Reasons and justifications for the next war in Europe

(To David Rossi)

Mark this thing: all politicians lie. If you are beautiful souls, do not read on, because we are going to tell you that politicians who follow national interests lie and have reason to do so according to their most patriotic citizens.

The great politicians are the ones who know how to lie best and, even if found to lie, they are justified by all as if their "truth" were self-evident. Statesmen, once caught lying, are considered heroic for that.

Remember this too: all politicians know that lies must be credible and that they must by no means be ridiculous (they can save themselves by being liars and unscrupulous, not stupid and inept). They can, without leading to ridicule, claim that donkeys fly and that the rain falls upwards, but in doing so they must argue as if they were talking to rational beings, not to idiots ready to drink anything.

We can say, for example, that Bush Son was successful because his secretary Colin Powell supported the thesis of having in his hands the proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in such a convincing way that he does not have to prove it. , while the leader of the Communist coup leaders in Moscow in 1991, Gennady Janaev, lost everything for his clownish and not at all credible attitude, in supporting the reasons for his part with the press. "He's drunk": so all the Soviet citizens thought and thus ended "the red empire".

Focus on Moscow

That said, we wondered how Russian President Vladimir Putin will be able to argue and justify with internal public opinion each of the different possible interventions of the Armed Forces of Moscow in or around the territory under Ukrainian sovereignty. It does not matter to say that he will tell the truth or lie: as we have said, from Churchill to Lincoln, it is the great leaders who lie the most. It's better. The point is another: it is the quality of the “justification” which indicates the degree of feasibility - and therefore the greater or lesser probability - of an intervention or another.

Before proceeding, it is important to underline that if any of the readers believe that the Russian Federation is an autocracy in which the will of the leader is law and whoever is in charge must never explain the basis of his choices, he has not understood anything about Russia.: when there is no invasion, the quality of life is in sharp decline and the economy is going through a very critical phase, the "home front" counts as much and more than the opinion of the generals or members of the establishment.

Those who are convinced that the Russians are not ready for democracy, only have Western standards in mind: in Rossiya the people count so much so that, unique in the world in the last two hundred years, with its detachment from the elites it has caused two State "implosions", first Tsarist Russia in 1917 and then the Soviet Union in 1991. And two other "implosions" were avoided at the end of the Russian-Japanese War and at the height of the Second Chechnya War ...

The first scenario: continuous pressure

It does not require any form of internal justification: simply by threatening the use of force with facts, but without making extra-territorial incursions or going beyond what was in place between February 2014 and today, Moscow could hope to cause the Ukraine an economic-social crisis such as to trigger the conditions for a regime change in the short to medium term, also in light of the political conflict between President Zelenski and the old leadership.

It is the most probable and most rational choice, even if it carries the risk that Ukraine could strengthen its defense capabilities in the medium term and that relations between Kiev and Ankara, both determined not to see the Black Sea and the Caucasus, consolidate. transformed into a Russian game reserve.

The second scenario: direct intervention in the Donbass

The recognition of the "sister republics" of Luhansk and Donesk, their "official" protection and the deployment of Russian forces seem the most painless and easy solution to justify before the Russians and, for what little it matters, to other countries. In practice, however, Moscow would expose itself to the risk - relative, let's be clear - of further sanctions in exchange for what it already has: control of the two metropolises of eastern Ukraine and of a pocket of territory that encompasses both of them and borders on the Federation. Russian near Rostov-on-Don.

It would be easy to explain to the Russians that doing so will optimize the "security" of the hundreds of thousands of citizens residing in that pocket, but ... important cracks could be opened on the domestic front due to the drainage of resources from the federal budget to the material and socio-economic reconstruction of a region in fact devastated by eight years of war, assuming that the recognition was also accompanied by annexation.

Would the Russians, still alarmed by the enormous spending and inefficiency of Crimea, be willing to consider this annexation a "victory" that Putin could boast of in view of the 2024 elections? It is to be doubted. Therefore, we mark this scenario as likely only if the Donbass region were treated by Russia as Transnistria.

The third scenario: the creation of a no-fly zone between Donbass and the Sea of ​​Azov

Russian citizens are persecuted and, fundamentally, in danger of life in eastern Ukraine: by supporting this thesis, Putin could ask the Russian Forces to acquire the dominion of the air in a swath of territory wider than the pocket in which they are located Luhansk and Donesk. Neither more nor less than what the Americans did in Iraq during the XNUMXs, the "tsar" could make sure that the entire oblasts of which the two metropolises were the capitals and perhaps a strip of territory around the Sea of ​​Azov are off limits to the forces. Ukrainian armies, even without pushing Moscow's tanks and infantry into those lands, which we imagine are well protected by anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, anti-aircraft defense systems and possible military and civil resistance.

The intervention would be accompanied by a confrontation, even very harsh but in fact unequal, between the air forces, the anti-aircraft and anti-missile defenses and the Kiev navy, on the one hand, and the Moscow air forces, missiles and navy from the other, with a fallout over almost all of eastern Ukraine and the main air bases and, probably, civilian airports east of Kiev.

The choice would be easy to digest by Russian public opinion in the short term but of dubious value in the medium and long term, especially if accompanied by investments in the region and the application of sanctions capable of further worsening Russian living standards. .

The "hard lesson" in defense

Putin tells the nation: not only Russian citizens in Donbass are in danger, but all Russian speakers residing in Ukraine. The result is a scenario similar to the previous one, with the addition of a missile and air campaign against all military and civil infrastructures susceptible to military use. It would maximize the damage to Ukraine while minimizing the effects on Russian forces. It has the flaw of heavily contradicting the official Kremlin doctrine that Russians and Ukrainians are one people.

The intervention, given the extension of Ukraine, should last for months: we recall that in 1999 NATO had to bomb Serbia for 78 days to be right.

Is it conceivable that Russia will do the same, indeed double or triple the time, to "break the backs" of Ukrainian forces? Above all, how long could the domestic front resist the possible sanctions and the inevitable flight of a large part of Ukrainian expats, who we remember represent 5% of the workforce in Russia?

The "hard lesson" to the government of Kiev

This is the previous scenario, plus the destruction of the main chemical and mechanical industrial plants, of the electrical and communications networks, of the main government buildings. It would include the "manhunt" by aviation and special services to "secure" the current leaders of the country.

It is a scenario capable of carving a furrow of immortalis odium between the two peoples, other than to bring them together. It is impossible to justify, if not by citing "evidence" of a real genocide in progress, and for this reason it is highly unlikely.

The partial invasion "from Transnistria to Donbass"

It justifies itself by citing national interests, "historical" rights and the certainty that local populations will welcome Russian soldiers as liberators. If instead of flags and handkerchiefs, Ivan Ivanov finds grenades and machine gun shots, this scenario could quickly escalate into an endless nightmare. It is therefore unlikely, even if it was undoubtedly in the thoughts of the Kremlin in 2014.

The total invasion "from Transcarpathia to the Don"

It is beyond the reach of the Russian Federation, we have already talked about it in this article (link) and, in any case, impossible to justify.

What will happen then?

In conclusion, according to the writer, the most probable hypothesis for the very short period is that, not neglecting the use of diplomacy but also through continuous but fluctuating pressure on Ukraine with asymmetric warfare means and, only as an accessory means of pressure, passing through the recognition of the independence of the two people's republics of Luhansk and Donesk, effectively transformed into Russian protectorates not annexed to the Federation (which would be unsustainable from a socio-economic point of view), Moscow will offer to Kiev and the West peace in a new regional order that puts aside the one after 1991. I mean to the current one, in which the former socialist countries and even some ex-Soviet republics have secured themselves under the umbrella of NATO and Russia seems to be playing the figure of the poor relative of the Soviet Empire.

Russia's primary objective is to convince NATO by all means to guarantee security in Europe along the Rome-Berlin meridian, as it was during the Cold War rather than the Bucharest-Warsaw one, as it is now.

The accessory objective, even if sold as a primary one, is to ensure that Ukraine never becomes a host of defense systems of the Atlantic Alliance and that it does not equip itself with a "sky dome" capable of neutralizing the Russian threat.

What would we Italians gain if it crossed the Moscow line? If we went back to the Rome-Berlin meridian, we would have the certainty of being the first line of the next East-West conflict.

What if Russia is not satisfied?

If NATO considers eastward enlargement and willingness to welcome new members a truly non-negotiable point, it goes without saying that Moscow will use Ukraine to overturn the table, regardless of Kiev's responses. Let's be clear: the question is not Ukraine's accession, which is not realistic in the medium term, but the retreat, at least partially, of the defenses placed in Poland and Romania.

Equally important is the availability for Kiev of armaments, equipment and advisers provided by Washington and allied countries to resist Russian pressure. Let's not forget what was written a few days ago (see article): Moscow and Washington have assembled this whole case only to decide that NATO should shift the hinges of Europe's defense against the formidable Russian missile systems from the former socialist countries to the Italy-Germany line of the past. In this way, Kaliningrad, effectively a potential Russian gun aimed at Europe's temple, would no longer run the risk of being suffocated in the event of a war with conventional weapons and the Baltics could be forced to recognize the Baltic Sea as a Russian lake. But this is a story that, as talented liars, neither Russian nor Western politicians will tell you ...

What will happen after the negotiations are likely to fail? In the short to medium term, Moscow will create an air and land ban on its own within the Ukrainian territory, hitting the armed forces of Kiev and the infrastructures to the point of forcing them to retreat 300-500 kilometers from the Russian western borders. , the Sea of ​​Azov and the Crimea, which is over a third of Ukraine. It will do so by relying on the lack of security guarantees as internal proof. By doing so, the Kremlin will avoid, among other things, moving mechanized troops and especially infantry within Ukrainian territory, where mines, artillery and resistance are there waiting for them to carry out a massacre, which Putin certainly cannot afford. with a view to re-election.

In short, the most likely thing is that we will slip from the first to the third scenario, unless Moscow and Washington, over our heads, decide that the "New Europe" can in part be sacrificed. But as good liars, they don't tell us this: we will find out only by living ...

Photo: TASS