Tremors in the West
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 28 Jan , 2023

An article in The Economist on May 25, 2017 talked of Ukraine fighting two wars; with Russia in the East and with its core – battling endemic corruption. The level of corruption has shot up exponentially with western aid, weaponry and equipment pouring in since the launch of Russia’s special operations in February 2022. There have been many write-ups about this as well as individual accounts by foreigners going to Ukraine.

With corruption oozing from all pores of Ukraine for the past several years, the sudden anti-corruption drive by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy may have other motives as well. Notwithstanding the western propaganda that Ukraine is winning the war, the reverses suffered by Ukraine indicate that dissent is simmering in Kiev against Zelenskyy who is prostituting geopolitically ( to serve American interests; offering Ukrainian blood and destroying his own country.      

Zelenskyy may be fearing assassination attempts although the West has ensured his foolproof security with Special Forces, mercenaries and the neo-Nazi Azov troops. Zelenskyy is also stomping out dissent under the garb of corruption – same as Chinese President Xi Jinping. Interestingly, Zelenskyy wrote a letter to Xi inviting him for talks; his letter was handed over to the Chinese delegation at Davos during the World Economic Forum in January 2023.  

Americans hailed Zelenskyy as a hero being the best find in the decade serving US interests. He was promised every possible help including Patriot missile systems even as the suited-booted POTUS Joe Biden rushed across the red carpet to hug Zelenskyy wearing fatigues. Biden signed another $2.5 billion worth weapons package for Kiev while Zelenskyy pleaded for more  advanced weaponry.

Back from the US, Zelenskyy was gung ho in saying no talks would be held with Russia till Russian troops vacate all Ukrainian territory. He also boasted that thousands of Russian forces, tanks, drones and aircraft have been destroyed while Russia is  engaged in killing civilians. The US egged him on by saying Ukraine has every right to attack Crimea while ignoring torture and serious human rights violations by Ukrainian troops. The 36-hour ceasefire announced by Russia during Christmas was pooh-poohed by Zelenskyy and his mentors in Washington.

The war was supposed to cow down Moscow but that did not happen. In fact, Russian preparations for a fresh offensive appear to have rattled the West amid all the propaganda that Russia is losing the war. Indications of this came in early January with Hans-Lothar Domröse, veteran NATO General, saying that negotiations between Russia and Ukraine will begin in spring (between February and May) with both realizing the futility of continuing hostilities. This was despite Zelenskyy’s vehemence that there would be no talks with Russia.

The US is now using all possible means to keep Europe leashed. Having disconnected gold holdings from currency, the US has no problem printing any amount of currency. Despite the external debt of over $31 trillion, the Biden administration wants the US Congress to waive off all limits to print more. But European countries don’t have this luxury.  Being an American pooch, Britain is going all out to arm Ukraine. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to send Challenger 2 tanks and artillery to Ukraine, while his predecessor Boris Johnson is again in Kiev – self-appointed emissary of Biden?

The US is sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine after training Ukrainian to operate them – or American mercenaries in Ukrainian uniforms? French President Emmanuel Macron who was for ceasefire talks with Russia has been bamboozled on the plank of NATO-EU unity for agreeing to send French Leclerc tanks to Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has similarly been persuaded to allow Poland to supply German-origin Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, as well as Germany supplying Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Scholz was not for supplying these tanks to Ukraine fearing  direct clash with Russia. Moreover, he knows how Hitler’s 19 Panzer Divisions and three million troops were annihilated by the Russian. According to Rheinmetall, supply of new Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine is only possible in 2024. So, would need to transfer these tanks from the ill-equipped German army. Poland is transferring 14 x Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine on immediate basis.  

The US can hardly dare to use Abrams in direct conflict with either Russia or China as such a conflict would escalate beyond control. Russia anyway says supply of western tanks to Ukraine means direct involvement of the US-NATO in the war. Russia has said these tanks will burn similar to the tanks already with Ukraine. According to specialists, unless these modern tanks are supplied in hundreds, say 400-500, it would not make much difference. An American worry would also be timing of the fresh Russian offensive and how many modern talks it can supply to Kiev over the next 3-4 months. Zelenskyy meanwhile is screaming his head off for supply of advanced fighter jets from the US-NATO.  

A recent significant development is US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken detailing David Ignatius of the US State Department to convey an urgent message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the UN Security Council, and the General Staff in Moscow. This is an offer for a tradeoff – a demilitarized zone (DMZ) in the east of Ukraine in exchange for a halt to the planned Russian offensive. The US has reportedly offered Russia territorial concessions to include Crimea, Donbas, and Zaporozhe-Kherson land bridge connecting Russia with Crimea.

Above is America’s first admission that Russia is winning the war – opposite to Western-Ukrainian year-long propaganda. It is also the first time that the US has talked of a DMZ. The US has reportedly also agreed to “restrict” the deployment of HIMARS, US-NATO infantry fighting vehicles, Abrams and Leopard tanks in Ukraine. The “restrict” is not amplified and perhaps is linked to the inability to keep up supplies of these weapon platforms and ammunition to match the rate at which they are being destroyed by Russian forces.

The US proposal is ambiguous about the following:

•  Does the Donbas mentioned conform to the “original” Donbas region that Russia demands. 

•  What does the DMZ “East of Ukraine” mean? Will it include parts of Donbas/Russia? Why is it required if Donbas is acknowledged as independent entities of LPR and DPR, and Crimea part of Russia?

•  Who is to man the DMZ – US-NATO? If at all a DMZ is agreed, why not manned by nations other than US-NATO-EU-Russia?

•  What about NATO membership to Ukraine, Sweden and Finland and deploying NATO missile systems in these countries?

On face value, above proposals appears an attempt to delay the Russian offensive. The sincerity of the US is also questionable after it went back on its promise made at the time of breakup of the Soviet Union that NATO will nto expand further. Blinken failed as Biden’s emissary to Saudi Arabia to get more oil. Whether he will succeed in this mission is questionable looking at the ambiguities in the proposal. It looks more of an attempt to buy time with control of the House of Representatives gone to the GoP, confidential documents found on the premises of Biden, and inquiry initiated of America’s chaotic rout from Afghanistan under Biden[ handing over Afghanistan to the Taliban and abandoning $92 billion worth of weapons and military equipment.

Russia has been strengthening its positions at the frontline which includes locations in the vicinity of Melitopol and Mariupol, which would complicate any counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces. Moreover, anticipating that any attacks on Crimea would be responded to by Russia attacking Odessa, the UN has been persuaded to declare Odessa as a World Heritage Site – as if that would matter in war. 

The West has indulged in geostrategic skullduggery since ages. Archival documents declassified by the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) of the Russian Federation, England, with the support of France, intended to lay responsibility for the outbreak of World War II on the USSR. London, Paris and Warsaw planned to “get out of the water”, making the Soviet Union scapegoat for the tragic events that escalated into a global conflict of the 20th century. The document included information about publication of a  ‘Blue Book’ of the Anglo-Soviet negotiations of 1939, consisting  carefully selected falsified documents designed to prove to the world that England was negotiating honestly with the Soviet Union. Eventually publication of the ‘Blue Book’ was dropped.

Finally, the Biden Administration would be closely weighing how its proxy war in Ukraine would affect the US presidential elections next year. Given its past history, it is questionable whether the US seriously and earnestly wants peace in Ukraine.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army.

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