Luke Harding and other journalists do seem to be setting the scene for a “Russian invasion”. The story they tell is of endless provocation by Russia and its “infiltrators” and “pro-Russian” dupes inside Ukraine. yet it’s a version of reality based upon chosen interpretation rather than hard data, and upon careful disregarding of the crimes and omissions of the “other side”.
Lots of talk about the failure to disband of the eastern protesters (usually called “militants”, “gunmen” (though most of them do not carry guns) or even “forces”. Little to no talk of the Right Sector militia active in Donetsk, or the Maidan hordes still inexplicably “protesting” apparently in perpetuity and with the blessing of everyone but Russia.
What hope can there be for any kind of peace or dialogue when the discourse is this heavily censored, and the wishes and aspirations of one side are regarded as implicitly “wrong” and evilly-motivated? Dialogue in this situation becomes synonymous with capitulation. The perceived baddies must either accept they are entirely bad or face “punishment`’ by the goodies for being so “aggressive” or “intransigeant.”
The story being set up is that Russia wants to invade Ukraine and is looking for a chance to do so. And the assumed truth of this story is – ironically – being used as a reason for pursuing a policy of hardline demands and threats that might ultimately force Russia to do just that.
So, it’s worth examining at this juncture how much sense the idea of Russia wanting to invade Ukraine really makes.
Is there any possible advantage to Russia, with a shrinking population and vast tracts of land full of natural resources, in trying to capture a few more square miles inside Ukraine?
What would happen if Russia moved in to Ukraine? It would encounter resistance, not just from soldiers but from ordinary people, who might identify with Russia to some extent but still don’t want to be invaded. There’d be war and death. As soon as it began killing Ukrainians, and even ethnic Russians, Putin’s government would start losing support at home. As soon as it began suffering the inevitable harsh sanctions, its economy would start to tank. There would also be the real possibility of things spiralling fast out of control and neighbouring NATO countries or the always gung-ho and unstable USA becoming more and more involved.
And what would be the gain? A few square miles of battle-scarred territory, full of antagonistic partisans, guerillas and destroyed infrastructure. An archaic industrial base in need of funding it won’t get because no one is going to invest in a war zone.
Not hard to weigh up the cost/benefit ratio there is it?
There’s no conceivable benefit for Russia in invading Ukraine.
But…there may well be considerable perceived benefit for the West. In fact all the considerations listed above that make it crazy for Russia to go in, make it kinda good for the West if it could force Russia to do just that.
Think about it – If Russia can be manipulated into invading Ukraine it’s bogged down and can’t interfere in the Middle east. It’s is slapped with sanctions and its trade is destroyed, its economy starts to spiral. It becomes weak again, and maybe, after the US/NATO has finished sorting out Syria and Iran, they can pivot back to eastern Europe, grab the chaotic and decimated Ukraine from exhausted Russia, and then – maybe – even risk moving in on the grande dame herself for the coup de grace.
It’s crazy, it’s extreme, but it fits with a lot that we know about US foreign policy. And it explains the strange desperation of the western media to see the Geneva agreement broken and Russia moving its troops in. That slightly eerie sense of anticipation you sense in some journos.
If this analysis is even partly true, then a lot depends on how cleverly Putin handles things, and how far the west is prepared to push. Will our great leaders really find the brass nerve to slap more sanctions on Russia if the protesters in the east don’t climb down, while continuing to tacitly support the Nazi thugs and the Maidan?
Will Putin find a way of scuppering the drive to war in Ukraine as he did in Syria and Iran?