The Ukrainian Trap, part 2

                                            When people need war

The Ukrainian trap slammed shut for Russia in 2014, when Vladimir Putin, using the coup in Kyiv and the split into Ukrainian and pro-Russian regions caused by the Maidan, ensured the transition of Crimea to Russia and turned the Donbass into springboard for pro-Russian forces.

From the Russian point of view, this was historic achievement for Vladimir Putin. However, the trap set for Russia has slammed shut. The Maidan in Kyiv finally turned Ukraine away from Russia, towards the West. The fate of Russia and Ukraine as opposing sides in inevitable armed conflict was determined.

There was only one path of transformation left for Ukraine, and that was the development into alternative civilization to the Russian world, into civilization based on rigid nationalism, in contrast to Russian civilization based on two basic principles: territorial-communal and social class-inclusivity that I call “the principle of the Russian doll”.

Only by relying on tough nationalism and with full and unconditional support of the West, Ukraine could resist Russia. However, the West might not support Ukrainian nationalism, and the ruling elites in Kiev had to take this into account.

There were also powerful groups in Ukraine that were against ethnic Ukrainian nationalists coming to power and taking full control over Ukraine. They wanted new head of state to be acceptable to different ethnic groups inside Ukraine, as well as to the West. Therefore, Vladimir Zelensky, a Jewish Ukrainian, already popular among the Ukrainian public, was seen as a good choice to play the role of leader in the confrontation with Russia, and that made it possible to present nationalism in a form acceptable to Europe and the United States.

One historical factor played important role in that decision. Jews have lived in the south and west of the Russian Empire for centuries. Moreover, Jewish communities moved to the south of the East European Plain long before the first Russian state, Rus, was created.

In the 7th — 9th centuries, the southern regions inhabited by Slavic tribes, including the territory of present-day Ukraine, including Kiev, were part of the Khazar Khaganate. The Khazars were Turkic people and came from Transcaucasia, but Jewish communities played important role in the Khaganate and had great political influence. Judaism became the state religion of the Khazar Khaganate.

Rus was created by Slavic tribes living in the center, east and north of the East European Plain, and the current Ukrainian lands, including Kyiv, were conquered from the Khazars after the death of Prince Rurik, the founder of Rus, when Prince Oleg took Kyiv and defeated Khazars.

Slavic tribes, the ancestors of today’s Ukrainians, and Jewish communities continued to live together for centuries. Although there were periodic conflicts between them, they had and have lot in common, and Jews played important role in the formation of Ukrainianism. The alliance between the Jewish community and nationalists in Ukraine was acceptable and understandable for Ukrainians, although the rigid nationalists viewed this alliance as temporary…

For Russia, its fate was also predetermined, and all options were reduced to one tough choice:

Restoring and strengthening its civilizational foundations by changing state system in accordance with civilizational principles, and that meant the restoring of Russian Empire, or

continued transformation into amalgamation or federation of nation-state-territories.

The second path meant the further disintegration of the historical Russian Empire, initiated by the powerful group of communist bureaucrats who, with the loss of faith in communism and Marxism, retained the European spirit of the communist International and sought to become part of the global bureaucracy and oligarchy.

Vladimir Putin and those who came to power with him in 1996-1999, were pro-Westerners globalists who rejected communism, but they stood for the revival of Russia, and that excluded all other options except confrontation with Ukraine. This also meant inevitable confrontation with other former territories of the Russian Empire that gained independence with the collapse of the USSR, initiated by the Russians, and having received independence, adopted nationalism as the ideological basis of their statehood.

It also meant inevitable conflict with those external forces that would support the young nationalist states in their confrontation with Russia, and that, in turn, meant inevitable conflict between Russia and the West.

All that created growing contradictions between Putin’s pro-Western and globalist views and his desire to strengthen and revive Russia.

Moreover, after the Maidan in Kyiv in 2014, and till the start of the “special military operation” in 2022, the Kremlin rulers did not realize that they were in the trap, and hoped that the quiet and “smart” intrigues of the special services and diplomats, dexterity in politics and the interests of Western elites associated with Russia, their dependence on natural resources, prices for energy and materials, will allow Moscow to avoid any military confrontation with the West and to return Ukraine under control.

The Kremlin could not imagine that the West would go against its economic and business interests, abandon the cheap Russian energy resources, the profits and incomes of significant part of the elites and corporations, and agree to sharp decline in the living standards of the population in order to protect some outdated “ideas”, “principles” and “rules”, which the West itself often violated and changed.

Moscow did not believe that the West would enter into strategic conflict with Russia, hoping to defeat, capture or dismember it. In the Kremlin, starting with Gorbachev, the ruling elites could not imagine that someone would try to make another attempt to invade Russia, its historic lands, repeating what Europe had tried to do every century, since the creation of the Muscovite tsardom, and always unsuccessfully.

In the Kremlin, as throughout Russia, in the subconscious of the majority of the people there was strong belief that after the invasion of Russia by Hitler’s army that united the entire military and industrial potential of continental Europe, as Napoleon had already done in the 19th century, the West has realized that Russia was the only continental empire that was never conquered and could never be conquered or brought under control.

All attempts to defeat Russia by military means, starting with the formation of the Muscovite tsardom, the center and basis of the Russian Empire, ended in the destruction of Russia’s opponents. This created strong conviction among the people of Russia that in 21st century no one would fight with Russia. The Kremlin was confident that the United States and Europe would not risk their world leadership because of Ukraine…

And Russia fell into the trap, not realizing that many politicians in the West no longer considered post-Soviet Russia the world power equal to the USSR or the Russian Empire.

                                     Trap that plays its own game

However, those who set the trap, as well as those who were forced into it, and even those who went into it consciously and in their own interests, underestimated one important factor: the ability of the trap to mutate, develop and influence the fate of those who gets into it.

The trap turned out to be multi-layered and multidimensional system that like every system, was capable of developing and mutating according to its internal laws and destroy the plans of its creators and those caught in it.

Russia and Ukraine found themselves in the trap, but they were not alone. The West, especially Europe, was also drawn into it. And then other countries began to fall into the trap…

The first who began to feel the impact of the Ukrainian trap was Russia, where certain processes began to take place that the Kremlin, at first, did not notice, and when noticed, underestimated for long time.

There were forces in Russia who realized that the trap that could be used against the regime and personally against Putin, if not to remove him, then to influence his decisions and his policies.

These forces began to draw closer and coordinate their actions and rapidly increase their activities, despite differences in interests and goals. They realized that they had chance not only to reverse the Kremlin’s political and economic course, but also to change the ruling elites in Russia and throw out of power those the clans that were hindering the revival of Russia’s economic and military power. That chance could not be missed.

It turned out that they needed a war, even if it was war between Russia and Ukraine, between peoples who had been considered fraternal for centuries. And the nationalism of Ukraine, which had centuries-old tradition, its intensified anti-Russian orientation made war possible, necessary, and therefore inevitable.

                        When so many people need war

There were few important factors that made the war inevitable.

First, the war did not leave opportunity for the ruling elites in Russia to continue to neglect development of the military-industrial complex that accounted for up to 80% of the industry of the Soviet Union, and in post-Soviet Russia eked out miserable existence, being sold for scrap metal, used as warehouses, offices and retail premises.

Tens of millions of people were unable to survive during the collapse and privatization of the military-industrial complex in both Russia and Ukraine. Tens of millions of scientists, engineers, and skilled workers were thrown out onto the streets, their lives were ruined, and they died in poverty.

Buildings, vast territories, production facilities, energy capacities and heat supply systems of the military-industrial complex were privatized in the 1990s, mostly by criminal groups, and deprived of modernization, investment, and were used exclusively to enrich those who managed to privatize them.

With Vladimir Putin coming to power, the military-industrial complex continued to eke out that miserable existence. However, in the Kremlin, a covert turn towards the defense complex began, and that turn accelerated after Putin’s conflict with the US leadership in the mid-2000s.

The scientific, technical and production blocks of the military-industrial complex that preserved in secret the breakthrough ideas in the creation of strategic types of weapons, capable of providing parity, and possibly even advantage, for Russia over the United States, received support in the Kremlin and began to recover. These were nuclear strategic forces, nuclear rocket engines, nuclear power plants for space stations, and hypersonic weapons. However, most of the military-industrial complex remained abandoned.

The upcoming war in Ukraine was supposed to return the priority to the military-industrial complex, to force the government to direct funding to its development, to bring back the specialists in the military-industrial complex to govern the state, and increase their influence on political decision-making.

Second, the war was supposed to restore respect for the Armed Forces and return military officers to the status of the elite class in the Russian state.

                            Officers as the ruling class

It was the army that formed the layer of rulers from the moment of the creation of the first Russian state — Rus’.

For centuries, the river network of the East European Plain was an important part of the trade route system linking Byzantium and Europe with Central Asia, Iran, India and China. For this system to function effectively, peace and order were necessary. However, between the Slavic tribes in the north and center of the East European Plain, who repelled the invasions of external enemies, including the Vikings, there was constant civil strife and struggle for primacy.

To protect and control the territory, a professional army was needed, that tribes could not create and maintain separately.

In the 9th century, the tribes invited the Varangians, Rurik’s squad, as professional army and force that, by agreement with the tribes, was supposed to protect the tribes from external aggressors and maintain fair peace between them.

The tribes retained the right to communal ownership of land and resources, the right to live in accordance with their traditions and laws, but were obliged to pay tribute for the maintenance of the army that became the ruling stratum of the new state. That new state received the name Rus after Rurik’s squad, the Rus, and the people, the community of tribes, began to be called Russians. Actually, the Rurik’s squad and the tribes’ men who joined the squad and made up the army of Rus, were the first to be called Russians.

This was how the organizational form of Russian civilization was laid. It consisted of layers living according to their own traditions and rules: territorial communes that comprised the tribes that made up the population of the state Rus that was ruled and protected by the Rurik squad, the Russian army commanded by the Rurik’s family.

That structure resembled the Russian Doll and was fundamentally different from the direct vertical hierarchy and subordination of European states.

The army constituted the elite of the state throughout the entire existence of Rus’, including during the period when the northern, central and eastern principalities of Rus’ were part of the Mongol Empire. Being part of the Mongol Empire, the Russian army retained its relative independence, performing the function of protecting the Empire, the Great Horde, from invasion from the north-west. Secondly, in the Mongol Empire the army occupied the highest position in the state hierarchy. It was the best warriors, not by gender, religion or ethnicity, but by service, by their exploits, that stood at the top of the state pyramid in the Mongol Empire.

The army remained the ruling elite in the Muscovite tsardom and the Russian Empire, and the army’s place in Russian civilization was defined and formulated in the 19th century by Emperor Alexander III: «Russia has only two true allies: its army and navy.»

However, with the development of the state management system in the Russian elite, in the big “doll” – “matryoshka” of the state system, rivalry between the army and the bureaucracy began. It was only after the bourgeoise revolution in February 1917, and the overthrow of tsar Nicholas II, that politicians and bureaucratic clans came to power in Russia. That is why significant part of the officers of the tsarist army, including the General Staff and military intelligence, refused to serve the Provisional bourgeoise Government and supported the Bolsheviks, communists, ensuring the success of the October Revolution of 1917, and then the victory of the Red Army in the civil war and against foreign intervention.

There was another important factor that ensured the support of the Bolsheviks by the tsarist officers. Russian officers and senior commanders have always stood for the state military-industrial complex. Most of them did not trust private manufacturers and suppliers, who often disrupted the supply of weapons and ammunition. It was the disruption of the supply of weapons and ammunition by private manufacturers that caused the difficulties of the Russian army in the First World War. Therefore, in 1917, the majority of Russian officers supported the Bolshevik plans to nationalize private factories that produced weapons.

However, power in Soviet Russia was concentrated in the hands of the communist bureaucracy. That created contradictions between the party, state bureaucracy and the army Commanders. These contradictions led to the conspiracies, conflicts and “purges” of the 1930s, and to the death of significant part of the army command.

Only the Second World War, the invasion of German troops that included army units of almost all countries of the European continent, only four years of that war, the unconditional authority of the leader of the Communist Party Joseph Stalin as Commander-in-Chief led to the restoration of the unity of the party and military leadership of the USSR, to the victory of the Soviet Army that captured Berlin.

During the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s and privatization of the Soviet economy, including the military-industrial complex, by criminal and bureaucratic clans, the army leadership was given the opportunity to steal and illegally sell abroad through the GRU and private business channels the strategic reserves created in the USSR in case of the Third World War. This led to the sale of millions of tons of metals, in particular titanium, aluminum, copper, and rare earth metals, at lowest prices. At the same time, thousands of tanks, ships, and submarines were sold abroad, often as scrap metal.

All that happened not only in Russia, but in all former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, where the process was so uncontrolled, criminal and brazen that frightened the Western leaders who insisted on the immediate transfer of all nuclear weapons into Russia.

However, the sale by the top command of the former Soviet Armed Forces of strategic reserves ensured non-participation of the army in the political struggle during the collapse of the USSR, passivity of senior officers and blocking the army from the struggle for power. That was also one of the main reasons for the military support for Boris Yeltsin in 1993, in his conflict with the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation, in fact, in coup d’etat.

However, it soon turned out that Boris Yeltsin and the new globalist elite of Russia did not need not only the strategic reserves of materials, weapons, ammunition and equipment, but also, they did not need the Russian Armed Forces. The army turned out to be unnecessary and dangerous for the clans that came to power in the Moscow Kremlin.

By the end of the 1990s, it became clear that the Russian officers, weakened as class, deprived of finances and levers of influence on the country’s politics, but remembering their former greatness, still retained the ability to resist. There was a clear and direct threat of overthrow of Boris Yeltsin and his inner circle, the so-called Family.

Vladimir Putin was called upon by the Yeltsin clan in 1996, to carry out special operation: to collect the necessary incriminating evidence and remove Igor Rodionov from the post of Defense Minister, to purge and take control of the Armed Forces, to deprive the army of the ability to resist and threaten the authorities in the Kremlin. And Putin managed to do all that, proving his effectiveness and ability to “solve problems.” That was how Vladimir Putin paved his way into the Kremlin as Yeltsin’s successor.

After the dismissal of Rodionov, all candidates for the post of Minister of Defense were selected by Putin personally, and the main task of the Putin’s ministers, including Ivanov and Serdyukov, was to purge the officer corps, identify and dismiss officers dissatisfied with the policies pursued by the new government, establish full control over the army, and deprive the military of any opportunity for resistance, as well as the sale of properties and assets of the Ministry of Defense in the interest of the clans in power.

However, the deterioration of relations with the West in the mid-2000s and growing threat of military conflict in Ukraine changed the situation. The Ministry of Defense again turned out to be vital for the Kremlin as the only force that can guarantee Russia’s sovereignty and its existence as single state.

In 2012, Vladimir Putin began actively strengthening and establishing order in the Armed Forces. However, that resurrection of the Russian Armed Forces continued to be limited.

For Putin, it was important to impress with minimum efforts the West and the whole world, to demonstrate the strengthening of the Russian armed forces, but not return the army to the place it occupied in the Russian Empire and even in the USSR. In 2012, Sergei Shoigu, who had the nick-name “PR general,” was appointed as the new Minister of Defense.

Before his appointment as Minister of Defense, Shoigu had not served a single day in the armed forces, remaining lieutenant in reserve. For eighteen years he headed the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and it was then that he showed his abilities by creating the most effective PR service in the Russian government.

In 1993, Shoigu actively and unconditionally supported Boris Yeltsin in his conflict with the Supreme Council, the Russian parliament. For that he received the rank of major general from Boris Yeltsin. During the Yeltsin years, and then during the transition period and the first twelve years of Putin’s rule, Shoigu proved his loyalty to the ruling group, to Yeltsin, and then to Putin personally.

In 2012, Putin appointed Shoigu as Minister of Defense, and Shoigu began to rebuild the Armed Forces to the level sufficient to ensure security, but without creating military class capable of actively influencing policies and decisions made in the Kremlin.

By raising salaries to military, by conducting frequent army exercises and weapons exhibitions, Shoigu not only raised the level of combat readiness and the prestige of the Russian army, but also tried by PR campaign to hide shortcomings and weaknesses of the Russian Armed Forces.

At the same time, to conduct quick and effective military operations on enemy territory, the Special Operations Forces (SOF) were created inside the GRU, in accordance with the Russian Doll principle. Alexey Dyumin, Putin’s former security guard and adjutant, was appointed Commander of the SOF. He reported directly to Vladimir Putin.

Under the SOF, the PMCs “Wagner” was formed to operate outside the borders of Russia. “Wagner” employed the former Soviet officers, primarily GRU officers, who were knocked out of the Armed Forces by reforms or resigned in protest against the Kremlin’s policy regarding the Armed Forces.

The creation of “Wagner” made it possible to control the protest sentiments among the officers who found themselves out of service, to bring them back into military Corporation that was “private” in form, but state-owned in management and subordination, that was financed through affiliated companies and provided high level of income for the personnel and their families.

«Wagner» was created to conduct combat operations on all continents.

However, the Wagner commanders did not forgive the humiliation they went through in the 1990s and 2000s. In fact, the Kremlin began to create the best private military corporation in the world that was harshly opposed to the West, ready to go into war anywhere at any time, but retained significant protest potential directed against the ruling elites in Russia.

                       Conspiracy of the military and intelligence services

However, there was another factor that contributed to the fact that Ukraine, Russia, the United States and Europe found themselves in the trap with only one way out, through war. And this factor was the close historical ties between the military and intelligence services of Ukraine and Russia…

( To be continued )

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