By MIKE WHITNEY
The Unz Review
A war of annihilation is a war in which the goal is the complete obliteration of the state and the extermination of its people. It is defined as a radicalized form of warfare in which “all psycho-physical limits” are abolished and the strategic goals are pursued by any means necessary. It is war without rules, restrictions or moral constraints. The United States is in the early phases of a war of annihilation against Russia the aim of which is the total destruction of the economy, the culture, the population and the nation.
“We have seen 5 waves of NATO expansion. Now NATO is in Romania and Poland and they are deploying their missile-attack systems there. That’s what we are talking about. You need to understand, we are not threatening anyone. Russia did not come to the US borders or the UK borders. No. You came to our borders and now you are saying, ‘Ukraine will join NATO and will deploy their systems there. They will deploy their military bases and their attack-systems.’ We are concerned about our security. Do you understand what that means?” Vladimir Putin, press conference, You Tube
Question– Is there a justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
Answer– Yes, there is. Russia was being threatened by developments in Ukraine, so it told Ukraine to either stop what it was doing or suffer the consequences. Ukraine chose to ignore those warnings, so Russia invaded. That is basically what happened.
Question– But how does that justify the invasion, after all, Ukraine is a sovereign country and sovereign countries should be able to do whatever they want to on their own territory, right?
Answer– No, that’s wrong. Ukraine does not have the right to do whatever it wants on its own territory. Ukraine and more than 50 other countries signed treaties (“at the OSCE summits in Istanbul in 1999 and in Astana in 2010”) agreeing that they would not strengthen their own security at the expense of other’s security. This is called the “indivisibility of security”, but in practical terms it just means that you can’t put artillery pieces and tanks on your driveway and point them at my house. Because that would undermine my security. Do you understand? The same rule applies to nations.
If we accept your reasoning on the matter, then we’d have to conclude that John Kennedy had no right to challenge Fidel Castro for putting nuclear weapons in Cuba. But he did have the right because Castro’s action put the US at risk of a nuclear attack. In other words, Castro had no right to improve his own security at the expense of the United States. This is no different. Putin has every right to defend the safety and security of the Russian people, in fact, that is what people expect of their leaders.
Question– You’re not making any sense. Putin invaded Ukraine, therefore, Putin is an aggressor.
Answer– I disagree, but instead of arguing about it, let’s use an analogy:
Let’s say, I hold a gun to your head and threaten to blow your brains out. But you quickly grab the gun and shoot me in the leg. Who is to blame for that incident?
If you think that I am responsible, you’re right. The victim, in this case, simply reacted in a way that would best ensure his own safety. That’s called self-defense which is perfectly legal.
This same standard can be applied to Russia, whose “Special Military Operation” is a preemptive step to defend its own national security. Russia has no designs on Ukrainian territory nor does it seek to mettle in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Russia’s sole objective is to end the existential crisis that was created by Washington. It was Washington that encouraged NATO to pump Ukraine full of lethal weapons. It was Washington that provided arms for the far-right extremists that were threatening ethnic Russians in east Ukraine. It was Washington that coaxed Ukrainian President Zelensky to jettison Minsk and to publicly support the development of nuclear weapons. It was Washington that launched the coup in 2014 that deposed the democratically-elected president and replaced him with a US-puppet. And, it was Washington that has done everything in its power to isolate and demonize Russia following provocations that were entirely of its own making. In short, it was Washington that held a gun to Russia’s head and threatened to blow its brains out.
Can’t you see that or are you so brainwashed you think this fiasco started when Putin’s tanks rolled across the border? Even the most avid CNN propagandist doesn’t believe that nonsense. The crisis began with the relentless buildup of weaponry followed by one calculated incitement after the other. Russia was deliberately and repeatedly provoked. No one who’s followed events closely would dispute that.
By the way, Putin has never talked about toppling the government in Kiev and replacing it with a Moscow-backed stooge. No. His plan is aimed at “demilitarization” and “denazification.” Why?
Because those are his only objectives. He wants to destroy the weapons that NATO and the US have been shipping to Ukraine (to fuel the conflict) and he wants to eradicate the Nazi militants that are the sworn enemy of the Russian Federation.
Is that unreasonable? Do you think the US would act any differently if Mexico allowed Al Qaida and ISIS cells to operate openly in Guadalajara or Acapulco? Don’t be ridiculous. They’d bomb the entire region to smithereens without batting an eye.
Would you call that “an invasion,” too?
No, Washington would probably call it a “Special Military Operation” just like Russia is calling its intervention a “Special Military Operation.”
The problem here is not what Russia is doing, the problem is that a different standard is always applied to the United States. All I’m asking is that people engage their own critical thinking skills—ignore the hysterical braying of the media—and make their own judgement on the matter.
Russia did what anyone would do; it reacted in a way that would best ensure its own safety. By definition, that is self-defense. It removed itself from the threat of great harm or death, and is now in the process of reestablishing its own security. Ukraine chose to ignore Russia’s legitimate security concerns, and now Ukraine is paying the price. Here’s is an excellent summary of the events preceeding the Russian operation from an article at the World Socialist Web Site:
“The narrative in the media, which presents the invasion as an unprovoked action, is a fabrication that conceals the aggressive actions by the NATO powers, in particular the United States, and its puppets in the Ukrainian government.…
In Europe and Asia, the US pursued a strategy aimed at encircling and subjugating Russia. Directly violating its earlier promises that the Soviet bureaucracy and Russian oligarchy were delusional enough to believe, NATO has expanded to include almost all major countries in Eastern Europe, apart from Ukraine and Belarus.
In 2014, the US orchestrated a far-right coup in Kiev that overthrew a pro-Russian government that had opposed Ukrainian membership in NATO. In 2018, the US officially adopted a strategy of preparing for “great power conflict” with Russia and China. In 2019, it unilaterally withdrew from the INF Treaty, which banned the deployment of intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Preparations for war with Russia and the arming of Ukraine were at the center of the Democrats’ first attempt to impeach Donald Trump in 2019.
Over the past year…the Biden administration recklessly escalated provocations against Russia….The key to understanding this is the US-Ukrainian Charter on Strategic Partnership, signed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on November 10, 2021….”
The Charter endorsed Kiev’s military strategy from March 2021, which explicitly proclaimed the military goal of “retaking” Crimea and the separatist-controlled Donbass, and thereby dismissed the Minsk Agreements of 2015, which were the official framework for settling the conflict in East Ukraine….
Washington also explicitly endorsed “Ukraine’s efforts to maximize its status as a NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner to promote interoperability,” that is, its integration into NATO’s military command structures.
Ukraine’s non-membership in NATO is and was, for all intents and purposes, a fiction. At the same time, the NATO powers exploited the fact that Ukraine is not officially a member as an opportunity to stoke a conflict with Russia that would not immediately develop into a world war.
The US was fully aware that fascist forces in Ukraine would play the principal role of shock troops against both the Russian military and opposition within the population….Their descendants, from the fascist Svoboda Party to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, are now deeply integrated into the Ukrainian state and military and are being heavily armed with NATO weapons.
It will fall to historians to uncover what promises the Ukrainian oligarchy received from Washington in exchange for its pledge to turn the country into a killing field and launching pad for war with Russia. But one thing is clear: The Kremlin and Russian general staff could not but read this document as the announcement of an impending war.
Throughout 2021 and in the weeks immediately preceding the invasion, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin repeatedly warned that Ukraine’s integration into NATO and its arming by the Western powers constituted a “red line” for Russia, and demanded “security guarantees” from the US and NATO.
However, the US contemptuously dismissed all these statements, and NATO staged one major military exercise on Russia’s borders after another..., in the weeks leading up to the war, while constantly warning of an impending Russian invasion, the Biden administration made no diplomatic effort to avoid it and instead did everything it could to provoke it.” (“The US-Ukrainian Strategic Partnership of November 2021 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, World Socialist Web Site)
So, what can we glean from this summary of events?
We can see that Washington did everything in its power to undermine Russia’s security with the explicit aim of drawing Moscow into a war in Ukraine. That was the objective from the get-go. Washington knew that NATO membership for Ukraine was one of Putin’s “red lines”, so the US foreign policy establishment decided to use Putin’s red lines against him. They decided to make Ukraine a NATO member in everything but name which (they assumed) would be sufficient provocation for an invasion. That was the plan, and the plan worked.
In the last year, there has been a constant flow of lethal weapons to Ukraine; heavy weapons that can destroy tanks and shoot down planes. At the same time, Ukraine’s combat troops and officer corps have received regular training from NATO advisors. They have also engaged in frequent joint-military excercises with NATO units inside Ukraine and in other locations around Europe. (At least 10 more of these joint-military drills are scheduled for this year alone.) For the last 12 months, NATO specialists have been almost constantly on Ukrainian territory while their troop control system has already been fully-integrated into NATO. “This means that NATO headquarters can issue direct commands to the Ukrainian armed forces, even to their separate units and squads.”
Also, Ukraine’s “network of airfields have been upgraded while its airspace is open to flights by US strategic and reconnaissance aircraft and drones that conduct surveillance over Russian territory.”
In short, “Ukraine’s non-membership in NATO is (largely) a fiction”, as the WSWS’s author points out. The country has been stealthily integrated into the Alliance in every way excluding a formal declaration of membership. As a result, Russia faces a hostile army and its military infrastructure on its western border posing an existential danger to the nation’s survival. In Putin’s own words, “NATO’s military infrastructure is a knife to our throat.”
So, Putin’s analysis is essentially the same as our own, that is, that Russia is acting in self defense. Putin was merely grabbing the gun that Washington had pointed at his head. Was that wrong? Should entire populations have to live in constant fear for their lives so the US can pursue its geopolitical agenda without interruption?
No, every country deserves basic security and protection from the threat of violence. Russia is no different than anyone else in that regard. And when those basic security concerns are shrugged off by puppets in T-shirts (like Zelensky), then countries have to take matters into their own hands. What other choice do they have? National security remains the highest priority of the state. Every state! It is unfortunate that the “guarantor of global security” is also (in the words of Martin Luther King) “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” But that is sad irony of our current predicament.
But why—you may ask—has the US gone through so much trouble to prod Putin into invading Ukraine, after all, it is the Ukrainian people who are going to suffer the most just as it is the country that is likely to be a staging ground for disruptive and bloody NATO military operations for years to come? What is the strategic objective here?
Here’s how political analyst and former Member of the European Parliament, Nick Griffin, summed it up in a recent article at the Unz Review. He said:
“The fundamental targets of the NATO warmongers in this crisis are not… Russia, but Germany, and China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. They are trying to keep Germany down, and China out; failure to do both means that the US will become an isolated rust-belt island thousands of miles away from the core economic block of the world….
The same development also spells the forthcoming end of the dollar as the world’s financial reserve currency.……. NATO’s aggression towards Russia is not born of confidence but of fear. In just three decades, we’ve gone from the ‘End of History’ to the looming end of the Dollar Empire….
The attempt to force Russia into war in Ukraine… is not really about promoting the geopolitical interest of the Dollar Empire – it is about its very survival.
(This is why) They are indeed desperate for war!” (“Ukraine Implementing Minsk Accords & Ending Conflict ‘Very Last’ Thing US, UK Want, Ex-MEP Says,” Unz Review)
Griffin is right. The war in Ukraine is not about Ukraine, it’s about geopolitics and, in particular, the steady erosion of Washington’s power on the global stage. That’s why we are seeing this wretched attempt to crush Russia on the way to encircling China. It’s pure desperation, and it’s gotten considerably worse since the February 4 summit between Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, when the two leaders announced a new “global governance system,” that would bind Europe and Asia together through “infrastructure connectivity”, high-speed rail, and colaborative distribution of energy resources. Russia and China are allies on the biggest free trade project in history, which is why Uncle Sam is doing everything he can to rock-the-boat. Here’s more from Alfred McCoy’s article at Counterpunch:
“In a landmark 5,300-word statement, Xi and Putin proclaimed the “world is going through momentous changes,” creating a “redistribution of power” and “a growing demand for… leadership” (which Beijing and Moscow clearly intended to provide). After denouncing Washington’s ill-concealed “attempts at hegemony,” the two sides agreed to “oppose the…
interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states under the pretext of protecting democracy and human rights.”
To build an alternative system for global economic growth in Eurasia, the leaders planned to merge Putin’s projected “Eurasian Economic Union” with Xi’s already ongoing trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to promote “greater interconnectedness between the Asia Pacific and Eurasian regions.” Proclaiming their relations “superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era,” an oblique reference to the tense Mao-Stalin relationship, the two leaders asserted that their entente has “no limits… no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.” On strategic issues, the two parties were adamantly opposed to the expansion of NATO, any move toward independence for Taiwan, and “color revolutions” such as the one that had ousted Moscow’s Ukrainian client in 2014.” (“The Geopolitics of the Ukraine War,” Alfred W. McCoy, Counterpunch)
How does this relate to the war in Ukraine?
It shows that Uncle Sam is trying to destroy Russia so he can project power into Central Asia and maintain Washington’s grip on global power. Who is going control the most populous and prosperous region of the next century, Asia? That’s the question that guides Washington’s actions in Ukraine.
Simply put, Washington’s plan is to crush Russia first and then move on to China. This explains why the US has imposed the most comprehensive and vicious sanctions of all time. The gloves have come off and we are beginning to see that Washington is embroiled in a scorched earth campaign to strangle the Russian economy, crash the Russian markets, slash vital oil and gas revenues, freeze foreign reserves, seize privately-owned assets, terminate the flow of foreign capital, torpedo multi-billion dollar pipeline projects, prevent access to the capital markets, send the ruble off a cliff, demonize the Russian leadership and remove Russia from the community of nations. At the same time, the US has increased the flow of lethal weaponry to Ukraine while the CIA continues to advise and train far-right militants who will be used to launch an anti-Russian insurgency.
It should be clear by now, that Washington’s approach to Russia has fundamentally changed. The ferocity of current strategy suggests that we have transitioned from infrequent skirmishes to a full-blown war of annihilation on the Russian state.