Espreso. Global

Putin's useful idiots vs. sober pragmatists

12 January, 2024 Friday

The future of Russia's war against Ukraine depends on whose opinion prevails in the West - useful idiots or sober pragmatists

The first ones are trying to see the bunker man's intentions for peace talks with a magnifying glass, while the others realize that Putin's truce is a trap for a new war.

Analysts and officials from almost all NATO countries are talking about the Russian attack on NATO. They have even voiced a starting point: the cessation of intense hostilities in Ukraine. The fact is that totalitarian Russia, having put the economy on a war footing, focused its main efforts on rebuilding its own military-industrial complex.

"Now we have about 5-8 years in which to catch up - both in the armed forces, in industry, and in society," German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius expects a possible Russian attack on NATO in less than 10 years.

  • Optimists believe that it will take "only 6-10 years for Russia to rebuild its armed forces" and that it should be prepared to attack a NATO country. This is the forecast of the influential German Society for Foreign Policy.
  • Pessimists call for a much shorter time frame. Poles believe they have 2-3 years before a possible confrontation with Russia. The European Secret Service expects that it will try to attack Europe in the winter of 2024/25, when the United States will be "without a leader.”

The alternative for the EU and the US is clear, and it was accurately described by Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas: "If we ensure Russia's military defeat in Ukraine, the risk of an attack on NATO will be significantly reduced!”

"The United States is facing a choice - support Ukraine with money now or NATO allies with blood later," Rear Admiral John Kirby, coordinator of the US National Security Council.

"Britain has a chance to redeem itself by providing Ukraine with critical weapons, The Guardian quotes David Cameron, the British Foreign Secretary, as saying that he has formulated two goals for the democratic world: to undermine the Russian war machine and to arm Ukraine."

Former Tory defense ministers call on Rishi Sunak's government to stop moping over Ukraine and urgently announce maximum military aid to Kyiv - The Telegraph.

"The question we have to ask is: ‘What is enough for them to do this job?’ Ukraine needs more resources, and certainly not less. At the very least, we need to give them what we have given them in the past, and ideally more," Gavin Williamson.

But these rational assessments did not become the official position of our Western partners. The New York Times, citing unnamed US and Russian officials, published a shameful article titled Putin Quietly Signals He Is Open to a Cease-Fire in Ukraine, which gave additional energy to the idea of reconciliation.

"Mr. Putin has been signaling through intermediaries since at least September that he is open to a cease-fire that freezes the fighting along the current lines. The ideal timing would be before Russia’s presidential election in March. Mr. Putin is certain to secure another six-year term,” the NYT writes.

"I don't know what is more offensive: The cowardice of the former, who are afraid to speak in public, so they hide behind "preserving secret channels" [with Russia], while having a selfish belief that they can conclude a peace deal, or the useful idiots, who sell the snake oil of Putin's peace," was the reaction to the article by Alexander Windman, former Director of European Affairs at the US National Security Council, who testified before Congress in October 2019 on the Trump-Ukraine scandal.

"The trajectory of Russia's war against Ukraine in 2024 will largely be dictated thousands of kilometers away from the front line, in the United States and Europe. If the reconciliation paranoia hits the rock of rational arguments, Russia's window of opportunity to continue the war will be tightly bricked up."

But progressive leaders of the world still have to make a lot of efforts to achieve this. And the problem here is not the lack of "balls," as people often write to me in comments: useful idiocy is a much deeper problem that has metastasized into the world, especially European politics in the era of Angela Merkel. Time to recover…


About the author. Orest Sohar, journalist, Obozrevatel editor-in-chief.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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