The knot: Points for and against Russian military aggression

Author : Serhiy Rakhmanin

Source :

Writer, journalist and veteran Ambrose Bierce called the war "a way to resolve political knot by teeth when it is not succumbed to tongue."
15:16, 7 September 2016

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Some people with each passing day more insistently forecast front-line deterioration. Like, tired of the lack of results of Minsk process, Putin is ready to once again show his teeth. Already in September. In order to force the scared West to once again put pressure on Kyiv. And maybe the discordant Ukrainian authorities will become more responsive to the wishes of the Kremlin, which continues to insist on granting "special status" to certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, amnesty for insurgents and holding elections on the uncontrolled territories.

The first question. Could Putin dare to start the large-scale war in September? And here we really have some grounds to concern.

First, Putin really, by and large, got away with different-use of military force. It happened in South Ossetia and in Crimea and Donbas. And in Syria, the active intervention of Russian troops, in fact, returned Kremlin the leader status of a key player, with whom other countries at least try to negotiate. Yes, there were countless expressions of varying degrees of "concern", multiple draft resolutions in the UN Security Council (doomed to fail due to a veto of Moscow). And, yes, there are sanctions. Not as painful as that object deserved, but which still put a pressure on the economy of aggressor.

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Second, many military experts consider as particularly dangerous circumstance not even the scale (though it itself inspires anxiety), but the nature of military preparations near our borders. In that way, according to specialists, behaves the state, which plans to invade. Or imitating it. Maybe it really is a bluff, just to scare potential object of aggression and its foreign allies. But the same experts believe that the process is too expensive for the banal simulation. Thus, Putin in fact may want only to spread among Western leaders a fear of the real scale war. But the thorough preparation to the theoretical war creates serious temptation it could really start. Putin might not resist such temptation.

Third, September is a convenient time for warfare. The reasons have been described many times, there’s no sense to repeat. Note the date. G20 summit ended on September 5. After it Putin understands the attitudes of Western leaders and measure of their compromising abilities. On September 5-10 Russia planned active phase of the military exercises "Caucasus 2016", which involves "working out practical actions". Russian troops are in a state of high alert. Very favorable conditions for starting the war. In addition, in terms of exercise there is a constant redeployment of troops and equipment, which complicates the work of the intelligence of the enemy (in this case ours) without allowing exactly determine the possible direction of the main attack.

And then a second question arises - whether the large-scale war in September is inevitable? No. The arguments above – they are only to convince those who doubt its possibility. The possibilities significantly increased in recent months. The inevitability of war is constrained by the following factors.

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Firstly, actions of Kremlin in Crimea somewhat cooled the ardor of European "peacekeepers." Natural greed gave way to a natural fear. We suppose, it’s just for a while. But this period of time we can and want to use.

Secondly, Obama, who is leaving his post, and Merkel, who thinks (even theoretically) on the retreat, are in situation when they are thinking about their roles in history. Position of Merkel and new sanctions of the White House allow us to think that process is moving in the right direction. The leaders of the US and Germany have different but needed arguments for Putin.

Thirdly, the question of possible changes of the world caused concern in that part of the "old" Western politicians who very quietly watched the "abduction of Europe" by Moscow. The threat of a real large-scale war made them more active. It is not necessary to overestimate this process, and underestimate – as well.

Fourthly, Ukrainian authorities have not accelerated the process of political implementation of the "Minsk agreements" even seeing a real threat of war escalation. Putin knows it. The relevant laws weren’t implemented, the work with MPs was not conducted, and Ukrainian delegation in Minsk is not making concessions.

Fifthly, cautious, but the hostile reaction of the EU and tough reaction of Washington – is the reference to Putin. If he will "break bad", the regime of coexistence between countries could be substantially and drastically revised. Putin still does not understand how much. But waging the war - this is a serious thing.

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