Now we are getting some insight into Russia’s activities over the last three weeks. It now appears that the withdrawal/retreat from Kharkov was part of a broader plan that is going to culminate in the referenda by the oblasts of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson starting this Friday. This is not some last minute, desperate stunt. It flows logically from Russia’s attempt to use the Special Military Operation as leverage to compel serious negotiations on the futures and independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.
There is some great commentary on this. I suggest you watch at least one of the following from the boys at Duran or Andrei Martyanov:
The referenda are part of a dance with Russian law. Russia’s Duma has met and passed legislation that will govern how new territories, along with their citizens, are admitted into the Russian Republic. I must emphasize that the decision to hold the referenda this week was made some weeks ago. Ukraine’s continued shelling of civilians in the Donbas made this move an imperative.
Once the votes are completed and the results announced, the next move will be Russia’s–i.e., welcoming the former Ukrainian oblasts into the Russian Republic. Once they are admitted, any further attack by Ukraine on those territories will be an act of war against Russia. Putin has made it very clear that he will act against any nation waging war against Russia and its citizens. This move is putting the United States and NATO on notice. If they continue to enable Ukrainian attacks on Russian citizens then they will be targeted in response.
We are crossing a threshold that could escalate into World War III. I am certain that Vladimir Putin is not playing games. He is not Joe Biden. He does not speak foolishly off-the cuff nor does he make idle threats. From the Russian perspective, Russia’s very existence is at stake.
This should sober the west up, but that is unlikely. France’s Macron was first out of the gate today issuing empty threats against Russia. Biden’s White House was close behind. Howls of outrage. But Russia no longer cares. It has watched the west play the mute during the last 8 years while the democratically elected President of Ukraine was forced from office (with the active backing of UK and US officials) and while Ukraine subsequently killed thousands of men, women and children in the Donbas. The west was quite clear–it did not care.
Washington and NATO have shot their wad and have no credible conventional military force to counter Russia accepting the results of the referenda. Their only alternative beyond throwing a tantrum is to threaten the use of nuclear weapons.
Despite the potential peril of this moment, I am amused by the irony of the United States, the United Kingdom and France feigning moral outrage over the Russian’s willingness to accept the results of the votes by citizens of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Did the United States hold a referendum when it took Hawaii or Mexican territory? Did the United Kingdom allow the American colonies a referendum when they wanted their independence? Hell, go down the list of British colonies that were taken by force without the natives of those countries being given a chance to vote to “join” the UK. Ditto for France. I don’t recall them holding an election when they took over Vietnam. It was only when the North Vietnamese held a “vote” at Dien Bien Phu that France “decided” to accept the will of the people.
Unlike the United States and the former global colonial powers, Russia is letting the people in the besieged Ukrainian oblasts decide. We are living through consequential history. This is a true game changer.
One final point. If China backs Russia on this move it is likely that Russia has provide China with guarantees that Moscow will support Beijing when it moves against Taiwan. We shall see.