Reading Between the Lines: Putin’s Comments About Ukraine and NATO

By Ollie Richardson

Putin during an interview to the Austrian “ORF” news channel was asked about Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO and the future of Donbass. However, much to the dismay of a certain “pro-Russia” social media sect that wants Russia to drop 6 million nuclear bombs on NATO’s positions, which would apparently solve the problem of the alliance’s buildup near Russia’s borders, Putin responded in a way that simply cited international law…

The topic of Russia’s position vis-a-vis Ukraine and Donbass is very contentious, well, on social media anyway. The idea that Russia should simply annex Ukraine has been floating around for a long time. 
According to social media the solution is very simple: Russia sends its regular army to Donbass, and then from here they, together with the militias, advance up the Dnieper towards Kiev. Then it is simply a matter of storming the Rada and standing on its roof with the flag of the Russian Federation.

This story is, of course, delirium driven by the Hollywood entertainment industry and video games. Russian troops cannot enter Ukraine, period. And we know Russia entered Syria to approach the grand problem from a different, more convenient (less risk involved) axis. The situation today is that Ukraine as a State is buried. There will be no “partisan revolution” or magic millions in the piggybank. Socially speaking, it is now every man (or nation/creed) for themselves. This so far has meant either fleeing abroad or simply croaking.

Now what does America & Co plan to do here? Well one theory knocking around is that they will turn Ukraine into an anti-Russia shop-window, investing some money to make Ukraine even resemble a country. It’s not sure whether this would be more loans or just free cash. This would be done to convince Russian’s living in Russia that Putin’s Russia is awful, and Ukraine’s new Western direction offers a much better quality of life. Russian’s will then demand the overthrow of Putin and the election of a more westernised candidate. It must be said –  this thesis becoming a reality is most unlikely, least of all because it’s not sure why the West would invest now in Ukraine.

For example, today America could overtly build military bases in Ukraine. They have done the necessary diplomatic/NGO work to be able to do this without causing much of a fuss on the international scene. After all, they did it in North Syria relatively easily. But instead America created this Yavorov training ground in Lvov, which teeters of the dividing line of what’s legal and what isn’t. I.e., it is a safe commitment, since it is encapsulated in this “NATO accession” wrapper, which sadly isn’t illegal (according to the West’s model of what’s legal and what isn’t).

It is presented in PR communications as a Ukrainian training ground, where NATO instructors operate. This is very telling. It means that America doesn’t yet want to commit to creating actual overt military bases. So from this it shows that America is almost inventing what it does in Ukraine on the fly. Also, America & Co have literally thrown billions into the Ukrainian toilet already. The return has been prospective – i.e., maybe one day some fruits will come, but time isn’t on the West’s side. Thus, it’s unlikely that the West will suddenly want to invest a lot now.

If to look back on history (since 1991), America has always preferred to remain hidden from the stage, and to pull the strings from behind the curtain. The incident with Kuchma and the tape recordings is an example of when covert intervention is deemed to be necessary. So to cut a long story short, the thesis “America will only keep its toes in the water, and nothing more” is more believable. The Ukrainian problem is simply too volatile and dependant on the actions/reactions of Moscow. America can only do so much string-pulling. So, let’s reference Putin’s interview. He affirmed that Russia still wants Donbass to remain inside Ukraine but with “special status”, like Chechnya’s status inside Russia. And how fitting that he uses this example. I.e., hot spots of CIA activity require a special framework.

Armin Wolf: If so, then apparently people in Chechnya, Daghestan and Ingushetia could also organise a referendum and secede from Russia? Or organise an Islamic caliphate in your territory?

Vladimir Putin: Indeed, Al-Qaeda extremists wanted to tear off this territory from the Russian Federation and form a caliphate from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. I do not think that Austria and Europe would have been happy about it, or anything good would have ever come of it. But the Chechen people made an entirely different decision during voting, and eventually signed an agreement with the Russian Federation following a discussion after all the bloodshed. The Russian Federation, too, had to take a very difficult decision to give Chechnya and many other regions a status that determines the high level of their autonomy within the Russian Federation. Ultimately, that was the decision of the Chechen people, and we are very happy about this and we stick to those agreements.

Incidentally, the same could be done in Ukraine in regard to Donbass. Why has this not been done yet? Then Ukraine would not have to limit the use of the languages ​​of foreign minorities, meaning not only Russian, but also Romanian, Hungarian and Polish. They do not seem to discuss this much in Europe, but it is a modern reality.”

Essentially, Russia hopes that America’s commitment in Ukraine falls victim to time itself. It is hoped that Russia will still be able to work with the Ukrainian State and preserve as much of the post-Soviet space as possible. Eurasian integration is paramount. As a reminder – America wants Russia to enter Ukraine and to commit war crimes. America wants Russians to slaughter other Russians with their own hands. This is the ideal scenario in Washington’s mind, and solves many problems at the same time. Now let’s look at Putin’s other response, about NATO:

Armin Wolf: The last question on Ukraine. Do you think the Ukrainian problem would be resolved if Ukraine declared itself a neutral country like Sweden or Austria and would not join NATO?

Vladimir Putin: This is one of the problems, but not the only one. I have already mentioned the limited use of native languages ​​of ethnic minorities. Ukraine adopted the law on language, which was criticised, including in Europe, but it is in force. This largely complicates the situation in Ukraine. But I will remind you – and these are the things very few people know about – that the ideologists of Ukrainian independence, Ukrainian nationalists insisted on creating a sovereign Ukrainian state, independent from Russia, as early as in the 19th century. But many of them also spoke about the need to maintain good relations with Russia, the need to form an independent Ukrainian state on federative principles, and so on. As early as in the 19th century. Today, I would say it is one of the most sensitive internal issues in Ukraine. And Ukraine is doing it itself.

As for the neutral status, this issue is up to the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian leadership. For us, for Russia, the important thing is that there would be no military facilities in Ukraine that could threaten our security, such as new missile defence systems aimed at thwarting our nuclear potential. This is indeed important for us, I am telling you frankly. But ultimately, this is the choice of the Ukrainian people and the country’s legitimately elected authorities.”

In other words, Russia will not violate International Law. Ukrainians themselves must decide their own fate. And here Russia needn’t do anything. As is known, change only really comes when you are up to your neck in sh*t and “sink or swim” is the only choice. Ukraine’s economy will continue to collapse, along with the standard of living, and thus the population will keep reducing. Those who really believed in the “EU accession” scam will simply look at where it’s best to earn money (flee). Those who love Bandera will turn on Poroshenko’s clique. It starts to look more and more like self-implosion. And it is what needs to happen, to remove the cancer. But the processes described above need time. And as is known, time equals money. And Ukraine has no money (or the money it does have goes straight into the corruption black hole), and the West doesn’t want to give any more tranches until 2020 at the earliest. Thus, it follows that the result of the 2014 Maidan is 100 years (at least) of lost time (an entire generation, as it were).

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So, we understand that firstly, Russia will simply wait until the Ukrainian people cleanse their own soul (since they wanted independence, they have to live with their choice). Now focus on this quote from Putin about NATO and Ukraine:

“For us, for Russia, the important thing is that there would be no military facilities in Ukraine that could threaten our security, such as new missile defence systems aimed at thwarting our nuclear potential.”

What does this really mean? Russia needs to have the “ultimate” piece of leverage – the guarantor that if America went “all in”, that the response would mirror America’s risk/reward ratio. This mechanism also needs to be failsafe. It must be a guarantee, and nothing less. Of course, it’s extremely unlikely that America would decide to directly attack Russia, but the chance (and means for it to happen) still exist all the same. And as long as this chance exists, then Russia must take it into account at all levels of decision-making. If Russia doesn’t have this “ultimate” deterrent, it means that more pressure is put on other mechanisms to compensate for it. And since Russia under Putin isn’t expansionist, then the country enters into a very ugly impasse as a result. The West knows all of this anyway.

However, Russia hopes to substitute nuclear warheads for the S-400/500 as the “ultimate” deterrent. This is ultimately what “multi-polarity” is about. Sculpturing a different mentality in response to the chaotization of globalism. The position of nuclear weapons in the international relations equation has changed. Its value is still the same, but the formula is more long-winded and ultimately requires more time to produce an output. The S-400/500 model is more flexible in conditions of fourth generation warfare – where the UN no longer guarantees the territorial integrity of a State.

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To summarise this point: Russia has red lines, and can respond asymmetrically, but just as lethally. And America knows this. So this is why THE CONCEPT of Ukraine’s NATO accession is being used as a piece of leverage, and not the actual accession itself, since as things stand it is a bluff.

Not to mention that Ukraine is nowhere near being ready to enter the bloc. Firstly because the conflict in Donbass has to stop, and for it to stop there needs to be a night of the long knives among the Ukrainian elite. And secondly because the country itself is bankrupt. Putin doesn’t elaborate too much on this point, but he is essentially saying: Donbass is now a key node in the Russia vs USA fourth generation warfare standoff. But much like America’s presence in Syria – Washington needs to spend resources (money) in order to even approach the poker table. And America now can’t just throw money at its problems and hope that a short-term solution will produce miracles.

Putin knows that time itself will be the sword that slays NATO. No amount of pseudo-blocs or crappy F35 jets will change this. It’s like a F1 driver knowing that it will overtake car X because they are aware of the amount of fuel that car X has and its pit-stop strategy. Today things can seem to be uncertain and generally gloomy. Social media truncated the time frame in which we think. What may seem to be illogical and suicidal today can prove in the future to be the contrary. And visa-versa. And that’s why risk assessment is carried out.

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Summary: Russia/Putin isn’t concerned about Ukraine entering NATO because even if such a thing happens, it requires time. And the more time that passes, the stronger Russia/Eurasia becomes (and thus the weaker the West becomes). So much so that the acronym “NATO” will no longer invoke pant-pooping, but laughter. Donbass needs to remain inside the Ukrainian State. It acts as the Russian fuse of the American grenade. This was possible thanks to the Minsk Agreements. Now the grenade is being aimed at the EU (Russia sanctions/Iran deal/Nord Stream-2 are all symptoms of this) instead of Russia.

So now Europe starts this same process of sinking in the sh*t. The “flight or fight” mechanism is becoming more and more active. Being under Uncle Sam’s boot loses its appeal as the days pass. Meeting Putin at economic forums is now all the rage. Follow the money. The network of trade and travel routes as a part of the Silk Road is being laid. Some countries are more aware of this than others. Some are aware but aren’t yet able to reserve their place. Others have reserved their place, but understand that hard work is needed to keep it. Britain’s navy (and pirates) aren’t here to stop it. America’s ability to directly subordinate/intimidate others via dropping a few atomic bombs has expired. There is simply nothing that can stop this new reality. And this fact is a positive one, that should invoke optimism.

What Putin says during interviews must be listened to attentively. Nothing he said in this particular interview is new, but the context in which he said it is – in 2018, a crucial stage of the Syrian war, the 2019 Ukrainian elections on the horizon, etc. He is consistent, like time itself. And for those who imagine NATO as this big dragon that menaces Russia with its fiery breath, it is recommended to deconstruct this simulacrum (which the US created over decades of psychological warfare) and to assess the possibilities of each individual parts of the greater sum. And now answer: honestly, is there something to be afraid of?

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