Putin is bringing the Ukrainian crisis to a culmination
The world is close to the fact that the hot phase of the war in Ukraine is coming to an end. Vladimir Putin is holding quasi-referendums in the four occupied eastern regions of Ukraine to declare them part of Russia on Thursday.
Putin substantiated the logic of his actions in June at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, when he presented Peter the Great as the returner of the Russian lands once conquered by Sweden. Moscow calls Eastern Ukraine Novorossiya and considers it a historically unjustified transfer of these lands by the Bolsheviks to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, which was formed on the ruins of the Russian Empire.
But the talk is not about it. With the war in Ukraine, Putin brought West-Russia relations to the level of direct military confrontation, not in role-playing games on maps of the General Staff, but on a real battlefield. It is no coincidence that recently the rhetoric aimed at substantiating a real adversary has moved from Ukraine to NATO. “We are really at war with the collective West, with NATO, it can be vice versa - with NATO, with the collective West,” said Russian Defense Minister Shoigu. He is echoed by Russian politicians. In reality, the situation is indeed the same and includes such components of NATO support for Ukraine as finance, weapons, training, and intelligence.
Moscow has already announced the next level of confrontation, warning that after the inclusion of a number of regions into the Russian Federation, it will consider them its territories, which are subject to the Russian security doctrine with all the ensuing consequences, including the use of nuclear weapons. "This is not a bluff," Putin addressed his statement to those who, throughout the war in Ukraine, questioned the Kremlin's threats about the possible use of a nuclear arsenal.
The topic of the use of nuclear weapons has been launched since the early days of Putin's so-called special military operation. The invasion was aimed at changing the pro-Western regime in Ukraine, which he saw as the spearhead of a Western existential threat to Russia. The nuclear theme periodically faded and resurfaced. But the United States took into account Putin's latest "knight's move," involving the annexation of Ukrainian territories to Russia and including a categorical statement about the use of nuclear weapons. The Pentagon has begun increased round-the-clock aerial reconnaissance of all the actions of the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces.
Putin, most likely, will go for a nuclear escalation with the West, where there is no unity on the question: Go to the end or look for ways to compromise with the president with a bomb in his hand? Unlike Khrushchev, Putin chose not to knock his shoe at the UN General Assembly, sending Foreign Minister Lavrov there, capable of broadcasting the slang of the St. Petersburg gateway.
Regardless of which game the West prefers to play in the Ukrainian crisis - aggravation or retreat, Putin will seek to bring the confrontation to a climactic nuclear level, bringing the world to the brink of a third world war. For him, this is the only way to achieve a direct dialogue with the White House, which should result in the declaration of a non-bloc status of Ukraine, the US refusal to deploy the Intermediate-Range missiles in Ukraine in the future, the lifting of all sanctions against Russia and the start of negotiations within the Minsk format.
Can the US go to meet Putin, most likely, yes. Ukraine will no longer be the same as it was before February 24, 2022. Its western vector is finally predetermined, and in the geopolitical sense, as a result of the six-month war, it mentally became a part of European civilization. This has been the main strategic goal of the United States since the collapse of the USSR. And the current regime in Russia has done everything in its power to achieve it.
In previous articles, we have already predicted such an outcome of the war, its goals and results. It is worth recalling that the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe, opened the way to reformatting the world order in the direction of a policy of dialogue after the settlement.
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