Putin can respond to war, and the West knows it
Many were expecting bellicose statements in the Yalta speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with the Ukrainian crisis, but the dominant word was "peace." The speech was aimed for Western audiences, that's why there was no live broadcast of Putin's speech.
Risks of being misunderstood were too high. The main message to the West was: Russia will not be running around with as a razor, waving the razor right and left. The West breathed out. This is evidenced by stable quotations on the markets and quotes in the media. "Restrained" Vladimir Putin's speech in the Crimea, as well as the convoy of humanitarian aid for the people of eastern Ukraine - these are Russia's attempt to demonstrate "more peaceful sentiment," an article in The Wall Street Journal said.
Surprisingly, the word 'razor' prompted an interesting analogy. A while back, Barack Obama delivered a keynote speech at West Point, saying: "Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail." He proposed to combine "military and diplomatic tools" and mechanism of sanctions to ensure the US leadership in the world. Here is what Putin said in Yalta: "The United States pulled out from the Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms just like that, and that was that. The Americans proceeded from interests of national security," Putin said. Putin offered to pull out from, for example, jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). What is this if not sanctions and military and diplomatic tools?
Does it not seem that the leaders of the two nuclear powers (the only ones capable of destroying each other with these weapons) have the same concept of foreign policy?
"The fact that the words look the same does not mean that the deeds are the same too, - Vladimir Yevseyev, director of the Center for Public Policy Research told Pravda.Ru. - It would be wrong to understand that Russia and the United States share a common vision of applying armed forces in the world, because the United States is now the dominant military power. For Americans, it is now vital to ensure their military leadership in the world. To do this, the United States has to maintain a significant number of military bases. Even announcing the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the United States is doing everything possible to stay in the west of the country, where there is a basis for the production of drugs. Iran is close too, and it is possible to put influence on nearby states from there as well. Therefore, the United States, declaring its love for peace, is, in fact, regrouping forces. It does not mean that the United States is going to weaken its military pressure on a global scale."
One shall agree that strategic objectives of the Russian Federation and the United States are different, but tactical objectives are almost identical, although the countries have come to that on different ways. America is not the country that can conduct direct wars on several fronts. Economy does not allow that, and the world is different today - the world of the Internet and the polarization of the world public opinion. As for Russia, it has gained enough strength to promote herself to the position of an equal partner. Putin took a correct position, answering sanctions to sanctions, warnings to warnings, suggesting that he would answer the same way to other steps. He can respond to war, and the West knows it.
Yet, it can be concluded that the United States and Russia have come to understand: to carry out one's interests, there are methods of soft power, rather than direct intervention. And if they need to go to war, they will fight through third countries or forces. Is it not what the United States is doing in Ukraine, fighting by the hands of ultra right nationalists against Russia? Is Russia at war against the United States by the hands of Bashar al-Assad in Syria? The victory of the Syrian president in the elections and the stabilization of the situation is the first major defeat of the United States after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"The war is conducted not by regular armies, but by paramilitary forces like militias, insurgents, opposition groups - strictly speaking, non-state entities, - Mikhail Alexandrov, a leading expert of military-political studies at MGIMO told Pravda.Ru. - Therefore, we can proclaim the Islamic State of Iraq and Lebanon, Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. They rely on local population and receive help from outside. This form of war is more and more prevalent now."
Putin will force the West to sit down to negotiate in December, when Poroshenko is no longer able to follow Russia-must-enter-the-war instructions. In winter, sanctions, the economic crisis and bankruptcy, as well as massive riots among the population will make the West take the opinions of the South-East of Ukraine into consideration.
If direct military competition is ruled out, it is logical to assume that covert struggle will unfold for promoting one's own interests. Primarily, on global deterrent - nuclear weapons. Thus, the Americans will continue to insist that Russia should cut strategic nuclear weapons - to 1,000-1,100 warheads - more than the START-3 Treaty stipulates. An ICBM is the only weapon in the hands of Russia to deter USA's aggression. The Russian leader has repeatedly stated before that Russia could take such a step only if the Americans solve the problem of the US missile defense system. Otherwise, the Americans would be able to shoot down Russian ballistic missiles in the event of an American nuclear attack against Russia.
According to Obama, the USA and its allies made it possible for residents of Ukraine to choose their own future. The US needs partners that will confront terrorism side by side with Americans. Putin does not make such calls to Russian allies, although there the CSTO. For the United States, an ally is the one, who attacks together with the USA. A Russian ally is the one that needs to be protected. For example, in Iraq, the United States now calls for alliance with Iran against the Islamic Caliphate, which previously, as the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" was an ally of the United States in Syria against Assad. A year ago, Iran was seriously considered as a target for pin-point strikes.
Russia lobbies Armenia as a Customs Union member, as Armenia needs to be protected from Azerbaijan in the framework of the CSTO, although the CSTO obtains no economic benefits from this. Russia has always defended the Slavs, the Orthodox, Serbia, for which it was involved in the First World War. When Yeltsin was in power, one may recall an accelerated march in Bosnia. Today, Russia and Serbia have a free trade zone, although the pro-Western Serbian government is going to join the EU and NATO.
But this is a civilizational problem of Russia, which allies has always been its own army and navy. Maybe this is not a problem at all? Maybe this is the way it should be?
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