At the end of November, an article by Andrey Vadzhra for the influential Russian Institute for Strategic Investigations (RISI) repeated many of the themes that have become commonplace in Russian commentaries about Ukraine, but it also contained a serious warning: “a new phase of war” is now “inevitable.”
Vadzhra’s article, Kseniya Kirillova argues, confirms the views of Ukrainian security analyst Valentin Badrak; but because of its source – RISI was a major lobbyist for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — the new Russian article gives them new weight.
As has become characteristic of Russian commentaries and propaganda, Kirillova says, Vadzhra accuses Ukraine of planning to do what in fact Russia has done or will do itself. And thus, his argument that Kyiv has no way out by to “begin a new stage of the war” possibly by staging a provocation suggests that that is exactly what Moscow will be doing.
Further, Vadzhra writes that “it is not excluded that in the near term on the territory of Ukraine will be carried out some kind of large-scale provocation to give the Ukrainian leadership the occasion to begin a major military attack on the Donbas.” In “the mirror image tactic” of Russian propaganda, that suggests Moscow, not Kyiv, is likely planning to do exactly that.
Given that large numbers of people in Ukraine, Russia and the West are assuming that Moscow will not attack in Ukraine either because of Russia’s domestic difficulties or because of Vladimir Putin’s involvement in Syria, Kirillova suggests, one cannot afford to ignore warnings like this one that at least some in the Russian capital are planning to do precisely that.