Meaning in History: https://meaninginhistory.substack.com/p/putin-lays-the-groundwork-for-the
Putin Lays The Groundwork For The War With NATO
That appears to be the meaning of the announcement of referenda in regions of the former Ukraine, as expanded by President Putin and MoD Shoigu early today. As we discussed yesterday, Russian Gamechanger, the referenda, by which at least four former Ukrainian oblasts will end up joining the Russian Federation, will also change the terms of engagement. The referenda provide the legal foundation for the new war going forward. It’s important to understand this—everything that Putin does is done in accordance with legal norms—the Russian constitution, Russian laws, and last but by no means least, international law. Please note that the US Rules Based Order doesn’t enter into this, because it is based not in law and right but in raw power. This step by step approach according to legal norms is very characteristic of Putin, and Andrei Martyanov explains its importance in understanding everything that Putin does (video at link):
To repeat, yesterday we framed the implications of the referenda for the future of the conflict in Ukraine under these points:
- First, these regions become part of Russia—and the inhabitants become Russian citizens.
- Second, the Russian military will then be in full legal control of the military defense against attacks on Russian territory and Russian civilians.
- Importantly, the military response would not require a declaration of war and would not require national mobilization. But the entire weight of the Russian military would be available to defend these new Russian areas. Up to now, the Special Military Operation has involved only a limited direct involvement of the Russian army.
- This referenda procedure is endorsed, at least by the collective West, in International Law—remember, Putin has a degree in international law. The West supported the secession of Kosovo from Serbia. Once the principle of a right to secede is recognized, the next step of voting to join another nation appears quite acceptable. Notably, at the Samarkand summit, Putin rejected the notion of “annexation”. Clearly, the legal framework has been in the works for some time.
- Putin will doubtless enjoy wide support for these measures within Russia, and the legal framework will mollify Russia’s supporters in non-Western countries.
- All of this will put the collective West on the spot in terms of responding. More sanctions? Good luck.
Larry Johnson takes those points a step further this morning,
The referenda are part of a dance with Russian law. Russia’s Duma has met and passed legislation that will govern how new territories, along with their citizens, are admitted into the Russian Republic. I must emphasize that the decision to hold the referenda this week was made some weeks ago. Ukraine’s continued shelling of civilians in the Donbas made this move an imperative.
Once the votes are completed and the results announced, the next move will be Russia’s–i.e., welcoming the former Ukrainian oblasts into the Russian Republic. Once they are admitted, any further attack by Ukraine on those territories will be an act of war against Russia. Putin has made it very clear that he will act against any nation waging war against Russia and its citizens. This move is putting the United States and NATO on notice. If they continue to enable Ukrainian attacks on Russian citizens then they will be targeted in response.
We are crossing a threshold that could escalate into World War III. I am certain that Vladimir Putin is not playing games. …
This should sober the west up, but that is unlikely. …
Washington and NATO have shot their wad and have no credible conventional military force to counter Russia accepting the results of the referenda. Their only alternative beyond throwing a tantrum is to threaten the use of nuclear weapons.
Unlike the United States and the former global colonial powers, Russia is letting the people in the besieged Ukrainian oblasts decide. …
One final point. If China backs Russia on this move it is likely that Russia has provide China with guarantees that Moscow will support Beijing when it moves against Taiwan. We shall see.
So, we move on to what is added to the referenda move by the statements from Putin and Shoigu. Of the first importance is that both men stressed that the war with Ukraine was concluded “long ago.” The current war—or, certainly, the war we’re moving into—is a war with NATO, because the funding, the weapons, the tactics, and the direction are all NATO. The only thing left is “boots on the ground”, and there is reason to believe that that is a reality to a greater extent than most people in the West understand. The provision to “Ukraine”—meaning, the Ukrainian theater of NATO’s war on Russia—of long range missiles is imminently threatened, and some reports claim that such weapons systems have already arrived in Ukraine. That may have triggered the referenda and further moves by Putin.
Alex Krainer stresses the legal framework—note that we in the West have somehow wound up on George Soros’ side. Of course, we can always try objecting to our elected representatives and see where that gets us. I say that for the benefit of those who still think Lincoln’s strictures on government still hold sway. Thus, we are at the start of a war of two visions of governance:
The clash of two systems of governance, as George Soros famously formulated it in his remarks to the World Economic Conference in May, seems to have reached a phase transition. Russian President Vladimir Putin has returned from last week’s summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference in Samarkand with a palpable sense of confidence and determination, and it does appear that he has obtained reassurances of support from all the key leaders during the event, including China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi, and even the new PM of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif.
Russia is ready to shift gears
Now, the leadership of Russia is prepared to shift gears in Ukraine. … The people will be voting on whether they want to become absorbed in Russian federation. This move will have a massive impact and remove any legal strictures the Russian leadership observed by waging war in foreign territory. Soon, this could become Russian territory and any attacks on Kherson, Donetsk, Lugansk or Zaporozhye will be regarded as attacks on Russia proper.
Laws for thee, rules for me
This prospect has triggered quite a consternation in Washington, London and Bruxelles where political and military leaderships are sure to reject any such changes. American Secretary of State Antony Blinken wasted no time to declare that, “Any Russian sham ‘referenda’ in Ukraine would be illegitimate and an affront to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity…”
Some might disagree, however. In July 2010, the International Court of Justice issued an “Advisory Opinion” on Kosovo (previously part of Serbia) in which it determined a few important points of international law. Namely:
- Unilateral declarations of independence are not illegal under international law.
- People’s right to self-determination supersedes territorial integrity.
But some restrictions do apply, so these principles don’t extend to the likes of the people of Catalunya. Or Crimea. Or for any people in Ukraine for that matter. You see, there’s international law and then there’s the rules. We use rules to determine which laws we observe and which ones we disregard. So rules must necessarily supersede the law. I think.
Rules based order or bust…
Jest aside, western empire is now overtly and explicitly committed to this “rules based global order,” and Russia is clearly the greatest threat to that order.
From a purely military standpoint, I’ll just state up front what I don’t believe the “partial mobilization” that was announced means. By the terms of the announcement, this partial mobilization is not about putting more troops on the front lines. Putting more troops on the front lines is provided for by the referenda—Russia will be accepting the legal responsibility to defend these areas as part of the Russian Federation. Russia has more than enough troops on active duty to do that. The reserves who will be called up under the partial mobilization will be specialists in various support roles, who will support the buildup of forces that is already going on.
A good place to start is Andrei Martyanov’s blog this morning:
In a nationwide address on Wednesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization. He explained that the Defense Ministry has recommended drawing military reservists into active service, as the country faces a protracted conflict in Ukraine and Donbass. …
It is, of course, a planned action preceding referenda of four oblast (regions) of former Ukraine to join Russia, which they will join most likely by the 1st of October and will need troops stationed at the new borders of Russian Federation while the further roll towards Nikolaev and Odessa commences. Kharkov could be the target too.
For those who still drink Kiev regime Kool Aid, Shoigu today went on record and stated the number of KIAs of Russian forces since the start of SMO (in Russian)–it is 5, 937 KIAs. Shoigu also stated that number of VSU KIAs is counted as 61,207 per Russian (usually very conservative) estimates. It was also confirmed that Kremlin refused to speak to Macron after his call to Moscow today (in Russian)—there is nothing to talk about wiurope. I am sure they are preparing new “package” of sanctions, like… like… not buying Russian… beer or something.
Before we get to the text of Putin’s speech it may be useful to present a summary of MoD Sergey Shoigu’s statements, which are directed—naturally—at military aspects of the situation. Keep in mind, this is all about NATO now, as Shoigu emphasizes:
- Ukraine lost half of the army: 61,207 dead, 49,368 wounded.
- Losses of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation – 5937 people.
- We are at war not so much with Ukraine as with the collective West.
- “We see attacks against the civilian population almost every day. They hit hospitals, places full of people. This is total control over Western healers [?] and instructors. Many of them have recently arrived: 150 people. Western command directs operation from Kyiv
- The entire NATO satellite constellation is working against us – more than 70 military and 200 civilian satellites are working to reconnoiter the location of our units
That last suggests that Russia may now target NATO satellites, which are absolutely essential for military operations against Russia. That is a very big step.
Now, on to Putin’s speech. It lasted about 13 minutes in Russian, which is extremely brief by Putinesque standards. It’s succinct and well organized. You can find the full text here, but I’ll provide excerpts. Notably, Putin begins with an historical presentation, much of which will be unfamiliar to those in the West, but very familiar to Russians. The conflict in Ukraine is clearly framed as an existential struggle to defend Russia’s existence as a sovereign nation and cultural entity, against an amoral Western elite:
The subject of this address is the situation in Donbass and the course of the special military operation to liberate it from the neo-Nazi regime, which seized power in Ukraine in 2014 as the result of an armed state coup.
The issue concerns the necessary, imperative measures to protect the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia and support the desire and will of our compatriots to choose their future independently, and the aggressive policy of some Western elites, who are doing their utmost to preserve their domination and with this aim in view are trying to block and suppress any sovereign and independent development centres in order to continue to aggressively force their will and pseudo-values on other countries and nations.
The goal of that part of the West is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country. They are saying openly now that in 1991 they managed to split up the Soviet Union and now is the time to do the same to Russia, which must be divided into numerous regions that would be at deadly feud with each other.
They devised these plans long ago. They encouraged groups of international terrorists in the Caucasus and moved NATO’s offensive infrastructure close to our borders. They used indiscriminate Russophobia as a weapon, including by nurturing the hatred of Russia for decades, primarily in Ukraine, which was designed to become an anti-Russia bridgehead. They turned the Ukrainian people into cannon fodder and pushed them into a war with Russia, which they unleashed back in 2014. They used the army against civilians and organised a genocide, blockade and terror against those who refused to recognise the government that was created in Ukraine as the result of a state coup.
The reference to the Caucasus is not to Georgia—that comes under the separate heading of “moved NATO’s offensive infrastructure close to our borders.” Rather, the reference to the Caucasus is a reference to US support for Chechen terrorism, which has also been important in spreading extreme jihadi violence to many other areas of Central Asia and the Middle East.
I’m skipping quite a bit here. We come to Putin’s references to Novorossiya, a territory of the Russian Empire—it was never a part of a Ukrainian entity until assigned as such by the Russian Empire. You can find an interesting article about Novorossiya at the link, but this map should give you an idea of what Putin has in mind, and what his Russian listeners—unlike Westerners—will surely understand:
I want to stress the following. We know that the majority of people living in the territories liberated from the neo-Nazis, and these are primarily the historical lands of Novorossiya, do not want to live under the yoke of the neo-Nazi regime. People in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, in Lugansk and Donetsk saw and are seeing now the atrocities perpetrated by the neo-Nazis in the [Ukrainian-] occupied areas of the Kharkov region. The descendants of Banderites and members of Nazi punitive expeditions are killing, torturing and imprisoning people; they are settling scores, beating up, and committing outrages on peaceful civilians.
There were over 7.5 million people living in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions before the outbreak of hostilities. Many of them were forced to become refugees and leave their homes. Those who have stayed – they number about five million – are now exposed to artillery and missile attacks launched by the neo-Nazi militants, who fire at hospitals and schools and stage terrorist attacks against peaceful civilians.
We cannot, we have no moral right to let our kin and kith be torn to pieces by butchers; we cannot but respond to their sincere striving to decide their destiny on their own.
The parliaments of the Donbass people’s republics and the military-civilian administrations of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions have adopted decisions to hold referendums on the future of their territories and have appealed to Russia to support this.
Having dealt with the SMO and the upcoming referenda, Putin shifts to the important point for the future—NATO’s war on Russia, aided and abetted by the globalist elites:
The West has gone too far in its aggressive anti-Russia policy, making endless threats to our country and people. Some irresponsible Western politicians are doing more than just speak about their plans to organise the delivery of long-range offensive weapons to Ukraine, which could be used to deliver strikes at Crimea and other Russian regions.
Such terrorist attacks, including with the use of Western weapons, are being delivered at border areas in the Belgorod and Kursk regions. NATO is conducting reconnaissance through Russia’s southern regions in real time and with the use of modern systems, aircraft, vessels, satellites and strategic drones.
Washington, London and Brussels are openly encouraging Kiev to move the hostilities to our territory. They openly say that Russia must be defeated on the battlefield by any means, and subsequently deprived of political, economic, cultural and any other sovereignty and ransacked.
Here I believe Putin is not only calling up Russian historical memories of prior invasions, especially German invasions, but he is also calling up memories that will be very alive to most of his listeners—the looting of Russia by the West during the chaotic post USSR Putin years.
They have even resorted to nuclear blackmail. I am referring not only to the Western-encouraged shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, which poses a threat of a nuclear disaster, but also to the statements made by some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO countries on the possibility and admissibility of using weapons of mass destruction – nuclear weapons – against Russia.
I would like to remind those who make such statements regarding Russia that our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have. In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.
The citizens of Russia can rest assured that the territorial integrity of our Motherland, our independence and freedom will be defended – I repeat – by all the systems available to us. Those who are using nuclear blackmail against us should know that the wind rose can turn around.
It is our historical tradition and the destiny of our nation to stop those who are keen on global domination and threaten to split up and enslave our Motherland. Rest assured that we will do it this time as well.
I cannot believe that Putin’s very clear statements will not be followed up with direct action. We live in perilously interesting times. An important further note. Although Putin and Shoigu focus strictly on military matters, it remains that the economic war is going very well for Russia and very poorly for the West. The likelihood is for that to continue, but that—with Russia expressing its conviction that the West has launched an existential war on Russia—Russia will likely do what it can to intensify the economic war and make it even more painful for the collective West.