, without asking the will of the common citizens, representatives of the then-party elites decided to destroy the USSR, and people suddenly found themselves cut off from their motherland. This tore apart and dismembered our nation….”
In this strange post-Soviet game of peek-a-boo, Putin told his audience that the leaders of the USSR “did not fully realize what they were doing [in 1991], and what consequences this would inevitably lead to in the end.”
Yes. They did not realize that Ukraine would break free of Moscow’s control and attempt to chart its own course. Seeing the emergence of real Ukrainian democracy in 2014, the Kremlin annexed Crimea and invaded Donbas. But that was not enough because Ukraine was growing stronger, more confident, more independent by the day. So a larger invasion became necessary. But that invasion miscarried. And now, after further battles, Ukraine’s forces are advancing and retaking conquered territory. How could this be stopped? The answer was fake referenda and annexation. Make the conquered territory Russian territory and threaten anyone who would liberate it. In keeping with this plan, Putin said, “I want the Kiev authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me, so they remember this. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever!”
How grandiose, how absurd, how brutal. You invade a country, you kill its people by the tens of thousands, you knock down large cities, you hold a fake referenda, and you declare the victims of this aggression to be yours “forever”! “We will never abandon them,” Putin said. And in his next breath, he added, “We call on the Kiev regime to immediately end hostilities, end the war they have unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table.”
To justify his cause, Putin cleverly referred to an apparent attack on Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline. The pipeline has not delivered gas to Germany since 31 August; yet “multiple ruptures” in the NS1 and NS2 pipelines were reported on 26 September as likely acts of sabotage. All of this was made to order for the annexation of Southwest Ukraine. Putin framed the incident as follows: “Sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons. They moved on to sabotage. It is hard to believe but it is a fact that they organized the blasts on the Nord Stream international gas pipelines, which run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea…. It is clear to everyone who benefits from this.”
Having accused the British and Americans of attacking the pipeline, Putin then mocked a rules-backed international order. “Has anyone seen these rules? Who agreed to them?”
Putin claims he is fighting a larger war. It is a war against NATO. It is a war against America. Therefore, he must raise more troops. Last week Putin ordered a “partial” mobilization of 300,000 reservists. The actual mobilization, however, is said to be much larger than this. Some experts are saying that 1.2 million men are being mobilized in Russia, including one million first-time conscripts. This was not supposed to be necessary for a Russian victory in Ukraine. This leads to some uncomfortable questions: what if Russia is using the Ukraine War to prepare for world war? What if the real target of these mobilizations is the United States? Taking a larger strategic view, what do we make of China’s mobilization, referred to by officials in Guangdong Province as “the transition from normal to war”?
It is a neat trick that Russia and China are mobilizing and threatening war at the same time. It is another neat trick that Russia is engaged in a massive mobilization while NATO does not mobilize at all. Since mobilization is war, what could NATO be thinking? There appears to be a larger plan at work, but nobody seems to see it. What if Russia mobilizes another 1.2 million in December? What if the process is repeated in March of 2023?
I fear that a psychological pattern is being established. Russia appears to focus its aggression on Ukraine as China focuses its aggression on Taiwan. Yet the military resources now being mobilized are growing out of proportion if we are talking only of regional objectives. What if global dominance is the goal? In fact, Putin talked about this as recently as last July 20 when he said that the current world order is finished. “Revolutionary transformations are increasingly gaining momentum and strength,” he explained, echoing one of Lenin’s mantras. “These tremendous changes are certainly irreversible. And both at the national and global levels, the foundations and principles of a harmonious, more equitable, socially oriented and secure world order are being developed….”[i]
Speaking at a Russian business forum, Putin said that a new historical epoch is approaching. It is the West that is totalitarian, he added, not Russia. It is the West that is racist and neo-colonial, not Russia. And then, last week, announcing Russia’s mobilization, Putin offered the following threat: “I am not bluffing.” He says he will use every and any means at his disposal to defend Russia. But why would anyone attack Russia? He is the one who launched an invasion! And we might ask ourselves what kind person says they are not bluffing? Is it a person who is actually threatening nuclear war?
And why do Russian officials keep threatening nuclear war? Why is Ukraine so important? UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered an explanation back in March when he said that Putin does not believe Ukraine is joining NATO anytime soon. According to Johnson, “He knew perfectly well there was no plan to put missiles on Ukrainian soil. He didn’t really believe the semi-mystical guff he wrote about the origins of the Russian people – that he read in Nostradamus Meets Russian Wikipedia.” None of the reasons for the war, given by the Russian side, are credible. According to Johnson, Putin was “frightened of Ukraine because in Ukraine they have a free press. And in Ukraine they have free elections. And with every year that Ukraine progressed – not always easily – towards freedom and democracy and open markets, he feared the Ukrainian example and he feared the implicit reproach to himself, because in Russia you get jailed for fifteen years just for calling an invasion an invasion. And if you stand against Putin in an election, you get poisoned or shot.”[ii]
Putin’s supporters in the West object when Russia is compared with Nazi Germany. But then, why don’t these same people object when Putin and his lackeys call Ukraine a “neo-Nazi regime,” or accuse the West of following in Hitler’s footsteps?[iii] Who is the real Nazi here? Isn’t it the country that invades other countries, intending to keep their territory “forever”? And yet, incredibly, some people in America believe that Ukraine is the country run by Nazis. Oh yes, a neo-Nazi regime led by a Jewish comedian! What kind of demented halfwit formulated Russia’s propaganda line in this regard? The big bad Russian wolf is threatening to blow down the little piggy’s house because it is a Nazi house. All the huffing and puffing is laughable. Yet the Russian people are subjected to this huffing and puffing, day and night – a constant drumbeat of nonsense.
But there is more to this. Ukraine is not the only free country that frightens Putin. America frightens Putin, and NATO frightens Putin. A fight against America, at the very least, would be a nuclear fight. It would involve massive mobilizations. Russian expert Fiona Hill, in a recent interview, said that Russia may be raising a million men. Why so many? Add to this another oddity: China is also mobilizing for war.
When Ukraine was first invaded the Kremlin predicted victory, promising that mobilizations would not be necessary. But now we see that Russia’s victory is in doubt, and mobilizations are needed after all. In the aftermath of Ukraine’s recent victory in the north, Russian authorities are so desperate for warm bodies they are mobilizing elderly and disabled persons. There are even reports of youth under 18 being conscripted and fathers with dependent children taken for service. Such mobilizations/conscriptions are supposedly against the rules; but Russia is a country where the government routinely breaks the rules. Moscow will not even honor its contracts with Wagner Group mercenaries. If the initial contract has expired, too bad. Mercenaries are required to stay at the front without a contract. In fact, the wives and children of mercenaries are not allowed to discuss the death of a loved one. If they do, they could lose their benefits.
In terms of equipment, we are told that new Russian recruits are being given old and rusty weapons. Those being mobilized are asked to supply their own sleeping bags, bandages, and medicines. Conscript training centers do not have sufficient housing and bedding for the incoming conscripts. If the soldiers at the front are inadequately supplied, conscripts and reservists can expect even less support. In the last analysis, nobody wants to serve in an army that does not take care of its soldiers.
The Soviet system seems to be alive and well in Russia. We see the whole mechanism lurching forward, one fiasco after another. And now we see resistance beginning, here and there. Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has welcomed Russians fleeing mobilization/conscription. “Most of them are forced to leave because of the hopeless situation,” said Tokayev. “We must take care of them.” This turnabout is unexpected insofar as Tokayev is one of Putin’s chief allies in Central Asia. In fact, last January Russian troops were used to suppress domestic unrest in Kazakhstan. Tokayev had asked for the help. So, what happened to his gratitude? Is the Kazakh president’s sympathy for Russians evading military service sincere? Or has he made this statement to placate the people of his country, who might begin an uprising against him when Russia is no longer able to sustain him?[iv]
Even more remarkable, according to Roman Petrenko, some Russian military personnel deployed to Kazakhstan in January have refused redeployment to Ukraine.[v] The excuse is given that they lack air transport. Is this a charade, or can we give it credit? Surely the Russian government would send transports to take them back. How could they possibly refuse an order? In a story from Tallinn, Estonia we read, “About 98,000 Russians have crossed into Kazakhstan in the week since President Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilization of reservists to fight in Ukraine, Kazak officials said Tuesday, as men seeking to avoid the call-up continued to flee by land and air into neighboring countries.”[vi]
One may not trust one’s own eyes, seeing the disloyalty of Putin’s manpower reserve and the apparent treachery of his Central Asian friends. We scratch our heads. Can this be happening? A war of deception, by Russia, has been waged against the West for many years. We were told, indeed, that Russia had become a democracy. We were told that Russia had become a capitalist country. We were even told that Putin is a Christian and a nationalist; but now everything is turned on its head. Putin and his Soviet rump regime appear incapable, weak. Perhaps the regime is doomed. And yet, only a few weeks ago Putin was bragging about the Revolution that is coming.
Putin’s mobilization order has caused many Russian men to book airline flights abroad. Border crossings into Finland and other countries have been jammed with men trying to escape. In response, Russian border security has been tightened, flights have been canceled, and Russian men have been threatened with long prison sentences. How long will the Russian public tolerate the lies and the brutality of their government? Can the secret police, and the riot police, keep the population from rising up?
Meanwhile, protests broke out in Russia’s cities with hundreds taken into custody. A revolt has been reported in Dagestan involving 300 deaths. Muslim men feel unfairly targeted for conscription. At the same time there are indications that the whole Caucasus region has lost all respect for Russian power. Chechnya is withholding troops from the front, Georgia may be preparing to retake territory lost to Russia in the 2008 war, and Armenia no longer sees Russia as a reliable protector against the Turks and Azeris.
For Putin, the situation now goes from bad to worse. There are now anarchist partisans at work in Russia, damaging rail lines and throwing Molotov cocktails at government buildings. Sky News is reporting the shooting of a Russian conscription officer in Irkutsk.[vii] In addition, Molotov cocktails were thrown at a conscription center in Uryupinsk.
With Russian morale falling, there are reports of conscripts being sent to front line units without training. We are being offered a peculiar picture of Russian incapacity. Is that picture to be trusted? Where are all the weapons Russia has been building under Putin’s administration? We are told they aren’t there. But is this really true? An American traveler in Russia recently said that Russia is a giant armed camp. Russia’s arsenal is massive, he added. “I have seen it myself.”
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See also, Jeff’s books on Amazon.com — The Fool and His Enemy and….