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An essay about where we're going with this war

As explained previously I do not do predictions as to what the outcome will be of certain clashes, or the military side of the war in Ukraine itself. I’m limiting myself to identifying the goals of the parties involved, based on multiple sources, and following the news to see how developments fit a certain pattern, advancing certain goals, or defeating the attempts to reach those goals. And if we are talking about a temporary setback, or a major disaster. 


Now, each party involved has not just one goal, but a wide range of goals, with priorities attached. And within each party there are factions which have their own goals, though they do not have anything to do with the military planning and general strategy. A fine example is the goal of the commercial weapons-producers, which are looking at their own bottom-line. Another fine example is that of the mercenary, who is after the reward, or the volunteer, who is motivated by this unique chance to ‘Kill Russians’, or ‘Kill Nazis’. 


Somewhere above the fray, there are the political leaders who have this ‘Start/Stop’-button, and who may ‘Stop’ the fighting when their goals are met, a compromise has been reached, or when all is lost. In an ideal situation, once the politician gives the ‘Green Light’, he or she will leave it to the military to find the best way to achieve the military goals. But things like ‘economic warfare’, ‘cyber’ and plain terror require civilian experts and spy-agencies working closely with the political leadership to hurt the enemy, without scoring an ‘own goal’, or derailing the military campaign itself. 


In my perception of this military extension of a lasting conflict between the NATO-countries and Russia, there are three parties involved, each with its own goals. Each came prepared. But not for the war we are witnessing as it unfolds. Ukraine and NATO expected a short-lived military clash, as the all out economic warfare would sack Russia, and leave Putin no option but to surrender. That is, seek ‘peace’ on NATO’s terms, which would have been the end of Putin, and quite possibly the end of Russia too, ‘Balkanized’, cut up in separate countries under ‘our’ economic control, and left to the mercy of American and British bankers. Yet, NATO-affiliated commentators telling the world that Russia would need a week or less to take all of Ukraine revealed a ‘hidden clause’ in NATO’s strategy which had not been shared with Zelensky. It was supported by NATO-military, training Ukrainians up till the last minute, and the ambassadors of NATO-countries leaving Ukraine. NATO wanted to throw Ukraine and its people under the bus, start a terror campaign in Ukraine itself using ‘Stay Behind’ troops they had prepared for this war, relying heavily on far-right militia, elevating the cost to Russia for as long as ‘Moscow’ was able to hold out. While Zelensky wanted to stay in Kiev, and fight, NATO wanted him to go into exile for as long as it took to bring Putin and Russia to its knees. 


But Russia turned the economic warfare on its head, making the NATO countries suffer badly, while it had no design for taking all of Ukraine and fall into the ‘Stay Behind’ trap. ‘Moscow’ was hoping for a short-lived war itself, as Ukraine would come to understand it had been used as bait, while NATO’s European countries would be shocked into understanding that they would go under economically, and not Russia. But despite the fact that Ukraine and Europe had been lied to by their American, British and Canadian ‘friends’, and would soon lose access to affordable gas, oil and raw materials needed for its industry to boot, they hung in there, leaving Russia no option but to switch to ‘Plan B’. The difference between NATO/Ukraine, and Russia, is that NATO and Ukraine had no ‘Plan B’. While Russia not only did have a ‘Plan B’, but also the tools to accomplish it. What could have ended before the summer, and should never even have been necessary if Ukraine/NATO would have honored their commitments, promising not to expand NATO after the reunification of Germany, and the signed ‘Minsk accord’, meant to bring lasting peace to Ukraine, and turn it into a prosperous ‘non-aligned’ nation like Austria, became a war of attrition. 


Now, who, which ‘power’, is going to win this war of attrition? I have no idea. In fact, it reminds me of Orwell’s nightmarish book ’1984’, where it is stated that ‘Oceania’ had ‘always’ been at war with ‘Eurasia’ and ‘Eastasia’. The similarities are indeed gross, even though it cannot be understood as a template. But our collective failure to learn from dystopian novels is remarkable nevertheless. 


Now allow me to share some observations which might point to a different outcome than Orwell took as a backdrop for his book, without offering any hope or intention to bring people to despair. For starters, Orwell included continental Europe in the ‘Eurasian’ section, while NATO is doing its utmost to make sure that doesn’t happen. This business of ‘Grinding’ Ukrainian forces down, using air superiority and artillery, against stationary trenches and fortifications, which were originally meant to increase the cost for Russia as it would ‘storm’ them, is not about territory first and foremost. And if the Ukrainians had been left to defend their country without help from NATO, save for the ability to buy western weapons, until they would run out of money, they would have been ‘well-done’ by now. Out of everything, and Zelensky would have been forced to strike a deal with Putin, which would not have meant the end of Ukraine, although Zelensky would have lost control over the ‘Donbas’ and he would have been forced to admit that the people of Crimea choose to join the Russian Federation, while Russia would have made sure that electrical supply and water to the peninsula would have been under Russian control. 


But improvising after NATO’s original strategy went south, since Russia refused to conquer all of Ukraine, and Zelensky refused to leave Kiev, NATO decided to join Ukraine, as if Ukraine was a member state after all. The leadership kept this hidden from their own people for obvious reasons, but they entered the war at all levels, across the full spectrum, ‘Shape Shifting’ NATO-soldiers into ‘mercenaries’, using ‘cut-outs’ which had been in place for decades, called ‘Private Military Companies’, and paying Ukraine to stay in the race. This introduced the risk of a nuclear slug-fest, and no mediator to find a way out, save for China. But since China is aware of NATO’s intentions to use Taiwan in a somewhat similar way they used Ukraine, and that this design of getting rid of Putin and breaking up Russia is a prelude to war with China itself, China is not truly neutral. Rumor has it that the US dispatched Sullivan and Burns, national security adviser and head of the CIA, to negotiate with the Russians. Sullivan talked to Patrushev, Putin’s national security adviser, and Burns went to Ankara to meet his Russian colleague. Now what are we to make of that?


The neocon/NATO ‘Thinktank’ which goes by the name of ‘Institute for the Study of War’ vented as its ‘opinion’ that there would be a pauze in the fighting during the winter, as both the Russians and NATO were exhausted, and incapable of advancing. In my opinion, but I need to emphasize that I’m no military expert with privileged knowledge, it is NATO which is in desperate need to freeze this situation, because they are running out of ‘everything’. Moreover, this winter will be tough on the people in their respective NATO-countries, so they want to be seen as ‘constructive’, while making a desperate dash for rebuilding the factories that may produce the weapons and ammunition they need to continu the fighting after the lull. In other words, Sullivan and Burns are seeking a pauze, and not peace. They want Putin to ‘call off his dog’, Surovikin, until they are ready. I doubt they will get what they are seeking, and that this massive destruction of the Ukrainian power-grid is part of an upgrade to ‘Plan B’, which won’t work if they wait for NATO to get better organized, but we’ll see.


Then there are NATO-aligned military people like Pat Lang, who insisted that a pauze was a bad idea, and that NATO should continu its offensive now that they are winning. He did not offer any analysis, but said it was an ‘Undying Principle of War’, like ‘Never Change a Winning Team’, which would make it an aphorism, or as they say in Holland: ‘Tegeltjeswijsheid’. But are you winning when you are losing men and equipment by the score, and the enemy is vacating territory, for whatever reason, taking its military and equipment with him? Are you winning when you advance in a vacuum? When I asked, he said it was also the product of his own professional analysis, without expanding on it, so I have no way to weigh his arguments. 


Clearly a ‘surprising outcome’ is usually not really very surprising, but the consequence of overlooking certain aspects of warfare, or the intentions and vulnerabilities of the leaders and countries involved. It is my hope that you understand why I still have no reason to be surprised, despite the fact that I had no certainty whatsoever about certain maneuvers or choices. But it still is very much an ‘If This, Then That’ chain of events, with the Russians acting according to their ‘Plan B’, their ‘Plan A through other means’, which is structuring these events. At no stage they acted unpredictable, and the same is true for NATO, even as I see them struggling. They rely heavily on attempts to control the narrative, which comes with the need to play ‘Mind Games’ with the people they are leaving behind in the dust, with a bill that is already beyond our capacity to pay. Less so with severed Northstream pipelines, hampering Europe’s ability to produce stuff at affordable prices, while generating income for the government through taxes, where these governments are now forced to support the people with handouts, and falling revenu. 


Some sources in Russia are saying that this limited mobilization in Russia is actually far larger than 300.000 reservists, but that cannot be confirmed, or denied, as we’re talking ‘guesstimates’ by the people who register how many people in their own community or family have been called up. Clearly it would be an unpleasant surprise for NATO if that were to be true, as things NATO is working on may be an unpleasant surprise for Russia, but it wouldn’t shift the goal-posts from my geo-strategic perspective. Russia is still working towards its goals as stated years ago, and underscored at the outbreak of war in February. And though NATO is going all over the place with its narrative, their goal of ‘Regime Change’ in Russia, and cutting the country up in preparation for their planned confrontation with China has not shifted either. While Zelensky has no real options left but to obey NATO, his dream is to be seen as the hero of Ukraine, and he wouldn’t mind enlarging the country with parts of Russia if NATO would succeed in bringing Russia to its knees. Which would spell trouble in its relationship with historical arch rival Poland, which wouldn’t mind to be rewarded with control over Ukraine after the war. 


Surprising offensives, surprising defensive moves, and surprising terror attacks in support of these war efforts are a given. But for the moment I see no changes in what the warring parties set out to achieve. Save, perhaps, for Russia’s goal to preclude a lasting division in the world between two sides, ‘Oceania’ and ‘Eurasia’, since Russia is a declared proponent of a return to sovereign nations in a multi-polar world, and it dreads the prospect of being forced to merge with China, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia facing yet another ‘Berlin Wall’, this time to prevent the impoverished sheep of Europe to understand what they are missing. But that is not a done deal, yet.

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