Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, separately from each other, delivered keynote speeches in which they spoke, in fact, about the same thing — the Ukrainian crisis. The leaders of the two countries made their positions very clear.
We would like to refer to the opinion of an experienced geopolitician, a "disinterested person", since he lives in a country that does not participate in the special military operation. This is Indian diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar. His analytical article was published on the Indian Punchline.
During Joe Biden's press conference (which he co-hosted with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, who visited Washington) at the White House on December 21, the US President virtually admitted that he was forced to fight a proxy war in Ukraine, because the European allies did not want war with Russia.
"Now, you say, "Why don't we just give Ukraine everything there is to give?' Well, for two reasons. One, there's an entire Alliance that is critical to stay with Ukraine. And the idea that we would give Ukraine material that is fundamentally different than is already going there would have a prospect of breaking up NATO and breaking up the European Union and the rest of the world… I've spent several hundred hours face-to-face with our European allies and the heads of state of those countries, and making the case as to why it was overwhelmingly in their interest that they continue to support Ukraine… They understand it fully, but they're not looking to go to war with Russia. They're not looking for a third World War.”Mr. Biden continued: "We're going to give Ukraine what it needs to be able to defend itself, to be able to succeed, and to succeed on the battlefield," Biden said during his speech.
At this point, Biden realised that he had probably "already said too much" and abruptly ended the press conference. He probably came to realise that he showed the fragility of the Western unity.
Western experts have largely forgotten that territorial conquest is not Russia's central agenda. NATO expansion is, although, of course, Ukraine is vital to Russian interests.
From time to time, President Putin revisits the fundamental reason, for which the United States does what it does. In a nutshell, the Americans want to weaken and dismember Russia.
The day when Biden welcomed Zelensky in the White House, the Russian president, speaking at an expanded meeting of the collegium of the Ministry of Defence in Moscow, referred to the Chechen wars of the 1990s, when, just as today,
"…the use of international terrorists in the Caucasus, to finish off Russia and to split the Russian Federation… They [US] claimed to condemn al-Qaeda and other criminals, yet they considered using them on the territory of Russia as acceptable and provided all kinds of assistance to them, including material, information, political and any other support, notably military support, to encourage them to continue fighting against Russia.”
Putin has a phenomenal memory. He alluded at Biden's cautious choice of William Burns to head the CIA. Interestingly, Burns was the contact person for the Moscow Embassy in Chechnya in the 1990s. Nowadays, Putin ordered a nationwide campaign to chop the huge tentacles that US intelligence agencies spread in Russia for purposes of internal subversion. The Carnegie Center, once run by Burns, was forced to close its Moscow office, and its Russian employees fled to the West.
The leitmotif of the meeting of the collegium of the Russian Ministry of Defense, where Putin spoke, was the statement of the fact that the confrontation between Russia and the United States would not end with the war in Ukraine. Putin urged senior Russian officials to "thoroughly analyse" the lessons of Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts.
"We will continue maintaining and improving the combat readiness of the nuclear triad. It is the main guarantee that our sovereignty and territorial integrity, strategic parity and the general balance of forces in the world are preserved. This year, the level of modern armaments in the strategic nuclear forces has already exceeded 91 percent. We continue rearming the regiments of our strategic missile forces with modern missile systems with Avangard hypersonic warheads.
Putin summed up: "We will not repeat the mistakes of the past… We are not going to militarise our country or militarise the economy… and we will not do things we do not really need, to the detriment of our people and the economy, the social sphere. We will improve the Russian Armed Forces and the entire military component. We will do it calmly, routinely and consistently, without haste.”
If neocons in the White House wanted an arms race, they now have it. The paradox, however, is that it will be different from the bipolar arms race of the Cold War era.
If the US intention was to weaken Russia before confronting China, the Americans have failed already:
"But instead, this is turning out to be a classic Zugzwang in the endgame — to borrow from German chess literature — where the US is under obligation to make a move on Ukraine but whichever move it makes will only worsen its geopolitical position," Bhadrakumar wrote in the article.
Undermining Russia from the inside has not worked either:
Thus, Biden may have a vague feeling that Russia does not see the crisis in Ukraine as a binary win-and-lose system, but is preparing to settle scores with NATO once and for all.
At this stage, the best option for the United States would be to leave the game and step aside.
Of course, such a move would be humiliating for both the USA and NATO. Washington's transatlantic leadership would crumble. Even worse, the great powers of Western Europe — Germany, France and Italy — may start looking for "modus vivendi" (way of coexistence) with Russia. NATO cannot live without an enemy.
"The neocons in the Beltway have bitten more than what they could chew. Their last card will be to push for a direct US military intervention in the Ukraine war under the banner of a 'coalition of the willing,'" M. K. Bhadrakumar concluded.
Ukrainians are fleeing the cities that could be taken by the Russian army. Apartment prices have already dropped by as much as 50 percent in Kharkiv. Housing sales have increased in Odessa as well, even if compared to 2022