The war in Ukraine is possible in January. Russia is preparing an explanation for itself | World news

– The Russians must know that their latest proposals are directed towards USA and NATO are unacceptable. It is more of an ultimatum and an attempt to blackmail than real negotiations, says Legucka, an analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs dealing with Russia.

Russia is setting prohibitive conditions

On December 17, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published documents that are to be a draft agreement with the US or NATO on security in Central and Eastern Europe. The Americans themselves were to receive them two days earlier. The Kremlin announced, among other things, that it expected a withdrawal troops NATO from the territory of countries admitted to the Alliance after 1997 (i.e. Poland).

In addition, there are a number of expectations regarding not placing specific types of weapons in the territory of countries located in the vicinity of Russia, or not admitting, for example, Ukraine to the Alliance. Generally, it is a vast list of expectations that undermine the ability of countries in the region to make sovereign decisions about their security. The Russians cannot expect the US or NATO to agree to such a thing, as they have already clearly rejected such a possibility in the past.

This is actually an escalation of the Kremlin’s expectations, which at the beginning of the talks with the West three weeks ago focused on Ukraine. Until today, NATO and the USA have not responded to them other than by emphasizing the right of states to decide independently about their fate.

– It seems to me that this is an attempt to build a narrative that the Kremlin was proposing dialogue, but the West was not interested in it and continued to build up its forces on Russia’s borders. As for internal needs, this narrative is absolutely adequate, Legucka believes.

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A narrative about a threatened Russia

In addition, disturbing speeches by Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu and the Russian generals took place in the following days. – The Russian president put his reputation at stake in them and defined red lines which Russia will not tolerate. He did not do it before – says PISM analyst. Putin he even repeatedly ridiculed Barack Obama for drawing red lines in, for example, v Syriawhich he did not react to, which, according to the Russian, was proof of his adversary’s weakness. – Putin cannot afford such a thing. For years he has been creating his image of a resolute, tough politician who does not retreat, says Legucka.

The analyst points out that these speeches were also very emotional and provocative. – Especially numerous accusations against the USA and NATO about deploying unspecified strike weapon systems near Russia’s borders, although in fact it is about weapons that have been here for years or have been under construction for years, such as the Aegis Ashore system in Redzikowo – says Legucka. In her opinion, this is “war rhetoric”. This is what Putin said, among other things:

US actions in Ukraine are taking place right next to us. They must understand that we are against the wall. They secretly armor extremists in a neighboring country and push them towards Russia. Do they think we’re going to be watching this passively?

– It’s about creating an impression of danger and betrayal. This is not about factsbut about a narrative. It is very important to create the impression that the enemy is not the Ukrainians, but the Americans and NATO. Ukraine is the place of the clash only by accident – says Legucka. Putin himself said so many times that Russians and Ukrainians are one nation. – So how could you fight your brothers? In 2014, the Kremlin built a narrative that it was only about protecting the Russian population against the coup in Kiev. Now it is building a narrative that it is about repelling a deadly threat that is moving closer to the borders of Russia – the expert explains.

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War cannot be ruled out

The key problem for the Kremlin is the belief that Ukraine must not be allowed to permanently enter the orbit of the EU and NATO countries. Currently, it is moving rapidly in this direction. It does not have to be specific to Ukraine’s accession to NATO, which has so far been a theoretical rather than a practical scenario. It is generally about establishing a large, hostile and pro-Western state on the borders of Russia.

– Russian leaders will not give up Ukraine. They’re trapped in geopolitical thinking, which is a mixture of ignorance and arrogance rolled into one. They seem to be convinced that they need to change the current status quo, which they consider very unfavorable. And it’s better to do it now than later. At the same time, they have no other means of putting pressure on Ukraine than threats and force, Legucka believes.

The Russian military is systematically gathering forces on the borders of Ukraine. Systematic mobilization has been underway since the beginning of autumn. We have described it in detail before. Ukrainian military and Western analysts repeatedly say that January is the time when the Russians will have enough strength to attack.

– Unfortunately, it seems to me that the war scenario should also be taken into account and January is a realistic date. Much depends on the determination of the West. Will he have the strength not to succumb to Russian blackmail – says Legucka.

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