Dear Readers, This is my quarterly call for your support. You can read it here: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2023/03/05/as-truth-declines-so-do-we-all/
Does the Kremlin Desire the Conflict in Ukraine to Spin Out of Control?
Paul Craig Roberts
As I have explained correctly in a number of articles, there was NO RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE. It was, as Putin said, an operation limited to ejecting Ukrainian and neo-Nazi forces out of Donbass, historically, like Crimea, a part of Russia herself and populated with ethnic Russians. These historically Russian territories were transferred for political and administrative reasons from Russia to Ukraine by Soviet officials. As Ukraine itself was historically part of Russia for centuries, and as both were part of the USSR along with Georgia and Central Asia, the transfer was understood as adjustment of state boundaries as in the US within the same country. Ukraine did not exist as an independent country until about 30 years ago when the USSR was broken up. So the claim that Donbass and Crimea are part of Ukraine has been true for about 30 years, whereas they have been a part of Russia along with Ukraine for centuries.
Putin had no choice. The Minsk Agreement that he had devised, to which Ukraine agreed and Germany and France agreed to enforce, kept Donbass in Ukraine and gave the people semi-autonomy in order to protect them from abuse by Ukraine. Both the German and French leaders who signed the agreement recently admitted that they used the Minsk Agreement to deceive Putin while the US and NATO built and equipped a large Ukrainian army capable of conquering the two self-declared independent republics in Donbass. When Putin saw the large Ukrainian armed force ready to invade Donbass, part of which was already occupied by Ukrainian armed forces and neo-Nazi militias, he realized that he had been deceived by the West and had no other option but force to protect the Donbass Russians.
Eviction of Ukraine military forces from Donbass was his only aim.
This eviction has depended not on the Russian Army but on a private para-military force known as the Wagner Group and on the militias of the two Donbass independent republics. Belatedly, Putin mobilized some Russian Army forces, but has not committed them to the conflict. Instead, he continues to rely on the Wagner Group and Donbass militias to evict the US/NATO trained and equipped Ukrainians forces.
As I have made clear in many columns, Putin’s approach was a military blunder. He played completely into Washington’s hands. As the fighting is in territory occupied by ethnic Russian people, Putin handicapped his limited forces with strict rules against the use of highly destructive weapons in civilian areas. The consequence has been a war that is a slow step-by-step process. No Blitzkrieg. Russian restraint has been misinterpreted by the West as Russian inability.
The consequence of this and Putin’s go-slow-war is that Putin gave Washington/NATO confidence and enormous time to get involved in the conflict to Russia’s disadvantage. Ukrainians now have more effective and longer range weapons, intelligence on Russian positions, and targeting information on Russian positions. Considering the incremental ways Washington gets into wars, boots on the ground will eventually result.
Recently, the power behind the Washington War Scene, neoconservative hate-Russia-at-all-cost Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary of State, has committed Washington to the liberation of Crimea. This seems impossible. The Ukrainians would have to break through the Russian forces in southern Ukraine in order to reach Crimea, the site of the Russian Black Sea Naval Base. The Kremlin would never accept the loss of their warm water port even if it meant nuclear war.
In other words, Washington is insane. Nuland’s words demonstrate the insanity — “We will support Ukraine for as long as it takes. Ukraine is fighting for the return of all of its land within its international borders. We are supporting them, including in preparing a next hard push to regain their territory…Crimea must be—at a minimum, at a minimum—demilitarized.”
Demilitarized is short-hand for no Black Sea Russian Naval Base.
Insouciant American policymakers and clearly the insane Nuland do not recognize that their arrogant hubris is a declaration of nuclear war.
The Asian Times believes that Nuland has won the argument. The Biden regime has announced a new long-range weapons program for Ukraine, is sending mobile bridging equipment that is only useful for a Ukrainian offensive against Russian forces in Crimea, and is reconsidering the ban of F-16s for Ukraine. Thus the conflict is spinning out of control. https://asiatimes.com/2023/03/a-coming-wider-war-with-crimea-in-us-sights/
Still Putin sits on his butt, doing nothing. Is Putin going to wait until the entire armaments of the West are in Ukraine to be used to kill Russians?
What is preventing Putin from using sufficient force to end this conflict before it spins into nuclear war? Does Putin want the nuclear war that will result from the continuation of the conflict? Why does Putin refuse to use the conventional force that would quickly end the conflict?