Dangerous illusion?

Petr Akopov

At the forum in Davos, they say that only the defeat of Russia will bring peace to Europe, and in order to achieve it, Ukraine needs to supply significantly more weapons. Moreover, the leaders of the EU and NATO in the interviews they give on the sidelines of the forum speak more frankly than from its rostrum. Thus, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told CNN that “Ukraine needs all the military equipment it can handle, including advanced systems,” and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with Reuters that “this is a turning point in the war and the need for significant increase support for Ukraine”: “If we want to reach a peaceful negotiated solution tomorrow, we must provide more weapons today.”
Olaf Scholz spoke about a turning point, or rather, a turning point, at the end of February, but then the chancellor spoke about Germany and Europe as a whole, pro-mising to accept the challe-nge of the time and respond to “Russia’s aggression.” Now – after the decision to start deliveries of German infantry fighting vehicles and on the eve of the decision to transfer German tanks – Scholz was specific:
“In order for the war to end, Russian aggression m-ust be defeated. That is why we are constantly supplying Ukraine with a large number of weapons in close co-operation with our partners. This includes air defense systems such as IRIS-T or Patriot, artillery and armored infantry fighting vehicles which marks a profound turn in German foreign and security policy.”
That is, the turn in 11 months of hostilities led Berlin to the supply of heavy weapons: no matter how the Germans resisted, the taboo was lifted, they were forced to participate in the war with Russia in all formats, except for the direct participation of German troops. At the same time, Scholz, Stoltenberg and von der Leyen say they do not want to fight with Russia and want to avoid a direct clash between NATO and the Russians. You just need to increase the supply of weapons to Kiev – and then Russia will inevitably lose. After all, as Scholz said, “Russia has already suffered a complete fiasco in achieving its imperialist goals”: “Ukraine is successfully defending itself and demonstrating courage.”
Of course, showing confidence that Russia’s defeat is inevitable is part of the war with Russia. It would be strange if Western leaders simultaneously called for more arms supplies and doubted Ukraine’s victory. One can only worry about insufficient support for Kiev and that there will not be enough shells and guns: it was not for nothing that the influential German exp-ert, the founder of the Mun-ich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger called on the West for a war economy:
“Sooner or later, we will have no choice but to supply more modern Western equipment if we do not want Ukraine to be defeated. <…> Ukraine is forced to spend such an amount of ammunition per day that we can produce in only six months. Obviously our sto-cks will run out. What does this mean? Who will provide the supplies? The war economy means that we in NATO and Europe must take the initiative in a coordinated manner and, in connection with the fighting, call on European defense companies to produce more weapons and ammunition.”.
Europe has already been mentally prepared for the need for a long war with Russia at the hands of Ukrainians – now it remains to prepare it physically. And at the same time continue to assure everyone that everything is under control and there is no risk of the conflict escalating to a direct clash between Russia and NATO. That is, the West is sure that it will be able to defeat Russia, while it itself will not suffer, and will save Ukraine? Yes, most of the establishment is betting precisely on this, allowing (in the worst case for itself) on-ly the loss of Ukraine. But not a threat to Europe itself. Although in words many of them constantly talk about this – about how Russian aggression in Ukraine threatens European security – in reality, almost none of the European leaders (with the exception of the Poles, but this is a special case) does not believe in this.
Of course, they do not want to lose Ukraine at the same time. But after all, ev-en if the Russians return it to themselves, then at what cost! Huge – human, financial, reputational. Even taking Ukraine, Russia will be weakened and isolated, it will not have the strength to expand – and all thanks to our determination to support Kyiv, European leaders convince themselves. In an-y case, we win: either we k-eep Ukraine, or we exhaust Russia so that it either falls apart or will be restored for decades. And for us, Eur-ope, it will cost practically nothing: well, economic problems, we will endure, besides, then it is quite likely that the Russians will still return to the supply of their energy resources – they have nowhere to go.
Dangerous illusion? Never mind. The main thing is that many of the decision-makers in the West believe in it. And the price that the West can actually pay is openly discussed only by counter-elite or truly opposition forces – and they directly talk about the risk of being drawn into a global war, and about the split of Europe, and about its falling into disenfranchised depen-dence on the Anglo-Saxons, and even about the threat of a sharp accelerating the process of dismantling the entire Atlantic world order. But they are not listened to, although in France, and in Germany, and in Italy there are plenty of such voices.
They are also heard in the USA : to a lesser extent among politicians, to a gre-ater extent among serious scientists, experts in geopo-litics. Back in the middle of last year, one of the realists was Henry Kissinger : the former secretary of state did not sympathize with Russia’s interests at all, but at least acknowledged their existence and pointed out the danger of slipping into a global war.
In late spring last year, speaking at the previous Davos forum (which was postponed from the beginning of the year), he called for early negotiations, fearing that otherwise NATO would be drawn into a war with Russia. Then Kissinger was scolded in Kiev – not for the cause, but simply because he did not talk about the return of Crimea and Donbass. Although even then he declared that he was ready to abandon his idea of a neutral Ukraine, which would be a bridge between Russia and Europe, despite the fact that earlier, including after 2014, he recognized the danger of the West’s attempts to drag Ukraine over to him – for supporters of a war with Russia to the bitter end, Kissinger was too “dove”. And already in the fall, the former Secretary of State spoke directly about the fact that Ukraine should eventually be accepted in one form or another or tied to NATO.
And now he spoke again in Davos – and repeated this thought: “I used to be against Ukraine’s membership in NATO because I was afraid that everything that we are seeing today would start as a result. Now (since the process has reached this point anyway), the very idea of a neutral Ukraine has lost all meaning. With the completion of the NATO process, in whatever form it may develop in the future, it must guarantee Ukraine a place in its ranks. This will be an appropriate and justified step.”
That is, after winning the war with Russia, Ukraine should be accepted into NATO? Yes, Kissinger believes so, while declaring that “even against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict” he believes “in dialogue with Russia”, “in the cessation of hostilities, the restoration of the pre-February situation and the continuation of negotiations on further development with the participation of Europe, America and Russia.”
Moreover, he is confident not only that it is possible to achieve the defeat of Russia (calling it a “ceasefire”) by increasing the supply of weapons to Ukraine, but also that Russia will then change its attitude towards Europe in a way that is beneficial for the West:
“The other goal is to prevent conflict against Russia as such by allowing it to rejoin the international system. Countries that have been under Russian pressure for almost the entire Cold War may find this inappropriate, but in the new circumstances, Russia may well re-evaluate their traditional view of things, which is based on a mixture of attraction to the culture of Europe and fear of its potential dominance.
That is, what happens? The West will defeat Russia, will finally take Ukraine for itself, and the Russians will realize that they were wrong and will be asked to return to the “world order based on rules”, that is, they recognize the right of the West not only to lead the world, but also to take the territory of historical Russia? Yes, this is exactly what Kissinger means, and he also persuades those who call to go to the end, that is, until the collapse of Russia:
“Giving the Russians a chance to rethink their dependence on the military is all the more important because the collapse of Russia as a state capable of pursuing its own policy will entail internal conflict throughout its vast territory in 11 time zones, as well as intervention from other countries. wait a minute, there are over 15,000 nuclear warheads.”
These are the “pigeons” in the Atlantic elite. Yes, they are smarter than “hawks”, but there is absolutely nothing to talk about, let alone negotiate with them. The bet on the defeat of Russia becomes uncontested for the West – the Atlanticists discuss only the scale of this defeat. “D-oves-realists” say that it is necessary to defeat Russia on the Ukrainian battlefield and stop there, because the complete defeat of Russia is dangerous both with a nuclear war and the collapse of a nuclear state. And the “hawks” suggest not to worry about the consequen-ces: the more Russia loses, the better for the West.
Both of these positions are dangerous, not for Russia, but for the West itself. The impossibility of an objective assessment of reality makes it impossible to predict the development of the situation and weakens the one who still considers himself a hegemon. Both the wrong assessment of Russia and the underestimation of its capabilities have more than once led to catastrophic consequences for those who bet on its defeat.