It is being endlessly repeated: “Russia must be dissuaded from invading Ukraine”. “Russia must understand that there will be serious consequences if it invades Ukraine”. “The G7 must warn Russia of the consequences of invading Ukraine”, “The UK is urging other countries to join a united front against a Russian invasion of Ukraine”, “An invasion is expected in January, intelligence reports”.
The last one is telling – as the “intelligence” referred to seems to be Ukrainian intelligence – which, objectively speaking, is just as likely to be playing information games as offering disinterested analysis.
Is Russia really preparing to invade Ukraine? This is extremely unlikely. Why on earth would Russia want to invade Ukraine? They would have to occupy a country where millions, in the West and centre, more or less despise them. There would be no economic benefit – the economy of Ukraine is far behind that of Russia. It would be impossible to manage; they would have a partisan war on their hands (with the partisans supplied by the West with the latest weapons). It would be insane. Furthermore; I think there is zero demand in Russia for a Russian invasion of Ukraine – people would be bewildered. This of course contrasts with the annexation of Crimea after a popular vote and Russian support for the rebel regions in Donbass – both of which were/are hugely popular actions in Russia, and with all generations.
Russia has said that if Kiev tosses out the Minsk agreements which they signed up to and tries to retake Donbass militarily they will intervene militarily to defend the people in this region (many of whom are now of course Russian citizens since Russia started giving out citizenship to these people in April 2019). Ukraine as a country is split; it is true that people in the West and centre prefer a “European future”. It is equally true that people in the East tend more to look to Russia and identify with Russia. The forces on the border are there to protect these people (and arguably Russian prestige).
The Western political classes and media sing as always with one united voice. The media, at least 90% of it, simply voices the same narratives as the politicians. Indeed it is hard to know where the insanity starts; with the media or the politicians. Even “intelligence” seems to be infected and to believe delusionary narratives rather than providing objective analysis. For example; don’t they even have people in Russia whose job it is to read the public mood? If they did they would know what I have said above; the Russian population would be bewildered if Russia “invaded” Ukraine.
Russia is not an expansionist power. Russia is in defensive mode. Crimea is full of ethnic Russians, and has a key strategic naval base. Taking Crimea after an illegal coup in Kiev was not expansionist; it was defensive. Support for South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the 2008 war with Georgia can be interpreted as preventing Georgian expansion; at any event these are small enclaves on the border and can hardly be seen as Russia being expansionist; (the combined population of the two regions is about 300,000). It is inevitable that after the collapse of the USSR there should have been some disputed areas on the borders of now Russia. Where has Russia “expanded” to? Against whom has Russia “aggressed”? In all the supposed cases any historically-informed analysis shows us that they are in fact no more than Russia defending what it sees as its key interests – consolidating what it has; not expanding. We can add that Putin fully understands the limits of his military power; he claims it is sufficient to defend Russia but he knows Russia is not a world military power.
One problem seems to be that Western “intelligence” and NATO hold the delusion that Russia is “expansionist” and “aggressive”. Where have they got this from? Most likely it is a simple projection of their own aggression and imperialism.
Back to Ukraine and Donbass. It is likely (as I said in a previous post) that Kiev is trying to prepare the ground for an action against Donbass – and they can then present a Russian intervention to protect the people of Donbass as a “Russian invasion”. The headlines in the West should be screaming “Ukraine must not attack Donbass” not “Russia must not invade Ukraine”.
Final note; the Western media is increasingly going along with the increasingly blatant attempts by Kiev to wriggle out of the Minsk agreements which they signed up to and which were co-signed by France and Germany. The Minsk agreements foresee substantial autonomy for Donbass – the only viable solution to this conflict. This is an example in the Guardian: “the crisis is at its worst since 2015, when Moscow staged a large-scale incursion into Ukraine, clandestinely sending tanks and artillery to encircle Ukrainian troops and compelling Kyiv to sign a peace agreement in Minsk”. (The extent of Russian military support is not clear and is certainly not established in the way that Roth claims, though in reality it seems likely that there was some direct military support as the battlefield situation did suddenly turn in favour of the rebels). At any event; Kiev signed up to Minsk and it was backed by France, Germany and the OSCE. So; that is the deal. If not Minsk (i.e. autonomy for the disputed regions) then what? What does Roth suggest? As far as I can see the only alternative is war in Europe.