Time to double down

March 31, 2022

Diane Francis. Mar 31

“You wanna know how to get Al Capone? Here’s how you get him. He pulls a knife; you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital; you send one of his to the morgue … Now, do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?” – The Untouchables

Russia is a criminal enterprise run by a leader who is a zealot and intends to steal a chunk of Ukraine formerly called “Novorossiya”, kill people, and leave the country landlocked and dependent on the European Union. Narratives that Russia is losing, has miscalculated Ukrainian resistance, or that President Vladimir Putin is angry because he has been misled by his generals are irrelevant. What’s critical to know is that Russia participates in negotiations not to end this war, but to buy time. It deceives and lies. For instance, Russia pledged on March 28, before talks with Ukraine, to “drastically reduce” attacks in Kyiv and nearby Chernihiv, then immediately bombed more everywhere. And the war’s effects spread globally which is why the West must now provide more weapons and systems to close Ukraine’s skies before he obliterates the entire country.

In 1917, a region known as Novorossiya became part of the People’s Republic of Ukraine which became independent in 1991. Transnistria, then Crimea, and part of Donbas was occupied by Russia in 1990 and 2014 respectively.

The West fails to understand that Putin has been influenced by a “Rasputin-like” character named Aleksander Dugin, who believes that Russia belongs at the center of a New World Order because of its innate superiority. Called “Eurasianism”, Dugin’s ideas are creepily similar to Hitler’s “super race” lunacy complete with a desire for worldwide domination. Putin’s other influence is an obscure Soviet-era ethnologist named Lev Gumilyov who believed in “passionarity” – a weird concept that Putin cited last year in a speech: “Russia has not reached its peak. We are on the march, on the march of development. … We have an infinite genetic code. It is based on the mixing of blood.”

Even worse, Putin has fused church and state, as did Russia’s Czars, and enlisted Patriarch Kirill, the current head of the Russian Orthodox Church, to assist this war effort. The cleric recently described military service as a “manifestation of evangelical love for neighbors.” This unseemly collaboration took on more importance when the Russian Orthodox Church lost supervisory control over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in January 2019 following centuries of being in charge. Coincidentally, this occurred just before the election of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as Ukraine’s President, a liberal Ukrainian of Jewish descent who was elected to rid the country of corruption and Russian influence. It was the first unrigged election since independence in 1991.

Putin and his Patriarch

This is a war conducted in the name of Russian glory and God. Charged with “divine” entitlement, Putin will continue to bomb until he conquers the Black Sea coastline and all of the resource-rich Donbas and then some. He is reviled globally but does not search for an “exit ramp”. He deludes and doubles down. On March 29, his mouthpiece equivocated that there were “positive developments” from talks in Turkey only to have another say “we can’t report anything very promising, no breakthroughs.” And insidiously, his spokesmen have hinted at Russia’s right to use nuclear weapons, mostly to frighten the West away from sending more sophisticated weapons and jets to help Ukraine.

But Eliot Cohen argues, a professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies argues that America’s “hand-wringing over [nuclear] escalation” is illogical. This “fear of escalation”, as articulated by American leaders, has handed Russia a psychological edge. Russia knows that when it escalates in Ukraine, the West will respond with anxiety, not military reciprocity. This has impeded the West from sending planes and sophisticated systems to create a no-fly zone. After all, he added, Javelins and Stingers now being sent to Ukraine kill Russian soldiers and a MiG-29 jet fighter is just another weapon that will kill Russian pilots and soldiers. “Having already hinted that the United States would supply more sophisticated surface-to-air weapons to Ukraine, the notion that transferring fighter planes would escalate the conflict is simply preposterous,” he concluded.

“As for the nuclear question: We should not signal to the Russians that they have a trump card they can always play to stop us from doing pretty much anything. Nuclear weapons are why the United States should refrain from attacking Russia directly, not why it should fear fighting Russians in a country they invaded,” he said. 

The dominant perception in Western military circles is that Putin has what’s known as “escalation dominance” because Ukraine matters more to him than it does to the West. This means he is prepared to escalate to chemical or tactical nuclear weapons, knowing that NATO members won’t reciprocate. David Ignatius of the Washington Post put this problem of asymmetry best: “a nuclear power [Russia] can engage in vicious regional aggression without paying the most severe price. America and its NATO allies are deterred in this conflict, but Russia isn’t. The paradox of our restraint is that it enables the unrestrained. Somehow, the balance of deterrence must be restored.”

New York Times

Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, weighed into the debate about “escalation dominance” by pointing out that the West has dramatically stepped up weapons support, and intelligence sharing, without retaliation. He also believes Russia’s announced nuclear high alert was a bluff because there’s no evidence this happened. He agreed that Western support must include more anti-aircraft systems and fighter aircraft so Ukraine can create its own no-fly zone.

Another negotiation is scheduled for April 1 to deal with Ukraine’s proposal that it would not seek NATO membership if Russian troops withdraw and it obtains iron-clad security guarantees from a few countries so that the “horrors that the Russians have brought to the Ukrainian people” are never repeated. The U.S., Germany, Israel, Turkey, and others have been approached as guarantors but only Germany has acceded, with conditions attached. In return, however, Russia has proposed nothing and continues its rampage.

Clearly, it’s time for the West to up the ante in terms of punishment as this war is weeks away from causing famine in the unstable Middle East and economic destabilization across Europe. More sanctions should be placed on its banks, energy trade must end as soon as possible and shippers and insurers must be sanctioned to shut down all trade with Russia. Every Russian with a visa and passport must be deported, and Russia must be booted out of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and G20. 

Further, the West must state that the $500-billion of Russian Central Bank foreign currency reserve assets that the G7 countries have frozen belongs to Ukraine as reparations for damages to its cities, people, and industries. Russia must be reduced to economic rubble and driven back to the Stone Age, technologically, in the hopes that the fanatic and war criminals in the Kremlin are removed.

Tragically, the greatest injustice of all is that stopping Putin should be solely left to Ukrainians. They are fierce, valiant, and willing to fight but, at the very least, deserve proportionate weaponry to fight Moscow, no matter the risk. This is war with a gangster posing as a savior and cannot be won as long as the West holds back. As Prussian military strategist, Carl von Clausewitz famously said: “If one side uses force without compunction, undeterred by the bloodshed it involves, while the other side refrains, the first will gain the upper hand.”

3 comments

  1. This is a most urgent article. Putler wants all Ukraine, but will settle for thieving its entire coastline.
    Neither of these things can be allowed to happen.
    Only a massive infusion of offensive weaponry will prevent this from happening. The orcs must be destroyed everywhere.

  2. The election that put Poroshenko in office was not rigged. Where she gets the idea it was is beyond me.

    The west does need to get off the dime and send not just lethal aid, but offensive aid.

  3. “Russia has not reached its peak. We are on the march, on the march of development. … We have an infinite genetic code. It is based on the mixing of blood.”

    I knew that Putler was nuts the first time I was so unfortunate to see him topless on his pony, but these texts confirm it beyond any shadow of a doubt.

What is your opinion?