A New Cold War: America, Russia, China, and the Echoes of History
NEW YORK (RichTVX.com) — China is a challenge to the United States and all democracies, but America and its allies will rise to the challenge. “And we’re going to meet this one with confidence and resolve — not panic and pessimism,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said. “China is not 10-feet tall,” he added at the Reagan Library in California and that the United States is not a “country that fears competition,” but China is not the current focus, the real theatre of war is in Ukraine. In warfare, a theatre is an area in which important military events occur or are progressing. A theatre can include the entirety of the airspace, land and sea area that is or that may potentially become involved in war operations. Even the Minsk agreement is limited to the domestic participants, the West, which throughout the last years had competed with Russia in Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, wavered between the wish to see Putin replaced by a traditional authority and the fear that such an authority would once again threaten Europe and encroach on the eastern Mediterranean. The coming war between the new authorities in Kiev and the two self-proclaimed breakaway Donbass Republics, in Donetsk and Lugansk, will tore Russia apart for years, and will be the most devastating event in that country’s history since Hitler and the Mongol invasions in the thirteenth century. Unspeakable atrocities will be committed soon from resentment and fear: millions will lose their lives in combat as well as from cold, hunger, and disease.
The New Cold War
NATO allies are concerned about Russia’s military build-up along the border with Ukraine, and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia will face serious consequences if it once again invades the country. NATO nations have seen a significant Russian build-up and unusual concentration of forces in and around Ukraine. Stoltenberg also highlighted the increasingly bellicose rhetoric emanating from the Kremlin about Ukraine. “What we do know, is that not only has Russia increased its military presence closer to Ukraine’s borders, but … they’ve used military force against Ukraine before,” Stoltenberg said. “They did that in 2014, when they invaded and illegally annexed Crimea, which is part of Ukraine, and they continue to support the armed separatists in Donbass in eastern Ukraine.” This reality is often ignored by historians, but for more than a thousand years, Russians and Ukrainians have been connected by a common history. Ukraine has estimated that as many 175,000 Russian troops are present in the border area, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called “dangerous, but Russia and NATO must also be identified as the real participants in the Ukraine crisis. The Ukrainians have within their borders all the manpower and support they need: but in critical engagements they will suffer heavy losses from casualties and desertions. Some dark forces want to recover the investments they had lost through the Maidan in 2014 and defaults, as well as to prevent a Russo-Ukrainian rapprochement.
President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin Will Speak Via Video Call
History has a tendency to repeat itself. Transcaucasia separated herself from Russia in early 1918, largely under the influence of the Germans and Turks. As the Russian front in the ‘Caucasus crumbled and the Turkish armies advanced, the Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis agreed to create a regional authority. As memory fades, events from the past can become events of the present. To this end, the friendship of a strong, stable, and friendly United States is now of paramount importance; President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will speak via video call on Tuesday, the White House says, amid mounting tensions over Ukraine. It comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US had evidence that Russia had made plans for a “large scale” attack on Ukraine. Same time, Austin noted that President Joe Biden has said the United States is in “stiff competition” with China, and he has mentioned that China is the U.S. military’s “pacing challenge.” Stoltenberg called the Russian build-up “unexplained and unjustified,” and the NATO nations want the Russians to stop the provocations. “If they do the opposite, and actually decide to once again use force against Ukraine, then we have made it clear … during the NATO Foreign Minister meeting in Latvia last week that Russia will then have to pay a high price; there will be serious consequences for Russia,” he said. “And that’s a clear message from NATO.” That future has arrived, and it is nothing less than a new cold war.
War in Donbas
The war in Donbas, or the Donbas war, is an armed conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine, part of the Ukrainian crisis and the broader Russo-Ukrainian War. From the beginning of March 2014, in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and the Euromaidan movement, protests by Russia-backed anti-government separatist groups took place in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine, collectively called the Donbas region. These demonstrations, which followed the February–March 2014 annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and which were part of a wider group of concurrent protests across southern and eastern Ukraine, escalated into an armed conflict between the separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR respectively), and the Ukrainian government. While the initial protests were largely native expressions of discontent with the new Ukrainian government, Russia took advantage of them to launch a co-ordinated political and military campaign against Ukraine. Russian citizens led the separatist movement in Donetsk from April until August 2014, and were supported by volunteers and materiel from Russia. As the conflict escalated in May 2014, Russia employed a “hybrid approach”, deploying a combination of disinformation tactics, irregular fighters, regular Russian troops, and conventional military support to destabilise the Donbas region. According to the Ukrainian government, at the height of the conflict in the summer of 2014, Russian paramilitaries were reported to make up between 15% to 80% of the combatants.Ukraine launched a military counter-offensive against pro-Russian forces in April 2014, called the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” (ATO) from 2014 until 2018, when it was renamed the “Joint Forces Operation” (JFO).: 4 By late August 2014 this operation was able to vastly shrink the territory under the control of the pro-Russian forces, and came close to regaining control of the Russo-Ukrainian border. In response, Russia abandoned its hybrid approach, and began a conventional invasion of the Donbas. Between 22 and 25 August 2014, Russian artillery, personnel, and what Russia called a “humanitarian convoy” crossed the Ukraine-Russia border. Crossings occurred both in areas under the control of pro-Russian forces and in areas that were not under their control, such as the south-eastern part of Donetsk Oblast, near Novoazovsk. These events followed the reported shelling of Ukrainian positions from the Russian side of the border over the course of the preceding month. Head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko characterised the events of 22 August as a “direct invasion by Russia of Ukraine”, while other Western and Ukrainian officials described the events as a “stealth invasion” of Ukraine by Russia. Russia’s official position on the presence of Russian forces in Donbas has been vague: while official bodies have denied presence of “regular armed forces” in Ukraine, it has on numerous occasions confirmed presence of “military specialists”, along with other euphemisms, usually accompanied by an argument that Russia “was forced” to deploy them to “defend the Russian-speaking population”.As a result of the invasion, DPR and LPR insurgents regained much of the territory they had lost during the Ukrainian government’s preceding military offensive. Ukraine, Russia, the DPR and the LPR signed an agreement to establish a ceasefire, called the Minsk Protocol, on 5 September 2014. Violations of the ceasefire on both sides became common. Amidst the solidification of the line between insurgent and government-controlled territory during the ceasefire, warlords took control of swaths of land on the insurgent side, leading to further destabilisation. The ceasefire completely collapsed in January 2015, with renewed heavy fighting across the conflict zone, including at Donetsk International Airport and at Debaltseve. Involved parties agreed to a new ceasefire, called Minsk II, on 12 February 2015. Immediately following the signing of the agreement, separatist forces launched an offensive on Debaltseve and forced Ukrainian forces to withdraw from it. In the months after the fall of Debaltseve, minor skirmishes continued along the line of contact, but no territorial changes occurred. This state of stalemate led to the war being labelled a “frozen conflict”; despite this, the area remained a war zone, with dozens of soldiers and civilians killed each month. In 2017, on average one Ukrainian soldier died in combat every three days, with the number of Russian and separatist troops remaining in the region estimated at 6,000 and 40,000 respectively. By the end of 2017, the OSCE observatory mission had accounted for around 30,000 individuals in military-style dress crossing from Russia to Donbas at the two border checkpoints it was allowed to monitor. The OSCE has also documented numerous cases of military convoys crossing from the Russian Federation into the occupied territory on dirt roads away from official border crossings and usually at night.Since the start of the conflict there have been 29 ceasefires, each intended to remain in force indefinitely, but none of them have stopped the violence. The most successful attempt to halt the fighting was in 2016, when a ceasefire held for six consecutive weeks. The latest ceasefire (29th) came into force on 27 July 2020 which led to no Ukrainian combat losses for more than a month. According to Ukrainian authorities, from 27 July 2020 until 7 November 2020 Ukrainian mortal losses decreased tenfold (three Ukrainian soldiers were killed) and the number of attacks decreased 5.5-fold. Ukraine, Russia, the DPR, the LPR and the OSCE agreed to a roadmap for an end to the conflict on 1 October 2019. However, the conflict did not thaw since then and, by late summer 2020, still remained unresolved on multiple levels. The first trimester of 2021 saw a large increase in Ukrainian fatalities (25, compared with 50 deaths in the whole of 2020) and the build-up of a large Russian military force on the Donbas-Russian border late March to early April 2021.