Like Scott Ritter I am deeply skeptical that today’s talks between the U.S. and Russia in Geneva will have any results:
If ever a critical diplomatic negotiation was doomed to fail from the start, the discussions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine and Russian security guarantees is it.
The two sides can’t even agree on an agenda.
From the Russian perspective, the situation is clear: “The Russian side came here [to Geneva] with a clear position that contains a number of elements that, to my mind, are understandable and have been so clearly formulated—including at a high level—that deviating from our approaches simply is not possible,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the press after a pre-meeting dinner on Sunday hosted by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who is leading the U.S. delegation.
All the U.S. has been willing to do, it seems, is to remind Russia of so-called “serious consequences” should Russia invade Ukraine, something the U.S. and NATO fear is imminent, given the scope and scale of recent Russian military exercises in the region involving tens of thousands of troops. This threat was made by Biden to Putin on several occasions, including a phone call initiated by Putin last week to help frame the upcoming talks.
The U.S. continues with its false claim that Russia is ready to invade the Ukraine:
In a move that has aggravated already tense relations between Washington and the Kremlin, Russia has mobilized more than 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine. The United States has disclosed intelligence showing that Russia has a war plan envisioning an invasion force of 175,000 troops that Ukraine’s military, despite U.S.-provided equipment and training, would have little ability to stop.
On Friday, the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, warned that “the risk of conflict is real.”
There are no 100,000 Russian troops near its border with Ukraine. In early December U.S. intelligence claimed only 70,000 troops:
While Ukrainian assessments have said Russia has approximately 94,000 troops near the border, the U.S. map puts the number at 70,000 — but it predicts a buildup to as many as 175,000 and describes extensive movement of battalion tactical groups to and from the border “to obfuscate intentions and to create uncertainty.”
The extra 100,000 the U.S. intelligence mentioned were supposed to come from a Russian reservist force (BARS) which does not yet exist but is only planned for. The number is thus fake. The U.S. intelligence numbers were published on December 3. Three weeks later Russia announced that 10,000 of those 70,000 troops were removed:
Ten thousand Russian military servicemen are reportedly returning to their “permanent deployment points” from field training on the border with neighboring Ukraine, according to Interfax news, which quoted statements from the Russian military.
It means that there are currently only 60,000 troops in Russia’s west mostly stationed in their normal quarters with some units undergoing rotational training as all military do.
The media also claims that Russia has threatened to attack the Ukraine. Russia has no plans to do that unless the Ukraine tries to attack its rebellious eastern provinces of Luhanzk and Donetzk. The Ukrainian leadership knows that it can not do that.
However the Russian security demands are serious. Either the U.S. and NATO retreat from their anti-Russian posture or Russia will take ‘military-technical measures’ to counter them.
These MAY(!) include a sudden and swift neutralization of Ukrainian military capabilities:
Russia will not get involved in a military misadventure in Ukraine that has the potential of dragging on and on, like the U.S. experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. Russia has studied an earlier U.S. military campaign—Operation Desert Storm, of Gulf War I—and has taken to heart the lessons of that conflict.
One does not need to occupy the territory of a foe in order to destroy it. A strategic air campaign designed to nullify specific aspects of a nations’ capability, whether it be economic, political, military, or all the above, coupled with a focused ground campaign designed to destroy an enemy’s army as opposed to occupy its territory, is the likely course of action.
Given the overwhelming supremacy Russia has both in terms of the ability to project air power backed by precision missile attacks, a strategic air campaign against Ukraine would accomplish in days what the U.S. took more than a month to do against Iraq in 1991.
My hunch is that Russia will not do even that but that the ‘military-technical measures’ it says it will take should the talks fail will create a new threat to the U.S. itself. A repeat of the Cuban missile crisis by other means.
The Cuban crisis led to the elimination of U.S. nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey and Italy and aimed at Moscow. A similar crisis today could likewise lead to a U.S. and NATO retreat from eastern Europe.
Russia has won real and hybrid wars in South Ossetia, Crimea, Syria, Armenia, Belarus and now in its soft underbelly Kazakhstan after those countries came under attack. Leaders of the last four countries, all multi-vector politicians who were trying to play with the ‘west’ and Russia, have found out that Russia is their best and only friend and have decisively moved into its camp:
Remember, the PSYOP narrative was that Putin is either stupid, or weak or sold out to the West, yet when we look at the “before and after” thingie, we see that while the West “almost” (or so they think) “got” Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and, now, Kazakhstan, the reality is that in each case it appears that the narcissistic megalomaniacs running the West have confidently waltzed into a carefully laid Russian trap which, far from giving the Empire the control of the countries it “almost” acquired, made them lose them for the foreseeable future.
Russia has done this with little cost and to great effect. Meanwhile the U.S. and NATO have lost their wars, most recently in Afghanistan.
It is time for the U.S. and NATO to acknowledge that.