south front

Zelensky Goes To Turkey, As Erdogan Calls Moscow
South Front, Apr 10 2021

According to diplomatic sources, on Apr 10, Zelensky is going to pay a visit to Turkey due to the 9th assembly of the Turkey-Ukraine High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council. The Ukrainian official statement says:

The meeting will be held with the participation of ministers, during which Turkish-Ukrainian relations, the level of strategic partnership in all its aspects will be discussed, measures can also be taken to develop and deepen bilateral cooperation.

Collaboration in the defense industry, a free trade agreement and tourism are estimated to be in the major issues that will be discussed on the meeting. Taking into account the sharp military escalation in Eastern Ukraine, it seems that the tourism is not the first topic to discuss. In Dec 2020, Ankara and Kiev signed an agreement on the production of corvettes and attack drones for the Ukrainian army. In 2019, Kiev purchased and tested 6 Bayraktar TB2 Turkish attack UAVs, which equipped with MAM-L high-precision bombs from the Turkish company Roketsan. Kiev also proclaimed its interest in the joint production of Bayraktar TB2 in Ukraine, and that the Ukrainian army plans to purchase 48 such devices of joint production. Another field of cooperation is the joint production of corvettes that is planned at the Okean shipyard in Nikolaev. The sides are also holding talks on joint production of the An-178 aircraft. A day before Zelensky’s visit to Ankara, Erdogan has spoken to Putin by telephone to discuss the growing crisis. Among other claims Putin urged Turkish President to preserve the Montreux Convention limiting the freedom of military ships to transit through the straits to the Back Sea. The leaders discussed the Monteux Convention following reports that the US was considering sending its warships to the Black Sea in the coming weeks in a show of support for Ukraine. In practice, US warships navigate in the Black Sea on a regular basis. Referring to US military ships in the Black Sea, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said:

That’s nothing new.

Thus, Biden’s claims were nothing but empty threats amid growing tensions in Eastern European region. At the same time, Turkish consultations with Moscow before welcoming Zelensky may also be a bad signal for Ukrainian leader.

Russian-Ukrainian War: A Tragedy For The People, A Opportunity For The Elites
South Front Apr 10 2021

Against the backdrop of ongoing political provocations and bellicose rhetoric from all parties involved in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, military escalation is constantly growing. Local forces, as well as the OSCE observers, report about more and more ceasefire violations in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. There are daily statements on casualties on both sides of the conflict among the military and local civilians. Now, when all the global media are closely following the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine, the international community is wondering whether Donbass will become the point of the next military conflict, and what its scale will be. The main question is “Cui Prodest”? The answer is unambiguous: the administration of Ukrainian President is a real stakeholder in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. In the current Ukrainian reality, there are plenty of circumstances that determine the pattern of conduct of Volodimir Zelensky.

  1. The current economic situation in Ukraine is disastrous. The Ukrainian state is on the way to lose the ability to fulfill its social obligations. According to the data for 2020, its GDP in real terms suffered about 4% drop. According to the IMF, this drop will be at least 7%. If for the US, China or Russia, a 4% drop in GDP is a big problem, for Ukraine it is almost a disaster, as GDP indicators were low even before the crisis.
  2. The economic situation in Ukraine was aggravated by the coronacrisis. The number of those contaminated by COVID-19 per day there is one of the biggest among the European countries, and even in the whole world. The death rate is also disproportionately high. The country’s economy is suffering, as most regions are still under lockdown, and since Apr 5, restrictions have been tightened again. The fall in national budget income was caused by a complex of reasons, including pure management of national economy and the extremely high level of corruption that caused the destruction of the industrial complex, drop in already low per capita income, accompanied by a decreasing revenue gained from gas and cargo transit from East to West.
  3. The Zelensky administration is now facing a rapid decrease in people’s support. The national disappointment in his political program is caused by the rejection of his campaign promises to stop the war in Donbass.
  4. It is increasingly difficult for NATO allies to fuel Kiev’s anti-Russian hysteria in the absence of any actual changes of the issue. The military conflict in the Eastern Ukraine is already 7 years old, and the only alarming statements no longer contribute to the increase in financial support from the US and its allies.
  5. Last but not least is a political request from a part of the American elite, who are interested in various forms of pressuring Russia. They support blocking of the Nord Stream 2 project by any means; destruction of bilateral relations between Russia and leading European countries, up to war outbreak along its borders. On the other hand, such a policy of the US does not fully coincide with the national interests of leading European countries. However, new war in Eastern Ukraine would define Russian status as enemy for years while the US will strengthen its weight in European security.

The position of the Zelensky administration and the interests of the US represent sufficient set of reasons to outbreak war in Eastern Ukraine. Indeed, official Kiev does not need to care about the actual result of the conflict, but its very existence. There are only 3 scenarios of the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine:

  1. The Ukrainian army wholly or partially occupies the territory of the DLPR.
  2. The forces of both sides remain in their current positions.
  3. The DLPR forces, with Russian support, advance on the Ukrainian territory for several dozens of miles.

There is almost a zero probability that Ukraine will suffer a crushing defeat and the DLPR forces will occupy the territory to the Dnieper River. Russia now has neither the strength nor the ability to gain control over such a vast territory, and the collective West, in its turn, would not let this happen. If any of the above scenarios are implemented, Zelensky and his supporters among the US elites will benefit. For many years, the US and European media have shaped Russia as the aggressor, the enemy of democratic values and the authoritarian tyrannical regime that must be contained. The idea of an external military threat, which being sequentially built up by the West, serves as a pretext for its increasing military funding both in defense industry and army itself amid inevitable unification under the US leadership. In its turn, Ukraine, positioning itself as the Eastern European Shield against “Asiatic Barbarians,” receives significant and steadily growing support from NATO countries, gaining momentum to development and further nazi-like ideology originally rooted in Western Ukraine.

Unleashing the war, Zelensky has a chance to reclaim his status as the national leader. In case of the conquest of the self-proclaimed republics, or the preservation of the current troops’ positions, he will become a hero who saved Ukraine from “evil Russians.” Even after having lost the war, he would claim that the entire country was saved with little blood and only a small piece of land that was temporary lost, taking on the role of a good strategist who defended the sovereignty in the furious fighting shoulder to shoulder with his NATO allies. Zelensky’s policy can only fail if Russia captures half of Ukraine, which de facto is not possible. Thus, almost whatever may happen during the conflict, Ukraine can be sure that it will receive stable financial flows from its Western allies for years ahead. Having become a “real” Eastern Shield of Europe, Ukraine may finally get the coveted NATO membership. Finally, yet importantly, the hot military conflict will undoubtedly divert public attention from the economic problems inside the country. Unleashing a war in Donbass will allow Zelensky to solve his main problems, albeit at the cost of lives of thousands of Ukrainians.

Today, many analysts assure that there will not be a full-scale war, since Ukraine is weak, and Zelensky must assess country’s military strength in front of the Russian power. Let’s hope this is the case, while remembering who the beneficiary of the conflict is. In its turn, the US, at the cost of Ukrainian soldiers’ lives, can resolve a good part of its problems in the European region, while Russia seems to lose strategically in any of these war scenarios. Definitely, the war in Ukraine will lead to the closure of the Nord Stream 2 project, which is already at the final stage of construction. Key contacts between Russia and NATO countries will be frozen, no more significant bilateral cooperation in economy will be possible. A new war near the Russian borders that involves national armed forces will have an important impact on the internal situation in the country. It is not clear to what extent the Russian society, which has suffered the break of economic relations with Western countries and numerous sanctions, is ready to support the struggle for Donbass.

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