The first anniversary of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine: “It is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield”

11:12 27.02.2023 •

We are not on the first but on the ninth anniversary of the war in Ukraine, which was unleashed in February 2014 with the coup d'état under US-NATO direction, insists Manlio Dinucci, Italian geographer and journalist, he has a weekly column “The Art of War” in the Italian daily “Il Manifesto”.

Speaking from Warsaw, President Biden promised to "stand by President Zelensky no matter what." He is echoed by President Meloni who, reversing the position assumed in 2014, assured Zelensky that "Italy will be with you until the end".

These are disturbing statements, given the real possibility that the conflict could lead to a nuclear war, which would be the end not only of Europe but of the world. Ukraine is capable of producing nuclear weapons and, certainly, in Kyiv, there are those who pursue such a plan.

The New York Times confirms it: “Ukraine gave up a gigantic nuclear arsenal 30 years ago. Today there are regrets”. With the breakup of the USSR in 1991, Ukraine found itself in possession of the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world: some 5,000 strategic and tactical weapons. They were removed in the 1990s under agreements between the United States, Russia and Ukraine. However, the technological capability acquired by Ukraine in the military nuclear field during the US-Soviet confrontation has not been removed.

Ukraine – warns President Putin – intends to create its own nuclear weapons, and this is not a mere boast. The acquisition of nuclear weapons will be much easier for Ukraine than for other states conducting such research, especially if Kyiv receives foreign technological support. We cannot rule this out.

If Ukraine acquires weapons of mass destruction, the situation in the World and in Europe will change dramatically.

In which hands would the Ukrainian nuclear weapons be confirmed by the fact that Zelenskyy has just conferred on the 10th Ukrainian Assault Brigade "the Edelweiss title of honour": the same name and symbol of one of the most ferocious Nazi Divisions, the 1st Edelweiss Division, which in 1943 massacred over 5,000 Italian soldiers who had surrendered in Greek Kefalonia, Manlio Dinucci stresses.

“The general expectation that the first anniversary of Russia’s special military operations in Ukraine would mark the commencement of a big military offensive has been belied, going by the speeches by President Vladimir Putin and the US President Joe Biden, separated by a few hours on February 21, in Moscow and Warsaw,” M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer, writes.

For Biden, with his rating dropping within Democratic Party, the steady decline of support in the public opinion for the war in Eurasia underscores that his narrative about ‘democracy vs. autocracy’ is not taken seriously even in American opinion outside the neocon circle. Certainly, Biden wouldn’t want the burial of the New START treaty as his presidential legacy.

The Russian strategy all through has been to “grind” the Ukrainian military and force Kiev to negotiate but the US is only now realising that this was in reality a war of attrition. To quote Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, what is unfolding is “a war of attrition… a battle of logistics; as in how do you get enough stuff – materiel, spare parts, ammunition, fuel – to the front lines.”

But it can also mutate since the Western bloc is unable to define its end goal in Ukraine.

Putin warned that Western weapon supplies to Kiev will trigger consequences. “The longer the range of the Western systems being brought to Ukraine, the farther away from our borders we will be forced to push the threat,” he said. Plainly put, Russian forces may create a buffer zone in the region west of Dnieper River. Putin called out the Western elite to realise that “it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield.”

Indeed, Putin’s decision to play the New START card is timely. This is a display of “smart power” — war by other means. On the outside, this is an aggressive bid to engage Washington diplomatically, and at the very minimum intends to compel the US to exercise self-restraint while fuelling the war.

The hawkish US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland reacted in an interview with TASS on Thursday that ‘Washington is ready to start talks with Russia on the New START treaty “tomorrow” if Moscow is prepared for it.’ Nuland is usually not comfortable with such conciliatory idiom on matters regarding Russia — even bracketing her country with a power she regards disdainfully as a lower form of life in the global power dynamic.

It only underscores Biden’s desperate keenness to salvage the New START treaty in the fulness of time.

The implications for European security are profound, as Putin is demanding that future nuclear arms control talks should also include the UK and France. Putin’s announcement dramatically brings the nuclear threat to Europe’s doorsteps. Will the UK and France agree to bring their nuclear weapon stockpiles under international treaties?

Biden knows only too well that Ukraine will overnight collapse without US military and financial backing. The rationale behind such a costly enterprise is debatable.

The Western plan, therefore, is to support another Ukrainian “counteroffensive” to make some, any territorial gains. But the chances of Kiev reclaiming the territories under Russian control are virtually nil.

Meanwhile, war has created dynamics in the Sino-Russian strategic partnership, M.K. Bhadrakumar completes his comment.

The war has once again shown the ineffectiveness of the institutions of global governance, notes Gulshan Sachdeva, a professor at the Centre for European Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University (India).

In 2022, the UN Security Council held fifty meetings on Ukraine. Because of direct involvement of a permanent member in the conflict, almost no agreement was possible. These frequent meetings also did not lead to any supportive diplomatic effort to resolve the crisis. Because of excessive focus on Ukraine, many other issues including the situation in Afghanistan did not get sufficient attention at global institutions.

Being big geopolitical players, both the United States and Russia have the capabilities to deal their matters directly.

Despite unprecedented sanctions, Russia has also remained more resilient than western expectations. Earlier, many expected that the Russian economy would be down by 10 to 15 percent in 2022. The latest IMF projection indicates that last year, it was down only by 2 percent and expected to grow marginally in 2023. Russia was able to profit from high energy prices diverted its oil to Asian markets. The economic sanctions seem to have limited impact on President Putin’s war calculations so far.

Because of huge dependence on Russian fossil fuels, the EU spent most of 2022 in tackling its energy crisis. Through RePowerEU plan, it aims to reduce Russian dependence through diversification, energy savings and accelerating renewals. Although the EU has done well so far, readjustments are going to be costly. To shield consumers from rising energy prices, the European nations have provided 768 billion euros to its consumers. This included 265 billion euros by Germany and 103 billion euros by Britain.

So long as Russia and Ukraine continue to have maximalist negotiating positions; and the West continues with plans for a ‘strategic Russian defeat’, an early end of the conflict is unlikely.


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