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  • Kazuhiko Togo

An Alternative Way to Face the Second Year of the Ukrainian War


Photo Credit: LukasJohnns (Pixabay)


Introduction

  

This author has written an analysis of an alternative way to face the Ukrainian war when its first year was just over.[i] The majority view led by the West was that Putin waged an unprovoked war against Ukraine, and committed a lot of atrocities towards the Ukrainians. Ukrainians led by courageous and able leader, President Zelensky fought a heroic war against the invader. Zelensky’s fundamental purpose was to recover Ukrainian full territorial integrity in accordance with the 1991 fixated frontier. President Biden made a clear decision to help Zelensky’s heroic war by supplying him weapons and training Ukrainian soldiers, provided that American soldiers would not be sent to the battlefield and that the war would not develop to a nuclear war.

 

The West generally considered that Ukrainian side had superiority at the battlefield, and that situation, there is no need to think about the exit strategy, because the war should end by unilateral withdrawal of Russia, the invader, from the Ukrainian territory as determined in 1991.

 

But this author introduced minority views in the West that envisaging the termination of the war by Putin’s complete defeat is improbable. This author questioned “Is it not wiser to find a mutually acceptable ceasefire as soon as possible and save lives of all warring parties?”

 

In the conclusion, this author maintained that early ceasefire gives Putin the way to resolve his contradiction of invading a country which he considers a Slav brother country.

 

An early cease fire gives opportunity to Zelensky to fulfill another area of responsibility to protect the life of Ukrainians, in addition to his presidential responsibility to protect Ukrainian territorial integrity.

 

In case of President Biden, he surely knows well that Putin will never accepts an all-out defeat. Insisting to gain full victory, which is understandable from Zelensky’s point of view, will just result in prolonging and expanding the war. That could result into a total war between Russia and NATO, even if tactical nuclear weapons are not used. Biden alone can inform Zelensky that the outcome of the indefinite prolongation of the war is not worthwhile.

 

Chapter One: Overall Situation continues to run favorably for Ukraine:

February 24, 2023 ~ Summer 2023

 

As for the situation at the battlefield, Ukrainian attack to strategic places related to Crimea continued. On June 22 Ukraine attacked the Chongul bridge which connects Crimea and Russia.

  

Ukraine made its first drone attack to Kremlin in May, and drone attacks to Moscow increased considerably from July onwards. They did not produce immediate military impacts, but politically, showing vulnerability of the capital was damaging to Moscow.

  

NATO’s military assistance increased substantially in this period. NATO Summit was held in Vilnus on July 11 and 12. Zelensky had hoped to get a timeframe for membership, but it was not granted, and Western leaders announced new military package. Kiev had already received a staggering figure of $185.6 billion by this summit from NATO countries.

  

Since the beginning of Russia’s offensive for a period of year and a half, the US Congress has approved military and economic assistance to Ukraine amounting to over $70 billion. On July 7, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Cohlin Kahl spoke about a new package of aid from the US which includes cluster munitions, the cost of which being $800 million.

  

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, French President Emanuel Macron promised to give Ukraine a “substantial number” of SCALP missiles that can hit targets at a distance of 250 kilometers. According to France 24, each cost 850,000 Euros.

  

Berlin announced a package amounting to Euro700 million. Germany plans to supply Ukraine with launchers for the Patriot missile defense system, Marder-type infantry fighting vehicles, Leopard 1 A5 tanks, and artillery shells.[ii]

  

Then the Hiroshima Summit held from May 19 to 21 2023 gave a strong backing of the West to Ukraine. It was a political manifestation of solidarity of the West against Russia. The first G7 session on Ukraine was held on the first day, May 19, and immediately “G7 Leaders’ Statement on Ukraine” was issued. It begins with the following powerful language of denunciation of Russia:

 

“(Preamble) At our meeting today in Hiroshima, we, the leaders of the G7, reaffirmed our commitment to stand together against Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine. We condemn, in the strongest terms, Russia’s manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations (UN) and the impact of Russia’s war on the rest of the world.”[iii]

 

The Hiroshima Summit consisted of seven G7 Countries, Eight Invited Countries and Seven Invited International Organizations. But President Zelensky was included as a single Guest Country. He arrived towards the end of the second day, May 20, and appeared on May 21, first in his session with G7 Countries and then, another session with G7 and Invited Countries, entitled “Towards a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous World.” After his arrival to Hiroshima Summit, particularly the third day, media attention was in a way hijacked by President Zelensky. It does not necessary mean that his presence was welcomed by everyone in a same degree, but everyone was polite enough not to show discrepancies among the participants.

 

Hiroshima Summit had, in addition to the political impacts in support of Ukraine, some impacts on subtle but important policy changes. Immediately after the Summit was over, Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s Security Adviser told at a CNN interview that America is in full support of Ukraine regaining Crimea. The clarity of his statement was quite conspicuous that impressed this author very much. Thus far, although US recognized Ukrainian right of sovereignty of Crimea, it was somewhat quiet in fully supporting Ukrainian strategy to regain Crimea in real terms, probably given the fact that Crimea was under de facto Russian ruling when the invasion started on 24 February 2022.

 

Chapter Two: Situations began turning into Russian favor

Summer 2023 ~ January 2024

 

Russia began improving the situation, by four unexpected situations that had not taken place during the first year and half of the Ukrainian war.

 

First, Ukrainian counteroffensive basically failed. On June 4, 2023, the long-awaited Ukrainian counter offensive began. “There was a significant Ukrainian counteroffensive from Zaporozhia/southern Donetsk region in the Vremivka Salient area towards the Sea of Azov. Russian ministry sources say that the counteroffensive has been pushed back to its starting point, and at the cost of very heavy Ukrainian losses, amounting to 300 dead and wounded, 16 tanks of the T72 variety of Soviet-era tanks, 26 armored vehicles and 14 motor vehicles. 8 Leopards have been reported destroyed along with 2 French AMXs.”[iv] The initial impacts of the counteroffensive became somewhat blurred by a huge explosion of Kakhovka Dam at Kherson Region on June 6.

 

Since then, majority of reports indicated that Ukrainian counteroffensive did not produce clear results to weaken substantially Russian forces. Russian huge defense-line to protect their occupied territories around four occupied regions and Crimea were much harder obstacle for Ukrainian forces to break. Some commentaries also pointed out that Ukraine had to concentrate their offensive either to the initial objective of Donbas regions or to Zaporegia and Kherson regions, which constitute an important defense line for Crimea.

 

Second, on October 7, 2023, Hamas attacked Israel, reportedly killing 1,139 Israelis and taking 253 hostages. The newly exploded Hamas-Israel war is profoundly affecting the Middle East Israel-Palestinian conflicts, but has also affected the Ukrainian war deeply, strengthening Russian position vis-à-vis Ukraine.

 

Militarily, American assistance to Israel soared substantially. By March 7, 2024, the US had sent Israel over 100 weapons shipments since the war began.[v] I assume that this sudden increase of military assistance should have tightened the budget of Ukrainian assistance. Politically, public attention, particularly in the West, swung substantially from almost exclusive atrocity reports on Russian “unprovoked war to Ukraine” to the atrocity reports caused by Hamas-Israel war.

 

Third, somewhat unexpectedly, from the end of 2023, in the western media, there emerged series of news reports that Ukrainian leadership was losing uniformity.

 

On November 1, The London Economist carried an interview made by General Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief. As for the general situation at the battlefield he concluded that “it would take a massive technological leap to break the deadlock. There will most likely be no deep and beautiful break through.” “It is technology that will be decisive.” “He stressed the decisive role of drones and electronic warfare which can prevent them from flying.”[vi]

 

Almost at the same time when the London Economist carried the above article, Time Magazine published an article written by Simon Shuster, describing the split in the leadership between President Zelensky and other leaders. David Sacks introduced Time Article to Responsible Statecraft:[vii] “Ukraine’s war aims are unrealistic, Kyiv has long maintained that its definition of victory, namely the retaking of all Ukrainian territory including Crimea, is achievable with Western arms and money. Now a disastrous summer counteroffensive, which has resulted in horrific Ukrainian causalities while reclaiming negligible amounts of territory, has Zelensky’s advisors reconsidering whether those aims are realistic. Yet Zelensky’s belief in ultimate victory over Russia has only “hardened into a form that worries some of his advisors” according to Shuster, who describes Zelensky’s faith as “immovable, verging on the messianic.”

 

The above-described situations soon resulted in concrete changes of top Ukrainian leadership. On January 31, President Zelensky removed General Zaluzhnuy from the position of Commander-in-chief and on February 8 he was replaced by Oleksander Syrsky, Land Forces Commander. As early as March 7, Zaluzhnuy was appointed as Ambassador to the United Kingdom. According to a Ukrainian company’s popular rating, Zaluzhnuy’s rating amounted to 67% whereas Zelensky reached only 33% had presidential election taken place in early March 2023.

 

Oleksiy Arestovych, presidential advisor to Zelensky, who headed Zelensky’s Servant of the People Rada fraction, made a public interview on January 15, sharply criticized Zelensky’s war strategy and the way he is running the country. He fled soon to an undisclosed location in the US apparently to challenge Zelenskiy for presidency.[viii] It is interesting to note that Arestovich was a key member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Istanbul peace talks in March 2022 and confirmed that a deal was agreed. David Arakhamia who now heads the Servant of the People parliamentary group and who was also a key member of the Istanbul delegation also confirmed that agreement was very close.[ix]

 

Fourth, American congressional clash between the Democrats and the Republicans created an unexpected dead lock in ensuring military aid to Ukraine. President Biden requested the congress to ensure $ 61 billion in October 2023, but this request met a huge barrier in the congressional budgetary approval process. Senate where democrats have majority did not cause fundamental difficulties. But at the Congress Republicans who has the majority raised the issue of border protection and emigration and linked this issue to the Ukrainian aid.

 

Concerned about the emerging situation President Zelensky visited Washington and on December 12 met with President Biden and congressional leaders of both parties. President Zelensky urged the Congress to continue aiding Ukraine, but he could not change Speaker Johnson’s position to link effective border protection and Ukrainian aid. Thus, from the beginning of 2024, American aid to Ukraine became virtually suspended. Given the deterioration of the situation at the battlefield, on March 12, the Biden administration decided to send a new military package of $ 300 million “from unanticipated cost savings from Pentagon contracts and would be used for artillery rounds and munitions for High Mobility Rocket Systems (HIMARS)”.[1] Compared to the $61 billion, this amount is amazingly small.

 

Chapter Three: Situations becomes worse for Ukraine

But Zelensky and Biden vow for Continuation of War

January 2024 ~ April 2024

 

On February 17 President Zelensky made a speech at the Munich Security Conference. The equivalent speech he made in Munich in 2023 was in a brighter tone, under the general atmospherics that Ukrainians are winning the war and preparing for a counteroffensive which could damp down President Putin. This year his tone was very different, it was a stern warning that if the West does not adequately help him, Putin’s evil might prevail, and that should not happen. Some of his main points are the following:

 

“Are you ready to leave behind everything you value in life in the world of yesterday? Ukrainians will not do it! This is our response. The year of 2024 demands your response-from everyone in the world….

 

Unfortunately, keeping Ukraine in artificial deficits of weapons, particularly in deficits of artillery and long-range capabilities, allows Putin to adapt to the current intensity of the war….

 

Destroying the source of wars and destabilization is our task. First. We all must do not something, but everything possible to defeat the aggressor….Second. We should not fear Putin’s defeat. Putin is a threat to all free nations….Putin is the monster who invaded Ukraine and killed thousands and thousands of people…Third. We must close all loopholes in the sanctions against Russia….Fourth. Evil will never prevail if the forces of good are united and act together….And finally, fifth. Putin must be deprived of any ability to manipulate anyone in the world to constrain the activity of others.

 

Please, do not ask Ukraine when the war will end. Ask yourself-why is Putin still able to continue it?”[x] 

 

But precisely on the same day, February 17, 2024, Avdiivka, located at the center of Donetsk Oblast, just north of the regional center Donetsk, fell under the Russian hands. It was an important political and strategic point, where harsh fighting was going on between the two sides. New York Times as of February 18 describes the situation:

 

“Gen. Olekksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s top military commander, said in a statement issued overnight: “Based on the operational situation around Avdiivka, in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen, I decided to withdraw our units from the city and move to defense on more favorable lines”

 

“The fall of Avdiivka, a city that was once home to some 30,000 people is now a smoking ruin, is the first major gain Russian forces have achieved since May of last year. After rebuffing a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the summer and fall, Russian forces in recent weeks have been pressing the attack across nearly the entire length of the 600-mile-long front.…”

 

“As the situation turned increasingly dire, military analysts inside and outside Ukraine worried that leadership would repeat what many regarded as a past mistake: holding on after it was clear that hope was lost, and unnecessarily expending personnel and weapons….”

 

Now turn our attention to the European political scenery: “On 26 February 2024, French President Emmanuel Macron has said that sending Western ground troops to Ukraine could not be “ruled out” as European allies announced new measures to deliver munitions and boost Kyiv in its fight against Russia….”

 

“The comments came after 20 European leaders gathered in Paris to send Russian President Vladimir Putin a message of European resolve on Ukraine and counter the Kremlin’s narrative that Moscow was bound to win a war now in its third year….”

 

“we are convinced that the defeat of Russia is indispensable to security and stability in Europe,” Macron told reporters after the meeting.

 

“There’s no consensus today to send in an official, endorsed manner troops on the ground. But in terms of dynamics, nothing can be ruled out,” he said.

 

“We will do everything that we must so that Russia does not win.”

 

Macron declined to provide details about which nations were considering sending troops, saying he prefers to maintain some “strategic ambiguity”.[xi]

 

Last but not least, on March 7, President Biden made his State of the Union Address. The following is the key passage at the beginning of his address:

 

“…And yes, my purpose tonight is to both wake up this congress, and alert the American people that this is no ordinary moment either. Not since President Lincoln and the Civil War have freedom and democracy under assault here at home as they are today. What makes our moment rare is that freedom and democracy are under attack, both at home and overseas, at the very same time.”

 

“Overseas, Putin of Russia is on the march, invading Ukraine and sowing chaos throughout Europe and beyond. If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you, he will not.”

 

“But Ukraine can stop Putin if we stand with Ukraine and provide the weapons it needs to defend itself. That is all Ukraine is asking. They are not asking for American soldiers. In fact, there are no American soldiers at war in Ukraine. And I am determined to keep it that way.”

 

“But now assistance for Ukraine is being blocked by those who want us to walk away from our leadership in the world.”[xii]

 

Finally on April 20, the House passed a bill allocating $60.8 billion for Ukrainian military aid. Biden administration requested in October 2023 budgetary appropriation of $61.4 billion. What House appropriated amounted approximately the same as planned. On April 23, Senate approved the bill with overwhelming majority, put into implementation by President Biden on 24 April 2024

 

As President Zelensky’s speech in Munich on February 17 has shown, Russia’s ascendency at the battlefield seems to be a prevailing view. Ukrainian defeat at Avdiivka that coincidentally took place on the same day perhaps was a symbol. President Macron’s message on February 26 that “he does not rule out Europeans sending troops to Ukraine” may be his sense of emergency to show resolve to the world not to let Putin win this war. So was President Biden firm that he will not let Putin do whatever he is trying to do. He succeeded to show the world his resolve by gaining budgetary appropriation finalized on April 24, 2024.

 

Meanwhile Putin went through his presidential election on March 15 to 17, but his victory was pre-determined. For the West, it was just another sign of consolidation of dictatorial power. Navalnui’s death on February 16 just consolidated this impression.

 

There is no sign of a public message in search of a common exit strategy from the Ukrainian War. There appear some independent analysts who ascertain that time has come for search of common exist strategy, but they are just minority individuals’ views.

 

Under such situation the next two chapters concentrate to an alternative analysis how we should see the essence and present situation of the war. They are based on minority American and European analysis but also pay attention on how the world is seen from Russian perspectives. If you do not understand the thinking of your opponent, how can you understand the complex issue of Ukrainian war, let alone to search a common exit strategy of this complex war?

 

The period covering in these two chapters is somewhere from January to April 2024. But it is divided in two periods: first from January 2024 till End of March 2024; and then, from the End of March 2024 till April 2024.

 

Chapter Four: Alternative Analyses (1)

January 2024 ~ End of March 2024

 

The first period of alternative analysis covered in this chapter is somewhere from January 2024 till the end of March 2024. There are mainly four issues are covered in this chapter: President Putin’s press conference in December 2023; Tucker Carlson’s interview in February 2024; Implications of Pope Francis’ statement on Ukrainian war in March; and President Putin’s televised interview with commentator kiselev in March, just prior to the presidential election.

 

On December 14, 2023, Putin held his end of the year press conference. The event lasted more than three hours. Questions were raised by journalists, some of them foreign, and various representatives from industries, culture, education, regional matters and so on.

 

Somewhere in the beginning of the event, moderator of the event introduced many questions from citizens raised in relation to the special military operation, in particular “when will there be peace?”

 

Putin responded that “there will be peace when we achieve the goals of special military operations. The goals don’t change and they were “denazification of Ukraine, demilitarization and its neutral status.”

 

On the denazification, Putin stated “Why not? When a national hero is known not just as a nationalist, but as a Nazi. Bandera was elevated to the rank of a national hero. And when the head of today’s Kiev administration gives a standing ovation to a former SS soldier who directly participated in the Holocaust.” But he also added that “We were generally told that they (Ukrainians) do not exclude the possibility of adopting some legislative acts in Ukraine during the negotiations in Istanbul (in March to April 2022).”

 

On demilitarization Putin stated that “During the negotiations in Istanbul, we agreed on certain parameters, but then we just threw these agreements into the oven. There are other possibilities either to reach an agreement or to resolve it by force.” This was a clear-cut statement that in the context that once Ukraine abandoned the Istanbul agreement, which the two sides almost agreed and compelled the two sides to fighting for another year, there would be certain additional requirements for Russia to ensure its own security.

 

On the issue of neutrality, Putin went into some details to explain that neutrality is needed not only from strategic reasons for the protection of Russian security, but also needed for the preservation of domestic harmony and stability inside Ukraine: “The conflict in Ukraine began with the coup in Ukraine in 2014. Before that, we tried at all costs, for decades to build normal relations with Ukraine…. But the south-east is pro-Russian and this was also important for us….They always voted for those who followed the pro-Russian slogans of Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy. And in general Russia was quite satisfied with this….But after the coup d’etat in 2014, it became clear to us that, by force, we simply would not be allowed to build normal relations with Ukraine….Who did this? Our American “friends”….This, plus the unrestrained desire to crawl up to our borders, capturing Ukraine in NATO-all this led to this tragedy. Plus the bloody events in the Donbas for eight years….”

 

On February 6, 2024, Putin made a two-hour interview with Tucker Carlson. The interview started with more than half hour of Putin’s view on the formation of Russian history. It gives detailed information that its origin was in the 9th century Kiev, then interrupted by the so-called Mongolian yoke, eventually recovered its unity first by the united Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Kingdom of Poland. In the 17th century there occurred a power shift to the Tsardom of Muscovy. Conflict occurred between Poland and Moscow, and Catherin the Great recovered all territories which lasted until World War One.

 

Then Putin describes the end of the Cold War and disintegration of the Soviet Union, five time NATO’s eastward expansion and rising complication of Ukrainian domestic policy, where sizable people in South-East were Russia-friendly. The redline for Ukraine on NATO eastward expansion was crossed at the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit when Ukraine was given, only in principle though, a membership. The redline on harmonized policy between Moscow-friendly people in South-East and Europe friendly people in West was crossed at the 2014 Maidan coup d’etat, where Moscow friendly president Yanukovich was forced to leave his country.

 

Above mentioned points might not have been drastically new, but for viewers who do not have direct access to Russian media, or who have no knowledge of Russian, it was an interesting occasion to know how President Putin structure his own thinking on Russian history and national interest.

 

But probably the most sparkling part in the whole interview was that part where Putin emphatically stated that he was ready for a peace talk, and that the key point is whether Zelensky and President Biden are willing to go back to the March-April Istanbul agreement. Next is direct quotation from the interview:

 

“Tucker Carlson: But do you think at this point – as of February 2024 – he (Zelensky) has the latitude, the freedom to speak with you or government directly, which would clearly help his country or the world? Can he do that, do you think?”

 

“Vladimir Putin: Why not? He considers himself head of state, he won the elections. We believe in Russia that the coup d’etat is the primary source of power for everything that happened after 2014, and in this sense, even today’s government is flawed. But he considers himself the president, and he is recognized by the United States, all of Europe and practically the rest of the world in such a capacity – why not? He can.

 

We negotiated with Ukraine in Istanbul, we agreed, he (Zelensky) was aware of this. Moreover, the negotiation group leader, Mr. Arakhamia is his last name, I believe, still heads the faction of the ruling party, the party of the President in the Rada…. He even put his preliminary signature on the document I am telling you about.

 

But then he publicly stated to the whole world: ‘We were ready to sign this document, but Mr. Johnson, then the Prime Minister of Great Britain, came and dissuaded us from doing this, saying it was better to fight Russia. They would give everything needed for us to return what was lost during the clashes with Russia. And we agreed with this proposal’

 

Look, his statement has been published. He said this publicly. Can they return to this or not? The question is: do they want it or not?”[xiii]

 

This interview reportedly had quite a success, 14 million views on YouTube and 185 million views on Twitter in the first three days. But majority of Western newspaper, particularly in US and UK, took a strongly negative attitude to this interview. It is very regrettable if majority of viewers have missed out an important signal for peace treaty negotiations, namely, returning to 2022 Istanbul agreement.

 

In that context a Foreign Affairs article written by Samuel Charap and Sergey Radchenko “The Talks That Could Have Ended the War in Ukraine” (April 16, 2024) seems to give a credible analysis on this talk, synthesizing many recently discovered information.  

 

On March 9, Pope Francis has urged parties in the Ukraine war to “negotiate before things get worse” in an interview published by Swiss television. “Ibelieve that the strongest are those who see the situation, think about the people, and have the courage to raise the white flag and negotiate,” he said in the interview conducted in Early February.[xiv] So, an important interview made a month ago was now made public.

 

Pope Francis’ comments were particularly valuable, because Ukrainian West, the Galitsia region, the capital being Lvov, is a region where traditionally catholic beliefs have been most influential. Politically Ukrainian West is precisely the area where, after Ukrainian independence in 1991, Ukrainian émigré from Canada came back and became the driving force for the creation of Western friendly Ukraine free from the Russian influence. Pope Francis’ “courage to raise the white flag and negotiate” should be considered precisely addressed to them.

 

On March 13 just before the Presidential election Putin made a long interview with popular TV interview Dmitry Kiselyov. The same subject of war and cease-fire was raised. Putin explained again what he told to Tucker Carlson. The following is transcription from the Kremlin Homepage:

 

“Kiselyof: The Americans seem to be talking about negotiations and strategic stability, but at the same time they are talking about the need to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. Our position is: "We are open to negotiations, but the time for good gestures has passed, they are over." So, there will be no negotiations?

 

Putin: We have never refused to negotiate.

 

Kiselyov: But how, without kind gestures, does that mean without compromise? How then?

Putin: I will try to explain. When we held talks in Turkey, in Istanbul (I have already said this many times, I need to repeat it again, I will do it), with the negotiators on the other side, we came up with a thick tome, a document, in fact, a treaty, a draft agreement. There is an excerpt from this agreement, it was initialed by the head of the negotiating group from Ukraine, Mr. Arakhamia. He did it, his signature is on it (we have it in the Executive Office). But then, as you know, Mr Arakhamia himself told the world publicly, also at a meeting, I think, with journalists, even foreign ones: former British Prime Minister Mr Johnson came and dissuaded them from signing and, accordingly, implementing this treaty. And the topic you have just mentioned has begun: it is necessary to defeat Russia on the battlefield.

 

Are we ready to negotiate? Yes, we are. But only we are ready for negotiations that are not based on some "wishes" after the use of psychotropic drugs, but based on the realities that have developed, as they say in such cases, on the ground. This is the first point.

 

Second. After all, we have been promised many things. They promised not to expand NATO to the East, and then we see them at our borders. They promised, if we do not delve into history, that the internal conflict in Ukraine will be resolved by peaceful means, by political means. As we remember, three foreign ministers came to Kiev, Poland, Germany and France and promised that they would be the guarantors of these agreements, and a day later a coup d'état took place. They promised to implement the Minsk agreements, and then publicly stated that they were not going to fulfill these promises, but only took a pause to arm the Bandera regime in Ukraine. We have been promised a lot of things, so promises alone are not enough.

 

Now to negotiate just because they are running out of ammunition is somehow ridiculous on our part. Nevertheless, we are ready for a serious discussion, and we want to resolve all conflicts, especially this conflict, by peaceful means. But we must clearly understand that this is not a pause that the enemy wants to take for rearmament, but a serious conversation with security guarantees for the Russian Federation.”

 

Chapter Five: Alternative Analyses (2)

End of March 2024 ~ April 2024

 

This alternative analysis comprises two sections: First, how the March 15-17 presidential election should be regarded. Second, how accumulating danger may evolve to a catastrophic crisis, if one just follows the general policy guided by Western interests to damp Putin

 

The presidential election resulted in Putin’s full victory; 77.4% of voting rate and 87.3% of the vote in his favor. It goes without saying that this voting system totally different from the “democratic election” that exists in the West. Carefully chosen candidates eligible to become candidates are limited so that the only winner eligible for victory is no one but Putin. In another words, this is very different from “election” as we understand in the west, of votes casted by electorates have genuine power of selecting one candidate out of many competing candidates. In other words, the election was much closer character of national referendum, gauging the extent of support of one-man candidate. But within that limitation, Putin received higher votes than expected. That seems to be general consensus of Russian domestic political analyst.

 

The sense of relief and satisfaction was seen in Putin’s two public appearances after the election. First in the late evening of March 17, when all results of the election became clear, Putin appeared at campaign headquarters in Moscow on 17thnight:

 

“I dreamed of a strong, independent, sovereign Russia” Putin told the audience, expressing his hope that the results of the vote “will allow us all, together with the Russian people, to achieve these goals.”

 

“Due to the current situation, due to the fact that we have to literally defend the interests of our citizens, our people with weapons in our hands, to create a future for the full-fledged, sovereign, secure development of the Russian Federation, our homeland.”

 

“We have a lot of tasks ahead of us. And when we are united, no one can intimidate or suppress us. No one succeeded at this before, it did not happen now and will never occur in the future.”

 

“We have a huge development agenda, and people felt it in their hearts and came to create conditions for the development and strengthening of their Motherland... the results of the election are a guarantee that these tasks will be accomplished and goals will be reached.”[xv]

Then in the evening of March 18th at the Red Square an animated concert was led to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Crimea and Sevastopol rejoining with Russia. Putin stated that 10 years have passed since Crimea and Sevastopol rejoined Russia and that “Crimea, this is not only a strategically important territory, not only our history, our tradition and pride of Russia. Crimea is foremost people: people of Crimea and Sevastopol. They are our pride. In the ten years, they brought in their belief to their homeland; they have never separated themselves from Russia. And precisely this has allowed Crimea to return to a member of common family.”[2]

 

Behind Putin’s victory at the election, there were some voices favoring peace and criticizing Putin. Boris Nadezhdin openly criticized Putin and assembled supporters within a very short period. He argued that Special Military Operation was “a critical mistake”, it is not supported by the country as a whole, and that if elected he would immediately propose the Ukrainian a cease fire. The electoral commission in late February disqualified him due to technical deficiency, but the speed with which he gathered supporters’ signature was impressive.

 

On February 13, Boris Kagarlitsky, a prominent sociologist who was critical to the war in Ukraine was sentenced to five years (The Washington Post). On February 27, Oleg Orlov, co-chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Memorial, was sentenced to two and half years (AP).

 

Meanwhile, on February 16, Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition activist, serving a 19-year prison sentence in corrective colony in the Russian Arctic died. His funeral took place on March 1 in Moscow. It added sensation in the pre-electoral hyper-sensitive atmospherics, although common sense should tell that there was not any reason to specifically assassinate Navalny, who was in full detention in the arctic.

 

Those criticizing Putin reportedly made a call to the Russian people to vote at 12:00 noon on March 17, casting a non-Putin vote. Western media covered this point extensively prior to the vote, but practically no news regarding this designated timing was carried later. It might mean that this March 17, 12:00 voting against Putin idea did not work as intended.

 

All-in-all, administration’s super-sensitive attitude to put down critical viewpoints against Putin is a reflection of their awareness to people’s urges for as soon as possible a cease-fire. That goes in harmony with Putin’s repeated message for a serious talk for peace with “Istanbul Plus” as an important hint that I described in the previous chapter.

 

Now comes the most sensitive and dangerous part of alternative analysis between Russia and the West from the end of March 2024 until April 2024. President Biden finally managed to ensure on April 20 budgetary appropriation of $60.8 billion at the House. On April 23, the Senate approved that amount and on April 24, President Biden signed whole budgetary appropriation. It was a long-awaited appropriation and with its timely and smooth implementation, Ukraine should have gained sufficient power to keep on fighting against Russia.

 

Ideally it should fulfill Russian overwhelming superiority on bomb shells (said to be 5 to 1, and if no measures are taken develop to 10 to 1 in a matter of weeks, according to Christopher Capri, US Commander of European Forces, Reuter, April 10). Another task to put in action Patriot or equivalent Land to Air missile to overcome threats emerging from Russian Glide Bombs should become possible. Zelensky spoke to the press that “At least, 7 patriots or missiles of equivalent quality are necessary (NHK, April 20).

 

But putting one’s foot in Putin’s shoes, will he just wait for all these propagated strategic and financial empowerments of Ukraine by the United States? That is most unlikely. It is almost a common sense that Putin will use present superiority of air power and manpower to crush Ukraine and proxy enemy, the United States, to ensure maximum Russian security and territorial superiority. Already what happened in Moldova could be interpreted as a dangerous prelude of what could happen in the future.

 

On February 28, 2024, the parliament in Pridnestrovski Republic requested Russia to take effective measures of protection against oppression from Moldova. Russian Foreign Ministry declared to examine the issue, while stating that “protection of people of Pridnestrovski Republic is a priority issue.” At the height of Ukrainian war few observers consider that Russia may take concrete actions. But just in case it does, given the geographic proximity of Odessa, Pridnevstrovsi Republic and Moldova, geopolitical conflict and above all, future of Ukraine could be dangerously affected.

 

There are some experts who give ominous prediction that if war continues indefinitely, Putin might venture to maximize Russian gain by way of splitting Ukraine into three sections, East-South to become under the auspices of Russia, West to become under the auspices of Poland, and a small independent Ukraine, including Kiev, at the center.

 

The only assured way of not let this worst scenario take place, is to find a way of settling the Ukraine War while Ukrainian territorial integrity is still preserved. This preserved territorial integrity does not mean to go back to the full frontier as determined in 1991. It will be something which we can vaguely call “Istanbul Plus”. The earlier America and Ukraine realizes this basic trend, the stronger their position would be in the peace treaty negotiations.

 

Coincidentally on April 18, just before the House appropriated the $60.8 billion military assistance to Ukraine, Colonel Bruce Slawter publicized a thought-provoking letter to Mr. Johnson, speaker of the House, not to appropriate the $60.8 billion military assistance to Ukraine.

 

Let me quote the essential part of his letter:

 

“Funds for Kyiv need to be cut off in order to send a signal to the Biden Administration that it must initiate direct talks with Moscow to end the carnage and save what is left of Ukraine.” 

 

Putin knows that Biden’s team pulls all the strings; he will no longer waste time dealing with President Zelensky only to risk a White House veto of an agreement – as happened less than two months into the conflict. Moscow’s political-military elites believe they have been double-crossed before by Kyiv – during the Minsk I & II negotiations in 2015 and during negotiations that Washington and London managed to scuttle six weeks after the Russian invasion began two years ago. Direct talks must begin ASAP – despite resistance from Zelensky.

 

The Russians will not be duped into negotiating a mere truce or Korea-like “freeze,” as some have suggested. The strategic advantage has shifted decisively in Moscow’s favor. 

 

President Biden, however, is incapable for political reasons of conceding that his administration’s project of degrading Russia’s military capabilities and removing Putin from power has been a failure. His only strategy at this point is to run out the clock – e.g., delay Ukraine’s capitulation until after November 2024.

 

Ukraine was running out of ammo and men just two months into its six-month-long “counter-offensive” – after the U.S. and NATO had provided just about every piece of war materiel Kyiv requested. The West’s chronic supply-line problems replacing what the Ukrainians expended and the Russians destroyed were well known long before President Biden made his current request.

 

Biden, Defense Secretary Austin, and NSC Spokesman Kirby have brazenly warned that U.S. troops may have to engage with Russian forces in combat if Congress does not comply with the President’s funding request. GOP members need to push back on this hyperbolic forecast.

 

Putin has no intention of invading a NATO county. This is one of several straw-man scenarios fabricated by Democrats and Russophobes to frighten American and European publics into salvaging the Washington-Brussels scheme to unseat Putin. The rhetoric is specifically motivated to force you and the Republican majority in the House to approve billions more for Ukraine.

 

French President Macron just proposed sending a European Union expeditionary force to Ukraine and ignoring all “red lines” regarding offensive weapons. While most Europeans reacted with alarm, Macron’s proposals are not off the table.

 

Historians will conclude that the “trigger” for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was primarily the Biden Administration’s acceleration of Ukraine’s accession into NATO. The prospect of Ukraine hosting permanent NATO bases was the “Red Line” that the Russians and U.S. foreign policy specialists alike had been warning about for more than a decade.  The entire political-military class of Russia (not just Putin) simply could not tolerate the prospect of U.S./NATO aircraft stationed at airfields located a 35-minute flight from the Kremlin – or the deployment to Ukraine of U.S. intermediate-range missiles capable of decapitating Moscow’s political-military leadership and a large part of its strategic nuclear forces. We almost went to war with the Soviet Union in October 1962 for a similar reason.

 

Putin offered a reasonable starting point for negotiations in December 2021 – but Biden’s Neocons rejected the overture out-of-hand. Putin’s invasion in February 2022 with just 190,000 untrained conscripts and regional militias (about one-fifth of his army) was a pre-emptive military operation, much like the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 – except that the endgame of Moscow’s coercive diplomacy was never to occupy all of Ukraine but to force Kyiv and the West to the negotiating table. Russian military doctrine required a minimum of 1,200,000 ground troops if Putin’s initial intent had been to conquer the entire Ukraine and 800,000 troops afterwards to occupy it.

 

Moscow’s policy was initially successful and resulted in a draft armistice reached in April 2022 in Istanbul.  However, Washington and London, promising military assistance from the West “as long as it takes,” convinced Zelensky to tear it up. Over 500,000 Ukrainians have died or have been severely wounded since then.

 

Two years later, the dynamics of the war have fundamentally shifted in Moscow’s favor – yet the Biden Administration refuses to initiate negotiations, because doing so would be tantamount to admitting that its project to effect regime change in Moscow on the backs of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians has failed.

 

Several hundred thousand more Ukrainians and Russians will have to suffer – unless we take dramatic measures to end the war by cutting off further assistance. This is the only means of compelling Biden to pick up the phone, call Putin, and initiate negotiations.

 

*

Dear Speaker Johnson:

 

I am writing to recommend the termination of funding for the Ukraine War. This action is required to send a clear message to the Biden Administration that it must begin direct talks with Moscow, the principal objectives of which would be to end the administration’s devastating proxy war with Russia and save what is left of Ukraine.

 

This approach may seem counter-intuitive. President Biden, however, is incapable for political reasons of admitting that his administration’s project of degrading Russia’s military capabilities and removing Putin from power on the backs of the Ukrainians has been a failure. His only strategy at this point is to run out the clock – e.g., delay Ukraine’s capitulation until after November 2024. This cynical approach will only make matters worse for the Ukrainians, as Putin will probably not oblige him. Time is of the essence in order to prevent further bloodshed and avoid the catastrophe now unfolding on the Ukrainian Steppe.”[xvi]

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

This paper analyses the state of Ukrainian war in its second year starting from February 24, 2023, until April 2024. In continuation of the battlefield situation during the first year the situation at the battlefield kept on improving for Zelensky and Biden until summer 2023. But thence onwards, Russia gradually gained upper hands, and that situation is continuing until April 2024. Chapters One, Two and Three analyzed the situation based on perspectives generally shared by the majority of the West, i.e. by NATO, G7 and likeminded countries. But Chapters Four and Five give an alternative analysis how we should see the present situation of the war. They are based on minority American and European analysis but also pay attention on how the world is seen from Russian perspectives. It is naturally in readers’ evaluation whether the alternative analysis in the last two Chapters would help to understand the situation better, deeper and wider, and closer to the reality.


[1] Statement made by National security Advisor Jake Sulivan, Reuters

[2] Taken from Russian president’s home page and translated into English by the author.


[i] Kazuhiko Togo, ‘An Alternative Way to Face the Ukrainian War’, The Journal of Territorial and Maritime Studies 10, no. 2 (2023): 86–96.

[ii] George Trenin, ‘Europe’s Black Hole: How Much of the More than $185 Billion given by the West to Ukraine Has Been Stolen?’, RT News, 19 July 2023, https://www.rt.com/russia/579897-europes-black-hole-ukraine/.

[iii] ‘Minisrty of Foreign Affairs Japan Homepage’, Minisrty of Foreign Affairs Japan, n.d.

[iv] Oliver Boyd-Barrett, ‘At Last, the Counteroffensive’, Empire, Communication and NATO Wars: Critiques of Propaganda and Pretexts for War (blog), 5 June 2023, https://oliverboydbarrett.substack.com/p/at-last-the-counteroffensive.

[v] Times of Israel, ‘Report: US Quietly Approved More than 100 Arms Sales to Israel since October 7’, The Times of Israel, 7 March 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/report-us-quietly-approved-more-than-100-arms-sales-to-israel-since-october-7/.

[vi] The Economist, ‘Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief on the Breakthrough He Needs to Beat Russia’, The Economist, 1 November 2023, https://www.economist.com/europe/2023/11/01/ukraines-commander-in-chief-on-the-breakthrough-he-needs-to-beat-russia.

[vii] David Sacks, ‘Zelensky: TIME May Be on His Side, but Real Time, Isn’t’, Responsible Statecraft, 1 November 2023, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/zelensky-war-time-magazine/.

[viii] Ben Aris, ‘Former Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Oleksiy Arestovych Flees into Exile, to Challenge Zelenskiy for Presidency’, 18 January 2024, https://www.intellinews.com/former-ukrainian-presidential-advisor-oleksiy-arestovych-flees-into-exile-to-challenge-zelenskiy-for-presidency-307961/.

[ix] First Channel News, ‘Ukraine Conflict Could Have Ended in Spring 2022: David Arakhamia’, First Channel News, 25 November 2023, https://www.1lurer.am/en/2023/11/25/Ukraine-conflict-could-have-ended-in-Spring-2022/1036355#:~:text=Arakhamia%2C%20who%20heads%20the%20'Servant,that%20we%20would%20take%20neutrality.

[x] Presidential Office of Ukraine, ‘Do Not Ask Ukraine When the War Will End. Ask Yourself – Why Putin Is Still Able to Continue It – Speech by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Munich Security Conference’, Presidential Office of Ukraine, 17 February 2024, https://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/ne-pitajte-ukrayinu-koli-zakinchitsya-vijna-pitajte-v-sebe-c-89021.

[xi] Al Jazeera, ‘France’s Macron Does Not Rule out Europeans Sending Troops to Ukraine’, Al Jazeera, 26 February 2024, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/2/26/macron-holds-meeting-in-paris-to-rally-european-support-for-ukraine.

[xii] The White House, ‘Remarks of President Joe Biden — State of the Union Address As Prepared for Delivery’, The White House, 7 March 2024, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/03/07/remarks-of-president-joe-biden-state-of-the-union-address-as-prepared-for-delivery-2/.

[xiii] The Vladimir Putin Interview, The Interview (Moscow, 2024), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYfByTcY49k.

[xiv] The Telegraph, ‘Pope Francis Urges All Parties in Ukraine to Negotiate for Peace’, The Telegraph, 9 March 2024, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2024/03/09/pope-francis-urges-all-parties-in-ukraine-negotiate-peace/.

[xv] RT News, ‘Putin’s Dream, Russian Unity, Conflict with NATO: Key Takeaways from Victory Speech’, RT News, 18 March 2024, https://www.rt.com/russia/594403-putin-victory-speech-recap/.

[xvi] Bruce Slawter, ‘Joseph Biden’s War’, Blue Eagle at Dawn: Informed Perspectives on World History, the War in Ukraine, and U.S. Foreign Policy (blog), 18 April 2024, https://slawter.substack.com/p/joseph-bidens-war.

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