By Ollie Richardson
If to believe the always-worrying “pro-Russia” corner of social media, “World War 3” can happen at any moment. If NATO conducts military exercises in the Baltics, then it means that it’s time to run to the bomb shelters; if North Korea fires a missile over Japan and into the sea, then it means that Mad Max is close to becoming a reality; if Israel bombs some “Iranian warehouse” in Syria, then it’s time to say goodbye to loved ones; if Trump tweets that he’s going to bomb Syria, then it is a signal to raid the local supermarket in anticipation of the nearing apocalypse, etc. The problem is that contrary to the predictions of these “experts”, “World War 3” never arrived. According to such social media users, “World War 3” (aka “WW3”) is like World War 2, but with nuclear weapons.
However, the main problem with this theory is that it simply doesn’t correspond to 21st century international relations or technological developments. As was said before, the whole point of a deterrent is controlling the enemy’s behavior without ever using the said deterrent, which in most cases is either the use of a specific weapon or an economic decision. I.e., a nation can only ever use a nuclear weapon when it is in a position of total dominance. America dropped 2 atomic bombs on Japan because there were no consequences for doing so. There would be no Hague tribunal or geopolitical isolation, and Japan had already surrendered and was in no position to retaliate. Now in 2018 America cannot freely drop nuclear bombs on any countries because firstly, the UN Security Council exists, which upholds a basic level of behavior in the international arena, although it is biased in favour of the western world (the fruit from invading and conquering other countries – they become vassals who can vote and say the “correct” things in the UNSC hall). Of course, America bypassed the UN when it came to bombing Yugoslavia and Libya back into the stone ago, but the use of nuclear weapons was simply not possible due to the gross instability it would cause to the global system (globalism).
Secondly, the Russian (Soviet) State is now the strongest it’s been since World War 2 – diplomatically, economically, militarily, etc. The result of this is what can now be seen in Syria, where Russia has carved a very large space for itself to manoeuvre where the Sykes-Picot signatories once ruled, and Moscow did this with a handful of jets and ground units. In short, if America could drop nuclear bombs in 1945 without (relatively speaking) risking anything, then in 2018 Washington can only watch the S-500 being test-fired and report about the results in awe (note that the Russian State didn’t announce anything – they only published a sarcastic Sputnik article, because events such as this one act as test balloons in the information sphere):
It’s no secret to anybody with basic knowledge of global events that not only America, but the western world (what was left of it after Hitler’s Germany was defeated and America occupied most of the continent) in general is in serious economic decline. The very fact that cryptocurrencies exist is enough proof of this – now the Federal Reserve doesn’t enjoy the hegemony it once had over the money supply. In fact, the West will face many economic challenges in the next 10 years, and it is unlikely that such blocs as the EU will come out the other side intact.
But all of this concerns the next decade or so. Social media does not function according to such time frames. The average lifespan of a “tweet” is approximately 18 minutes. And it is because of such an extremely truncated method of communication that a large “space” has been formed where the subjects inside of it have lost synchronisation with reality (due to the constant demand for little hits of dopamine via “shares”, “retweets”, “likes”, etc.). This means that, say, many hours on the ground in Syria can be represented by 18 minutes on social media – a whole day’s offensive can be summarised in one tweet, but does this tweet encapsulate everything that happened that day? Of course not – the map isn’t the territory. But there is clearly a problem when perspective can be lost in the blink of an eye, when someone like Vladimir Putin can go from being a “hero” to a “traitor” just because he doesn’t see a problem in allowing Tel Aviv to point a double-barrelled shotgun at its own feet.
Some time has passed since the airstrikes and social media users had some time to digest the consequences.
Now that some time has passed, here is a question:
Did Israel’s recent token airstrikes change anything in Syria?
— Ollie Richardson (@O_Rich_) May 16, 2018
The results of this small poll are interesting, even if only 76 people participated in it. If it was actually true that Netanyahu’s antics had put Assad in checkmate and pulled Putin’s pants down, then the results would surely be on the contrary. But no, 95% of voters are sure that Israel didn’t achieve anything.
According to another poll with a larger sample size (2223 people), Russia is the “only force that will stay in Syria in the long-term”. I.e., Iran may pull out if Syria is no longer under the threat of a Salafist coup, Turkey may pull out if the Kurds are fully removed from the areas adjacent to Ankara’s borders, and America may pull out because it simply doesn’t have the resources to stay in Syria (unless Riyadh is paying for it).
The only foreign force that will stay in #Syria in the long-term ?
— Wael ?? (@WaelAlRussi) May 20, 2018
These results are even more fascinating because in order to be sure that Russia will stay in Syria for a long period of time, one must be sure that not only the domestic situation in Russia will keep above the water, but also that the enemies of Assad don’t and won’t have enough leverage to determine a different fate for the Levant.
However, according to some pro-Russia “experts”, Russia’s existence as a nation will end during the World Cup (or the beginning of the end will commence)! Why? Well apparently, Ukraine will embark on “Operation Barbarossa 2.0” and will steamroll Donbass, causing Russia to become so unstable that Moscow will need China to prop it up with Bitcoin in the same way that Eurasia has propped up Maduro in Venezuela while his country’s economy is bombarded by the sanctions of Washington and the saboteur work of the US’ NGOs. Of course, in the words of the “experts”, all of this will lead to the dreaded “World War 3”.
But does this hypothesis stand up to the most basic scrutiny? After all, the same social media users were sure that Ukraine would gatecrash Russia’s 2018 presidential elections and turn the Donetsk and Lugansk regions into one big mass grave.
— Enrico Ivanov ☦ (@Russ_Warrior) February 16, 2018
Well, as can be seen, no “large-scale” offensive (presumably this term means a return to the pre-Minsk phase of the war) took place in and around the period of the elections – Putin was safely re-elected without nuclear warheads travelling from hemisphere to hemisphere.
Over 1,000 U.S. tanks, APCs, artillery units and other vehicles arrive in Europe for massive NATO war-games near Russian borders.
To coincide with Football World Cup being hosted by Russia. pic.twitter.com/CEyBMjRXgu
— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) May 24, 2018
So what about the World Cup – will Ukraine bomb Donetsk in the same way it did in 2014? Will this provoke “World War 3”?
1. A “large-scale” offensive negates the work and money spent on giving the illusion that Ukraine is close to entering NATO (the full de-russification of Ukraine)…
America & Co have spent a lot of time and money on dragging Ukraine away from Russia’s sphere of influence, whether it’s the banning of the Russian language on TV and radio, in the services sector, and in schools; replacing such heroes from the Great Patriotic War as Nikolay Vatutin, Georgy Zhukov, and Lyudmila Pavlichenko with Ukrainian nationalists such as Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevych, Symon Petliura, etc; abolishing soviet healthcare practices and replacing them with European ones; etc. But one of the most effective (from America’s perspective) “reforms” is the one currently ongoing in the military domain. In order to pull Ukraine into NATO a lot of work needs to be done with Ukrainian society (whitewashing the alliance’s image). But even if every resident of Odessa waves the flag of NATO on every street corner, it still doesn’t mean that Ukraine doesn’t have to fulfil the criteria for NATO entry – such as, there must be no active military operations in the country (civil war). I.e., any “big” offensive in Donbass would be the same as taking 1 step forwards (towards NATO) and 50 steps back (towards Moscow).
2. A “large-scale” offensive would push the EU closer to economic collapse…
It’s not a coincidence that the Normandy Format has been reduced to simply Merkel and Putin discussing the entrance of UN peacekeepers in Donbass. America is putting the EU under big pressure to remain within Washington’s sphere of influence by insisting on the anti-Russia sanctions (which, incidentally, needed a pretext [the MH-17 shoot-down] to get the ball rolling), and Trump has no problem bleeding Brussels’ finances dry in order to achieve this. It should be remembered how the West managed to steer Hitler by using a carrot on a stick – for example, the Haavara Agreement. And nothing has changed – economically speaking, Germany is still the heart of the European continent. But Germany will not simply roll over for Uncle Sam and hand over its gold reserves as a tribute, and this is why “Nord Stream-2” is in many respects a “get out of jail for free” card in the hands of Berlin.
Any “large-scale” offensive in Donbass would only increase tensions with the neighbouring Poland, Hungary, and Romania, which would all refuse to allow the Banderist machine to treat their minorities living in Ukraine in the same way. Is it to be believed that Merkel would come running to Minsk to stop “Right Sector” crushing the local population in “poxy” Transcarpathia? In addition, the stock markets would wobble and the value of the Euro would start to tank in the same way the hryvnia has. The repercussions for Europe would be simply unacceptable, and Macron’s words about wanting to become the “number one investor in Russia” would obtain a similar lifespan to a tweet.
3. A “large-scale” offensive would result in the collapse of Ukrainian Statehood…
Kiev going “all-in” (and this is what the planning and implementation of such an offensive implies) and committing all remaining resources (Kiev has no choice but to do this since there is no more money in the kitty) to “recapture Donbass” is the same as a lemming jumping off a cliff. Civil war spread to all four corners of the country long ago, especially concerning religion, which is the most dangerous type of war of all. The rate at which Ukrainians are killing their compatriots increases with each passing day, and not via banal methods like drink driving. We are talking about grenades, knives, guns, and just straight up savagery. Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Khakov, Cherkassy, Lvov, Sumy. All four corners. Society is very tired from the war in Donbass, and the soldiers themselves did not receive even half of what they were promised (a plot of land and a high salary). The oligarchs who control the various Banderist formations roaming the streets find themselves squabbling amongst each other over fewer and fewer resources. And the population becomes logarithmically less and less, either due croaking early or being forced to migrate abroad in search of employment opportunities – the population pyramid can be described as “hyper-constrictive”.
In addition to all of the above, elections in Ukraine are less than 1 year away, and sharks such as Yulia Tymoshenko are hungry to loot the State once again, hence why she pretends to be “anti-war” and “pro-people”, because she knows that if things get any worse in Donbass, there won’t be a State left for her to loot in a year or so’s time. And she cannot even think about running for the Presidency without firstly striking a deal with the absolute controller of the country – America. This applies to all candidates and not just her.
4. A “large-scale” offensive would cause America to lose control of the political situation inside Ukraine…
Poroshenko fell out of favour with America because he kept looting the money Washington and its proxies like the IMF allocated to him. Thus, Washington insisted (and still insists) on the creation of an “anti-corruption court”, which in reality is designed to ensure that only the US government is allowed to syphon off wealth from Ukraine. The IMF has made it clear that another tranche won’t be sent unless Kiev increases gas prices, lifts the moratorium on selling the land, and finally creates this “anti-corruption court”. Ukraine was supposed to receive this tranche before the end of 2017. It is now nearly June, 2018. It is very unlikely that America will let Bankova Street shake the situation so much so that Washington will lose control over the political situation inside the country. Whilst the degree of control America has over Poroshenko is negotiable, what isn’t negotiable is the fact of control itself.
5. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are simply not able to carry out a “large-scale” offensive…
This is perhaps the most important point, although the country being bankrupt arguably supersedes this problem. The first thing to remember is that the UAF at its best, in 2014/2015, was crushed at Debaltsevo. Today, in order to hit Donbass with the force of the sun, Kiev needs an army that is capable of doing this. Judging by the recent events in Gorlovka, the current condition of the UAF is sub-par to say the least. Every fourth Ukrainian soldier in the “ATO” commits suicide. The UAF’s main military warehouses outside Donbass are constantly on fire – the ones inside Donbass were recently attacked by the militias as part of the operation to repel Ukraine from the Gorlovka area. More and more UAF troops either defect to the DPR/LPR or flee the zone of military operations completely. The mothers and widows of killed “ATO” soldiers put more and more pressure on Kiev to explain why their loves ones quickly come back home in a coffin. The former “ATO” soldiers themselves (who have felt betrayed ever since the Ilovaisk cauldron) joined Saakashvili’s impeachment movement and became firm opposition to Poroshenko. The UAF soldiers who have left Donbass and returned to civilian life behave like barbarians towards the very people they allegedly defended against “Russian aggression”. Finally, yes, it’s true that 2 captured Ukrainian solidiers suggested that Ukraine could launch an offensive during the World Cup. But they are soldiers, and not decision makers or professional geopolitical analysts. They claim that they were told an offensive could begin “on the eve of the presidential election in Russia”, but, as was already said, during that period there were no significant military movements in Donbass. So it is unlikely that June of 2018 can magically give Kiev any better conditions for a “shock and awe” operation.
In summary: whilst it is possible that Poroshenko may again agree to “tighten the circle” around Gorlovka (the formal reason voiced by Kiev for the May offensive) or some other settlement, it’s unlikely that the result will be any different. After all, only a true fool tries the same things and expects different results. But Poroshenko does need to exploit the war in Donbass to help his own political situation on the eve of elections. He can opt to aggravate the situation enough (like the May mini-offensive) in order to obtain the needed political effect (to justify arresting more journalists or deputies). But the emphasis here is on “enough”, because he (and his patrons) knows that there are red lines, and if they are crossed Russia will have a legitimate right – under international law – to intervene militarily. But one thing is for sure: if there is any minor aggravation during June, it won’t have any relation to the World Cup in Russia, and it won’t end in “World War 3”. It will simply be business as usual, all in the context of fourth-generation warfare.
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