This text is a translation of the february 5th publication. Translation was created thanks to the support one of my Patron – Paweł. Thanks!
NATO is engaged in a war with Russia on Ukrainian soil.
Ukrainians are fighting for their independence, although this war has taken on, more broadly, the character of a struggle between the West and the Russian Federation.
We have to openly acknowledge all of this. We can’t be afraid that this might strike at the tender heartstrings of Vladimir Putin, who will get angry.
An official statement that NATO is in conflict (though not in direct war) with the Russian Federation on the grounds of the war in Ukraine is needed. Both politically and socially.
First, it will only be a confirmation of fact. Secondly, wash off the blindness, ignorance and pretending that they are not involved in the conflict in Ukraine from Western societies (including Poland). Because, after all, they are. Third, admitting that “this is our war” may even lead to de-escalation. This needs to be said openly. Russian authorities, propaganda and the public are convinced that they are fighting NATO on Ukrainian soil. Thus, the Russians justify their actions by this very fact and take exactly the steps they would take when fighting NATO on Ukrainian territory.
Meanwhile, the entire West – on a diplomatic-political level – pretends that the Russian-Ukrainian war is only about the parties of the conflict. At the same time sending ammunition, military equipment and supplies to Ukraine. Providing political, financial and military support (training Ukrainian soldiers in the West). This avoidance of saying that, as the West, we are in conflict with the Russian Federation does not at all – contrary to appearances – defend us from Vladimir Putin’s “revenge”. Let’s say it again. He talks and acts as if Russia would be already at war with NATO, only it’s on Ukrainian territory. Thus, the West’s reassuring and cautious stance in no way ties Putin’s hands. He is psychologically and politically tying the hands of NATO and the entire West.
After all, if we openly admitted that the war in Ukraine is our war, the consequence of such a statement would have to be that we intend to win this war after all. We don’t participate in it and invest forces and resources (however indirectly) to lose it. Right? If the goal is a victory against the Russian Federation – and everyone knows this is the case – it would be good if the public, including those in Western Europe, were fully aware of this.
Clearly setting political goals, and explaining them to the public, will leave individual decision-makers free to make sensitive decisions. They will be able to make an unfettered effort to defeat Vladimir Putin, and will also be able to demonstrate their determination to do so. Nothing will cause more of a stir in Moscow than the statement by successive Western leaders – starting with Joe Biden – that: “the conflict in Ukraine is our war, and we intend to win it.” Thus, the Russians will receive a clear signal: “Kremlin can only decide how severe your defeat will be. You will lose less if you withdraw from Ukraine. The more you send men and equipment to Ukraine, the more devastating the defeat will be.”
The key to peace in Ukraine is to convince the Russians themselves that they have no chance of winning. Even a spark of hope of success in Ukraine will drive Putin and his Kremlin people to increase the war effort. There is only one way to stop Vladimir Putin – deprive him of hope.
This can happen in two ways. The first, which I have already written about many times, concerns the scenario of Russian defeat in Ukraine. A defeat suffered after the mobilization and use of all conventional forces and means by the Russians. In order to achieve this, it is essential to continue the war effort and strive for a grand settlement on the battlefield. This is the strategy the Ukrainians have taken. For Kiev does not have the potential to intimidate Moscow. Defeating enemy troops on Ukrainian territory is the only viable plan for victory, whose implementation depends largely on the Ukrainians themselves (though not entirely on the supply of equipment from the West).
However, NATO and the West have disproportionately greater political, economic, and military power than Ukraine. This potential is sufficient to win over the Russian Federation without having to fire a shot, or even without having to continue the conflict in Ukraine. The United States had already broken the Soviet Union in the past, which was, after all, much more powerful than modern Russia. This was the case during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this was the case during the space race (Ronald Reagan’s famous “Star Wars”), and finally so was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Only one way of conducting policy toward the Kremlin yielded adequate results. It has always been a demonstration of the West’s strength and determination to challenge Moscow. President John F. Kennedy – during the Cuban Missile Crisis – sent the U.S. fleet to meet Russian vessels sailing to Cuba in order to stop them. He demonstrated his readiness to carry out this intention even if it required the sinking of Russian supply ships by the US Navy. Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan had no qualms about describing the USSR as an evil empire to which the United States had “declared” Star Wars (the space race), so to speak. Reagan’s strategy was one of the keys that led the USSR to collapse. Only in the case of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan did the Americans act more covertly. However, it should be remembered that in Ukraine – according to the Russian narrative – NATO is already there. The Russians themselves believed their own lies that tens of thousands of mercenaries (including Poles) were fighting against them.
At the same time, it is important to realize that the conflict in Ukraine is different from that in Afghanistan and directly strikes at the political and economic interests of the West. The longer the war lasts, the more painful the effects will be in the West. The more costs we will incur, too. As whole societies. In other words, the Afghan scenario (the war lasted 14 years) is extremely unfavorable.
The Europeans should care most about ending the war quickly while neutralizing the Russian threat. This includes, for example, the UK, France, Italy and even Germany. This is because it is not just about ending hostilities in Ukraine. The goal is lasting peace, neutralization of threats, and consequently a return to building prosperity and recovery from crises (such as energy or inflationary).
If so, it is necessary to stop the Russians from occupying Kiev (Ukraine). Yes, we are in this war, and our goal is a quick victory.
Kiev’s fall is a defeat for the West
At this point, it should be explained briefly – although the author has done so many times in the pages of this blog – why can’t the West simply afford the collapse of Ukraine? Why not give Putin what he wants. Maybe then you can get along with him?
This is a completely false and illusory thesis, used, often by pro-Russian agitators and propaganda. As indicated above, while Ukraine is an end in itself for Moscow, it is only a piece of the puzzle. The subjugation of Ukraine is just one of the first stages of further escalation. In the next, Putin intended to annex Belarus (although the order may now be reversed). Finally, with access through Ukrainian territory, take control of Moldova. In this way, the Russian Federation would reach NATO’s borders across their entire width. Putin could deploy huge armies along the border with Romania, as well as all along Poland’s eastern border. Permanent military bases in Belarus, Ukraine and perhaps Moldova would put constant pressure on the EU and NATO.
At the same time, having seized Ukraine, the Russians could redirect all their potential and commitment to hybrid warfare against the Baltic States, Poland and Romania. Which would destabilize the entire region. It would be on the territories of the aforementioned countries that power plants, pipelines or other sensitive installations would explode. Civilians and people important to the country’s interests would be killed. The EU and NATO border would still be attacked in various ways (remember the migration crisis caused by Belarus?). Latvia and Estonia, which are difficult to defend, would be in an extremely difficult situation, while they also have a sizable Russian diaspora. High security risks would deter foreign capital, which would begin to flee Central Europe. That would risk a long-term economic crisis.
Continued hybrid and military pressure from Moscow would force the West to wage a second Cold War. Thus, it would be necessary – in order to neutralize the threat – to deploy hundreds of thousands of troops from across NATO along the Pact’s eastern flank. This would entail huge costs. From the EU’s point of view, destabilization of Ukraine (where diversionary-partisan activities could continue) as well as hybrid warfare on the territory of countries bordering the restored USSR would hit everyone’s interests. Berlin as well, and perhaps especially so.
At the same time, the Americans could not devote their attention to China, as they would be forced to engage in the defense of NATO’s eastern flank. A defeat of Ukraine could convince Beijing that it is worth betting on a partnership with Moscow (to which the Chinese are now distancing themselves). This would create a real threat in the form of the rise of an eastern political bloc that would seek to break the West’s prosperity, as well as its technological and military superiority.
It is for these reasons – outlined in a nutshell – that the West cannot take a step backward. Especially since its real involvement in the conflict in Ukraine is so great (for in fact the West is doing what it should be doing) that the defeat of Ukraine would be read by the whole world as an image defeat for the United States and the West as a whole. In view of this, US bilateral alliances, including those in the Far East (Japan, South Korea), could fall apart. At the same time, the European Union would become Asia’s economic supplicant.
Russia is already at war with the West – does the West know about it?
It is extremely important to understand that WE, the West, are already a party to the war in Ukraine. It includes Poles, Germans, British, French, Italians, Portuguese, and Americans, and even Hungarians. And not just because the entire West is bearing the costs of Russian aggression (inflation and energy crisis).
All one has to do is listen to Vladimir Putin’s narrative and follow the Russian media poisoning Russian society with Kremlin propaganda (effectively). The thesis that Russia is fighting in Ukraine against NATO and the West is not only the core of Russian propaganda. It is the real deal. At least for Russians. The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine for three reasons:
- Geopolitical – because Russia is in conflict with the West and the US, it became necessary to use its territory to threaten NATO from additional directions. By taking control of Kiev, the Russians could get close to NATO and deploy troops on the Ukrainian-Polish and Ukrainian-Romanian borders. At the same time, gaining access to Transnistria, which would make it possible to take over all of Moldova (also not in NATO or the EU, like Ukraine). In other words, Putin has shifted to an offensive and aggressive foreign policy aimed at recreating the USSR and approaching NATO borders in order to put pressure on the West and obtain concessions of interest by military blackmail;
- Cultural-political – because Moscow did not want to allow Ukraine to join – in accordance with the will of Ukrainians expressed, for example, during the Orange Revolution (2004) or during the Maidan (2013) – Western structures, i.e. the European Union and NATO, which it would perceive as a threat to itself;
- Imperial – because the elites of the Russian Federation see Ukraine as a part of Russia that needs to return to the motherland, especially since Ukraine is an important asset on the geographic, industrial, raw material, demographic, food and cultural-historical (Kiev as the former capital of Rus) levels. Russia without Ukraine is much, much weaker.
As is not difficult to see, two of the three reasons mentioned above apply directly to the West. The Russians triggered the war in Ukraine because they intended to hit NATO and EU interests. And they did. NATO’s credibility, image of strength and unity have survived only because Ukrainians are still defending themselves today. If the “special operation” had been successful after three days, Putin would have undermined the position of the U.S. as a security guarantor and launched energy and military blackmail against Europe. In order for the European Union to succumb to Moscow’s will, to recognize its superiority and to turn its back on the United States. Falling into dependence on Russia at the energy and security levels. In other words, Putin instigated a war with the West only that he was too weak to directly strike NATO militarily. So he launched an invasion of – it seemed – lonely and weak Ukraine. We must finally say this openly and directly. Here, Russian propaganda is remarkably frank. Running the false narrative that Russia attacked Ukraine because it was defending itself against NATO. Which is an obvious manipulation, because it was Russia that wanted to go on the offensive and put pressure on the West. The West – after 2014 – took a defensive stance. The EU imposed limited sanctions on Russia, reacting sluggishly to the first Russian invasion of 2014 (Crimea, Donbas). NATO has not made any aggressive or active moves against Russia. Ukraine was not rearmed, NATO was not expanded to include more members. No offensive or hybrid actions were triggered against Russia itself. The West imposed not at all the most severe sanctions and waited. Not only that, but Germany even continued to cooperate with Putin (construction of Nord Stream II already started after 2014). In fact, it was mainly only the Americans and Poles who tried to neutralize Russia’s expansive projects (including on an economic level like Nord Stream II). However, this was reactive to Putin’s actions. The latter is the undoubted aggressor and the person responsible for the ongoing war. Recall that in 2012 (the time of Barack Obama’s reset) Vladimir Putin had it all. This is something I have written about many times, including in a recent text titled: “Obama’s Reset Saved the World?”. The Americans withdrew from politics in Europe, abandoned the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, and abolished the US Navy’s Second Fleet responsible for guarding Russia’s Northern Fleet (giving the Russians access to the Atlantic Ocean, so to speak, and thus to the world’s sea lanes). Despite this, Putin decided to strike at NATO and US interests, resulting in the first invasion of Ukraine in 2014. So, it should be emphasized again that on a geopolitical level, the attack on Ukraine was a Russian declaration of war against NATO. Something that many seem not to have noticed and still don’t to this day.
At the same time, Kremlin decision-makers did not want another nation to turn away from Moscow and choose the Western world. They have not respected the principle of self-determination of nations and, despite Ukraine’s unequivocal aspirations to join the EU (but, further, probably NATO as well), have decided to violently deprive Ukrainians of their illusions. The 2014 invasion and the freezing of the conflict in Donbass was a tool to derail the path by which Kiev could enter the EU and the North Atlantic Pact. A country on whose territory the conflict was already taking place (even if frozen) had little chance of obtaining security guarantees from outside. On the other hand, preventing Ukraine from choosing the European Union and NATO was a clear and hostile act by Russia against the West. Russia has militarily blocked Kiev’s peaceful, political-economic plans and their acceptance by the European Union. On the political level, it was an overt act of hostility. Putin has proven to the West that without his approval, the EU or NATO cannot take in any more takers.
However, the state in which Ukraine was in a kind of geopolitical limbo was also unacceptable to Moscow. The Kremlin sought to rebuild the USSR, which was repeatedly mentioned by Vladimir Putin with open exuberance. Ukraine was supposed to be Russian. Russia was to become an empire again. This includes not only Kiev, but also Minsk, as well as probably Chisinau. This, in turn, leads to the conundrum that the Russian Federation – in an attempt to rebuild the empire – has decided to break the existing security architecture. Knowing that this will have a large and negative impact on globalization processes, and therefore also on the growth of Western prosperity. Putin, when planning the invasion of Ukraine, not only expected sanctions on Russia, but after all, he himself – even before the February 24th invasion – had cut Europe off from Russian gas. Declaring an energy war on the West.
Moscow’s propaganda offensive – West in the corner
If Putin and Russia are at war with the West, and Western politicians and societies pretend not to participate in this war, this state of affairs leads straight to Western defeat. You cannot win a war in which you participate as a party, but act as a bystander. To win, it is necessary to carry out a certain conscious process. One should:
- discern that someone is already fighting against us, and so we are in a war, and since this is the case, it must be clearly stated: “THIS IS OUR WAR”,
- once we know we are at war, the question that needs to be answered is who is our enemy?
- Knowing your opponent, you can be tempted to know his war aims and determine your own. That is, to define what will be a victory for us? And what are we fighting about?
- With a clear goal set, one can finally analyze how to achieve it and win the conflict.
Without carrying out this process, it is impossible to put up an effective fight. The statement that “it’s not our war” is basically saying that we have no interests when it comes to the outcome. In other words, in such a situation, whoever would win the war in Ukraine, our situation would not change. And if so, why get involved and help anyone? This is the logical sequence that Russian propaganda is trying to instill in us. That is why it is so important to acknowledge that the war in Ukraine, is our war. After all, we are not indifferent to what happens there, and we are aware that Russia is waging this proxy-war precisely against us (yes it is a proxy-war against the West!).
Of course – as a rule – the West is taking real action as if it were in the war in question. Military equipment and supplies are being sent, intelligence is being transferred, and Ukrainian soldiers are being trained in Western countries. However, this gap between political declarations (it’s a war only between Ukraine and Russia) and actual actions (we are fighting Ukrainians, although not directly against Russian troops) is being exploited by Russian propaganda. Here, in the Western (including Polish) infosphere.
On the one hand, the distancing of Western leaders from the war is read by Putin as weakness. Which encourages him to further escalate the conflict. On the other hand, this kind of diplomacy completely gives away the fields to Russian propaganda.
The Russian narrative is based on a narrative with the following logic:
- Russia is waging war in Ukraine against the West – which is a true opinion, and good manipulation and propaganda always starts from the truth, in order to “catch” people who perceive reality in the same way. After all, we can all see, hear and subconsciously feel that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine.
- Western politicians say we don’t fight Russia (presumably to avoid irritating Putin), but they are increasing involvement in Ukraine (because they know we have to win against him). In other words, Russian propaganda indicates that Western politicians are lying or manipulating. – This conclusion is logically consistent and basically corresponds to reality.
- Since politicians and the media are lying, it means that they want to trick us all into the war in Ukraine. – A logical thesis, but no longer true, as will be discussed further on.
- Since the authorities and the media are falsifying the message, it means that involvement in Ukraine is not the right, correct and in our interest. Because after all, if it was beneficial to us, it would be enough to explain it to us instead of lying, right? – Manipulated thesis suggesting bad intentions of politicians on Ukraine issue.
- Consequently, it is “logical” that it is not in our interest to help Ukraine, politicians and the media are unreliable, and so it is necessary to confide in those who have been telling/speaking as it is from the beginning, i.e. the truth, that the war in Ukraine is a NATO-Russia war. – A thesis whose logic is based on a manipulated earlier thesis.
- If someone is telling the truth about Russia’s war with NATO, it means that he is also correct in claiming that it is an undesirable state of affairs, and therefore “it is not our war” – A false theory, because one can tell the truth on one issue and deliberately mislead on another using the credibility built up beforehand.
- If, on the other hand, “it’s not our war,” then we shouldn’t help Ukraine, and after the war we should get along with Russia, which, after all, was only “defending” itself against NATO expansion. – The thesis is completely false, the logic of which is based on previous false premises.
Thus, when Putin and Russian propaganda accuse the West of waging war against Russia, and Western politicians deny it, they are de facto giving the Russians ammunition to spread propaganda in Western societies.
Why is this happening?
Fire at the cinema
The answer is very simple. The idea is to reassure the public and not to create panic.
Imagine sitting in a movie theater. A fire breaks out in the room next door. The cinema staff interrupts the screening and asks the crowd gathered in the hall to leave the room in peace. We receive information that a fire has broken out and hear firefighting action going on behind the wall. However, we are reassured that we are in no danger. According to the staff (politicians), we only have to – for security reasons – leave our room, where sprinklers will be used (just in case). At the same time, fire and emergency services are already on their way to the site. In view of the above, panic does not break out and everyone safely leaves the cinema. In turn, the services (cinema staff and firefighters) do their job and the fire is extinguished.
Now let’s imagine the second scenario, in which there are a few provocateurs among the audience gathered in the cinema hall. Those argue loudly that the cinema staff is lying to us. In the room next door, admittedly, someone has set off the fire alarm, but there is no danger. There is no point in interrupting a screening that we have paid for. Cinema staff wants to cheat us on admission tickets. Even if some small fire broke out in the room next door, it was certainly the fault of the cinema staff and did not threaten the safety of the rooms next door. In the face of this blatant fraud against us customers, we should stay, not participate in the evacuation and not call the fire department, whose activities we all pay for with our taxes. Let the cinema staff – instead of lying – put out the fire themselves and not make us bear the cost of the whole situation. “It’s not our fire!” – we hear. “After all, even if the room next door burns to the ground, the fire will not go further and spread! So far, have any of us died in a fire at the Cinema Hall? Of course not! So it won’t be like that now either!”
It is clear that Western politicians are afraid – including for purely political reasons – to admit to their electorate that a war is being waged. In contrast, the actions of Washington, Paris, Warsaw or even Berlin clearly demonstrate that there is full awareness of this state of affairs among the elites. This creates dissonance in societies, which Russian propaganda seeks to exploit. Taking advantage of freedom of speech and expression, as well as respect for constitutional rights, which are recognized by the Kremlin – quite wrongly, by the way – as a weakness of the West.
Turning the other cheek or asking for… war.
In view of the above, it seems obvious that the Russian side is most afraid of an open admission by the West (politicians and the public) that the war in Ukraine IS OUR WAR. A war that Putin started, but that we must end. Resolving in our favor. In the Kremlin, they fear not that the West will secretly help Ukraine, but an open declaration by the West that will put itself in the role of a party to this conflict. Russians fear consistency in the words and actions of Western politicians, which would shut down one of the most important levers for Russian propaganda to undermine public confidence in the authorities. On which this lack of trust can easily be built, a manipulated message.
A sincere stance by Western elites (“this is our war”) and convincing societies of the rightness of the war would result in the West being able to apply basically any kind of support/action it deemed necessary to bring about Russian defeat in Ukraine. What’s more, positioning oneself as a party in a confrontation in Ukraine would even force Western politicians to take all measures to claim victory. Which in turn would automatically make Western politicians’ threats against Putin extremely credible. So they must have been calculated, not ignored by the Kremlin.
Putin fears a return to tough and unambiguous rhetoric from the West. That Joe Biden will follow in JFK’s footsteps and set clear red lines, the crossing of which will be met with concrete actions. This is because democracies have an advantage over authoritarian governments here. The latter can almost freely shape the level of tension in international relations. They can make threats one day and back off a harsh narrative the next without major internal consequences for the regime. In democracies, on the other hand, it is different. Policymakers are afraid of public sentiment. This has its drawbacks, but when voters realize that they are under attack from outside and the state is waging war, they demand a victory from politicians. If a democratic leader enters the path of a harsh narrative and “promises” to win (which, in principle, he must do), then it will be difficult for him to deviate from the chosen narrative without negative political consequences (lost elections). In other words, Western, democratic politicians – once they cross a certain line – must even be more ruthless in diplomacy than dictators. The Kremlin is aware of this mechanism and is trying to prevent it from being activated.
Moreover, it should not be forgotten that it is Russia that is militarily weaker than NATO and the United States itself. So it is the West that can and should start threatening Putin and the Russian elite. Situation in which an aggressive – but weaker – party threatens everyone around it by causing fear, distancing or limiting counteraction is very dangerous.
Imagine a situation in which Putin wins the war in Ukraine. He gains self-confidence and reasserts his belief in the weakness of the West. He makes another military decision to seize the Baltic States and, for example, further expand into Poland. All of this would be happening on the basis of a false perception of the people in power in Moscow. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation would have no chance in a conventional clash with NATO. Devastation of the Russian military would be inevitable. However, it would cause terror on the Kremlin’s side, which would manifest itself in a readiness to use nuclear weapons. In other words, the threat of nuclear war would then be extremely real.
Such could be the consequences of a situation in which the stronger (NATO) allowed itself to be struck by the embittered, weaker (Russia).
Such a strategy must not be adopted. It is the responsibility of the more powerful entity to escalate the conflict. It is NATO and the United States that have the ability to contain the Russian Federation. The latter will be aggressive, overcoming further limits of Western passivity. So it is up to the West to demonstrate its power and, most importantly, its willingness to use it. It is Putin and his helpers who should start being afraid. That’s the only thing that can stop them.
That’s why the phrase: “this is our war” is so crucial. And that’s why Russian propaganda has made the opposing slogan central to its narrative.
A good threat is a real threat
The only ways to stop Putin are for the Ukrainians to win on the battlefield – which will be hard to do – or for Russia to be properly intimidated (or both at once). When we put the matter precisely this way, it becomes obvious that if the West intends to win against Putin, it cannot simply bluff. This is how you can lose a fortune in poker, and a war situation is not a card game. The stakes are not chips.
The West’s threats against Russia must not only have coverage, but at the same time be credible to Moscow. In other words, if the West makes threats and the Russians don’t believe those threats, there could be a dangerous escalation. One in which the Russians cross a red line, the West responds, and Putin, after the initial shock and surprise, begins to move on. And that’s not the point, after all. Kremlin policymakers must be confident that their further action will be met with an inevitable and crushing response.
A situation in which the West places itself politically alongside the conflict – rather than as a party to it – means that the Russians will not believe any threat of active NATO action. For why should NATO act, if it does not feel itself to be a subject of the ongoing war? If NATO believes it is not in the war, why would it enter it?
That is why it is so important to communicate to Moscow that the war in Ukraine is a war in which NATO is a party. Therefore the goal is to win against Russia, and since this is the case, there is full readiness and determination to take appropriate action. Only then will Putin believe that he is dealing with a dangerous adversary ready to strike.
Kennedy for the second time
This is the moment when purely theoretical considerations are worth translating into concrete options and possible moves by the West toward Russia. What would be the object of the threat?
I wrote about this on the second day of the renewed invasion of Ukraine (25.II.2022). Russia is more powerful than Ukraine. It has a larger army with more potential. It wages an offensive war and devastates the victim. So, if Putin fights until victory, the Russians have the potential to persevere in the war one day longer than the Ukrainians and win. Through the destruction and exhaustion of the enemy. Regardless, Moscow may mobilize a massive force to deliver an early, decisive blow. It still may have the potential to break the Ukrainian army. I have written about this many times, although a few months ago it seemed unbelievable. Today, the Russian Federation’s preparations for a renewed offensive are visible to the naked eye. Perhaps this is the last moment when Ukraine can be saved. Perhaps large supplies of equipment and armaments from the West will suffice. Maybe not. For how long will the contents of the warehouses be enough in a situation where the Western arms industry is still working (or not) under peacetime conditions?
Counting on Ukraine to win the material war with Russia thanks to the West is quite risky. Moreover, as I have repeatedly emphasized, Putin is also in a hurry. A quick settlement is in Moscow’s interest. This leads one to conclude that 2023 could be a turning point for the war.
What can be done to prevent the Kremlin from achieving its goals? It is clear that Ukraine cannot fall, and the symbol of that fall would be the occupation of Kiev by the Russians.
Let’s also be honest from a geopolitical point of view. It is not so important for the West to restore Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders. Territorial concessions to Russia would be acceptable, but the loss of Kiev and all of Ukraine would be unacceptable. Ukraine must join NATO after the war. Only this can save it (and Europe) from renewed Russian aggression. Therefore Ukraine must survive as a state, and Kiev must remain politically independent of Moscow. At the same time, Russia must lose, and it must lose clearly, otherwise it will never agree to expand NATO to include the capital in Kiev.
As long as the war is fought on the east bank of the Dnieper, the West can hope that the situation is under control, and the equipment supplies alone are enough. However, if the Russians again want to break the strategic line of the Dnieper, to encircle Kiev, then it will threaten the collapse of all of Ukraine. Consequently, setting in motion a whole sequence of successive Russian stages of escalating tensions with the West, as described above.
With the above in mind, the Dnieper Line, is the line that NATO and the EU must set as impassable for Russia. Any attempt to violate it should be neutralized by the West.
So – in my opinion – the West should communicate to Putin: “this is our war, and we will enter it when you move toward the Dnieper (Kiev) or go around the river from the north (Belarus).”
And then what?
NATO countries (not necessarily all) should declare their readiness to enter Ukraine with their troops to erect a cordon. This cordon would cover all western – right-bank – Ukraine, including Kiev. The peacekeeping force should be numerous, demonstrate combat readiness and have support in all domains (sea, air, cyber, space). The signal should read:
“We will move in, and if you start shooting at us, the answer will be that not a single soldier and not a single piece of Russian equipment capable of fighting or operation will be left in all of Ukraine.”
It should be remembered at this point that the Western allies would not at all have to take the fight with the Russians first. For it is not crucial to take back, for example, Donbass. It is enough to protect Kiev and western Ukraine. Thus, the responsibility would fall on Putin, Russian ministers and generals to possibly pull the trigger and fire the first shot against the allies. It would be extremely difficult to make such a decision, and it’s unclear whether anyone would carry out the order to open fire on the troops of NATO countries anyway. The Russians realize how disadvantaged they would be at that point. That’s why Russian propaganda is doing its best to put even the thought of such a scenario out of the West’s mind.
In addition, it is worth remembering that while Ukrainian territory limits the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, the NATO-Russian clash covers a much larger area. The threat to invade Ukraine must be backed up in advance by a series of actions that demonstrate to the Russian side the readiness of the allies to take action on a much broader scale. What is required is a demonstration of the potential to neutralize most Russian assets against NATO as a whole. And so:
- Alliance fleets (and aviation) should demonstrate their dominance (through presence) in the Baltic and Black Seas. Russian ships and ports must have a sense of being trapped with no way out.
- Anti-aircraft and anti-missile forces should demonstrate readiness to neutralize a possible missile attack on the territory of NATO countries.
- The air force should demonstrate its readiness to penetrate enemy anti-aircraft systems and make penetrating strikes deep into enemy territory.
- Ground forces must take up position along the border of NATO’s entire so-called eastern flank. Demonstrate readiness to repel an invasion or hybrid action, but also readiness to execute strikes or the previously described incursion into Ukraine.
- NATO artillery, missile, air and naval forces should demonstrate the potential to launch massive strikes against the Kaliningrad region and Belarus, with the aim of neutralizing the missile and nuclear arsenal stored there. Russia also needs to know that the allies have the exact coordinates of the targets, and the attack would be precise and effective.
- Coalition troops should stand on the border with Moldova, with the goal of demonstrating entry into that country and then taking control of pro-Russian Transnistria.
- The Air Force should demonstrate its readiness to assume total air dominance over Ukraine and support a possible ground operation (stabilization mission – cordon).
For some, this kind of action may seem too “harsh.” However, it is important to realize that Russia is already at war. It carried out the aggression. Additionally with a view to hitting NATO and the EU. Demonstrating the use of force can never be too “harsh” a warning to a party that is already using that military force. A party that, through suggestions, threatens to use nuclear weapons against NATO as well. The Russians are already using almost an array of actions and narratives designed to intimidate and deter Western countries from getting involved in Ukraine. NATO has yet to use any argument of deterrence or intimidation. It simply dispenses aid to Ukrainians. It is high time to change this and bring about some kind of balance, because this imbalance (“softness” of the West against Putin/Medvedev’s harsh tone) could lead to disaster. The disaster described above involved the Russians going too far. One could even argue that they need to be stopped from themselves.
Should Putin – despite all the above-mentioned actions – nevertheless decide to occupy Ukraine or Kiev, a coalition of selec-ted countries (for NATO’s unity in entering Ukraine is questionable) should indeed deploy its troops to form a cordon around western Ukraine and Kiev. So that Russian troops could not pass, without attacking allies. At the same time, it is extremely important to demonstrate at this point total air superiority and readiness to destroy any Russian units that decide to open fire.
Of course, that far-fetched scenario seems to be hanging the outbreak of a nuclear war by a thread. However, what – if not this – was Kennedy’s order to fire on Russian ships sailing toward Cuba? (Had they not stopped).
Putin has been demonstrating to everyone for many months that he will not back down from anything. It is necessary to put a mirror in front of it, otherwise it will indeed not stop.
Put out the fire yourself, the songster of war!
In the pro-Russian narrative, he employs two popular emotional ploys, which are intended to end any discussion of the issues raised above. The first is:
Let’s not send our children to war
Of course, this is a cheap ploy to appeal to the emotions and not to the common sense of the addressee. After all, common sense dictates that as long as Ukraine is independent of Russia and still fighting, Russia does not have convenient conditions to strike NATO and Poland. In other words, obstructing Putin’s occupation of Ukraine de facto protects us, our families and property.
Pro-Russian propagandists use a simplistic narrative, depicting it with the severed legs of veterans and referring to “our children,” because it is impossible to explain their basic thesis in a cool, rational and geopolitical manner. The thesis is that one should keep one’s distance and, after the war in Ukraine, move on to business with Russia as if nothing ever happened. Well, no one is undertaking an explanation of how this would supposedly work. This is not surprising, since, after all, no reasonable person would believe the completely nonsensical theory according to which Putin, after conquering Ukraine, would suddenly soften and become a reliable partner on the international stage. Americans and Europeans would also need to believe in it. No one in Washington – after the fall of Ukraine – would have any illusions about Putin. Especially since Putin would not suddenly mellow. There will be genocide in occupied Ukraine, and the geopolitical situation after the occupation of Ukraine will not become more secure for Poland and Europe. The opposite will happen. This obviousness is unquestionable, hence the simplistic emotional games of the Russian narrative.
That’s why pro-Russian propaganda suggests that Western politicians will first send tanks to Ukraine and then our children. This message is already completely devoid of logic for another reason as well. If one looks at the issue coldly, even if soldiers from selec-ted NATO countries were going to be sent to Ukraine to extinguish the conflict with Russia, no one would send “our children” there. Keep in mind that the theoretical deployment of troops to Ukraine would involve professional troops. A professional soldier is no longer a child. This is a man who has consciously decided: to practice the profession of a soldier, take an oath and defend the country and its citizens. His own family, other citizens, and the families of other citizens. For which he quite deliberately draws a salary.
A doctor does not choose to work in a hospital just to collect a salary and refuse to perform medical procedures. A firefighter doesn’t go to the fire department to flinch from firefighting actions. It doesn’t matter whether the fire in question broke out spontaneously, or whether the fire was set deliberately and, for example, by a neighbor disliked by the firefighter in question. A firefighter is supposed to extinguish a fire, and he undertakes this duty as part of his job in a specific profession with the knowledge that a fire will break out and must be put out – even at the risk of endangering his life or health. Which sane mother of a firefighter shouts during a fire, pointing at her son going into action to put out a neighbor’s house: “They want to burn our children!”?
A soldier going into the military is aware that his profession is – among other things and in the worst case – to fight in war. The duty of a soldier is to defend the country and its citizens. Even if this defense requires operations outside the national territory. The latter is no longer so obvious to everyone. However, these are the facts.
If an invasion of NATO countries could have been avoided by sending troops to Ukraine, it is the duty of politicians and generals to do so. While soldiers signed up for such profession (for salary), civilians (including our children) did not consciously sign up to fight against an enemy attacking our country.
And the threat of invasion of the Baltic States, Romania or Poland would end up exactly the same as in Ukraine. In endangered countries, borders would be blocked for men, army drafts would be sent out, and any civilian drafted would be fighting in the same trenches as professional soldiers. At the same time, he would have inferior training, equipment and, consequently, a lower chance of survival. So the question is, why maintain professional armies when in times of war it would be the civilians who would have to defend themselves anyway?
So the situation is that we want to have in the army either people with a vocation or professionals who know what they are taking money for. Those who are there for other reasons are a shame to keep. This is why, for example, 20 million people in Poland pay taxes to field a professional army with this money, whose job is to prevent civilians (amateurs) from having to use weapons. Besides just in such a situation – the imminent threat of invasion of Poland – it would be our children who would be forced to take part in the war slaughter. Professionals, often including volunteers, are sent on expeditions. Everyone must take part in the defensive war.
Go to war yourself
This argument is bound to come up under my article and is directed at anyone who takes a common-sense approach to the war in Ukraine. This phrase is very common and is the main weapon wielded by the pro-Russian narrative. Therefore, someone must finally undertake to defuse this dangerous and defeatist bomb. Although I know that this will result in dislike of my person among many readers, including the military.
The duty of a soldier is to defend the country and its citizens. Even if it requires fighting outside the country’s borders.
If the situation requires outside intervention to avoid a defensive war, it makes sense to send professionals to intervene. Professionals who consciously practice their profession. It would be a moral failing to abandon necessary, but challenging decisions, while resigning ourselves to a situation where war will come to us, and civilians will have to grab for their weapons. This includes our children. It is certain that absolutely every Ukrainian soldier would now rather fight against Russia somewhere else than in Ukraine. Where many civilians are killed, including women and young children.
That’s why 20 million civilians maintain a professional army, so that it will be – in case of fire (war) – ready to act. Of course, it is society’s responsibility to fund a properly equipped army. Citizens of a country – especially Poles – need to be aware of what a potential occupation of the country may entail. The need to increase military spending under current conditions is inevitable, just as it will be inevitable to increase taxes for this purpose. We must be aware of this and be ready to take on the associated burdens.
If soldiers choose to pursue a military career just to collect pay and obtain legal privileges (e.g. pension or financial allowances), then such an army should not exist. It is better to be aware of one’s weakness than to have a false belief in one’s strength. Especially when hard money is paid for this belief. An army is built to deter the enemy with its readiness and potential to defeat him. Secondarily, professional soldiers are paid to fight in war when deterrence fails. If someone is in the military to shirk the duties he has knowingly assumed, it would be better for him to resign and go to work in the private sector. Then, instead of the costs, he will be able to add some value to the country and fellow citizens.
The expense of maintaining the Armed Forces does not involve any financial benefit to the state. The only added value of the Armed Forces is the feeling and guarantee of security. If a country is safe, then it can develop and attract capital from outside. If the Armed Forces – and soldiers – abdicate their role as security donors, then their role would be reduced to that of parasites on the socio-economic fabric. And this is precisely the role that Russian propaganda would like to reduce our military to. And this is how pro-Russian propaganda would like to portray Western armies before their own societies. As unnecessary parasitic entities that, if tried, will tell citizens: “then fight for yourselves.”
We can’t let that happen. It is in the interest of the army and civilians to build a platform of trust together. Trust based on a solid foundation. If the public has faith in the soldier’s ethos – thanks to the attitudes of the military themselves – then they will be more willing to give more money out of their own pockets to the army.
It is necessary to support Ukraine and prevent its occupation by Russia at all costs, while investing in the Armed Forces. This is so that none of us will ever have to fight a war, anywhere.
At the same time we must not allow ourselves to be morally disarmed and intimidated by Russian propaganda. We must not be ashamed of expressing our voice directly. The aim is to defeat Russia in the war in Ukraine. One of the tools of Russian propaganda is emotional blackmail. The implication is that all those talking about helping Ukraine win want to send “our children” to war and death. They want to draw Putin’s ire to the West and bring Russian troops here. This is an obvious manipulation, a very crude one, by the way.
As long as Russia cannot defeat the Ukrainians and engages more troops to fight them, it will not even think about attacking Poland or any other NATO country. So the more passive we are and thus add to the Russian victory, the sooner Putin will be able to take aim at our country. So it is exactly the opposite, as the tubes of Russian propaganda suggest.
This is our war!
To the extent discussed – intimidation, intimidation and emotional blackmail – it appears that the West (including Poland) is losing out to Russian propaganda. While the vast majority are aware of this, few can declare publicly outright that “this is our war.” We are doing exactly what Putin expects by hurling accusations at the West. Stating that NATO is at war with Russia in Ukraine, Putin expects denials from the other side. Russian propagandists resort to emotive phrases (“our children” or “then go to war yourself”) in order to discourage adversaries from pronouncing their voice directly. This kind of action is a variation of conducting pedagogy of shame. We are supposed to be ashamed and even afraid (of the call for the creation of lists stigmatizing people with proactive views) of the thought of actions that could cross Putin’s plans, because: “this will lead to war!”. The idea is that we should shy away from talking and eventually even thinking about countering Russian military actions. At a time when Putin and Russia are waging open war against NATO, the European Union and Poland. But at the territory of Ukraine. Which is solely due to Russia’s weakness and inability to attack the West directly. In all of this, it is worth trying to turn the pages of Russian propaganda so that its actions achieve the exact opposite.
Therefore, I encourage all readers – politicians, military, experts, writers and also commentators – to introduce the slogan into the public discourse: “THIS IS OUR WAR.” Using words in recordings, hashtags in posts or profile tags. Even if you have a different opinion on how to deal with Putin’s aggression, it is not at all necessary to share this text, just join the action. For no matter what methods we want to use, the most important thing is to convince all of us, and later Putin himself, that indeed THIS IS OUR WAR. We are ready to act one way or another. Since Putin acts as if NATO is at war with Russia in Ukraine and convinces the Russians to do so, acknowledging this obvious conundrum on our – the Western – side cannot bring us any negative results. On the contrary, in this way, we can neutralize Russian propaganda, and keep Moscow from escalating the conflict. The Kremlin must believe that we are ready for anything. Otherwise, they will continue to push further, escalating until they can finally lead to a direct war with NATO. They must be prevented from doing so.
Because THIS IS OUR WAR.
Author of: “Third Decade. The world today, and in 10 years”
Geopolitics, politics, economy, law, taxes – blog