MOSCOW, 03 Nov 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
The head of Naftogaz of Ukraine, Yury Vitrenko, in an interview with the Financial Times, voiced Kiev’s well-worn horror story: if Nord Stream 2 will be launched, then Moscow will allegedly “get rid of the deterrent factor” in the form of gas transit through Ukraine and would want to attack it.
Vitrenko did not specify why Moscow would need this, and the correspondent of the British newspaper did not ask again. This implies, apparently, that Russia simply cannot help but attack neighbours through whom it does not pump anything.
In reality, Moscow, of course, does not need any war against Ukraine. Niether, by the way, does Washington: the White House is interested in dialogue with the Kremlin concerning important issues of strategic stability today. The possible warming of Russian-American relations is hinted at, in particular, by the results of yesterday’s conversation between US President Joe Biden and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
But for a number of Kiev players who found themselves facing the prospect of hunger riots in frozen Ukrainian cities, “war is profit”. And not only for them, but also for the “meek” Europeans who are vitally interested in maintaining tension between Moscow and Washington. A new conflict in Donbass would be the best fit for this.
Ukraine is in a tailspin
There is a crisis of governance in Ukraine today, centrifugal tendencies are growing, the economy is falling into a tailspin. The shortage of energy carriers threatens the collapse of the housing and communal services infrastructure, which will lead to new socio-political cataclysms. Reducing transit through the Ukrainian gas transit system (in October, by the way, it decreased by a third), which Vitrenko is so worried about, will further limit Kiev’s funds.
Now “independent Ukraine” is facing two new problems in the energy sector. Firstly, on the eve of winter, there is practically no thermal coal left in the country. Its current reserves will be enough at best for November, and from December there will be nothing to heat with. Ukrainian thermal power plants and combined heat and power plants are “sharpened” for Donbass coal of special quality, it was supplied through Russia.
However, now these supplies are being stopped – 10 million tons of coal, including the Russian variant, are leaving the Ukrainian market for China. Ukrainian strategists are racking their brains: is it really all the fault of the use of the Turkish Bayraktar drone by the butchers from the UAF against the DPR fighters?
However, Ukraine would have been able to live without “Russian” coal if it had not failed the preparatory season: due to lack of money, its thermal power plants began to buy fuel only in August. Kiev hoped to correct the situation by lifting the May embargo on the purchase of electricity from Moscow and Minsk. And it was immediately faced with the second problem: today it became known that Russia and Belarus canceled auctions for the sale of electricity. As a result, in just a day, the price of electricity in Ukraine jumped by 25%, and this is just the thin end of the wedge. The worst will come with rolling blackouts in the thoroughly frozen cities of “European” Ukraine.
In the conditions of increasing chaotisation, the “hawks” in the army wing and the leaders of paramilitary nationalist groups may be tempted to seize control levers from the president Vladimir Zelensky, who has lost popularity. And then a new war will be their only chance to stay in power.
However, Zelensky himself is guided by the same logic. In order to save his falling rating and try to consolidate society, he needs a full-scale “help” at all price. But since no achievements in the economy are expected, only a successful offensive operation in Donbass can become a such achievement.
Now the president is actively “digging” under the Minister of Defence of Ukraine Andrey Taran, trying to replace this career military man with a fully controlled “civilian” one. The main candidate for this position is considered to be Deputy Prime Minister Aleksey Reznikov, who just today resigned from the post of Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine. Having received a “pocket” defence minister, Zelensky will greatly simplify his task when he will demand from the army to “take back Donetsk and Lugansk.”
It can be assumed that the strikes from the “Bayraktars” that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have at their disposal will continue very soon, and with even much greater intensity. To do this, Kiev will try to use the cover in the form of US and NATO naval exercises, in the framework of which the flagship of the Sixth Fleet of the US Navy Mount Whitney has just entered the Black Sea. It follows behind another American ship, the destroyer USS Porter, which entered the Black Sea waters just two days ago.
It cannot be excluded that Kiev will begin the “hot” phase of the confrontation in Donbass already in November, as soon as the autumn thaw ends. The postponement of this deadline is fraught not only with logistical problems for the UAF, but also with an explosion of social discontent throughout Ukraine due to cold and hunger.
The reasons of Europe
But in the West there are also forces that are interested in aggravating the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border. These are US allies in NATO. First and foremost – Britain, which has taken over from the United States the role of the Anglo-Saxon “curator” in the European direction.
London clearly does not like the possible rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. Now it is trying to pit the whole of Europe against our country, adopting the old rhetoric about the so-called “gas weapons of the Kremlin”. Taking advantage of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the British will try to do everything to demonise Russia and China as the main culprits of global warming and the current energy crisis in the Old World.
However, not only London is dissatisfied with the Americans “losing their grip”. The same Financial Times reported the day before yesterday about the demarche of several US allies at once: Britain, Germany, France, Japan and Australia – because of Washington’s plans to change its policy on the use of nuclear weapons. The Americans intend to move from the principle of a preemptive nuclear strike to a “single goal” strategy, within which a strike can be carried out only under specific circumstances.
With this approach, Washington’s allies risk losing US military custody in the near future, which will dramatically change the geopolitical situation on the entire European continent. In this sense, a new round of confrontation in Donbass, in which Russia would be exposed as an “aggressor against a defenceless country”, would help the Europeans to keep the US in the NATO “stall”.
It is necessary to understand that no one feels sorry for Ukraine: neither the Kiev politicians, nor the Americans, nor even the Europeans. In the eyes of the British, “independent Ukraine” has value only as a supplier of “cannon fodder” in the event of a global conflict with the Russian Federation. Many in the Old World can join the same opinion after the Nord Stream 2 is finally launched.
That is, the reduction of gas transit through the territory of Ukraine can really put it on the brink of war against Russia. Just the potential instigators of such a conflict are not sitting in Moscow at all, but in Kiev and in a number of Western capitals.
So if Mr. Vitrenko is really afraid of the Russian-Ukrainian war, he should not frighten British readers with a “threat from Moscow”, but demand that they influence the foreign policy of Her Majesty’s cabinet.