Pompeo & Anaconda: The US Secretary of State’s Trip to the Post-Soviet Space

Throughout all their history, the Americans fought exclusively against many of the weakest opponents. Accordingly, it was not difficult for the Yankees to create an overwhelming advantage in forces and means not only in the main operational directions, but also in the secondary ones and literally suffocate the opponent, as a boa constrictor does with its victim.

Therefore, many American military plans bore the name “Anaconda”, such as the first strategic plan of the northerners in the American Civil War. That’s what the American plan to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan was called.

By the way, they also tried to implement the “Anaconda” plan in Kiev in 2014 – to cut off the rebellious Donbass from the border with Russia, and then crush it with a number and an overwhelming superiority in technology. The plan was clearly developed by American advisers. In the Soviet military academies they were taught to act differently: cutting up the defence of the enemy via decisive blows, isolating the pockets of resistance, advancing on its strategic centers, after the loss of which the enemy is deprived of the chance to further resist.

As for the American “anaconda”, Soviet military science has always been extremely skeptical of it, pointing to the impossibility (even with absolute superiority in power) of reliably covering the entire blockade ring. As a result, the “anaconda” had a lot of vulnerabilities, its body was easily cut up into a dozen place. The correctness of the Soviet military doctrine in this matter was strongly demonstrated in Donbass, where the overwhelming number of Ukrainian troops, were cut into pieces, surrounded, and destroyed by significantly weaker militia units and “soldiers on holiday” [volunteers that came from Russia – ed].

Nevertheless, the stereotypes of “anaconda” continue to dominate the minds not only of the American military, but also of politicians. The Americans encircle Russia (and now China) with hundreds of bases, the maintenance of which is insanely expensive and cannot be propped up in the event of a full-scale war, but they create the illusion of forming a blockade ring around the enemy. On the diplomatic front, the Americans are trying to do the same by imposing their client regimes on the perimeter of Russia’s borders.

Secretary Pompeo’s latest tour is the clearest indication of the Americans’ commitment to their favourite tactics. Visits to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan were announced. The targets are more transparent than ever. The Uzbeks in the post-Karimov era started to show increasing interest in Russian integration projects. They need to be halted. In Kazakhstan, which under Nazarbayev was one of the locomotives of Eurasian integration, there is a change of political generations. The Americans are trying to sense whether or not there are serious contradictions between “old folks” and “young folks” and whether or not it can be exploited.

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It was necessary to go to Ukraine based on domestic political needs. Trump, who is fighting the Democrats, needs to get a clear and unambiguous testimony from Zelensky that no one pressured him and that the American assistance came on time, and at the same time to get the Ukrainian authorities to open a criminal case against Biden.

Lastly, the US Secretary of State was clearly attracted to Belarus by the Lukashenko front, which gradually turned into a conflict with Russia and the denial of the possibility of an alliance between the two countries on existing terms (not to mention a union state). It was sinful to not take advantage of the opening opportunity of Russophobia in Belarus.

We will find out how successful Pompeo’s visits to Astana and Tashkent will be next week. I think he doesn’t count on there being significant breakthroughs. Rather, it’s reconnaissance for the future. But the results of meetings in Kiev and Minsk can be evaluated already today. And it’s proper to evaluate them in a bundle, not because Lukashenko is carrying out his u-turn to the West under the slogan “you lost Ukraine, you’ll lose Belarus!”.

It’s just that the project of “Ukrainising” Belarus, which until the last moment was Polish-Baltic-Swedish and a little bit German, now reached such a level that it is necessary to decide what to do with it further. After all, the battering ram against Russia did not leave Ukraine. And even as a Russophobic bridgehead, it infuriates not only Moscow, but also Poland, Hungary, Germany, France, and the United States itself.

After all, sanctions against Russia can be imposed without Ukraine (for example, because of Syria or simply because of Nord Stream 2), and Kiev causes the Washington authorities to have a lot headaches (especially when a local oligarch, with the grace of a drunk behemoth, tries to participate in the American domestic political game).

Pompeo travelled to Minsk from Kiev and Lukashenko’s prospects were seriously undermined by the Secretary of State’s talks with Zelensky. The Ukrainian president awkwardly moved away from the subject of criminal proceedings against Biden and pretended not to understand when he received a hint about the need to make a statement in support of Trump’s position.

In principle, the situation is clear, in recent weeks in Kiev the position of Soros, who managed to win against Kolomoisky a round in the fight for the government, only strengthened. Soros is a Democrat (he works with them, and Trump hates them). Consequently, it is precisely now that Zelensky is under heavy pressure from anti-Trump forces. His own entourage explains to him that the Democrats have already “almost won another presidential election” and “don’t fight against them”. Zelensky has to pretend that he’s even dumber than he really is and doesn’t understand why Pompeo came and what he expects from him. Moreover, during a joint press conference with Pompeo, Zelensky hinted that Kiev is sovereign and will decide what should be done and when, and that the US simply has an obligation to support Ukraine more actively and in much larger volumes.

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By and large, Zelensky behaved with the United States in roughly the same way that Lukashenko did with Russia. The only difference is that Lukashenko is actually turning Belarus to the West, and Zelensky cannot turn anywhere. Ukraine is already under the full control of the United States. But he defies the US Secretary of State, and indirectly the president as well, clearly playing on the Democrat’s side. This is a flawed position, because even if we assume that the Democrats will come to power next January, and Trump will not have time to get revenge on Zelensky, they will punish Ukraine’s president for his audacity. Currently his behaviour is certainly in their favour, of course, but none of the American vassals should even think that it is possible to defy the Secretary of State or the President of the United States with impunity – a bad example is infectious.

Lukashenko and Makei clearly expected more from Pompeo’s visit. And it appears that Makei promised Lukashenko a breakthrough towards the West. Lukashenko in a brazen form refused a visit to Sochi that he so ardently requested, said a lot of bad stuff about Russia and its leadership, openly made it clear to Pompeo that he was ready to reorientate towards the United States, and to have the right to count on reciprocity. And as a result, Pompeo only promised to return the American ambassador to Minsk (the Americans themselves sought it for 12 years, so it is not even a step forward) and, in order to preserve Belarusian sovereignty, to sell expensive American oil to Lukashenko. Concerning the issue of anti-Belarusian sanctions, Pompeo said that the US is not yet ready to lift them.

In fact, Lukashenko found himself in the position of such a partisan who betrayed his comrades but whom the Germans did not give a cow to either. He definitively ditched Russia. He was not trusted much before, but this time he defiantly started negotiations with a common enemy, against whom Russia, often to the detriment of itself, defended him throughout his presidency.

I am sure that at first a much warmer meeting was planned and Pompeo gave the corresponding hopes. Otherwise, a cautious Lukashenko and an equally cautious Makei would not put on such a demonstrative attempt of separate collusion to the detriment of Russia. As I said above, I believe that a significant share of the blame for the failure of the talks between Lukashenko and Pompeo lies with Zelensky.

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How else should the Secretary of State have reacted to Lukashenko’s attempt to go under American protectorate if Zelensky had brazenly defied him in the eyes the day before. If a clown totally dependent on Washington’s mercy allows itself to do this, then what can be expected from an emotional Lukashenko whose position will be more forgiving than Zelensky’s, and who is known for regularly fighting with Russia, which he was completely dependent on, squeezing newer and newer preferences out of it. After all, if tomorrow Lukashenko does not like something about “friendship” with the United States, and he will pull some of his favourite tricks, the Democrats will trumpet to the whole world that Trump hopped into bed with the “last dictator in Europe”, who “even Putin snubbed”, and now this “last dictator” disgraces the United States on every corner. And he can’t do anything.

So Pompeo went the longer and more reliable route. Belarus, in his understanding, is not going anywhere. The way back for Makei’s “national team” in the Belarusian government is closed. Consequently, they will still have to lead the country towards the West. And the fact that this path will have to be walked free of charge (even at its own expense), even though Lukashenko expected to be paid for severing ties with Russia, is a cost of production.

America would certainly like to add Belarus to the chain of Russophobic regimes. It would be not so much a political victory as it would be an information-ideological one. But the US, having learned from the bitter Ukrainian experience, understands that a cheap regime change is not ending, but just beginning. It is instantly revealed that without permanent external material and political support, a regime is not viable. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that a Russophobic regime in Belarus would receive much more resistance from its own people and would have a much smaller base of support within the country than the analogous Ukrainian one.

Meanwhile, the US has long lacked resources for “anaconda”. They need allies like Poland, which buys unfit for combat US fighter jets for $4.5 billion and spends $1.5-2 billion to build a US base. They need allies who will pay for themselves, not ones that need to be paid for. The time of Marshall Plans has passed, the US itself lacks resources, there is no time for charity, dependents are transferred to pasture and start to be sheared.

That is precisely why Pompeo’s diplomatic tour of the post-Soviet space was doomed to fail in advance. He wants a lot, but he has nothing to offer.

Rostislav Ishchenko

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