Putin prepares to launch major war sooner rather than later, Felshtinsky says

A portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin by Ukrainian artist Darya Marchenko is made from 5,000 used bullet cartridges collected at the Russo-Ukrainian front in eastern Ukraine. The portrait is named "The Face of War." The portrait was presented along with a novel which tells personal stories of six people involved in this project including Darya's own story and stories of people who helped her to collect the bullet shells at the frontline. She calls her art approach philosophic symbolism where every element has its hidden meaning. In her works each used bullet cartridge stands for a human life that was brutally ended by Putin's military invasion into Ukraine. (Image: REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

A portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin by Ukrainian artist Darya Marchenko is made from 5,000 used bullet cartridges collected at the Russo-Ukrainian front in eastern Ukraine. The portrait is named "The Face of War." The portrait was presented along with a novel which tells personal stories of six people involved in this project including Darya's own story and stories of people who helped her to collect the bullet shells at the frontline. She calls her art approach philosophic symbolism where every element has its hidden meaning. In her works each used bullet cartridge stands for a human life that was brutally ended by Putin's military invasion into Ukraine. (Image: REUTERS/Gleb Garanich) 

2015/08/30 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Given his economic problems at home and Western sanctions over Ukraine, many in the West have convinced themselves that Vladimir Putin will not launch a major war. But despite or even because of these challenges, Yury Felshtinsky says, Putin is preparing for just such a conflict, even though time is working for Ukraine and the West.

And because time is working against him in that regard, the Russian analyst based in the United States writes in the Apostrophe, the possibility that he will launch a major attack in Ukraine or against other targets in the near future is far greater than many think.

Felshtinsky says that those who have been following Putin’s aggression since March 2014 can be divided into optimists and pessimists. Among “the optimists,” he says, is Andrey Piontkovsky who argues that Putin is stymied by his current difficulties and that those around him will soon remove him.

Felshtinsky puts himself among “the pessimists” because he believes that “Putin and the people which he has put in power and who have entered his closest entourage have not understood and do not understand” the nature of the situation they face. Consequently, they are likely to act in erratic, even irrational ways from the point of view of others.

“The junta ruling Russia today consists of primitive, uneducated officers of the Soviet and Russian special services who have studied all their lives the specific science of destruction. They have never learned to create and build.” They can sell raw materials like oil at world prices, but they are incapable” of managing the country in the direction of development.

Devastation in Donbas from the Russian aggression

Devastation in Donbas from the Russian aggression

This group “seized power in order to restore the Soviet Union, the Russian Empire, the ‘Russian world,’ but not a civilized, cultural, economically developed and independent state,” the analyst says. Thus, Felshtinsky argues, “it is early to conclude that the danger of a third world war has been liquidated by falling oil prices and the low ruble exchange rate.”

“If it were possible to buy peace,” the analyst continues, “there never would be any wars because any war is more expensive than peace.” A corollary of that “a low ruble or a high ruble is not a guarantee of European or world security.” Wars happen not just because of what one side wants but also how the other side acts or is perceived to act.

Thanks to the recent Bloomberg report, we now know that the West told Kyiv not to react militarily when Russia seized Crimea. “One after another in March-April [2014] leaders of Europe and the US in one voice as from a script told their populations that Crimea is ‘immemorial Russian land,’ and that Russia has every right to seize it.”

And then these same leaders turned things on their head and said that the fact that “Ukraine had surrendered Crimea without a battle” proved that it was not really Ukrainian because countries do not give up land that is really theirs.

Piontkovsky is among those who have suggested that what took place was the result of a new “Munich,” in which the West “paid for peace with the division of Ukraine” just as it had in September 1938 with “with the division of Czechoslovakia.” Nonetheless, the question remains: will the West go to war against the aggressor as Britain and France did in September 1939?

“No one has yet declared war on Russia, but Russia, in contrast to Hitlerite Germany, has stalled at the initial stage of its aggression,” Felshtinsky says. Already for a year and a half, it has not been in a position to break through beyond the borders of its puppet DNR and LNR,” despite its enormous concentration of forces nearby.

Moreover, the Russian analyst says, “Russia continues to exacerbate the military-political situation on the borders with all its neighbors,” not just the Baltic countries and the former Soviet republics but “also with traditionally neutral states like Finland and Sweden.” And it has sent its aircraft along the US borders as a provocation.

And while this is going on, “throughout the Russian Federation are being carried out military training exercises, increases in military spending, changes in laws governing call ups of reserves, concentration of forces in Crimea and Kaliningrad, and so on and so forth,” Felshtinsky points out.

“Absolutely everything points to Russia’s general preparation for a world war.”

How has the West reacted so far? Has it done enough to convince Putin that he must not act? The answers to those questions are not clear. “No one has yet imposed serious sanctions on Russia. The West is optimistic. It also considers that Russia is so weak economically and militarily that it cannot possibly think about a major war.”

Russian aggression: Devastated building in Lysychansk, Ukraine, 4 August 2014 (Image: Ліонкінг)

Russian aggression: Devastated building in Lysychansk, Donbas, Ukraine, 4 August 2014 (Image: Ліонкінг)

“Therefore,” he continues, “the leadership of Europe and the US, having replaced the slogan about Crimea as ‘immemorial Russian land’ for a demand for the return of Crimea to Ukraine and the withdrawal of Russian forces from occupied areas of eastern Ukraine is waiting while preparing to give a rebuff to the aggressor.”

And “the leaders of the free world justly consider that time is working for them and for Ukraine,” a conclusion Felshtinsky shares. But precisely because it is, that could prompt Putin to act more quickly and more broadly than they expect.

Putin certainly has concluded, the analyst suggests that if he is going to act, he must do so while Barack Obama is still in office as US president, that is, sometime before January 20, 2017. That is not because “Obama is bad or good” but because “Obama came to office to end the wars begun by the previous administration and hardly in order to begin new ones.”

“For that reason,” Felshtinsky argues, “Obama would be the last person in the US ready to begin a war with Russia over Ukraine or with Iran over the Iranian nuclear program. Putin, just like Ayatollah Khamenei understands that perfectly.” And the Kremlin leader understands something else as well.

Putin recognizes that “the new president of the US, regardless of who it is and which party, will take a harder line toward Russia and toward Iran.” That means, Felshtinsky suggests, that if Putin is going to move, he will want to do so before that happens and before time really works against him.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • laker48

    Well, US F-22 Raptors are being deployed to Germany and Poland for a reason.

  • Brent

    Free Ukraine of Russian invaders, terrorists, murderers…and Russian politicians

    • Brent

      REALLY? Why do Putin, Medvedev and all the other leaders keep showing up in Crimea WHICH INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNZIED AS STILL BEING PART OF UKRAINE? WHY DOES PUTIN KEEP SENDING VLADISLAV SURKOV TO DONBASS, WHICH EVEN RUSSIA STILL RECOGNIZES AS PART OF UKRAINE?

      You want to take up a cause for freeing illegally held prisoners? Look no further than Savchenko, Sentsov, Kolchenko and Kovher ALL HELD ILLEGALLY IN RUSSIAN PRISONS.

      • Brent

        I’d love to ask the same question of you, whether you care about Ukraine? OR are you using Ruslan as propaganda to deflect the attention away from the fact Russia has invaded Ukraine and has troops on Ukrainian territory AND NO ONE SEEMS TO WANT TO HELP UKRAINE TO RID THEM OF THE RUSSIAN INVADERS AND PARASITES.

        I feel sorry for Ruslan, and do believe in free speech. But not to the detriment of Ukraine’s war effort. You can moan and scream all you want about Ruslan, but far more egregious human rights violations are taking place in Russia with the illegal kidnapping and transport of citizens of other countries (Savchenko, Sentsov, Kolchenko, Kovher and others) and the farcical show trials.

        And yet you, someone who supposedly is a proponent of human rights violations only brings up the detention of Ruslan and not the kidnappings and show trials taken illegally to Russia….and not a peep out of you about the 7000 murdered in Ukraine by Putin’s invasion…..you can’t seem to see the forest for the trees, “Ivan”….you posted this same comment about 10 times yesterday, so clearly you have an agenda, and I doubt your agenda involves Ukraine’s fight for its independence. You also lie about “Russian politicians not going to Ukraine”, so stop pretending you’re anything than just another troll out of 55 Savushkina…

        • George Evans

          stop telling porkies,bent…

          the 7,000 were murdered in the Donbass by the Ukrainian army…there weren,t many casualties outside the Donbass..except in the maidan coup…when the fascist renegades ran amok killing anybody they could…and then ran off to take refuge in the Canadian Embassy…(pretty shameful that of crazy candy,s mob)…

      • George Evans

        Crimea has come home…get used to it…

        as the US neocons like to say,,,move on…

        the hockey match is over,bent…..

        • Brent

          “Come home”????? It was first invaded by Russia in 1783 and was ‘part of Russia’ until 1954…..171 years!!! Konigsberg was part of Germany much longer and the Kuril Islands part of Japan much longer. When do they get to ‘come home’????

          Keep gobbling your Kremlin master’s propaganda pablum, mindless little sheeple….and when they tell you to keep yammering away when they all disappear, don’t worry, they’ll come ‘home’……in 171 years!!!!

          • George Evans

            that idealist Gorbachev was “snowed “by the yanks into including the Donbass and Crimea into the new Ukraine…

            part of the deal was that NATO (the US) “would not take one step East”..

            he was gullible because the US advised him later it was not in a formal treaty..so it did not count….it was only good until the ink dried…

            Putin..the hero of the hour…took back Crimea since the US had reneged on the deal…
            the people of the Donbass…again heroes of the hour, SACKED the Kiev mob since they objected to being murdered and their homes destroyed….

            you must try to at least include a modicum of truth in your rubbish,bent….

          • Brent

            Well “Aesop”, I see you’re putting out a sequel to your famous fables…either you’ve got a really good imagination, or you’re trying really hard for a supervisor’s job at 55 Savushkina…

            Go ahead tell us how great Russia is and how strong economically and while you’re at it, maybe you can make Putin into a basketball legend better than Michael Jordan…

          • George Evans

            President Putin turned down the chance to win two Olympic golds and a World Championship in Judo…because he had to save the World from the nasty US neocon usurpers….

            Plenty of time yet,though…since he id in magnificent shape..and can give a good speech,too…

            brains,brawn and oodles of character…the world was so lucky he came along…

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            ‘part of the deal was that NATO (the US) “would not take one step East”..’
            Nothing of the kind was promised as Gorbachev fairly recently said that the subject of NATO enlargment wasn’t even discussed…

          • George Evans

            another one that tells porkies,titty….

            I heard it from his own mouth…

            why do you tell such lies???

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      And Dwarfstan trolls too!

      • George Evans

        bent and bum…now there,s a double….

        • Brent

          It beats being a mindless troll that can’t think for itself and can only regurgitate what it’s master tells it to say. Can’t debate. Can’t cite facts….only gurgling little sheeple noises eminate from ‘ewe’…..

          • George Evans

            you are a juvenile trollop.bent…

  • AMERICAN VIEW !!

    Russian troll alert

    • George Evans

      bs,again,yankee doodle…which one are you in your alter ego…crazy candy,or bent,maybe….

      yes..definitely bent….

  • Eddy Verhaeghe

    Whatsaboutism Ivan, whatsaboutism. Stick to the subject being discussed.