Has WWIII Begun? What the U.S. Corporate Media is not Reporting about Russia’s Annexation of Ukraine RegionsMon 11:00 am Europe/London, 3 Oct 2022
by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
If one is only getting their “news” about the current war in Ukraine from the United States Corporate Media, they are getting a very slanted view which basically states that Russia is in trouble and is losing the war, and is getting desperate.
Someone who does not take the time to read Russia’s perspective from their English news sources, as well as other perspectives from both western and non-western sources that disagree, may be totally unprepared for what is about to happen next.
The recent referendum votes and the “annexation” of certain regions in Ukraine by Russia, an action that is almost the same move Russia took on previous Ukraine regions that started the war back in February this year, is a perfect example of how the U.S. media is reporting this move, and how Russia and others are saying things that are very different.
Since this affects us all, it is prudent that we look at both sides of this issue, because the non-U.S. Corporate Media sources are almost all saying that Russia clearly has the upper hand over Ukraine, and that they are about to start the next phase of this war that some are claiming is the beginning of WWIII.
But before we look at what is being reported about these new regions of Ukraine that are now being claimed by Russia, I strongly advise the reader to look at the opposing view of what the real purpose of this conflict in the Ukraine is in our previous coverage of an alleged leaked document that came from the RAND Corporation, a U.S. military think tank organization. See:
SMOKING GUN! Alleged RAND Corporation Leaked Document Written BEFORE Ukraine War Shows U.S. Planned the European Energy Crisis and Economic Collapse to Save the U.S. Economy
Here are some excerpts from what CBS News reported about the most recent Russia move, which is typical of what other U.S. Corporate news reported:
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties Friday to annex occupied Ukrainian territory, a move the West has blasted as an illegal land-grab.
Putin vowed to protect newly annexed regions of Ukraine by “all available means,” a renewed threat he made at a Kremlin signing ceremony where he also railed furiously against the West, accusing the United States and its allies of seeking Russia’s destruction.
Global leaders, including those from the Group of Seven leading economies, responded with an avalanche of condemnation, and the U.S. and the U.K. announced more sanctions.
Let’s start with these three “facts” and see how others reported them.
1. This was an action that “the West has blasted as an illegal land grab.”
Which legal system in “the West” is the article referring to in calling this “illegal”? It is not clear, but I think most Americans would agree that the U.S. Constitution and legal system does not extend to Ukraine.
Here is what RT.com reported yesterday:
The treaties on the accession of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, to Russia are in full accordance with the constitution, the country’s top court ruled on Sunday.
The Russian Constitutional Court separately examined the four treaties after they were signed by President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
The next step is for the documents to be ratified by both houses of parliament. The lower house, the State Duma, plans to vote on ratification on Monday.
The DPR and LPR broke off from Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions declared independence from Ukraine after they were seized by Russian troops during Moscow’s military operation in the neighboring country, which was launched in February.
The four territories voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining Russia in referendums held between September 23 and 27.
Kiev along with Western countries consider the accession illegal and have vowed not to recognize it.
So at least from Russia’s perspective, this action was done within “full accordance” of their constitution, according to their land’s highest court.
2. Putin “railed furiously against the West, accusing the United States and its allies of seeking Russia’s destruction.”
What exactly does this mean? It seems to imply that Putin is afraid of the U.S. destroying Russia militarily.
But take some time to actually read what Putin said about “the West.” This is from “Mirage News” but you can find the translation of his speech in many other places too.
Putin: Western society ‘satanic’ with ‘various genders’
Russian President Vladimir Putin in a major speech on Friday denounced the Western society as “outright Satanism” with “various supposed genders”.
He said the West had turned away from “traditional” and “religious” values, asking the audience if they wanted their “children to be offered sex-change operations,” which he later said is common in the West.
“Let’s answer some very simple questions for ourselves. I now want to return to what I said, I want to address all the citizens of the country – not only to those colleagues who are in the hall – to all the citizens of Russia: do we want to have, here, in our country, in Russia, parent number one, number two, number three instead of mom and dad – have they gone made out there? Do we really want perversions that lead to degradation and extinction to be imposed on children in our schools from the primary grades? To be drummed into them that there are various supposed genders besides women and men, and to be offered a sex change operation? Do we want all this for our country and our children? For us, all this is unacceptable, we have a different future, our own future,” the Russian leader said.
“Such a complete denial of man, the overthrow of faith and traditional values, the suppression of freedom acquiring the features of a “reverse religion” [the opposite of what the religion is] – outright Satanism. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ, denouncing the false prophets, says: By their fruits you shall know them. And these poisonous fruits are already obvious to people – not only in our country, in all countries, including many people in the West itself,” Putin said.
The full text of Putin’s speech is available here.
He was speaking at a ceremony to annex four regions of Ukraine following a series of votes Kyiv and the West have denounced as illegal, sham referendums. Putin said Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia would be merged into Russia.
It’s hardly surprising that the mostly liberal U.S. Corporate Media did not report this, because they probably knew full well that very many Americans would actually agree with Putin on these points about cultural moral values.
3. “Global leaders, including those from the Group of Seven leading economies, responded with an avalanche of condemnation.”
This seems to imply that almost every other nation in the world condemned Russia’s move. But the full story excludes the most populous countries in the world who did not condemn Russia.
From ZeroHedge News:
India, China, Brazil Abstain From UN Vote Condemning Russian Annexation
Russia on Friday vetoed a Western bid to condemn its annexations of four occupied Ukrainian regions following controversial referendums – and while this move was expected from the Kremlin, China, India, Brazil and Gabon abstained.
But the biggest discrepancies, by far, between what the U.S. Corporate Media has been reporting, and what many others have been reporting, is regarding who has the upper hand in the actual military battles, where the Western Media has continually portrayed Russia as weak and losing the war, although cracks are starting to appear even in the U.S. Corporate Media in this regard.
Here is a recent report from RT.com that actually quotes the U.S. Corporate Media, CNBC, that suggests Ukraine may soon run out of supplies from the U.S.
Washington may not be able to support Ukraine in the conflict against Russia “for as long as it takes” due to a shortage of the industrial capacity needed to replenish munitions and weapons it sends to Kiev, CNBC reported on Wednesday, citing military analysts.
“There is a point where… the Ukrainians will need to be cautious about their rate of expenditure and where they prioritize those munitions, because there isn’t an infinite supply,” Jack Watling, an expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, was quoted by the news network as saying.
The problem reportedly stems from the structure of military production in Western nations, particularly the United States, which was tailored for peacetime and cannot sustain a protracted draw on stockpiles during a major armed conflict, such as the one in Ukraine.
For instance, according to CNBC, the US arms industry can produce about 30,000 rounds per year for 155mm howitzers. The Ukrainian military consumes that amount in about two weeks. Another example cited is the Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile. US production of the weapon stands at around 800 units per year, but Washington has sent some 8,500 of them to Ukraine.
Reserves of HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and M777 howitzers are running low in the US, the article said, citing a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Defense officials in the US and other Western nations which are arming Ukraine, object to the draining of stockpiles intended for their own training and readiness.
“I’m greatly concerned. Unless we have new production, which takes months to ramp up, we’re not going to have the ability to supply the Ukrainians,” Dave Des Roches, a senior military fellow at the US National Defense University, told CNBC.
According to CNBC, ramping up military production requires securing additional sources of essential parts such as computer chips and skilled labor, which may prove challenging.
For example, US defense contractor L3Harris Technologies bought back and cannibalized its own old radios to get components for new products, Defense News reported last week. The move was necessary to meet customer demand amid the global semiconductor crunch, the outlet explained.
CNBC suggested that Kiev may turn to new suppliers of weapons, such as South Korea, or have to switch to less capable arms that the US and its European allies would be willing to share. (Source.)
What about the reported threats of “nuclear strikes” that are frequently mentioned in the U.S. Corporate media? Are these doomsday scenarios used to create fear against Russia realistically possible?
Maybe. In times of war, anything is possible.
But here is what the former Russian president and current Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev actually said recently:
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday said he doesn’t believe the US and NATO would intervene if Russia launched a nuclear strike in Ukraine over fears of a “nuclear apocalypse” despite recent comments from US officials.
Medvedev, a former Russian president, also reiterated that Moscow believes it has the right to use nuclear weapons if Russia’s existence is threatened.
“Let’s imagine that Russia is forced to use its most formidable weapons against the Ukrainian regime, which has committed a large-scale act of aggression that is endangering the very existence of our state. I believe that NATO will not directly interfere in the conflict even in this scenario,” Medvedev wrote on Telegram.
The former Russian president said that the supplying of weapons to Ukraine was just a “business” for the Western powers and that their security is much more important than “the fate of a dying Ukraine.”
He said US and European “demagogues are not going to die in a nuclear apocalypse. That is why they will swallow the use of any weapon in the current conflict.”
Addressing the recent warnings from Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials, Medvedev said Moscow’s position on nuclear weapons is “not a bluff.”
Putin warned last week that Russia could use nuclear weapons to defend its “territorial integrity,” and Russian territory is set to expand into Ukraine. (Source.)
Many people in Europe now seem much more aware of opposing views on the Ukraine war, and are beginning to ask the question: “Is saving Ukraine really worth destroying our own economy and livelihood?”
One has to wonder if Americans will ever wake up and start asking the same thing, and if they will start questioning the U.S. Corporate Media and Big Tech propaganda, which has now crippled and killed so many in the U.S. due to censorship of how dangerous the COVID-19 vaccines are.
The Biden Administration continues to send $BILLIONS in military aid to Ukraine, while not addressing the needs of its own citizens, such as telling its own military members to apply for food stamps to fight inflation.
Infowars.com published a great article recently explaining “Why Nobody Wants to Join the Military.”
It is certainly not my intention from anything I have written here to imply that I am taking a pro-Russia side to the war in Ukraine.
I am not.
I am anti-Corporate Media and anti-Big Tech and their criminal actions that deprive Americans of the truth, which has led to many being crippled and killed by the actions of Big Pharma and Globalists who run this country.
If they are purposely hiding the truth and publishing false news about the war in Ukraine, then we need to ask: Why?
I will close this article by republishing a commentary written by someone who apparently goes by the pen-name of “Big Serge.” It was picked up by ZeroHedge News today, and the only information he reveals about himself on Substack is:
But first, I will indulge in a brief paragraph about myself.
I am a luddite by nature and have never had any sort of social media presence. However, when the Russo-Ukrainian War began in February, I was alarmed by the amateurish, even clownish levels of analysis that were being amplified by the typical establishment channels.
Public figures that contravened the collective wisdom, like Colonel Douglas MacGregor or Scott Ritter, were largely ignored. It seemed to me that the public was being memed into believing a story about cartoonish Russian incompetence, while what I saw was a lethal and locked-in Russian military waging an intelligent war. I will freely confess to having Russophilic tendencies, like many American Orthodox Christians.
However, I will also bluntly say that when you’ve read as much military history as I have, you begin to see things a certain way – perhaps this is bragging, but I don’t think so. I don’t claim to be smarter than anybody else; I did spend the last fifteen years extensively reading in subjects that gave me a strong base of knowledge for the current moment, but it seems to me that I simply got lucky picking a hobby that would one day be so relevant.
In other words, he actually reads and researches rather than believing what the Corporate Media is saying, and I found his analysis of the current situation and what Russia might do next more credible than anything coming out of the Corporate Media right now.
He has answered the question I posed in the headline today in the affirmative: Yes, WWIII has begun.
Here is the article he published a few days ago.
The War Has Just Begun
I have been attempting for several days to collect my thoughts on the Russo-Ukrainian War and condense them into another analysis piece, but my efforts were consistently frustrated by the war’s stubborn refusal to sit still. After a slow, attritional grind for much of the summer, events have begun to accelerate, calling to mind a famous quip from Vladimir Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”
This has been one of those weeks. It began with the commencement of referenda in four former Ukrainian oblasts to determine whether or not to join the Russian Federation, accompanied by Putin’s announcement that reservists would be called up to augment the force deployment in Ukraine. Further excitement bubbled up from the Baltic seabed with the mysterious destruction of the Nordstream pipelines. Nuclear rumors circulate, and all the while the war on the ground continues.
In all, it is clear that we are currently in the transitional period towards a new phase of the war, with higher Russian force deployment, expanded rules of engagement, and greater intensity looming. Season 2 of the Special Military Operation looms, and with it the Winter of Yuri.
Let’s try to process all the developments of the past few weeks and get a handle on the trajectory in Ukraine.
The keystone event at the heart of recent escalation was the announcement of referenda in four regions (Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson) to determine the question of entry into the Russian Federation. The implication of course was that if the referenda succeeded (a question that was never in doubt), these regions would be annexed to Russia. While there were some rumors circulating that Russia would delay the annexation, this was never really plausible. To allow these regions to vote in favor of joining Russia only to leave them out in the cold would be monumentally unpopular and raise serious doubts about Russia’s commitment to its people in Ukraine.
Formal annexation is a certainty, if not on September 30th as rumored, then within the next week.
All of this is rather predictable, and completes the first layer of annexations which I noted in previous analysis. The reasoning is not particularly complex: clearing the Donbas and securing Crimea were the absolute minimum Russian objectives for the war, and securing Crimea requires both a land bridge with road and rail connections (Zaporizhia oblast) and controlling Crimea’s water sources (Kherson). These minimum objectives have now been formally designated, though of course Ukraine maintains some military activity on these territories and will have to be dislodged.
I think, however, that people lost focus as to what the referenda and the ensuing annexation means. Western talking points focused on the illegitimacy of the votes and the illegality of any annexation, but this is really not very interesting or important. The legitimacy of annexation is derived from whether or not Russian administration can succeed in these regions. Legitimacy, as such, is merely a question of efficacy of state power. Can the state protect, extract, and adjudicate?
In any case, what is far more interesting than the technicalities of the referenda is what the decision to annex these regions says about Russian intentions. Once these regions become formally annexed, they will be viewed by the Russian state as sovereign Russian territory, subject to protection with the full range of Russian capabilities, including (in the most dire and unlikely scenario) nuclear weapons. When Medvedev pointed this out, it was bizarrely spun as a “nuclear threat”, but what he was actually trying to communicate is that these four oblasts will become part of Russia’s minimum definition of state integrity – non-negotiables, in other words.
I think the best way to formulate it is as such:
Annexation confers a formal designation that a territory has been deemed existentially important to the Russian state, and will be contested as if the integrity of the nation and state is at risk.
Those fixating on the “legality” of the referenda (as if such a thing exists) and Medvedev’s supposed nuclear blackmail are missing this point. Russia is telling us where it currently draws the line for its absolute minimum peace conditions. It’s not walking away without at least these four oblasts, and it considers the full range of state capabilities to be in play to achieve that goal.
The move to hold referenda and eventually annex the southeastern rim was accompanied with Putin’s long-awaited announcement of a “partial mobilization”. Ostensibly, the initial order calls up just 300,000 men with previous military experience, but the door is left upon for further surges at the discretion of the president’s office. Implicitly, Putin can now ramp up the mobilization as he sees fit without needing to make further announcements or sign more paperwork. This is similar to American Lend-Lease or the “Authorization for Use of Military Force” in America, where the door is opened once and the President is then free to move at will without even informing the public.
It was increasingly clear that Russia needed to raise its force deployment. Ukraine’s successful drive to the Oskil River was made possible by Russian economy of force. The Russian army had completely hollowed out Kharkiv Oblast, leaving only a thin screening force of national guardsmen and LNR militia. In places where the Russian Army has chosen to deploy sizeable regular formations, the results have been disastrous for Ukraine – the infamous Kherson Counteroffensive turned into a shooting gallery for Russian artillery, with the Ukrainian Army haplessly funneling men into a hopeless bridgehead at Andriivka.
So far in this war, Ukraine has achieved two big successes retaking territory: first in the spring, around Kiev, and now the late summer recapture of Kharkov Oblast. In both cases, the Russians had preemptively hollowed out the sector. We have yet to see a successful Ukrainian offensive against the Russian Army in a defensive posture. The obvious solution, therefore, is to raise the force deployment so that it is no longer necessary to hollow out sections of the front.
The initial surge of 300,000 men is being a bit muddled. Not all of the men being called up will be sent to Ukraine. Many will remain in Russia on garrison duty so that existing ready formations can be rotated to Ukraine. Therefore, it is likely that we will see more Russian units arriving in theater much sooner than expected. Additionally, many of the units originally committed to Ukraine have been off the front for refitting and resting. The scale and pace of Russia’s new force generation is likely to shock people. On the whole, the timing of Russia’s manpower surge coincides with the depletion of Ukrainian capabilities.
Ukraine spent the summer sending its 2nd tier conscripts to the front in the Donbas as it lovingly collected NATO-donated weapons and trained units in the rear. With generous NATO help, Ukraine was able to accumulate forces for two full scale offensives – one in Kherson (which failed spectacularly) and one in Kharkov (which succeeded in pushing past the Russian screening force and reaching the Oskil). Much of that carefully accumulated fighting power is now gone or degraded. Rumors circulated of a third offensive towards Melitipol, but Ukraine does not seem to have the combat power to achieve this, and strong Russian forces are in the region behind prepared defensive lines.
On the whole, therefore, Ukraine’s window for offensive operations has closed, and what remains is closing quickly. The last zone of intense Ukrainian operations is around Lyman, where aggressive Ukrainian attacks have so far failed to either storm or encircle the town. It is still possible that they take Lyman and consolidate control of Kupyansk, but this would likely represent the culmination of Ukrainian offensive capability. For now, the area around Lyman is a killing zone that exposes attacking Ukrainian troops to Russian air and ground fires.
The large scale view of force ratios is as follows:
Ukraine has spent much of the combat power that they accumulated with NATO help during the summer, and will have an urgent need to reduce combat intensity for refitting and rearming at precisely the same time that Russian combat power in the theater begins to surge.
Simultaneously, NATO’s ability to arm Ukraine is on the verge of exhaustion. Let’s look at this more closely.
One of the more fascinating aspects of the war in Ukraine is the extent to which Russia has contrived to attrit NATO military hardware without fighting a direct war with NATO forces. In a previous analysis I referred to Ukraine as a vampiric force which has reversed the logic of the proxy war; it’s a black hole sucking in NATO gear for destruction.
There are now very limited stockpiles to draw from to continue to arm Ukraine. Military Watch Magazine noted that NATO has drained the old Warsaw Pact tank park, leaving them bereft of Soviet tanks to donate to Ukraine. Once these reservoirs are fully tapped, the only option will be giving Ukraine western tank models. This, however, is much harder than it sounds, because it would require not only extensive training of tank crews, but also an entirely different selection of ammunition, spare parts, and repair facilities.
Tanks are not the only problem, however. Ukraine is now staring down the barrel (heh heh) of a serious shortage of conventional tube artillery. Earlier in the summer, the United States donated 155mm howitzers, but with stockpiles of both guns and shells dwindling, they’ve recently been forced to turn to lower caliber towed trash. After the announcement of yet another aid tranche on September 28th, the USA has now put together five consecutive packages which do not contain any conventional 155mm shells. Shells for Ukraine’s Soviet vintage artillery were running low as early as June.
In effect, the effort to keep Ukraine’s artillery arm functioning has gone through a few phases. In the first phase, Warsaw Pact stockpiles of Soviet shells were drained to supply Ukraine’s existing guns. In the second phase, Ukraine was given mid-level western capabilities, especially the 155mm howitzer. Now that 155mm shells are running low, Ukraine has to make do with 105mm guns which are badly outranged by Russian howitzers and will be, in a word, doomed in any kind of counterbattery action.
As a substitute for adequate tube artillery, the latest aid package does include 18 more of the internet’s favorite meme weapon – the HIMARS Multiple Launch Rocket System. What is not explicitly mentioned in the press release is that the HIMARS systems don’t exist in current US inventories and will have to be built, and are thus unlikely to arrive in Ukraine for several years.
The increasing difficulties in arming Ukraine coincide with the rapid closing of Ukraine’s window of operational opportunity. The forces accumulated over the summer are degraded and fought out, and every subsequent rebuild of the Ukrainian first tier forces will become harder as manpower is destroyed and NATO arsenals are depleted. This depletion comes precisely as Russian force generation is surging, foretelling the Winter of Yuri.
The Winter War
Anyone who expects the war to slow down during the winter is in for a surprise. Russia is going to launch a late autumn/winter offensive and achieve significant gains. The arc of force generation (both Russia’s increasing force accumulation and Ukraine’s degradation) coincide with the approach of cold weather.
Let’s make a brief note about combat in the cold. Russia is perfectly capable of waging effective operations in the snow. Going back to World War Two, the Red Army was more than capable of offensive success during the winter, starting in 1941 with the general counteroffensive at Moscow, again in 1942 with the destruction of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, and in 1943-44 with two successful large scale offensives beginning in the winter. Now, of course World War Two is not directly applicable in all ways, but we can establish that from a technical standpoint there is a clearly established capability to wage operations in cold weather.
We also have more recent examples. In 2015, during the first Donbas War, LNR and DNR forces launched a pincer operation which successfully encircled a Ukrainian battalion at the Battle of Debaltseve. And, of course, the Russo-Ukrainian War begin in February, when much of northern Ukraine was below freezing temperatures.
Winter weather actually favors a Russian offensive for multiple reasons. One of the paradoxes of military operations is that freezing weather actually enhances mobility – vehicles can get stuck in mud, but not on frozen ground. From 1941-43, German troops celebrated the arrival of spring, because the thaw promised to bog the Red Army down in mud and slow their momentum. The winter death of foliage also reduces the cover available to troops in a defensive posture. And, of course, cold weather favors the side with more reliable access to energy.
As for where Russia will choose to commit its newly generated forces, there are four realistic possibilities, which I will enumerate in no particular order:
- Reopening the Northern Front with an operation around Kharkov. The attractiveness of this option is clear. A Russian move in force towards Kharkov would immediately collapse all of Ukraine’s gains towards the Oskil by compromising their rear areas.
- An offensive on Nikolayev out of the Kherson region. This would move further towards the goal of a landlocked Ukraine, and would take advantage of the fact that Ukrainian forces in this region are badly chewed up after their own failed offensive.
- Massive commitment to the Donbas to finish the liberation of DNR territory by capturing Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. This is less likely, as Russia has demonstrated comfort with the slow tempo of operations on this front.
- A push north from the Melitopol area towards Zaparozhia. This would safeguard the nuclear powerplant and end any credible threats to the land bridge to Crimea.
Other possibilities I regard as unlikely. A second advance on Kiev would make little operational sense, as it would not support any of the existing fronts. I would expect action around Kiev only if the new force generation is significantly larger than the headline number of 300,000. Otherwise, Russia’s winter offensives are likely to be concentrated on mutually supporting fronts. I think some movement to reopen the northern is likely, as it would completely compromise Ukraine’s gains in the Izyum-Kupyansk direction. There are rumors that forces are being moved into Belarus, but I actually think the Chernigov-Sumy axis would be more likely than a new Kiev operation, as it could be supportive of an offensive on Kharkov.
On the broadest level, it is clear that Ukraine’s window to conduct offensive operations is nearing its close, and the force generation ratios on the ground are going to swing decisively in Russia’s favor through the winter.
Nordstream and Escalation
As we were pondering these developments on the ground, yet another plotline emerged underwater. The first hint that something was amiss was the news that pressure in the Nordstream 1 pipeline was dropping mysteriously. It was then revealed that the pipeline – along with the non-operational Nordstream 2 – had suffered serious damage. Swedish seismologists recorded explosions on the floor of the Baltic Sea, and it was revealed that the pipelines are heavily damaged.
Let’s be frank about this. Russia did not blow up its own pipelines, and it is ludicrous to suggest that they did. The importance of the pipeline to Russia lay in the fact that it could be switched on and off, providing a mechanism for leverage and negotiation vis a vis Germany. In the classic carrot and stick formulation, one cannot move the donkey if the carrot is blown up. The *only* feasible scenario in which Russia might be responsible for the sabotage would be if some hardliner faction within the Russian government felt that Putin was moving too slowly, and wanted to force an escalation. This would imply, however, that Putin is losing internal control, and there is no evidence whatsoever for such a theory.
And so, we return to elementary analysis, and ask: Cui bono? Who benefits? Well, considering Poland celebrated the opening of a new pipeline to Norway only a few days ago, and a certain former Polish MP cryptically thanked the United States on Twitter, it is fair to make a few guesses.
Let us briefly meditate on the actual implications of Nordstream’s demise.
- Germany loses what little autonomy and flexibility it had, making it even more dependent on the United States.
- Russia loses a point of leverage over Europe, reducing the inducements to negotiation.
- Poland and Ukraine become even more critical transit hubs for gas.
Russia clearly perceives this as a bridge burning move of sabotage by NATO, designed to back them into a corner. The Russian government has decried it as an act of “international terrorism” and argued that the explosions occurred in areas “controlled by NATO” – the concatenation of these statements is that they blame NATO for an act of terrorism, without explicitly saying that. This precipitated another meeting of the Russian National Security Council.
Many western nations have advised their citizens to leave Russia immediately, suggesting they are worried about escalation (this coincides with Ukraine’s unhinged claim that Russia may be about to use nuclear weapons). For the time being, I expect Russian escalation to remain confined to Ukraine itself, likely coinciding with the deployment of additional Russian ground forces. If Russia feels compelled to undertake an out of theater escalation, targeting American satellites, digital infrastructure, or forces in Syria remain the most likely option.
On the Precipice
I am fully cognizant that my views will be spun as “coping” after Ukraine’s gains in Kharkov oblast, but time will tell out. Ukraine is on its last legs – they drained everything usable out of NATO stockpiles to build up a first tier force over the summer, and that force has been mauled and degraded beyond repair just as Russia’s force generation is set to massively increase. Winter will bring not only the eclipse of the Ukrainian army, the destruction of vital infrastructure, and the loss of new territory and population centers, but also a severe economic crisis in Europe. In the end, the United States will be left to rule over a deindustrialized and degraded Europe, and a rump Ukrainian trashcanistan sequestered west of the Dnieper.
For now, though, we are in the interregnum as the last flames of Ukraine’s fighting power flickers out. Then there will be an operational pause, and then a Russian winter offensive. There will be several weeks where nothing happens, and then everything will happen.
During that operational pause, you may be tempted to ask – “is it done, Yuri?”
No, Comrade Premiere. It has only begun.
Read the full article at Big Serge Thoughts.