Washington and London are trying to convince the entire world that Russia, if not today, then tomorrow for sure, will invade Ukraine. Meanwhile, they don’t believe in this invasion themselves; the disinformation they spread is something of an investment into their future political interests.
Militaristic hysteria. That’s what the American mass media and officials are actively fostering in Ukraine’s direction. They all pretend that a Russo-Ukrainian war is simply unavoidable, and is about to begin. “Can the West Stop Russia From Invading Ukraine?” an article heading goes in The New York Times.
“Ukrainians have come to terms with the fact that they are on the brink of war with Russia — and they are ready for it,” the Wall Street Journal pitches in.* When it comes to the government, the U.S. authorities (along with the Australian and U.K. authorities) announced the evacuation of diplomats’ families, and advised their citizens to leave Ukraine. A range of other countries allowed diplomats’ families to leave Ukraine at the state’s expense.
Joe Biden also held 80-minute video calls with European leaders, during which, according to him, he reached total unanimity with his European colleagues on severe economic repercussions for Russia for a possible invasion.
Meanwhile, not a single U.S. official or journalist provided any plausible arguments for why Vladimir Putin would want to invade Ukraine now. Is it because Putin suddenly felt enormous respect toward Volodymyr Zelenskyy and decided to rescue his public rating — consolidating Ukrainian elites around the president, helping him blame war for all the economic turmoil that Ukraine will face in 2022 (from rising utility bills to the necessity to pay off external debt)? Or maybe because Putin has fallen in love with the “Maidan” project and felt a strong urge to help Ukrainian radical groups find solid ground in their arguments for “imminent Russian aggression”? Perhaps Putin suddenly gave up on his attempts to normalize Russian relations with the West and instead decided to invade somebody?
And while Russia is now quite accustomed to the behavior of Western officials, some of their actions can still surprise us. The fact is, this alarmist behavior by the U.S. and the U.K. found no sympathy in the EU. European officials, always obedient to Washington, suddenly balked, not only refusing to participate in this hysteria, but refuting it. “We are not going to do the same thing (evacuating diplomats’ families), because we don’t know any specific reasons,” said Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. “Negotiations are going on.”
How do we explain such behavior and such a split in opinions?
One of the possible explanations would be the U.S. attempt to exploit the Ukrainian crisis for their own interests, which are completely unrelated to Russo-Ukrainian disagreements. NATO, for instance, announced the strengthening of its armed forces on its Eastern flank — the U.S. is planning to send 8,500 soldiers there. One would wonder: why? Even if Russia invades Ukraine for whatever reason, its forces won’t cross the Russian-Polish border.
According to John Kirby, press secretary for the United States Department of Defense, “This is really about reassuring the eastern flank of Europe,” talking about U.S. intentions. “It’s proving how seriously the United States takes our Article 5 commitment,” he said.
Translating this diplomatic language into English, the U.S. is simply using the fears of Eastern European states (both historical and injected with Russophobic propaganda via mass media) to bolster its political and military standings in Europe, to demonstrate that only Washington could guarantee the safety and sovereignty of European states. The EU, of course, doesn’t want to play this game — it dreams of being self-dependent.
It would seem that Europe has gained a winning position in this game. After the end of this “war alert,” Borrell will be praised for his sober approach, while the U.S. and the U.K. will be blamed for escalating the situation. However, the flexibility of U.S. propaganda should not be underestimated. When it comes to light that Russia never wanted to invade Ukraine, Washington and London will claim that the credit for maintaining peace belongs to them and them alone, that their decisive actions demonstrated the entire spectrum of “hellish repercussions” to Putin, after which the master of the Kremlin took a step back, while Europe revealed its “see no evil, hear no evil” position and general unreliability.
Another explanation for U.S. actions lies in its negotiating strategy. Before a new round of talks with Moscow (perhaps even on the level of heads of state), Washington tries to flex its muscles and demonstrate its ability to interfere with Russian interests. We have to admit, this demonstration was successful. The wide-scale military hysteria single-handedly delivered a blow to the Russian economy — the Russian ruble is losing value, and the Moscow Exchange indexes are falling through the ground (which has already affected a lot of Russians, who took their savings to the stock market in 2021). And the Americans haven’t even sent their sanctions yet!
Europe is not participating in this hysteria because it plans to gain an advantage through the contrast of its actions compared to those of the U.S. The Europeans were pushed to the outer rims of the negotiation process and want to prove to Moscow their self-dependency by behaving responsibly, earning Putin’s agreement to start the Russian-European negotiation process (actively urged by Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz).
Thus, Moscow only needs to bear through this American hysteria, keeping its cool the best it can. “In my opinion, as long as the Russian government sticks to its current measured approach, which is more reactionary than provocative, there is still a chance to avoid escalation,” stated Gunnar Beck, a member of the European Parliament for the Alternative for Germany Party.
Of course, the Kremlin could try to extract some benefits from this unpleasant situation. There are some, in fact. With their actions in Ukraine’s direction, Washington and London are sending signals to Kyiv (a good question is, consciously or not?) that they won’t protect it. American troops are bound not for Ukraine, but Poland — to protect NATO members’ borders exclusively. The U.S. is evacuating its diplomats and citizens, and with them leaves the best excuse for sending U.S. Marines to Kyiv (where they could protect not only U.S. citizens but the Ukrainian authorities as well).
All these signals should convince Zelenskyy and his team that plotting some anti-Russian provocations to force Russia into sending its troops to Donbass (formally Ukrainian territory) is folly. It’s not a surprise that Kyiv opposed U.S. evacuation measures — of U.S. citizens first of all, since from Kyiv’s perspective they play the role of potential hostages. “Respecting the right of foreign states to ensure the safety of their diplomatic missions, we nonetheless believe such measures of the U.S. to be premature and a display of extreme precaution,” Oleg Nikolenko, a representative of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated.
Too bad the United States Department of State and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office forgot to discuss that with Ukrainian diplomats. Ukraine is merely an object in Washington’s and London’s game — a pawn on the board of international interests, open to be sacrificed in exchange for a strategic advantage.
*Editor’s Note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.