The situation in Eastern Ukraine is critical. Russia and Ukraine are on the brink of an open armed conflict. In this context, many military experts suggest their opinions and forecasts on the military developments in the region. The position of famous warlord Igor Strelkov is definitely one that deserves special attention.
He became popular during the so-called Crimean Spring in 2014. Strelkov took part in the process of the Crimean unification with Russia, after which in Eastern Ukraine, he was one of the first who organized an open resistance to the nationalist forces that had earlier staged a coup in Kiev. During his military activity, he became more and more critical of Kremlin’s factual position. According to his later statements, the situation in Donbass remains close to disastrous due to the policy of the definite part of the Russian elite. Asserting his views, Strelkov even got in conflict with the Russian President’s adviser at that time Vladislav Surkov. As a result, Strelkov was forced to leave Eastern Ukraine and lost the opportunity to influence in the situation in the region.
In ideology, Strelkov’s vision may be characterized in terms that today become known as “Orthodox socialism.” This concept is based on justice, conciliarity, national unity and social responsibility.
Strelkov is widely known as a strong supporter of the so-called “Russian world” concept. This term despite the using of the word “Russian” has nothing to do with nationalism or a hurrah-patriotic adherence to the ideas of monarchism.
“The Russian world (Pax Rossica) is the social totality associated with Russian culture. Russkiy Mir is the core culture of Russia and is in interaction with the diverse cultures of Russia through traditions, history and the Russian language. It comprises also the Russian diaspora with its influence in the world. The concept is based on the notion of “Russianness”, and both have been considered ambiguous. The Russian world and awareness of it arose through Russian history and was shaped by the respective period.
The term received a new sound in the 21st century against the background of the restoration of the foreign policy influence of the Russian state, on the one hand, and the intensifying attacks on Russian culture and the Russian language in the former Soviet republics, on the other.
Today the “Russian world” is often indicated as a threat in speeches of Moscow’s geopolitical rivals, justifying the need to contain Russia.”
In the politic field, Strelkov is a supporter of the authoritarian strong Russian state, where social life is based on the principles indicated above.
In military terms, during the hostilities in 2014-2015 and to the present, he claimed that the only chance to ensure peace in Eastern Ukraine was a full participation of the Russian army and taking control of the Ukrainian territory at least to the Dnieper River.
Thus, Igor Strelkov is a rather controversial person. However, he is one of the few alive warlords of the 2014-2015 period, who deeply knows the situation inside the region, simultaneously being a dogged critic of Kremlin policy. His analysis is very valuable for predicting the situation and simulation of possible developments.
“At the end of the day:
1. The war between Russia and Ukraine is inevitable, but at the moment (in April), it is very likely;
2. For Russia and the Russian People, war “now” is preferable to war later;
3. The USA now will not fight for Ukraine with 99% probability;
4. Comments were disabled, I will not answer clarifying questions in private messages.” – Strelkov wrote in Telegram and Vkontakte.
On April 4, he published a post on his Telegram channel reflecting his opinion on the current situation in Eastern Ukraine. There were 3 main ideas:
The first one was that the war between Russia and Ukraine is inevitable, but at the moment (in April), it is very likely.
Many military experts agree with his opinion about state of affairs in the region.
The development of the current political situation in Russia, whatever directions it would move in, sooner or later will lead to an armed conflict with Ukraine. No matter which side would instigate the conflict. If the power remains in the hands of the so-called “Putin’s team”, the conflict will develop according to the current scenario and, as a result, most likely it will dissolve into armed one in short or mid terms. Even in case of radical changes in Russia and the coming to power of pro-Western opposition, the escalation would not be avoided. The Ukrainian military thought is based on the core ideas of deoccupation of the Eastern regions and taking control, in its further advance, over a good part of Russian territory. For example, it is referring to the Rostov, Krasnodar and even Volgograd regions. Thus, the weakening of Russia as a result of internal political turmoils may lead to the decision of the current Ukrainian leadership to start a major military operation in the regions with strategic goal to give checkmate to the Russian Federation.
Secondly, for Russia and the Russian People, war “now” is preferable to war later.
Igor Strelkov adheres to this position throughout the entire conflict in Ukraine. The longer the conflict drags on, the more the nationalist regime that came to power in Ukraine strengthens. At the same time in Russia, the so-called “Crimean effect”, i.e. social excitement, build-up caused by Russian geopolitical successes in 2014-2016, is weakening. In previous years, this phenomenon contributed to increase the level of support for the Putin’s government.
Today, when the conflict in Eastern Ukraine has been persisting for 7 years, any attempts to settle it peacefully are ineffective. Considering the complicated political situation in Russia, there are no signs that the current government has found a recipe to prevent further internal deterioration. Thus, the longer the hot phase of the conflict would be postponed, the worse the conditions of the Russian side would be.
In its turn, the hot phase of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine may become a kind of medicine necessary for Moscow that would be used as an internal unifying factor.
Thirdly, the USA now will not fight for Ukraine with 99% probability.
Firstly, one should take into account the current domestic political situation in the United States, where a transitional period with the new government is taking place. A participation in a military conflict is possible only if there are threats to a key ally of the Americans, which Ukraine is not.
Secondly, the global foreign policy situation is not favorable for the deployment of US forces far beyond the country’s borders. The Biden administration must first of all confront the growing global influence of China, which is also likely to be indirectly involved in the military conflict in Ukraine, for example, through financial support. On April 2, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov received Zhang Hanhui, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Russian Federation. The exact topics that were discussed during the negotiations were not unveiled, but it is not difficult to assume that the military escalation in the Donbass region became part of the talks.
At the same time, the position of the United States in the Middle East is not stable. The Biden administration is actively working to regulate the relations with key partners in the region, developing its position on the main issues, including the Iranian nuclear deal, the Syrian crisis, the situation in Iraq, etc.
At the moment, Washington has a number of problems of paramount importance for maintaining its global influence, which does not allow it to openly intervene in the approaching war in Ukraine. However, in the near future, in a year or more, the Biden administration will strengthen US positions in key regions. Nothing will be able to contain it.