03/07/2022

The changes of war

3 min
The changes of war

Russian President Vladimir Putin has at his disposal a great capacity to cause death, pain and humiliation, but he will not win the war he had imagined. In fact, he lost it on March 25 when the reality of the Ukrainian reaction forced him to abandon the idea of entering Kyiv in blood and fire, and he had to concentrate troops in what he euphemistically calls "complete liberation of the Donbass".

The scorched-earth tactics he had deployed in the butcheries committed in Chechnya and Syria, where he turned civilian infrastructures, including hospitals and homes, into war targets, has been repeated in Ukraine, but with unforeseen results for an authoritarian leader surrounded by reverence. If reading reality is always difficult, it is even more so in a regime based on fear and obedience, and in which freedom of thought is relentlessly pursued. As in the best of times, in the Kremlin there is no survival without submission, and criticism, dissidence or freedom of the press has for many years been punished with imprisonment or one's life. In fact, just yesterday the Duma gave the Prosecutor's Office powers to close any international media outlet if it is considered to provide "hostile" information.

Necropolitics

Putin has replaced the policy of economic expansion – supported by kleptocracy – with the policy of death. The invasion is incomprehensible in a logic of internal progress, as explained by the journalists of Novaya Gazeta on their website hosted outside Russia, where they cannot work (Novayagazeta.eu ): "The war is the result of a long process of replacing the logic of development and life with the logic of destruction and death, the logic of necropolitics". The rhetoric has lasted for years. If initially Putin spoke of economic growth and cultural revival, years ago he began "a historical rehabilitation of Stalin and Ivan the Terrible." Already in 2014 the president's chief of staff openly said, "Without Putin there is no Russia." Kleptocracy has been followed by imperial expansionism and, once again in history, the Russian people are presented as a silent figure, the life and death of whom is in the hands of the country's rulers.

An authoritarian regime is in a better position to win a war because of the capacity of suffering it can inflict on the population, but the involvement of NATO and the welcoming of Ukraine into the EU point to a Russian stalemate beyond the military victory over the Donbass. This victory may be consolidated by brutal destruction culminating in population displacement that can allow political and military control of the area.

In the coming months it will be necessary to return to the negotiating table and Donbass will be the bargaining chip.

A new (dis)order

The invasion of Ukraine has brought about a change of borders, but not where Putin expected. If he wanted to emulate Peter the Great and Napoleon, the reality today is that his scenario has shifted from rebuilding Greater Russia to having the enlarged NATO on the threshold of its current territory

Ukraine is today a US shield on European territory due to European decisions. The Union's inability to defend the continent's borders alone has strengthened the Atlantic Alliance and has allowed a giant step in the EU's alignment with the USA's interests to confront China.

The economic relations between Moscow and Beijing arouse a well-founded fear that the Chinese regime may move from the economic offensive to the military field with Taiwan in its sights once it has completed the annexation and de-democratisation of Hong Kong.

NATO enlargement will be made possible by another alliance with the devil embodied in the Turkish Prime Minister. Erdogan is one of our satraps and, in exchange for weapons (€6bn in F16) and extraditions at the expense of the Kurdish people once again, he has lifted his veto on Finland and Sweden.

At a regional level, Spain has broadened its relationship with the US thanks to its geographical position and the support obtained on its immigration policy of containing African immigration – to a large extent Sudanese – through the useful satraps of Morocco.

The international chessboard is in turmoil and new players appeared in the G-7 held in Bavaria, with countries badly affected by the inflationary crisis and the energy and food supply crisis, such as Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa. On the other hand, the main developing countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, so-called BRICS) met at Beijing's behest. All of them are currently major importers of Russian oil and gas.

The chessboard is moving dangerously in Europe in a world in crisis. For Europe, the strengthening of the alliance with the US through NATO is the least bad option as long as the Americans continue to be an exemplary democratic country. This is not certain.