The West vs. Russia: Any toy is OK that keeps the baby at play

2014 saw the release of British well-known comedy short film "Expert", in which a specialist was given an ambitious task: to draw seven red lines that would strictly perpendicular to each other. At the same time, some of those red lines were supposed to be green, while some others — transparent.

This task was implemented in 2020-2021, when politicians started talking about red lines in the context of international politics.

When speaking about those lines ascertain values, the crossing of which leads to the point of no return, high-ranking diplomats from different countries resort to flexible concepts.

The Russian ultimatum

On December 15, 2021, Russia provided the drafts of the Russian-American treaty on security guarantees, as well as an agreement on measures to ensure the security of Russia and NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced the theses of those agreements at the final meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry on December 21.

Moscow is concerned about the deployment of elements of the US global missile defense system near Russian borders, as well as about NATO's possible expansion to the east.

In fact, Russia submitted its own system of "red lines" — long-term legally binding security guarantees — to the West. This happened largely due to the violation of the agreements on the non-expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance.

At the same time, according to the Russian president, if the West continues its aggressive policy against Russia, Moscow will take adequate retaliatory military measures and react harshly to unfriendly steps.

Security dialogue at stalemate?

At the beginning of 2022, Russia's proposals for security guarantees were given a lot of attention in international negotiations:

  • on January 10 — at Russia-US bilateral talks in Geneva;
  • January 12 — at a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels;
  • January 13 — at a special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna.

The American side rejected most of the Russian proposals during the bilateral negotiations on January 10. The rest of the meetings only relayed Washington's position on issues of mutual security guarantees.

The head of the Russian delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Ryabkov said that the main problem of the talks was the unwillingness of the United States and NATO to meet the key Russian demands for non-expansion of the alliance, curtailment of its infrastructure and return to the 1997 borders.

In his opinion, it is pointless to continue the dialogue and discuss secondary points that the Americans propose with such an approach.

The question of NATO's non-expansion to the east concerned mainly Ukraine, where, according to both sides, hostilities may outbreak.

Lessons on geography and chemistry

On December 21 last year, at the final board of the Russian military department, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu announced that more than 120 employees of American PMCs were operating in the settlements of Avdiivka and Priazovskoe in the Donetsk region.

According to Shoygu, they work to outfit firing positions in residential buildings and socially significant facilities and train Ukrainian radical armed groups for active hostilities. In addition, provocations with chemical warfare agents are being prepared in the settlements of Avdiivka and Krasny Lyman, the minister added.

Accusations of chemical provocations are shallow and boring to death.

However, in the modern world, a violation of the 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, Use of Chemical Weapons and Their Destruction serves as a very simple trigger for the collective use of NATO armed forces against any state.

The lesson of Colin Powell's test tube in 2003 demonstrated that even fabricated evidence of preparations for the use of chemical weapons was enough to unleash aggression.

The claims of Western countries to Russia are completely different. Their media (primarily American, as well as Ukrainian outlets) keep trumpeting numerous scenarios of Russia's military offensive in Ukraine. At the same time, they refer to authoritative opinions of the American intelligence community and their think tanks.

Thus, experts of the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) believe that the Kremlin has developed at least six options for the operation — from continuing to help the militias in eastern Ukraine to seizing all of its territory and proclaiming a Slavic union of the Great, Lesser and White Russia.

Interestingly, CSIS analysts present the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a practically fait accompli.

Yet, American experts compensate the lack of facts with forecasts, assumptions and recommendations. This suggests that they are nothing but part of the big propaganda machine.

What does the West want from Russia?

Recommendations from American experts, let alone extensive options for military assistance to Ukraine, naturally contain the list of anti-Russian sanctions.

They include restrictions against the Nord Stream 2 project, economic and financial measures, right up to a move to disconnect Russian banks from the global SWIFT system.

Most likely, the actions of the West represent an asymmetric response to the strengthening of the role of Russia in the world, the stability of its economy in the face of the already existing sanctions, as well as the strengthening of Moscow's influence in the Middle East, in a number of African countries and the potential strengthening of Russia's cooperation with Latin American countries.

At the same time, despite the bellicose rhetoric, the United States and Europe are in no hurry to engage in open hostilities with Russia. Reports of possible supplies of lethal weapons to Kiev and the training of the partisan movement in Ukraine by American military specialists can only confirm that the West has no intention to get the troops involved.

Diplomacy in public and in reality

Speaking of the "red lines" in relations between Russia, the US and their European allies, one should point out a strange combination of mutual mud-slinging in public and in the media field against the backdrop of quite constructive activities in practice.

According to many experts in the field of international relations, the Geneva talks on January 10 got the ball rolling on such issues as the possible moratorium on the deployment of intermediate and shorter-range missile systems in Europe, as well as a reduction of the intensity of NATO military exercises.

Thus, ostentatious outward intransigence comes in a surprising combination with flexibility that both Russian and Western diplomats exercise.

In addition to the actual negotiation process, Russian and US intelligence services demonstrate their readiness to cooperate. Nothing else can explain the high-profile detention of members of REvil hacker group by the Russian Federal Security Bureau at the request of the competent US authorities.

This indicates that in international relations, unlike in geometry, red lines can be both green and transparent at the same time.

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Author`s name Andrey Mihayloff