The Ukrainian Trap, part 1

Wars rarely develop, much less end, the way wars had been planned by those who started them. More often than not, the results of wars had little in common with intentions of their planners, and often the results and consequences of wars turned out to be completely opposite to intentions of war participants.

Moreover, with the growing role of civilizations in the international relations, wars become not only more unpredictable, but tun into traps for those who start them or get involved in them.

Politicians and officials start wars between states, out of state interests, but these wars quickly turn into conflicts between civilizations, and finding ways out of intercivilizational wars within the framework of interstate relations turns out to be not only extremely difficult, but sometimes impossible.

Those wars turn out to be traps for states, their political leaders and peoples. The recent events in Russia, Ukraine and the Middle East have clearly demonstrated inability of the parties to the conflicts to control and manage events. They found themselves in the traps from which they could not escape.

Such trap wars end in humiliation and defeat of the powers that sought these wars, relying and counting on economic, technological and military advantages of their states that increasingly turn out to be quasi and product of many years of rather stupid, ill-conceived propaganda that did not take into account the potential of civilizations they confront.

Therefore, military conflicts in the Middle East, in Israel and around it, as well as in Europe, in Ukraine and around Ukraine, in its unpredictability and complexity turn out to be unique historical examples.

And today I intend to dwell on the war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the West and Russia, that this week for the first time has been named as “the war” and not “the special military operation” by the Kremlin.

This war has long turned into the complex and unavoidable trap for all participants in the conflict and in the near future may move into a new phase with unexpected results for all parties involved.

                                       The Ukrainian trap for Russia

It looks as if the Ukrainian trap was initially designed and created against Russia, Vladimir Putin and his clan, and it was created by interested forces in the West, in Ukraine, and in Russia, and all that “planners” pursued not only different, but also opposing goals. However, the initiative in setting up the trap came exactly from Moscow, and that is why Russia obediently walked into the laid trap.

The main reason that Russia, like a horse, allowed itself to be put on a bridle by which it was pulled into the “Ukraine” trap, was Moscow’s inability to develop its own independent domestic and foreign policy, to create its own ideology or adapt to Russian conditions the ideology that the post-Soviet elites tried to import from the West.

Before the start of the invasion in Ukraine, Russia did not even recognize itself as a civilization, and despite Vladimir Putin’s statements in the last two years, that understanding remains unsteady and superficial.

Marxism and the communist ideology stopped developing in 1920s, and was mummified along with Lenin’s body. In late 1940-s, it became clear that the mummified Marxism was unable to explain and show ways for further development of the socialist system created in the Soviet Union. All attempts by Stalin to find the way to regenerate Marxism failed, and after his death, the Communist party and state bureaucracy in the USSR stopped building any communism and used Marxism as the cover, the set of fetishisms and tools to justify their rule, to fight for power, for clan and personal interests.

The collapse of the USSR and destruction of the socialist system was the finale of the development of the state, in which more than 90% of the wealth, including the state property and resources, were in hands, disposal and management of the bureaucracy that dreamed of privatizing the wealth and ensuring its inheritance.

On the initiative of Moscow and the Russian political elite, the USSR was divided into fifteen states. To avoid the emergence of pockets of resistance to the destruction of Soviet power and the USSR, national elites in the republics of the former USSR were given the right to divide and privatized wealth independently. This also freed Russia from its obligations to remain the donor and sponsor to the outskirts of the former empire and to bear full responsibility for the consequences of the collapse of the USSR.

The collapse and division of the empire became the beginning of the transformation of Ukraine into a trap for Russia. At that time, only few people thought that the former republics of the USSR could turn into enemies of Russia.

The second factor that contributed to the creation of traps along the perimeter of Russia was the policy of “rationalism” adopted by Russian elites, including political leadership. That rationalism was based on the belief that money and selfish, personal interests prevail and can allow to solve all problems, that the Ideology ended, that only political rationalism and pragmatism remained.

Morality and moral principles were subordinated to personal interests and political pragmatism based on the pseudo-ideology that took the form of rationalism.

However, it turned out that political rationalism as state ideology can satisfy only the ruling bureaucratic and oligarchic clans that arose as result of the criminal privatization of wealth of the USSR.

It turned out that Soviet people, the Russians first of all, need ideology, understanding and vision of their future. They need to understand the meaning of the state’s existence. Otherwise, the state ceases to be necessary for people.

Ideology determines moral norms and rules of life and policy, and in the absence of ideology, the criminal and moral lawlessness arises and creates chaos that inevitably leads the state to its decomposition, rotting, and collapse.

Moreover, ideological vacuum cannot exist for long. In the modern world, most often the ideological vacuum is being filled by nationalism and religious extremism. Thus, the collapse of the USSR, the historical Russian Empire, led to the emergence of fifteen states on its territory, in which ideological vacuum began to quickly be filled with nationalist ideas implicated in political rationalism and morality of the criminal world.

Moreover, in the absence of ideology that explains and justifies the independent development of the former territories of the Russian Empire, it was nationalism and religious extremism that became the main tools and state ideologies of the ruling elites. This was inevitable in the emerging states that have never existed before.

Even in Russia itself, nationalism and religious extremism began to grow rapidly, threatening Russian civilization from within, undermining its historical foundations, laid during the creation of the first Russian state — Rus, and preserved during the period when Rus was part of the Great Horde, and later preserved by the Moscow tsardom and the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union.

One of the most important foundations of Russian civilization were the principles of life of the territorial communities that made up the Slavic and Uyghur tribes that lived on the East European Plain during the creation of Rus. The territorial communities became the basic elements of Rus civilization and Russian nation, not just one ethnic group or one nation.

Nationalism was always opposite and hostile to civilization, built on the principles of life of territorial communities.

That is why, with the loss of ideology in the USSR and post-Soviet Russia, nationalism began to threaten the foundations of Russian civilization, acting as catalyst for the crisis of the “Russian world” that comprised over hundred nations, nationalities and ethnic groups of different religions and beliefs.

At the same time, it was in the Western Ukraine that nationalism, which had deep historical roots, developed at the fastest pace, receiving support from within the country and from outside.

And most importantly, Ukrainianism began to develop as alternative to Russian civilization, to the Russian path of development, taking on anti-Russian orientation.

At the same time, in Russia itself, the corruption justified by political and moral rationalism became the basis for the functioning of state, public organizations and businesses. The clan system, under the guise of slogans about democracy and the imitation of multi-party political system proclaimed in the new “democratic” constitution of the Russian Federation, replaced one-party system of government in the USSR, and the criminal networks permeated the state and social systems. All that led to the fact that Russia allowed nationalism to flourish in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics.

Russian ruling elites saw no threat in rising nationalism in Ukraine until it turned out to be directed specifically against the Russians, threatening Russia as civilization.

At the same time, Ukrainian nationalism has become a tool for enriching significant part of the Ukrainian elites. To the outside observer, Ukraine has become anti-Russia striving to become part of the West. However, the turn to the West was also attempt by the Ukrainian elites to get new donor and increase their wealth at the expense of that donor. For Ukrainian clans who were looking for sources of enrichment in the West, it was important that the West and Russia be as hostile as possible to each other.

This desire of the Ukrainian political oligarchic clans to turn towards the West was also caused by the fact that the Russian ruling clans, who came to power after the collapse of the USSR, and especially after Vladimir Putin came to power, not only refused to “feed” Ukraine and its extremely corrupt elites, but tried to force them to share the Ukrainian wealth. That pushed Ukrainian nationalists to confront Moscow and to find another “Big Donor”.

Despite all that, Moscow continued to consider Ukraine part of the Russian civilization, the Russian world, as “brotherly people”, preferring not to notice the transformation of Ukraine into different civilization, blaming the West, scolding Ukrainians for their “venality”, “cunning”, “hypocrisy”, dividing the Ukrainians into “good pro-Russian Ukrainian brothers” and “bad Ukrainian nationalists”.

The differences between Russian and Ukrainian civilizations are still being officially denied by the ruling elites in Moscow, and this denial became another factor that pushed Russia into the trap in Ukraine.


                           And then the trap slammed shut

By 2014, the ruling elites in Moscow, immersed in the internal struggle of the clans, being reassured by part of the Ukrainian “pro-Russian” elites that “Ukraine has nowhere to go,” that two countries are too interdependent economically, ethnically and financially, allowed Ukraine to finally become the trap that Russia could not escape. It took too long for the ruling group in the Kremlin to understand that Russia could not allow anti-Russian nationalism to develop in Ukraine.

Only the clear threat of Ukraine joining NATO and turning into powerful military stronghold was able to bring Moscow to conclusion that it cannot allow Ukraine to be anti-Russia.

The threat of Ukraine turning into the vanguard of NATO threatened primarily the ruling group, Vladimir Putin personally, who set on course for Russia’s development independent from the West. In the mid-2000s, while continuing to talk about “partnership” with the West, Putin entered into conflict hidden from the general Russian public, with US ruling elites.

And yet, even when the inevitability of conflict with Ukraine became clear, the Kremlin continued to underestimate threats and overestimate its own strength. Moscow believed that it could effectively block the anti-Russian course of Ukraine, and if necessary, to ensure the rise to power in Kiev of pro-Russian forces.

Despite the fact that the pro-Russian political groups came to power in 2010, and Viktor Yanukovych became the president of Ukraine, Moscow was unable to stop the development of Ukraine as alternative to Russian civilization. The cunning, but stupid Yanukovych twitched and twist turning towards the West, then turning back towards Russia, believing that he could milk two “cows” simultaneously throughout the entire period of his rule. And then — come what may. This “come what may” in the form of Maidan came too early and unexpectedly for him and as the cold shower to Moscow.

However, the preparations for possible conflict with the West in Ukraine that gradually began to be recognized in the Kremlin not as probable and possible, but as inevitable, began in Moscow long before the Maidan.

However, the preparations for war were carried out in untraditional manner familiar to Putin.

If in any other state, including the Russian Empire and the USSR, preparation for war were determined and controlled by the Armed Forces as the organizational center, in modern Russia the organizational center of the preparation for war was given to control by the special services and the Presidential Administration. The Armed Forces found themselves in the role of contractor and executor.

Vladimir Putin was selected for the role of Boris Yeltsin’s successor as person capable of solving the important task for the ruling elite of suppressing the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, first of all, as political force capable of changing the regime.

Putin completed the tasks of changing Commanders of the Armed Forces, including Minister of Defense Igor Rodionov, suppressing the Army as political force, reducing the Russian Armed Forces to the acceptable minimum, and establishing full control by the Kremlin through the special services over the situation in the Army.

The decision to reduce and suppress the Armed Forces and the military-industrial complex was determined not only by the fears of Yeltsin and his Family, but also by political rationalism that defined Yeltsin’s and later, Putin’s policy till the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Moscow believed that to hold the West, it will be sufficient to revive only part of the military-industrial complex and the armed forces that could ensure equality, and in some types of weapons even the advantage of Russia, in nuclear weapons and strategic forces.

Therefore, when Putin came to power, Moscow began restoring strategic nuclear forces, using the achievements and breakthroughs left from the Soviet period, including in the creation of new generation of strategic missiles, hypersonic missiles, nuclear rocket engines and power plants for space stations.

Special Forces were also created, as well as private military group (“Wagner”), capable of replacing the GRU units and operating simultaneously in several regions of the world, primarily in developing countries, ensuring the interests of the Kremlin, Russian business Corporations and ruling clans, if necessary, outside of intergovernmental agreements.

However, in 2014, the Maidan in Kyiv finally turned Ukraine to the West away from Russia. That left only one path for Ukraine, and that was the path of transformation into alternative civilization to the Russian world, based on nationalism. Only nationalism could allow Ukraine as state and civilization to resist Russia.

Putin managed to avoid the total failure of his political course by ensuring the transition of Crimea to Russia and separation of most of Donbass from anti-Russian Kiev, by turning Donbass into springboard for future offensive by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.

However, the trap slammed shut. The fate of Russia and Ukraine as opposing sides in inevitable armed conflict was determined.

However, those who set the trap and those who got into it, underestimated one important factor, — the ability of the trap to mutate, evolve, and become a trap for everyone, not only Russia and Ukraine, but also the West, above all Europe.

(To be continued)

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