The world fluctuates today, from case to case. We sleep on news and advise on another. And the news that afflicts the souls is overcome the most: conflicts and their economic and living repercussions, natural disasters and epidemics.
The Russian-Ukrainian war is one of those calamities, although its legal classification is a conflict between two neighboring countries, but their political, strategic and geographical importance, and the interests of the world with them, expanded the circle of influence and influence, and the network of overlap and interference, until it surrounded the four sides of the world. And the rolling snowball grew, until there was no country, community or home left that was not affected by these developments, in terms of living, economic, and perhaps security.
The most pessimistic and optimistic did not expect the outcome of the war, in its second phase. Those who bet on the surplus of Russian power in front of the limited Ukrainian capacity, and those who built on historical precedents, some of which are close, such as Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, on a quick military trip, which exceeds the area and strategic importance of those areas around which the recent conflict revolves, and harsh on the world’s reaction towards This adventure, and previous adventures in Chechnya, Georgia, Abkhazia, and Syria, and the expectation that it would end up with a quick bite of the target areas, a faster fall of the Ukrainian government, and the rise of a new entity that owed allegiance to the Russian Federation, was right.
Whoever expected that the West’s reaction (especially the second version of the appeasement of the Obama administration) would not deviate from a package of economic sanctions and diplomatic pressures that could be tolerated, and was prepared in advance, did not deviate from the reality of international politics. Over the past two decades, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been able to skillfully deal with an international community that lacks cohesion, a Western alliance dominated by disagreements, and a world that lacks multi-polarity or strong unified leadership.
Nine months have passed, since the first Russian soldier entered Ukrainian territory, the first missile was launched, and the first plane bombed the fewer and fewer Ukrainian forces and sites, and the vision is still ambiguous, the stakes are multiple, and the calculations are turbulent. What happened?
It seems that President Putin’s calculations did not help him this time. He bet on what those who were deceived by Russia’s military, intelligence and financial capabilities bet on, and on the weakness of the American, and especially European, position in the face of Russia’s bullying, its interests with it and its almost total dependence on its oil and gas exports. He also bet on the emptiness of the Ukrainian president and his government, the weakness of his army and his economic potential. Perhaps these calculations did not predict the duration of the invasion for days or weeks, before the president and the staff of his government and army fled, the military surrendered, the regime fell, and the goal was achieved. Thus, the West finds itself in front of a fait accompli, and is forced to deal with it with minimal interest and security losses.
However, what happened was similar to what happened in Napoleon’s France and Hitler’s Germany in Russia, Brezhnev’s Russia in Afghanistan, Saddam’s Iraq in Kuwait, and America itself in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq: calves running towards prey, achieving early victories, falling into the trap of fierce resistance that prolongs life. conflict, and give opponents ample time to absorb the shock and counteract. Alliance of Weather, Geography and Political Calculations. As a result, the capabilities of the aggressor, his army, economy and alliances, weakened the enthusiasm of his people, and the morale of his soldiers collapsed. Thus, his bleeding intensifies until the aggressor chooses between stubbornness until defeat, or seeking help from mediators, or humiliating withdrawal.
turn the table
Today, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is tilting in favor of Kyiv and its Western allies. David was able to address Goliath, and turned the scales. It is as if David the Ukrainian, in the first stage, wanted to lure the Russian Goliath into his swamp and shifting sands, using the opponent’s strength, size, and impulse against him. Then he targeted, with his modern Western equipment, columns of tanks, missile systems, and military gatherings.
In the next stage, he chased the fugitives and targeted positions within Russia and in the areas he had previously captured, which together amounted to a quarter of the area of Ukraine. Perhaps the latest evidence is the bombing of the “Great Crimean Bridge”, which the Russians have long boasted of being inviolable (costing seven billion for nineteen kilometers, transporting 40 million passengers annually, and 21 million tons of goods, and it opened in 2018). It is the only one, which connects the island to the Russian mainland with four car tracks and 94 daily trains, and it forms the link between the military bases and supply depots, on the two banks. Note that the bridge was partially repaired within days.
Ukrainian forces have benefited from advanced Western training, guidance and weaponry, in addition to accurate intelligence that helped them sink the largest and most modern Russian destroyer, the cruiser “Moscow”, in the Black Sea, and destroy or disable the latest Russian T90 tanks and S300 air defense batteries.
The S400 and the downing of Su-35 aircraft, Russian and Iranian drones, and surface-to-surface Iskander missiles.
Thus, NATO achieved the desired goal of stripping Russian weapons, weakening the morale of the army, and the people’s confidence in its leadership. It also achieved the Western camp besieging Russia economically, politically and in the media, and directing international public opinion against it. No matter how Moscow calls its invasion of Ukraine a “special operation” or “support for the liberation of rebel regions” or “the restoration of Russian lands”, the only international classification for it remains (invasion and occupation of an independent country, the destruction of its military and civilian facilities, the killing and displacement of the population, and the disruption of trade). international).
What is not achieved
As for what the Western scheme has not been able to implement, so far, it is the overthrow of President Vladimir Putin, a crushing defeat for his army, or the bankruptcy of his economy. Despite all the international sanctions and the political and financial embargo, the president is still holding the joints of the state, and his army is still steadfast, despite the bleeding, and is able to mobilize hundreds of thousands (despite the mass escape of candidates inside and outside Russia), and to produce more weapons, ammunition and spare parts, (despite the interruption of European materials, such as chips and advanced electronic equipment). The Russian economy is still resilient, benefiting from its close alliance with “OPEC Plus”, China and India, the rise in oil and gas prices, and the submission of many customers to the requirement to pay in rubles (despite the freezing of their balances in Western banks and the blockade of its international sales of energy products).
Nor did Russia’s announcement prevent the annexation of the four Ukrainian provinces, after eight years of supporting the rebels in them, and based on elections that took place under occupation and without international monitoring. The Western camp was able to mobilize the overwhelming majority in the United Nations and the Security Council against this resolution.
Russia’s threat, hinting and declaring a “nuclear solution” and “end of the world”, is evidence of the failure of its plan. One of the signs of despair over the army’s ability to win the war by conventional means is the repeated brandishing of “superpowers”. This is how Hitler did when he threatened with secret weapons, and this is how Saddam did by threatening him with chemical and atomic weapons, and this is how Kim Jong Un does every day!
But the fact that everyone is aware of, is that the other side has the ability to respond with a crushing crush, and that is precisely why a third world war did not take place. Just as the decision to press the nuclear button is not in the hands of one person, it can be contaminated with mass suicide. In Russia, as in the United States and its allies, there is a collective leadership that controls nuclear weapons, and strict and precise controls are the most important goals of nuclear deterrence, and the most important conditions are that the opponent initiates.
The statement and insinuation, intimidation and intimidation will remain. NATO will remain ready to deal with any emergency. The West will continue military and diplomatic pressure, drain surplus power, and raise tension within the Russian leadership, and between it and society, in the hope that it will achieve its basic goals: defeat and withdrawal or rebellion and coup. On the other hand, wise people are considering the option of negotiation, and the exits offered by mediators, such as the Saudi leadership, which has distanced itself from the conflict, balanced its relations between its parties, and agreed to achieve a prisoner-of-war exchange deal, and quietly seeks to reach a peaceful solution that secures the higher interests and legitimate rights of both parties.
Professor at Al-Faisal University