Par Moon of Alabama – 21 November 2022
A week ago I greeted talks between CIA Director Bill Burns and Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergei Naryshkin, but I was skeptical about their outcome:
There will be no ceasefire now, but talking is a good thing anyway. Both parties should do their best to keep talking.
Russia asked for many things: a withdrawal from NATO to its 1997 position, the four regions of Ukraine that have already become Russian regions, a guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO. The United States is certainly not ready to go down this road, at least not yet.
It will take time and many more discussions for the United States to come to its senses and make the necessary concessions to end the conflict.
It will also be necessary to defeat the Ukrainian army, and all those who join it, on the battlefield. Russia can achieve this if it focuses on this effort.
Since then, Russia has unleashed a new salvo of missiles on Ukraine’s electricity grid. This action confirms that the talks are not moving in a positive direction.
Now, Yves Smith and Gilbert Doctorow cite additional handicaps to the necessary compromises that could end the war.
Smith commence par examiner recent statements from the American side. There is no indication that anyone in the Biden administration is looking for a path to peace. General Milley, who went public with the suggestion of talks after losing his hand internally, was suddenly hissed back:
Some keen observers of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict have raised the possibility of peace talks. As we will soon see, your humble blogger believes that this view is currently not well aligned with reality. Yes, things seem to have thawed out to the point that the United States has backed away from the policy of no communication, as in the darkest days of the Cold War, with Russia. But while the shift from absolute zero to freezing cold is technically warming, it’s still terribly cold. The positions of the two parties do not overlap, which means that there is no basis for discussion.
Another problem with the talks is that there is no one to talk to. Ukrainian comedian Zelensky is not in a position where he can make concessions without risking his life:
And one of the greatest obstacles to any settlement, other than Russia ultimately dictating its terms, is the leader that the collective West has put on a pedestal: Zelensky, with the heavy baggage that is his circle banderist interior.
Smith quotes former Russian President Medvedev who explained the problem thus:
The Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, in a recent comment on Telegram, summarized by TASScorrectly described how Zelensky got stuck:
However, ” Zelensky does not want negotiations for obvious selfish reasons. Moreover, they [les négociations] are very dangerous for him« , poursuit Medvedev.
« After all, unless he recognizes the reality of the breakup of Ukraine, it makes no sense to sit down at the table. [des négociations]. Once he admits it, he will be eliminated by his own nationalists who have links to the high ranks of the army, and of whom he is scared to death.“, Medvedev said, describing the situation in a chess term, “ zugzwang (position in which each movement of a player aggravates his situation).
This scenario also highlights the mess the West is in if it were to actually take its willingness to negotiate seriously (as noted above, my interpretation of the news wave is that it is a combination of image management and a certain personal boastfulness; there is no indication that Biden, Blinken, Sullivan or Austin have changed their position), they cannot maneuver in the context of the neo-Nazi infestation spawned by United States. Zelensky will have to resist any attempt at peace. If he were killed, the neo-Nazis would blame Russia and use that as a pretext to adopt even more radical positions. After all, how much would it cost the United States to provide intelligence and other forms of support for its terrorism?
Over the past few months, Russia has made a number of statements which could be considered as requests for talks:
Last month, Putin’s series of calls for negotiation intensified. On September 30, Putin called Kyiv to ” return to the negotiating table“. On October 11, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that Russia was ready to engage with the United States or Turkey on ways to end the war. Two days later, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said declared that Moscow was open to negotiations to achieve our goals. On October 26, Putin sent a message to Zelensky through the President of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embalo, saying that »he wishes and thinks that a direct dialogue should take place between your two countries. On October 30, Lavrov declared that Russia was ready to listen to our western colleagues if they make another request to set up a conversation“, as long as Russia’s security needs are taken into account. And on November 1, Putin declared that ” necessary conditions could be brought together and serve as a catalyst for the talks.
The phase of seeking negotiations by Russia now seems to be over.
Gilbert Doctorow notice that Russian society has moved on and that leading politicians are following its lead:
The fact is that Russian society, from top to bottom, is very unhappy with the current state of the war, but its unhappiness is due to what it sees as the pusillanimity of its own government, which does not respond no more resolutely to the continued artillery strikes on the Kursk and Belgorod regions from Kharkov Oblast just across the border, not to mention atrocities such as the video just released of the cold-blooded murder of Russian prisoners of war by cheerful Ukrainian soldiers. The withdrawal of the city of Kherson has inflamed the passions of the Russian public who demand better explanations from their parliament and on television than they have received so far.
The pressure on Putin comes from his own patriotic supporters, and an untimely truce for negotiations at this time could lead to civil unrest in Russia. This is no mere speculation: the latest edition of the talk show ” Sunday night with Vladimir Solovyov, in which a deputy Duma chairman from the ruling United Russia party and a Duma committee chairman from the Communists took an active part, showed this perfectly, which means that the country’s elites follow the popular trend against Defense Minister Shoigu, if not against those even higher in the Kremlin.
As Yves Smith concludes:
So I see no alternative but to see Russia continue on its current path of paralyzing Ukraine. And I’m sure the Russians have already figured this out for quite some time and don’t see anything to suggest that it would be wise to change course.
This senseless war will continue for the time being.
Meanwhile, it is freezing here in northern Germany, where the winter is likely to be very expensive.
Britain continues to buy Russian oil to third parties, while the EU will receive its Russian gas via Azerbaijan. Unit prices will be much higher than any direct import from Russia. The price differences will enrich a number of intermediaries to the detriment of British and European consumers.
One wonders how much longer European politicians will be able to justify this masquerade.
Moon of Alabama
Translated by Wayan, proofread by Hervé, for the Saker Francophone.