Vladimir Putin’s repeatedly pre-announced goals for Ukraine, and for his invasion of Ukraine, consistently contained two main points:
(1) to permanently block Ukrainian membership for Ukraine in the anti-Russian military alliance NATO; and, (2) to “denazify” Ukraine.
On 21 March, AP reported that “Zelenskyy said that Kyiv will be ready to discuss the status of Crimea and the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists after a cease-fire and steps toward providing security guarantees.” This milestone was the very first time that Ukraine’s President Zelensky said that there might be circumstances under which “the status of Crimea and the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists” could even possibly be negotiated by Ukraine’s government. All Ukrainian-government leaders, after U.S. President Barack Obama perpetrated in Ukraine a violent coup which overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected and neutralist President, and installed a U.S.-controlled rabidly anti-Russian government in Ukraine, in February 2014, have said that Ukraine will never consider the status of those two former regions of Ukraine to be negotiable — that they’re both parts of Ukraine, regardless of what the residents there want (which, clearly and overwhelmingly, after that coup, has been NOT to be ruled by that regime). (It definitely was a coup — NOT an authentic revolution — that installed it.)
So: Zelensky was now saying that “after a cease-fire and steps toward providing security guarantees,” Zelensky would negotiate “the status of Crimea and the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists.” This was the first major change-in-position by EITHER side in the present conflict; and the fact that it was being made by Ukraine was indisputable proof that militarily Russia was winning the war, up to that moment in time. (Subsequently, however, the war-situation is far less clear; Ukraine might be winning it.)
The deeper, and continuing, deadlock is (2) denazification of Ukraine. In my news-report on March 21, “Why The Question Of Which Side Is ‘nazi’ Blocks Any Peace Settlement”, was explained WHY that issue is so extremely unlikely to be able to be agreed-upon between Zelensky and Putin — and, therefore, why Russia will either have to accept defeat in this war, or else defeat Ukraine 100% militarily before there will be any capitulation by Ukraine in this conflict.
However, even if Russia defeats Ukraine in this war, Russia’s own national-security situation (which is the ultimate reason that can justify ANY nation’s participation in any war) will be substantially reduced by the war, for the following reasons:
The decision [by Biden) to destroy the Russian economy, to turn the Ukrainian war into a quagmire for Russia and topple the regime of Vladimir Putin will open a Pandora’s box of evils. Massive social engineering — look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya or Vietnam — has its own centrifugal force. It destroys those who play God.
The Ukrainian war has silenced the last vestiges of the Left. Nearly everyone has giddily signed on for the great crusade against the latest embodiment of evil, Vladimir Putin, who, like all our enemies, has become the new Hitler.
The United States will give $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, with the Biden administration authorizing an additional $200 million in military assistance. The 5,000-strong EU rapid deployment force, the recruitment of all Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, into NATO, the reconfiguration of former Soviet bloc militaries to NATO weapons and technology have all been fast tracked.
Germany, for the first time since World War II, is massively rearming. It has lifted its ban on exporting weapons. Its new military budget is twice the amount of the old budget, with promises to raise the budget to more than 2 percent of GDP, which would move its military from the seventh largest in the world to the third, behind China and the United States.
NATO battlegroups are being doubled in size in the Baltic states to more than 6,000 troops. Battlegroups will be sent to Romania and Slovakia. Washington will double the number of U.S. troops stationed in Poland to 9,000. Sweden and Finland are considering dropping their neutral status to integrate with NATO.
This is a recipe for global war.
On April 2nd, Russia’s RT bannered “Finland can join NATO without referendum – president”, and reported:
The president of Finland, which borders Russia, has claimed that the widespread support for NATO membership expressed in recent opinion polls could pave the way for joining the US-led military bloc without a referendum. The attitude of the Finns towards NATO membership took a U-turn following Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. …
Support for NATO membership reached a record-high 62% in Finland this month, according to a poll by Yle. A poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and released this week shows that 61% of Finns want their country to join the bloc.
This indicates a complete reversal of public opinion after Moscow sent its forces into Ukraine – according to Yle, previous polls showed that Finns were against NATO membership.
Putin’s goal to block Ukrainian membership for Ukraine was part of his broader goal to shrink NATO (its membership) by reversing NATO’s inclusion of the half of its member-countries that were added after 1991, which was when the Cold War ended on the Soviet Union’s side but secretly continued on the American side, and NATO therefore has expanded (even after the supposed end of the Cold War on — also —America’s side) to include in NATO virtually all European countries right up to Russia’s western border. (This produces a Cuban-Missile-Crisis-in-reverse crisis now, but one which will be far longer and more drawn-out.)
Consequently: Russia’s precipitate invasion of Ukraine, which was intended by Putin to shrink NATO, might instead lead to further expansion of NATO — even if Russia will win the war in Ukraine.
This is not, however, to say that Putin made the wrong decision to invade Ukraine, but that he did it at the wrong time. Biden had forced him to invade in order for Putin to prevent American nuclear missiles from ultimately becoming installed into Ukraine just a 5-minute flight-time away from nuking Moscow and thereby (in post-2006 U.S. strategic thinking) able to ‘win’ a U.S.-planned World War III by blitz-invading Russia so fast as to disable Russia’s entire retaliatory capability.
I had therefore expected Putin to invade Ukraine, but not before Zelensky would finally unleash the 60,000 Ukrainian troops on the Ukraine-Donbass contact-line (border) for them to race into its former Donbass region in order to slaughter its people (who had voted over 90% for the democratically elected and internationally neutralist Ukrainian President whom Obama had overthrown) and to retake its land — restore it to Ukraine. If Putin had done that (waited, in order NOT to have started this war), then though many of the residents in Donbass would have been killed, and the war there would have been devastating, Russia would have been able to respond immediately and send its troops in within no more than a week to conquer and destroy almost all of those 60,000 invading Ukrainian troops (plus their civilian hostages or “human shields” in Donbass), and the international “optics” of the situation would then have been vastly less bad for Russia than has resulted from Russia’s having invaded first — invaded “preemptively.” Perhaps, in that situation, NATO’s own future would be its shrinkage, instead of (as now seems to be not only possible but even likely) its accelerated expansion. (In addition, the international image then of Zelensky would now be vastly worse, because he would have been the first to invade.)
Consequently, Putin invaded at the wrong time.
He clearly was scared by what Biden and NATO were doing in this matter, by their backing Ukraine all the way, rushing weapons into Ukraine — continuing the Obama-installed coup-regime of Ukraine as being an American vassal-nation. On December 9th of 2021, Reuters headlined “Russia keeps tensions high over Ukraine” and (styled as a news-report no commentary) said “Moscow has an interest in keeping tensions high.” On December 15th they bannered “Russia hands proposals to U.S. on security guarantees”, which were demands (Putin’s “red lines”), not ‘proposals’. On December 17th IBT bannered “EU threatens Russia sanctions as NATO backs Ukraine”, and reported that NATO and almost all of the EU rejected Russia’s demands. NATO’s chief emphasized Russia would have no say, whatsoever, on whether or not Ukraine becomes a NATO member. RT headlined December 20th, “Russia promises ‘military response’ to any further NATO expansion.” Then, on the 26th, it was a “‘life-and-death’ issue for Russia”. (It was — and is — an “existential” issue, as viewed by the Russian people, and has been referred-to as such by Putin.)
However, Biden himself has likewise vastly miscalculated in this matter, because of reasons that were well-described by Alasdaire Macleod in his March 31st article “Edging Towards A Gold Standard”. The response by Biden (and by the leaders of all of America’s vassal-nations) to impose upon Russia the sanctions that now have been imposed, will harm the entire world’s economy — not ONLY Russia’s — and could very well turn out to benefit greatly Russia’s economy; but, definitely, NOT the economies of the nations that are cooperating with those sanctions.
On the other hand, if the allegations that were published in CNN’s April 3rd “Bodies of ‘executed people’ strewn across street in Bucha as Ukraine accuses Russia of war crimes” turn out to be true, then Putin’s own reputation will be so negatively affected that he will lose this global conflict personally, even if Russia itself turns out to have won it. If that article is true, then he might even end up being prosecuted as an international war-criminal (as George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden — and Ukraine’s post-coup leaders Yatsenyuk, Poroshenko, and Zelensky — definitely ought to be, but never will be).
Author’s note: first posted at The Duran
A Weapon of War: Rapes in the Ukraine-Russia Conflict
Warfare has always involved violent activity. It is the state-sanctioned, societally accepted form of murder determining which nation-state or non-state actor has power over an enemy. Like any area of society, however, warfare is governed by a series of laws and regulations (commonly known as the Law of Land Warfare) being codified in international law in 1899, 1907, and 1929 and by individual nation-states afterward. While these rules are often followed by at least one entity in a military conflict, there usually is a violation of the Law of Land Warfare in any military action.
While every violation is incredibly serious and important, one that often stands out in military conflicts is sexual assault or rape.
While it is one of (if not the) most abhorrent criminal actions known to man, rape has and always will be a commonality in warfare and violent conflicts. It is practically as old as warfare itself. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “… [wartime] rape was long considered an unfortunate but inevitable accompaniment of war—the result of the prolonged sexual deprivation of troops and insufficient military discipline” with the Second World War being a prime example of wartime rape on both sides of the conflict. Until the prevalence of international law in the late 20th century, wartime rape was “mischaracterized and dismissed by military and political leaders—in other words, those in a position to stop it—as a private crime, a sexual act, the ignoble conduct of one occasional soldier, or, worse still, it has been accepted precisely because it is so commonplace”, according to academics writing in Johns Hopkins University’s SAIS Review of International Affairs.
Partly due to an increase in unconventional conflicts involving non-state actors, “the international community began to recognize rape as a weapon and strategy of war, and efforts were made to prosecute such acts under existing international law” including Article 27 of the Geneva Convention and multiple declarations by the United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights, the Fourth World Conference on Women, the International Criminal Court, and the UN Security Council. These declarations and codifications further allowed for the protection of men, women, and children in combat zones from rape in addition to making crimes of sexual assault eligible to be considered as crimes against humanity or war crimes.
While international law is clear and the penalties for such actions heavy, nation-states and non-state actors can choose to disregard such laws. This is best exemplified in the current era with the Ukraine-Russia Conflict.
While most persons first heard of the rape of Ukrainians by Russian troops in mid to late April of 2022, roughly two months into the invasion, reports and developments on wartime rape by Russian troops was circulating heavily. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), looking at information received and vetted between the 22nd of February and 26th of March, reported there were “heightened risks of conflict related sexual violence (CRSV)” in addition to “a high number of women and girls [who are feeling Ukraine] face high risk of human trafficking and sexual exploitation”. While these reports were based on secondary sources or “made by alleged witnesses”, it is worth noting that Ukrainian law enforcement and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine all began investigating multiple reports of sexual assault of Ukrainians by Russian troops and that, generally, victims of rape may not report for a variety of reasons.
Other international entities, including Human Rights Watch, the New York Times, and BBC News, all reported further allegations of rape by Russian soldiers in Ukraine, yet these were relatively overshadowed by the news of active combat.
One of the first major outlets to report on this was The Guardian on 4 April 2022 which documented reports from victims and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on rape in Ukraine. Interviewing Kateryna Cherepakha, the president of sexual assault charity La Strada Ukraine, “We have had several calls to our emergency hotline from women and girls seeking assistance, but in most cases it’s been impossible to help them physically. We haven’t been able to reach them because of the fighting … Rape is an underreported crime and stigmatised issue even in peaceful times. I am worried that what we learn about is just going to be the tip of the iceberg”.
Throughout April and into May, rapes in Ukraine were reported on more heavily as victims, Ukrainian officials, and every day Ukrainians were speaking up. This drew the attention of many international entities including the International Criminal Court which launched “a war crimes investigation”, citing the rapes as being a key piece of evidence, and the European Parliament which condemned the use of rape as a weapon. The UN’s special representative on sexual violence in war also received “reports, not yet verified” concerning the sexual assault of men and boys throughout Ukraine stating “It’s hard for women and girls to report [rape] because of stigma amongst other reasons, but it’s often even harder for men and boys to report … we have to create that safe space for all victims to report cases of sexual violence”. The UN as a whole has demanded the allegations “be independently investigated to ensure justice and accountability”.
Throughout this military endeavor, Russia has denied allowing the rape of civilians (or any such war crimes) to occur, these denials being bolstered by various American and Western podcasters and questionable news sites. While Russia and other Putin apologists can try to deny such war crimes or illegal violations of the law of land warfare is taking place, others experienced in the field of sexual assault and human rights have contested this. Hugh Williamson with Human Rights Watch (HRW), speaking to CBC Radio, said HRW was “being very cautious … It’s taken us some time to piece it together, to make sure we are absolutely sure it is true and verifiable. We’re not saying this is very widespread, but we worry that it could be”.
While it is still quite difficult to ascertain what exactly is occurring in Ukraine, given the fact that a full on war is being exercised, it is likely to believe that some manner of war crimes, including sexual assault, is occurring. The fact that Russia has historically engaged in misinformation campaigns, knowingly spread false information in regards to the Ukraine crisis, and in the past engaged in war crimes throughout Eastern Europe in the post-Cold War era all indicate strongly that Russia can and will do whatever possible to try and conceal any negative news or obscure any real actions occurring.
Looking at this from a legal perspective, the case for Russian culpability in regards to war crimes and particularly sexual assaults in Ukraine is already being made. With the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in war accurately asserting “Today’s documentation is tomorrow’s prosecution”, proving such crimes will be difficult. Speaking to Dara Kay Cohen, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, NPR reported, “It is very rare to ever have smoking gun evidence that rape was ordered from the top down … There is some degree of accountability, but it is rare. But I think that that does not imply, however, that we shouldn’t be doing our best to collect all of the documentation that we possibly can in order to potentially hold perpetrators accountable”.
Proving or disproving sexual assault in wartime is a difficult task, even more so given the fact that the armed conflict is still occurring. It is without question that there is animosity between the Western world and Russia, which makes there a certain degree of speculation about how prevalent these assaults are. However, at this point, one must look at the facts on the ground.
It is very well documented that multiple Ukrainians are reporting assaults from a wide variety of locations and their stories all follow a similar tone common in military conflicts. The forensic information already collected by independent Ukrainian doctors, prosecutors, and the UN who examine the bodies of those deceased indicates multiple assaults by Russian troops. Intercepted telephone calls from the family of Russian soldiers to the soldiers currently taking part in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also indicate a condoning of such illegal and brutal activities.
At this point, it is undeniable that these reports are impossible to ignore with the forensic, eyewitness, technical, and historical evidence all painting a sinister picture of rape in Ukraine.
The Media Fog of War: Propaganda in the Ukraine-Russia Conflict
The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine has once again opened up the old wounds of east vs. west, continuing the long-established tradition of distrust and sometimes even open hatred from these two centers of power. This can be seen across the spectrum of media outlets in the west along with their counterparts in the east, as both sides push forth propaganda and favorable coverage so as to always show their side in a favorable light. With western media outlets, their coverage of the war has been very positive for the Ukrainians while showing the exact opposite when considering Russians. Western media quickly picks up Ukrainian propaganda pieces and repeats them for their audiences at home, who then take to social media to gloat over Russian losses and embarrassments.
Stories like the “Ghost of Kyiv,” the Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island, and others which have later proven to be inaccurate or not based in truth spread like wildfire across media outlets (Thompson, New York Times, Washington Post, etc). Certainly, a story about a Ukrainian fighter pilot shooting down several Russian jets is noteworthy and a country facing assaults from a greater power needs to boost morale every chance it gets. However, the willingness to circulate the Ghost of Kyiv tale across western media outlets displayed a clear bias for the Ukrainian side of the war in the west and, even though many have poked holes in the myth of this mysterious fighter pilot, people still disregard its “fake newsiness.” Thompson pointed out that some users on social media shared a willingness to believe in the propaganda, even knowing that it was made up: “if the Russians believe it, it brings fear. If the Ukrainians believe it, it gives them hope,” remarked one user on Twitter. This set a dangerous precedent as truth became a casualty in the war in favor of people wanting to simply find stories that would support their favored narrative and consequently ignore more accurate reporting.
Propaganda can be a useful tool for any country fighting to protect itself, but it can also lead to the spreading of falsehoods abroad and even lead some westerners to become inspired to take up arms in a conflict they probably should not get embedded within. Over 20,000 foreign fighters have signed up to fight for Ukraine in an International Brigade after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a call for help. Many of these people have little to no combat experience but were persuaded to fight for Ukraine so that they could be on “the right side of history” or combat injustice in a conflict that has been lauded as a brave underdog battle between the aggressor state Russia – longtime enemy of the west – and the small “noble” nation of Ukraine (Llana, Christian Science Monitor). Propaganda tales amplified by the media are largely responsible for bringing these foreign soldiers into a complex situation that they are not prepared for, ultimately risking an exacerbation of the war rather than a resolution of the conflict.
Stories like these have fortified in the minds of western audiences a strong dislike for Russia, its citizens, and its military. On social media channels, people were quick to put up symbols associated with Ukraine, most commonly, the Ukrainian flag, to show their support for its struggle as many, especially those in America, seemed to instinctively root for any underdog in a war. Support for Ukraine, though, naturally leads to discrimination toward Russians. Disregard for the suffering of Russian soldiers, a willingness to ignore the reasons for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the ostracizing of Russian citizens from the rest of the world – whether physically via travel or economically via sanctions – will have negative repercussions for the international community for years to come. Many celebrate every victory that Ukraine scores against Russia, heedless of the human cost of the war in general. This may very well deepen the divide between east and west before the war ends and force many average Russian citizens into a retributive hatred for those in Europe and North America who treated their country so harshly when they themselves were powerless to stop or prevent the Ukraine-Russia war.
Russian businesses have also been subject to discrimination in the west. Companies like Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Electric and McDonald’s all announced that they were temporarily suspending their operations in Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine (Williams, Fox10 Phoenix). Sanctions laid down on Russia in an effort to stagnate its economy also extend to banks, legislators, and even oligarchs but will leave a much more powerful and profound effect on the general populace. This punishment will trickle down to Russian citizenry who have played no part in the conflict at all but will suffer the most from these economic sanctions, simply because they live in the aggressor country.
This negativity against Russia and its people already existed prior to the Ukrainian-Russian war, but was reignited by the conflict. Many people in the west find it easy to fall into the camp of attacking the long-standing “enemy” due to the history left behind by the Cold War, by the psychologically-imprinted suspicion of those across the sea who threatened us with nuclear weapons for so long. In places like the U.S., there almost seems to exist a willingness to not hear the other side’s point of view, a refusal to acknowledge the sufferings of very human foes who are not so different from their adversaries. The question of why many Americans would even feel the need to take a position in a conflict that has little bearing on their everyday lives could have more than one answer. The need to cheer on an underdog in a pitched struggle, the old hatred left over by the Cold War, or possibly a need to satisfy the age-old good guy vs. bad guy complex which has been hardwired into many people’s minds through television, movies, literature, and other parts of our pop culture. For many, there exists a need to satisfy one’s own moral superiority, a need to establish good from evil. The recent conflict between Ukraine and Russia has given many the outlet they seek for this vindication.
The question of whether this treatment of Russia is justified or not lies primarily with an individual’s perception of the country as a belligerent at the international level or a nation trying to clearly define where its sphere of influence begins and ends. Russia invading Ukraine and starting a war rife with human tragedy on both sides was not done simply because Russia as a state is a villain or it gets its kicks by starting wars randomly. A deeper examination of the “whys” surrounding Russia’s invasion is desperately needed, where the proffered reasons are given legitimate analytical consideration. So far, this type of analysis has not been done. Ultimately, why it matters is because reaching into that understanding may help prevent a country like Russia in the future from feeling the need to invade at all.
When Will the War in Ukraine End?
Predicting the beginning and the end of a war is always a difficult task.
Many people would think of the usage of models and data, which would most likely refer to data on combat power, staff computing operations etc. A more advanced approach for some would include the super-complex model such as war games. Overall, the use of these methods depends on the target audience. The approach and delivery are different for the media or academia, in which the use of data would be necessary for the audience to understand and verify the forecasted results.
If the target audience is neither the media nor the academia, the use of different approaches would be necessary. The results would be tested on the battlefield rather than relying on statistics in the decision-making circles. A practical example given here is making predictions through information analysis.
The focus of such analysis, is naturally, information. The first important piece of information about when the war in Ukraine will end is to refer to the news from Moscow that it plans to end the war in September 2022. The second piece of important news is that Russia has about 1,200 to 1,300 missiles in its inventory.
Combining these two pieces of information allows us to do a simple analysis. If we calculate the average number of missiles that Russia uses on the Ukrainian battlefield every day, we find that at least 300 missiles are launched in a month by the Russian army. Now we are in the month of May, and after 5 months, Russia’s missile inventory will be exhausted. This means that, by October 2022, the Russian military will have almost no effective weapons to attack Ukraine. By then, of course, or maybe at a sooner date, Russia will have to attempt to end the war.
A question that naturally follows this is, can’t the Russian army use other methods to continue the war?
The answer is no. Because the Russian Air Force has gradually lost its advantage in the Ukrainian sky, if the air force is used to penetrate the battlefield, the losses will be heavy. Hence, the offensive force that Russia can rely on now is only to project missiles from combat aircraft outside the line of sight. Another approach is to use the small but large number of World War II period artillery to bombard indiscriminately, yet the areas assaulted will be ranging from zoos to children’s playgrounds. Therefore, the Russian army seems to have fewer battlefield options than what most people imagine.
Based on some key information, together with an analysis on the information of Russia’s missile inventory, the conclusion is clear. All indications point toward the end of the war in Ukraine from around September to October 2022.
The accuracy of the forecast will be verified as the event unfolds, and this is positivist style of thinking.
For some people, models and data are the only way to forecast the future, rather than simpler methods like information analysis. In this situation, the outcome may be determined with the use of all available data after the war is over. However, we now have a clear and convincing conclusion used to judge the prospects of war.
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