Rostislav Ishchenko: When It’s Not Expected…

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard

16/04/2018 (published just before the West’s strikes on Syria)

Any troubles, as a rule, happen when they aren’t expected. This too applies to war. Perhaps this is connected to the fact that when a person is afraid of something, they at the subconscious level try to prevent trouble. But when they relax and cease to be afraid, defensive actions stop.

In any case, everybody was preparing for war with Germany during all the 1930’s but it started when not only the population didn’t expect it (formally relations were normal), but also when Stalin started relaxing, because according to all calculations Hitler already missed the time to attack in 1941. One-two weeks remained before an attack was still theoretically possible, but already improbable, because the time that remained for the completion of military operations before the autumnal time of bad roads wasn’t enough. It was possible to live rather quietly up to the second half of April-the beginning of May, 1942.

But Hitler took a risk. Firstly, he took a risk because his own General Staff of the Land Forces (Oberkommando des Heeres) estimated the possibilities of the German army too optimistically – the unforeseen brilliant result of the French campaign had an influence. Secondly, and this factor was the most important one during decision-making, he took a risk because according to his own calculations England by the end of 1942, with the help of the US, will be able to increase military production and will be able to collect enough forces to organise the blockade of Germany. Also, the German leadership considered the US’ entrance into the war on the side of Britain to be 100% real. That’s why to destroy the military power of the USSR (in order to not fight on two fronts) and to create an overland corridor to Asia, which would make the German-Japanese positions in Eurasia invulnerable to an attack of naval powers was necessary before the end of 1941.

Hitler, in fact, was also going to attack the USSR already in May – it was prevented by an unforeseen coup in Yugoslavia and the defeat suffered by Italy in the war with Greece (the British expeditionary corps had already landed in Greece to open the Balkan front against Germany). Only a few weeks were needed by Germany in order to destroy Yugoslavian, Greek, and British troops. As a result, the invasion was postponed for a month.

The German generals claimed after war that this month was fatal, and that it is exactly this month before the autumnal time of bad roads that was needed by them in order to occupy Moscow. Perhaps this is so. But Generals evaluate only the military sphere specifically. In 1941 the German command also made other mistakes. Today it is difficult to say whether some of them or a whole range of them were fatal for the Reich. But it is possible not to doubt that if during this period the Soviet command worked absolutely unmistakably, then, considering the general ratio of forces on June 22nd, 1941, the situation for Germany would’ve been much worser and more critical than in reality.

But all of this, the mistakes, and the incorrect assessment of the USSR’s possibilities wouldn’t have forced Hitler to refuse war just like the threat of war on two fronts didn’t force him to refuse to attack Poland at a time when even a lone French army on formal indicators was stronger than the German one, and France seemed to be invincible in the alliance with Britain. Hitler couldn’t not be at war, otherwise he would become simple expendable material of western “democracies” in the fight against the USSR. But he desired to be, at minimum, equal among equals and saw Germany as the leader of Europe. That’s why in 1939 he couldn’t under any pretext refuse to attack Poland (after the refusal of the latter to meet the German demands for laying an exterritorial railroad and highway to East Prussia through the Polish corridor and the return of Danzig to Germany), and in 1941 he wouldn’t have refused to attack the USSR even if he had to do it in August.

Hitler needed a victory. At the same time he initially don’t have resources enough to win according to a classical strategy. Only a successful adventure could save him. And an adventure doesn’t mind when it starts: in May, in June, in August, etc.

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We have the same thing now in our [Russia’s – ed] relationship with the US. The President in Washington can be Trump, Clinton, or maybe somebody else. But any American politician will face the need to defend American political hegemony. This is necessary for Americans not because of natural nastiness and not because they got used to earning money from wars (although these factors also play a role, but they aren’t the main ones). The US needs hegemony because the economic model of the golden billion, at the top of which is the US, is built on a nonequivalent, unfair exchange. The US can provide this exchange only by leaning on local comprador governments, and, eventually, on their own military power helping them to create and keep in power local comprador governments.

If at least one State in the world refuses to submit to the US and lays a claim to its own sphere of interests, it means that a world that is an alternative to an American one is being created – it’s not big in size, but in principle anyone can become a part of it. If Russia saved Assad today, then tomorrow it can save anyone. The lack of an alternative to submitting to the American dictatorship disappears. American economic interests stop being absolute. The system of a nonequivalent unfair exchange in favor of the US starts working with interruptions, and then stops working completely. Taking into account the already not brilliant state of Washington’s economy and finance, it means not just a crisis, but the most severe social shocks threatening the destruction of the working model of the American statehood. The American-style “dashing 90’s” will be much more cruel than the Russian 90’s (and the Post-Soviet time in general).

It is precisely for this reason that any American government – whether it is represented by conservatives trying to preserve the domination of international banking houses and transnational corporations that long withdrew from the US not only production capacity, but also headquarters, or reformers trying to return America’s industrial production, correct trade imbalances, get out of the debt hole, and to “make America great again” – needs hegemony all the same. Without military-political hegemony America falls much quicker than it will be able to become great again.

It is Russia that acts as a stone on the highway to progress (in the form of the preservation and consolidation of American hegemony). It possesses sufficient military opportunities, financial and economic interests, and political will to lay a claim to its own sphere of interests in which its influence must be indisputable. Before the end of the 90’s the Americans formally recognised the space within the borders of the former USSR as such a sphere of Russian interests. But by the end of the 90’s-beginning of the 2000’s, when the American financial-economic model moving closer to crisis became obvious, and the prolongation of its agony became possible only at the expense of plundering not-yet-plundered Europe and the not-fully-plundered Russia, China, and so-called “Asian tigers”, such a state of affairs ceased to suit the US and all of them started crawling into the Russian kitchen-garden more actively.

At first Russia was focused. Its economy, finance, and Armed Forces were in a pathetic condition and demanded restoration. The only thing that allowed Moscow to survive and to reclaim the status of a great power was a consensus among the elite. It’s not a coincidence that Berezovsky, Gusinsky, and Khodorkovsky appeared to be the rare pariahs who weren’t supported by most of the oligarchy. By then the Russian ruling class realised that the elite didn’t understand all the other former federal republics [of the USSR – ed]. If you don’t have the opportunity to defend yourself against the West, relying on your own State, then it won’t calm down until it robs the shirt off your back. Such is the essence of its economic model.

Until a certain moment the West didn’t plunder those who it recognised as its ones – members of the EU, NATO, G7. In the 90’s the Russian elite made some attempts to enter the EU and/or NATO, to receive the status of “theirs”, and to thus solve the problem without a confrontation. The West refused. Since this moment it became clear that either it will eat this elite together with Russia, or this elite will be able to revive the country and defend itself and the people. The Russian elite could solve this uncommon problem facing it, especially since after 2010 the West abandoned its vegetarian habits concerning “theirs”. Western Europe (old Europeans) started to actively devour East (new Europeans) and the US prepared itself to completely devour the EU within the framework of the TTIP. By the way, it is also for this reason that the Russian elite shows such loyalty concerning the political leadership. Regardless of how the West hints that it wouldn’t harm to get rid of Putin and it will be possible to live like under Yeltsin, but Russian billionaires in its majority don’t believe any more that they will be left alone. There are probably traitors, but such mass treachery of the elite like in the last few years of the USSR’s existence (when several traitors were even sat at the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party) isn’t observed.

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In 2008 in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and in 2014 in Crimea the West received the first flicks on the nose. Moreover, if it almost didn’t pay attention to the first one, then the second one was very painful. Finally, since 2015 in Syria Russia openly acted against the plans of the West and disrupted their realisation (including several planned, but unrealised interventions in Syria).

This strengthened the positions of Russia, but didn’t cancel the need for the US to either destroy Russia or to reduce it to the level of a third-world State. In this regard Georgian, Ukrainian, and Baltic nationalists, as well as Moldavian unionists, perfectly assessed the intentions of the West. They only incorrectly calculated the forces of the West and the forces of Russia. That’s why they were sure that Moscow will quickly surrender, and they will appear in the first ranks of marauders, and now it becomes clear that they will be obliged to be the first to lay down their lives for the interests of America.

The US and Britain in the old manner clumsily organised the provocation with the Skripals, and then in the Syrian Douma. They got used to nobody daring to contradict them, and they were going to ignore the Russian indignation, leaning on the “opinion of the world community”. And here it became clear that they weren’t supported even by their NATO own allies.

Introducing a new package of sanctions against Russia on the basis of the provocation with the Skripals to block “Nord Stream-2” failed. On the basis of the provocation in Douma sanctions were only applied by the Americans [information is correct at the time of writing – ed]. In response to the threat of a military strike (in order to show that Russia can’t defend its allies) they [the West – ed] heard the promise [from Russia – ed] to sink ships and down planes. THEIR ships and THEIR planes – not Georgian, not Ukrainian, and not Baltic ones. They understood that they found themselves in front of a dilemma. It is possible to take a risk in hope that Russia won’t carry out its threat, but if it does carry it out, then they will be obliged to swallow the sinking of a beautiful missile destroyer (or, heaven forbid, an even more beautiful nuclear submarine), or to strike Russian troops and to find themselves before the prospect of nuclear war. They took a pause and thought it over. Maybe this time they will come out unscathed. Although the threat of the beginning of a regulated conflict (in which every party risks only a certain contingent and a certain level of intensity) hasn’t yet been exhausted. And such a conflict can be exhausted within the framework of an ordinary collision, and it can also develop into a full-scale nuclear crisis.

But, if the US won’t begin war now, it doesn’t mean that they won’t begin it in general. If we [Russia – ed] can’t capitulate without sliding into the poverty and utter darkness of the 90’s, they have the same situation. And many of their leaders understand that in the last 20-30 years the US committed a mass of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Only the status of a superpower whose leaders can’t be judged unless there is a military victory over it [the superpower – ed] saved them from being trialled. If this status disappears, even as a result of voluntary capitulation, there will be a mass of persons interested in judging and hanging American politicians and military men guilty of massacring the citizens of Yugoslavia (and then Serbia), Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Having eliminated Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, and Gaddafi they themselves created the precedent of punishment over the losers. And now they are afraid that the precedent created by them will turn back against them.

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They can’t allow themselves to surrender. They need to win against Russia (too strong for them in the military domain) without direct military operations. Victory must be reached in a political way. If the old type of provocations ceased to affect allies, and they don’t wish to unconditionally support the American position, then it means that there is a need for a new provocation. Allies don’t want to believe the movies about the “White Helmets”, but they nevertheless believed the Malaysian “Boeing” at the time. It means that if a provocation is staged with hundreds or thousands of corpses – tens of thousands is even better, then allies won’t dare to suspect the US. After all, it is clear that only “dictatorial Russia” could do such things. And it will be again possible to exasperate Europe with the introduction of economic sanctions again.

But if Europe (at least Germany) resists under pressure and will insist on presenting proof or if sanctions again won’t give the due effect, then war will become inevitable. And all of this will be decided in the next one and a half years. “Nord Stream-2” isn’t the US’ only problem, but today it is their most major problem. If they won’t manage to force Germany to abandon the project, then in one and a half years the situation in the EU will dramatically change. Eastern European limitrophes, tearing apart the German-Russian economic cooperation via a transit blockade (at least even an eventual one), will find themselves in the political scrap heap, and Berlin (the owner of Europe) will be much more interested in Russia and in the project of Big Eurasia (which gives it access to the markets of China through Russia) than in the weakening and growing poor America.

It is possible to stop the slipping of Europe towards a union with Russia if it voluntarily decides to remain with the US. (the blockade of “Nord Stream-2” will testify to such a choice) or, having launched a war for Europe in the hope that obligations within the framework of the EU and NATO will force the European elite to join the Americans against Russia.

Washington will organise its provocations in hope to solve these affairs without war, but every following provocation will be more and more bloodier and dangerous, and the distance between these provocations and war will be less and less. One day the world may not be so lucky. This is especially probable because for a long time not one sole team has governed in Washington, but several competing ones that pit one against the other, which worsens control over their own actions. Or maybe the world will get lucky. The most important thing is to not relax and think that if yesterday there was no strikes on Syria, then it means all ended well.

The enemy doesn’t sleep. And a chemical shell (or even a small atomic bomb) can blow up at any time somewhere in Tbilisi, Kishinev, the Baltic countries, or in Kiev. Because it must be immediately clear to the “world community” that “Russia is guilty” and there is nothing to verify – both the contamination of the territory and a heap of corpses being present, not like with the “White Helmets” or the Skripals.

After all, nobody thinks that the Americans somehow give special value to Grybauskaitė, Poroshenko, Pavel Filip, or the acting Georgian leaders. And it doesn’t matter for Americans were they fight – in Syria, in Ukraine, in Georgia, or in the Baltic countries. The most important thing is that the local expendable material doesn’t ponder.

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