The Hysteria Surrounding an “Imminent Russian Invasion” of Ukraine
The suspense has been mounting and mounting on a daily basis, like in a bad Hollywood action movie. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Tony Blinken have warned for the past week that Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine “any day now”, even before the end of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 20, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson upping the ante to “any minute now”. On Feb. 12, the White House took the extraordinary step of ordering part of the U.S. diplomatic personnel to leave Kiev, followed by similar decisions by other Western countries. The tactic seems to be that when no invasion does take place, the West can then take credit for having “dissuaded” Moscow by warning of the dire consequences that would follow.
But another outcome is also possible. In addition to the Russian joint military exercises now ongoing in Belarus and the 100,000 Russian troops not so far from the Ukraine border, what is hardly reported anywhere is that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have also amassed 100,000 troops on the Contact Line to the Donbas, reportedly with English and other foreign trainers. One false flag operation in the region might suffice to provoke both sides to intervene militarily.
Ukrainian President Zelensky, in any case, has ridiculed the war propaganda, as we have reported (cf. SAS 5,6/22). On Feb. 12, he told reporters that “There has been too much information about a full-scale war with Russia — even specific dates have been announced. We understand there are risks. If you have any additional information regarding the 100% guaranteed invasion of Ukraine by Russia on 16 February, please give it to us.”
Meanwhile, feverish diplomatic activity has been ongoing. Presidents Biden and Putin had another one hour telephone conversation on Feb. 12, followed by a phone discussion between Putin and French President Macron (cf. more below), while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz went to Kiev on Feb. 14, just one week after his visit to Washington, and to Moscow on the 15th. While in Kiev, he stated that Ukraine’s membership in NATO was “not on the table at the moment”. After his meeting with Putin, the Chancellor said it had been a “very intensive, very trusting conversation”. They talked openly about all the issues, not along prepared talking points, which he called “a good starting point given the difficult challenges we face.”
While there is great uncertainty as the next steps of the NATO-Russia confrontation, the solution lies in rising to a higher level of conception, above all considerations of geopolitics, to bring about a new international security architecture, that takes into account the security interests of all parties. That should be the theme of the Munich Security conference that opens this weekend – but it most certainly will not be. In contrast, the Schiller Institute online conference that will take place at the same time, is dedicated to that objective (cf. above).