Russian trace in Paris bombing theory not as crazy as you might think

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Op-ed

Article by: Mychailo Wynnyckyj

Tonight the world mourns the victims of the IS (“Islamic State”) attacks on Paris. Meanwhile, seemingly as proof of the degree to which Ukraine is peripheral to global public opinion, the resurgent conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas goes unnoticed (as do the bombings in Beirut two days ago). In Ukraine, this morning’s news broadcasts reported intensified artillery and small-arms fire along the entire length of the front in the east. Apparently the “separatists” (aka Russian mercenaries and “military advisors” from the Russian Federation) have resumed shelling of Ukrainian army positions from tanks, and supposedly withdrawn (according to the Minsk/Paris accords) heavy artillery. Tonight’s news broadcasts have reported 7 dead and 8 injured among Ukraine’s defenders.

I haven’t written my “Thoughts from Kyiv” for a while. That’s not to say I’ve stopped writing, just not in this genre. My previous “Thoughts” have been described by some as “analytical”, but by many others as “long” and/or “alarmist.” If you feel the latter labels are appropriate, stop reading now – you won’t enjoy the text anyway…

Incidentally, the label “alarmist” was first applied to me after a series of articles I posted in March-April 2014 in which I tried to warn anyone who would listen that Putin’s aggression in Crimea and the Donbas were not a limited action, but part of a much broader expansionist strategy. Later, in October 2014, I warned of the possibility of aerial bombardments of Kyiv, and even though US General Breedlove (Supreme Allied Commander, Europe) reiterated the same warning several days later, the “alarmist” label stuck to me, not him. So now, I’m gun shy: in this article I’ll present scenarios rather than predictions. I am not Vladimir Putin’s psychotherapist, and so have no idea what course of action his sick mind will decide to take up in the immediate future. I also have no doubt that rational choice is not a forte of the Russian President – at least not the same way “rationality” is understood by most intelligent people educated in a post-Enlightenment western paradigm. Nevertheless, he has made his intentions clear in several public addresses, and has backed these up with action – alas few have listened…

As I write these words, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with speculation written by Ukrainians searching for a “Russian trace” in the Paris attacks. Although I am generally wary of conspiracy theories, the logic of several of these posts gives one pause. Take for example, the list of rhetorical propositions presented by Channel 5 journalist Vitaliy Haydukevych who asks “whose interests are served by the Paris attacks?”:

  1. In the wake of an IS attack on Paris, anti-Islamic sentiment in France (and Euroscepticism in other EU member states) inevitably will rise, likely to the political benefit of the radical right Front National (and equivalent parties in other European countries). Who finances Marie Le-Pen?
  2. The universally accepted notion of Europe as being secure and prosperous has been shaken – particularly among those in Eastern Europe (e.g. eastern and central Ukraine) who have become recent converts to the cause of Eurointegration.
  3. The French security apparatus (apparently) knew that a terrorist threat existed, but were powerless to avert the attacks – this meme is particularly popular among Russian media outlets, coupled with the message “don’t travel outside of Russia, it’s not safe.”
  4. In the span of the past 2 weeks IS has attacked both the French and the Russians (downing the MetroJet flight over Egypt). Apparently their terrorist threat is universal, and an alliance between Paris and Moscow in the war in Syria will be a logical consequence (BTW: allies don’t impose economic sanctions on one another).

Incidentally, Russian MP and political analysts Sergey Markov (believed to have Putin’s ear) posted several messages on his FB page today calling upon France to now lead a “global anti-terrorist coalition, with the participation of the US and Russia, to crush the IS terrorist threat in Syria, Iraq and Lybia.” As an aside Markov urges the West to urgently end its conflict with Russia over Ukraine, to “replace the (Kyiv) junta with a technocratic government, rewrite (Ukraine’s) Constitution… The Kyiv junta is one of the main obstacles to joint action by the US, EU and Russia against terrorism.” No mention of Crimea – obviously.

At the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on 22 October 2015, Markov’s paradigm was formalized by Vladimir Putin, who reminded his audience that during his previous speech at the UN General Assembly on 28 September (3 days before the start of Russian aerial sorties in Syria), the Russian President called for the creation of a global anti-terrorist coalition, “but our American partners ignored this proposal.” According to Putin, the only way to ensure victory over Islamic terrorism is for the US, EU and Russia to view each other as allies against a common enemy. Furthermore (Markov’s words are clearly an echo of the boss’s thoughts): without the direct involvement of the US and Europe, finding a resolution to the conflict in the Donbas will not be possible – Kyiv is not prepared to change its constitution without external pressure.

And so we return to the perennial question: what is Putin after? If only people would listen – he’s quite clear in his statements. Take the following quotes from the Russian President’s Valdai address (Oct 22, 2015):

  1. “Competition between states is a natural condition in geopolitics”
  2. “In the modern world, unipolarity is not healthy”
  3. “The US treats its European allies as one would treat vassals, punishing European companies for violating sanctions regime against Russia”
  4. “American strategists understand fully that their missile defense system (in Europe) is aimed at neutralizing the nuclear threat from Russia – i.e. at reducing the geopolitical power of Russia. This is precisely why we see this as a threat. If one country puts up a nuclear umbrella and protects itself against nuclear threats, then that country will be free to use its power to pursue its interests anywhere through any means.”
  5. “Russia and the West have different civilizational worldviews” (answer to question alluding to Huntingdon’s classic work). Apparently, the West is pragmatic whereas Russia’s “soul” is idealistic. And incidentally, “I don’t see the Russians and Ukrainians as separate peoples,” said Putin.

From the above, one can deduce: a) Putin wants to return Russia to its “rightful” position as a global superpower – a balance/alternative to US global hegemony; b) Russia’s nuclear arsenal is a key instrument of the Kremlin’s geopolitical ambitions, and anything that threatens the perpetuation of the Cold War doctrine of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) is seen as a direct threat to Russia’s geopolitical interests; c) In order to (re)establish Russia’s “rightful” place (and in order to formalize his “sphere of influence”), Putin craves a “new Yalta” – a meeting between the US and Russia (possibly with the participation of China) aimed at carving up the globe.

During the Valdai discussion Putin (apparently) digressed from his prepared remarks during the Q&A, and recalled having recently read archived transcripts of conversations held in 1990 between a former leader of the German Social-Democrats and the Soviet leadership on the eve of unification. According to the Russian President, during the taped conversation, the German politician bemoaned the fact that the two sides had not “decided the fate of Europe” prior to unification, pointing out to his Soviet interlocutors that the lack of a deal between the new/old great powers would lead to continued conflict on the continent.

Having watched a video of Putin’s performance at the Valdai Discussion Club 3 weeks ago, having then observed the extremely muted reaction to the bombing of Metrojet Flight 9268 over the Sinai Desert a mere 9 days later, and now having watched the Kremlin’s rapid response to the IS terrorist attacks on Paris, I am beginning to give some credence to the conspiracy theorists who would find a trace of the Russian President behind every recent incident of violence on or near the European continent. In Sochi, Putin ominously declared: “There’s one thing I learned in my youth on the streets of Leningrad: if a fight is unavoidable, one should hit first.” Is this exactly what he has been doing lately?

Tonight, volunteers embedded with the Ukrainian Army’s 53rd brigade near Avdiyivka (the closest point on the front line to the city of Donetsk) report intense fighting with the use of heavy artillery by both sides – apparently Ukrainian forces quickly brought their equipment forward to the conflict line in response to an intense enemy attack on their defensive positions. Are the “separatists” simply taking advantage of the world being distracted by the Paris bombings, or are we witnessing an expansion of Russia’s theatre of operations. Putin can’t fight a war on two fronts (i.e. both in Syria and Ukraine) simultaneously, can he?

In the long term (I am convinced), this question will matter little – except to historians. For those (like me) who believe World War Three began with the annexation of Crimea, and that it will end with the disintegration of Russia (along the lines of WWI beginning in the provincial city of Sarajevo, but resulting in the disintegration of the Habsburg Empire), the Paris bombings, tonight’s escalation in the Donbas, and the inevitable intensification of military action in Syria – inevitably to be followed by more IS bombings in the West in the future– are all events in a continuous narrative that humanity has been dragged into by a little madman in the Kremlin. Clearly IS is an autonomous actor in this war, but as was the case in previous global conflicts, adversarial lines are rarely two dimensional – Russia is an antagonist for whom the destruction of US hegemony and a weakened EU are means to its own perceived (re)assertion as a global actor, and for whom the use of IS terrorists as instruments for achieving these goals is an absolutely legitimate strategy of geopolitical realpolitik. For those of us in Europe this is a somewhat uncomfortable position. However, to seek comfort in an alliance with one’s ultimate enemy would clearly be shortsighted.

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  • laker48

    This map may become reality sooner than many of us expect. The question still remains open: How many lives of innocent people will be wasted until this happens? http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/1597/5078/original.jpg

    • Scradje

      The sooner that mao becomes reality, the better. Preferably without any bloodshed.

      • laker48

        Let’s pray for this!

    • laker48

      The only country that has scored more victories over Russia than suffered defeats in our long and bloody history is POLAND. Poland also ruled Russia from Moscow for a few years and your Fuhrer Shorty the Shirtless made the anniversary of the November 7, 1612 surrender of the Polish army besieged in the Kremlin RuSSia’s national holiday. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish%E2%80%93Muscovite_War_(1605%E2%80%9318)

      Poland triggered the fall of the Soviet empire in August 1980 and Poland has already started building a foundation of a modern “Chinese Wall” between the Baltic and the Black Sea called the Intermarium in order to effectively separate Germany, France and Italy from RuSSia. Ukraine, if it wins its uphill battle with Byzantine, Soviet-inherited corruption, may become one of the most important and valuable bricks in this wall.The Chinese New Silk Road bypasses RuSSia from the south and makes Poland its major central and eastern European hub branching out to all former European Soviet republics and bloc states. RuSSia nis left out in the cold even by the Chinese.

      • Sania

        Cheap moron, at first give Danzig for jerman tribes
        150 years polska were under The Tzar
        Ur brave football fans were fighting with Russians four for one only, kha- kha-kha

        • laker48

          It’s coming, genius!

          Polish-Ukrainian cooperation leading to the development of tactical or even small strategic nukes is closer than we expect and we may see this happen before 2022, as Poland will have US-made, the world’s best in their class means of delivery from both the air and under the sea..

          Here’s a quote from “The Aviationist”:

          “The JASSM-ER can be considered to be a strategic weapon, so it will most probably boost Poland and NATO’s deterrence capabilities in eastern Europe: will it be an effective deterrent? Hard to say. For sure, the air-launched cruise missiles are not the only measure the Polish Armed Forces are acquiring at the moment to face the Russian threat. There are additional programs, including the procurement of NSM (Naval Strike Missile) systems.

          Secondly, as one of The Aviationist readers pointed out, the M6.5 upgrade for the F-16 fighters may mean that they would be capable of using the AIM-120D air-to-air missiles that have been reserved exclusively for the USAF so far.

          These missiles may provide a significant boost of the Polish Viper’s air-to-air capabilities, which would be implemented in the shadow of JASSM deal, but this claim has not been officially confirmed. The Air Force has already stated that it analyses potential implementation of new armament that may be used by the Viper thanks to the envisaged upgrades.

          Lastly, as Polish MoD Secretary of State said the use of the JASSM missiles will not be externally limited by the US Authorities. This means that Poland will be free to use the missiles at its own will, if needed.”

          Here’s the link to the full column: http://theaviationist.com/2014/12/18/jassm-mass-production/#disqus_thread

          • Sania

            troll, are u wanna to make polska nuke target? Nu-nu . u are ready to sale planet for ur 30 trolls baxes per day…
            Only don’t mixe ukra in ur dirty deals. They are fasci, but we will change it, hehe.

          • laker48

            The Kremlin won’t be safe from AGM-158 JSSM ERs armed with B61-12 warheads. It’s coming. Poland is the only country that can defeat RuSSia.

  • Brent

    If Putin was truly serious about fighting ISIS, why did 80% of Russia’s bombs hit non ISIS targets? He doesn’t want ISIS wiped out because any of the thousands of fighters Russia let leave to join ISIS will return home for their upcoming holy war on Russia. Why is Putin himself sponsoring the Donbass terrorists who have stepped up their attacks on Ukraine? Why has Russia openly allied with Iran, a world recognized supporter of terrorists?

    It’s also quite ironic that such a fantastic group of air crash investigators in Russia were able to come up with so many ridiculous ‘theories’ about MH17 but have said so little about the flight from Egypt.

    • Michael

      There is a long history of strange events like an anti Russian Polish president blowing up over Russia and refusals to turn over evidence to Poland. What I find strange is why France is being singled out by ISIS, they could’ve easily crossed over to London and spread the carnage and fear wider. Taking into account how Putin has talked himself out of Merkel’s good grace France and Italy are the only two options for alliance now. Italy is too divided politically to be a stable ally so that leaves France. Absolute speculation of course but Russia has been buying foreign political parties, no secret the now Greek government was bankrolled by Russia and stirred up trouble for Russia in the EU. Luckily Greece was brought to heal by the weight of their financial problems but could a major player like France be brought to heal if they threw in with the Russians? absolutely not, a belligerent France could break the EU. Europeans are for sale to the highest bidder, prostitutes out to make money at any cost, even the argument to drop sanctions always comes down to money money money. We make more money looking the other way than standing up for principals.

  • Scradje

    If Friday 13 leads to a Le Pen government; the beneficiary is the Putin junta, since FN is owned, bought and paid for by the chekists.

    • laker48

      The French re smarter than that.

      • Scradje

        I hope so!

    • Quartermaster

      What evidence do you have of this.

      • Scradje

        Just google it; it is hardly a secret.

        • Quartermaster

          You do realize there is a ton of propaganda out there and that much of the “evidence” is pretty much just propaganda.

          • Scradje

            You do realise that FN does not deny it is funded by YR and entities connected to it? You deny that Le Pen is a Kremlin asset?

          • Quartermaster

            I’ve yet to see any reason to either accept or deny it.

          • Sania

            crudje, are u hohlushechka?

  • Vol Ya

    In times of war, the enemy of your enemy is your friend. As unpalatable as this may
    seem, this currently makes ISIS and the muslim radicals in Syria friends of Ukraine. Ukraine is under attack from Russia. Ukraine can not defeat russia militarily or economically at this time. ISIS and the radical muslim groups can do substantial damage to russia’s military machine because they are good at assymetric warfare, something the russians are not good at. The Russians just know how to carpet bomb. These radical muslim groups have already stated that because of Putin’s bombing of Syria, that they will be targeting all russians anywhere in the world. It appears that they have already downed a russian airliner. Also several months ago ISIS announced that they were beginning operations within Russia. Don’t underestimate the significance of this. Putin could face an armed revolt from within Russia. It only takes one of these muslims to slip into the moscow subway and kill 200 moscovites or they could choose another soft target or a hard target such as a police station. And putin is powerless to stop it. Soon there should be russian blood flowing in the streets. This would be positive for Ukraine as the radical muslim groups tie up and destroy some of putin’s military machine. And putin will oblige them by dragging russia further into the quagmire in Syria. It is best for Ukraine to watch this fight from the sidelines and in the meantime strengthen its defenses against russia.

    • Nowhere Girl

      Not in this case. These people are extremely dangerous to anyone who is not a radical Muslim. They would kill anyone they could kill. And don’t forget that they mostly consider Europe, not Russia to be their enemy. Russia is not fighting ISIS, it is supporting Assad. Muslim republics in Russia are an important source of recruits for ISIS.
      Europe should start an effort to fight ISIS – even though, as a Polish expert suggested (I referred to her thoughts on the problem in another comment), perhaps moderate Muslim countries with European support would be much better to fight them because this removes two important aspects of the ISIS agenda (that Europe is fighting Islam in general and that ISIS has Muslim support) – but the real question for us is how to protect Ukraine from being sold for peace (just like whole Eastern Europe was sold in 1945). I believe in the power of Ukrainian (and foreign pro-Ukrainian) civil society. Just look at the results of some actions by Friends of Ukraine: Oxford withdrew textbooks which presented Crimea as part of Russia, Ihor Pavlyuk’s book has won the World Bookshelf award. So we should keep reminding our governments not to forget Ukraine, to keep the pressure on Russia. Even though it may seem contrary to logic, EU can now have a better position for this. They can say to Russia: OK, full support in fighting ISIS in exchange for real peace in Ukraine. With one reservation – as I already wrote, Russia doesn’t seem to be truly interested in fighting ISIS, it seems to be their guise for actually protecting Assad just like they protect(ed) Lukashenka, Yanukovych, Nazarbayev – to create another vassal state.

  • John

    Wow I feel stupid for clicking on the twitter link that took me to this ridiculous article and got me to waste my time reading this nonsense. Proof that anyone can be anything on the internet, like this ^ site that thinks it’s a news site.

    • Steve Volkey

      Oh, but you don’t feel stupid clicking on a bloomberg site making no sense comments? Thats the first sign of being stupid you know.

  • Tim Tomsen

    As evil as ISIS is and as evil as terrorists are and what has been done in FRANCE is evil the 200 + people that have dead in this evil act of war on the French state and as shocking as it is, this is nothing compared to what Russia and Putin has done in Ukraine..And I dont see the French making FB pic. with the Ukrainian flag..

    In Ukraine over 8000 dead and 1 mill refugees and parts of the nations land has been annexes and let us not forget the citys are in rubble and the nation in shock …

    I must say the evil acts done to the good people and nation of France must be revenged and the ones that are responsible must be found and taking into justice for their evil acts..

    The state of ISIS must also be held responsible for this evil crimes and the leaders must be found and dealt with I am sure all of the world and all of France can agree with me on that..

    In decent nations people believe in the rule of law and expect when int, law is broken and act of evil has been committed justice must be swift..

    So my question is simple WHY DOSE the evil of Russian state and the evil of Putin evil hybrid war and terrorists acts on Ukraine go unpunished by the WORLD AND FRANCE ?? Russian has killed over 8000 Ukrainians citizens and the world has just let him do it..when 200 french are killed France sends it jets and starts a massive military air attack /campaign and the world is tripping over them selfs to help and take part… But when Ukraine city are being bomed and terrorist attacks are happing in Ukraine and part of the country is been occupied then France and the world are only taking about that Kiev must reman in its side of the boxing ring and not come out and defend her self and her nation..

    Where is the swift justice for the victims of Kremlin sponsored sate terrorisem are not 2000 Ukrainians lives worth the same as 200 French is not Ukraine as a state have the same right to help and intr. justice as France and dose not the world have the moral responsibility to fight all sate terrorisem done by what ever that sate may be called ISIS or Russia is not terrorisem evil no matter who dose it and who they do it too ??