Russia and the United States on the verge of a second Caribbean crisis
In an interview with “Kommersant”, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev gave a very multifaceted definition of the current state of geopolitical relations between Russia and the United States.
“The political situation today is unfavourable, relations between the two countries are at their lowest level since the end of the Cold War,” he said. “However, the long history of relations between Russia and the United States shows that at crucial moments our states demonstrated the ability to establish cooperation, despite differences. Therefore, we still believe that common sense will prevail in Washington and a substantive Russian-American dialogue will be launched on issues that, in principle, cannot be effectively resolved without constructive interaction between our countries.”
It appears that the Russian state leadership sees and understands the threat of military escalation, but at the same time continues to hope for a some miracle, calling on the American establishment to reflect on the fact that ideological problems between the countries no longer exist, and it means that there's no sense for us to quarrel over anything by military means. Any disagreements are of a minor domestic nature and can be successfully resolved by negotiation.
Russia does not see the gathering clouds of a new Cold War, or is there some other, much more complex and multifaceted game, in which we see only the very tip of the iceberg?
Judging by the hype that arose after the first reports of the Russian troops' transfer in the south-western part of the country, and especially the subsequent statement of Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, it's the latter that is most likely happening. Figuratively speaking, Russia and the United States are approaching a repeat of the Caribbean crisis.
If somebody forgot or because of a gap in education does not even know initially, we note that the case back then almost came to a direct exchange of strategic nuclear strikes. According to the Western version of events, it happened because the Soviet leadership had the audacity and tried to place ballistic missiles in Cuba. In reality, by this Moscow only responded to the deployment of more than 3,000 nuclear weapons by the Americans in Europe and Turkey, from aerial bombs to cruise and ballistic missiles.
Attempts by the Soviet leadership to point out the unfriendliness of such actions, especially against the background of obvious international warming and the expansion of Soviet-American relations at the highest level, were unsuccessful. The American side stressed its right to independently decide what to do "on its own territory”, in which NATO allies in Europe were included too, and how.
Not meeting with understanding and goodwill, the Soviet Union also decided to organise its own springboard for a disarming dagger strike by deploying a group of tactical missiles on the island of Cuba.
That's when the Americans really got it. One thing is to threaten Russians from certain Europe, for which they have no pity, and quite another one is to see with your own eyes Russian warheads almost on your own outskirts, realising that ... if the Russians decide to put these trumps on the table, America will have absolutely nothing to cover them with.
But these are all tactical details. Strategically, what happened took place because one of the parties, namely the US leadership, decided for some reason that it was safe enough for itself to radically "raise the stakes", gaining, thanks to a combination of arrogance with brusqueness, a tangible strategic superiority over the "Soviets", which will further serve as a convenient irresistible argument for revising the balance of Soviet-American relations "in a more favourable" direction for the United States. And it will succeed because the Russians will not dare to show similar impudence.
At least, according to the prevailing views of the ruling elite in Washington.
So now we find ourselves in a similar situation. In the view of the American establishment, the collapse of the USSR means an American victory in the Cold War. On this occasion, overseas even a medal was established, which was awarded to many people, including Mikhail Gorbachev.
Since then, not only in the American elite, but also in the entire Western society, it has become customary to consider Russia only a fragment of the former empire, existing solely because of the presence of large oil and gas reserves, but, as Barack Obama solemnly declared in 2015, with the economy torn to shreds.
It's like saying, in other words, Russia is nobody and it has no name. The White House is forced to reckon with it only because Moscow has powerful nuclear weapons, the deterrent of which cannot yet be ignored. But since the Russians are no longer willing to accept the role of the youngest, disenfranchised and speechless "partner", whose duty should be to fully and uncomplainingly perform "what people from across the ocean say", the ruling elite of America was outraged.
Can you imagine the wardrobe started to speak?! The servants demanded rights, and in addition even equal rights with the masters of the world. And who did it? Well, China, it has a lot of money and the Chinese themselves are almost a billion and a half, but no, it's some ridiculous Russians who did it.
The matter was aggravated by the fact that, according to the analytical institutes of America, the United States came up with a way to win the global confrontation without going to the exchange of strategic nuclear strikes. Tactical ones do not count, there is no pity for Europe.
It is generally believed that the West has successfully worked out the technology of destabilising the state by creating internal civil protests and bringing them to the level of armed confrontation of civil war in the Middle East, overturning Egypt, Syria, and Libya. But if you look closely, you can see that the first success was achieved during the "carnation revolution" in Portugal in 1974.
The "Velvet Revolution" in Czechoslovakia in 1989 was also the result of a similar technique. As well as Yugoslavia in 1991 and Georgia in 2003-2004. There were also attempts at the purple revolution in Iraq and the tulip revolution in Kyrgyzstan in 2005. According to the same scheme, the "Cornflower Revolution" was launched in March 2006 in Belarus.
One thing is bad. If in the Middle East and on the western side of Eastern Europe, the technology worked quite successfully, then with Russia in 2012, the project collapsed. It was expected that Moscow would be drawn into the war in Ukraine as a result of the Maidan in 2014, but the calculations were not justified. Because of this, the Pentagon had to come up with a military addition to the "colour scheme". Under the working title "expanse of war".
Relatively speaking, during these times, during the Second World War and then, until the beginning of the 90s inclusive, a serious war between the "big systems" assumed that the parties must have millions of military groups. For example, in 1972, during the large command and staff exercises of NATO, simulating the "global war in Europe" on the side of the "blue", more than 3.3 million soldiers and officers, 9,000 tanks, 28,000 light armoured vehicles and 11,500 barrel artillery were involved. The forces of the conditional "reds" seemed to be about the same.
At present, with all the statements about the gigantic military power of the NATO countries, in reality, the Alliance is able to put on the battlefield at most 600,000 bayonets, from which 250,000-270,000 can be provided by the Pentagon. Theoretically, if the laws on universal conscription are put into effect, which are available in Western countries, including the United States, although they are not used, the number of the army can be increased to a million, but the level of its real combat capability will not justify even the cost of uniforms and weapons. This is the very situation when not doing it is obviously better than trying to do something.
For a traditional "linear" war, these forces are definitely not enough. Even taking into account the fact that the number of the Russian Armed Forces is only 900,000 in combat units. But if the space from the Baltic to the Black Sea vertically and from the Belarusian-Russian to the Polish-German border and all the Balkans are set on fire by the technology of the "civil war", and the armed forces of Russia are able to be drawn into the events, then they will literally be lost in this huge area. Especially if they are forced to respond strictly after the fact to numerous point-to-point armed conflicts, for which the NATO army will consider itself ready to a much higher degree than the Russian Armed Forces.
Although the above looks wild, in reality there is a rational grain in this scheme. Think about whether Moscow should immediately bomb Washington if the Belarusian army, somewhere in the area of Kobrin, is defeated by the invading Polish Army in Belarus? And if the Russian amphibious battalion, which has been urgently transferred to help, suffers heavy losses from the Poles somewhere near Slutsk?
Repeatedly conducted by the Pentagon and research corporations like RAND, modelling based on NATO command and staff exercises showed that, for example, in the event of a major war in the Baltic states, no more than 6-8 tank and mechanised brigades in total will be involved on both sides. According to the regulations, the width of the brigade's front is from 6 to 10 km in defence and up to 3 km in the offensive.
Consequently, 4 brigades are able to defend no more than 40 km, while the length of the borders of Estonia and Latvia with Russia (which can be taken as the initial line of contact of the troops) exceeds 450 km. This directly proves that even in ideal simulated conditions, the battles will be very distributed in space and time point character.
In particular, because if you gather too many forces in one place, they will immediately be subjected to a massive missile and bomb attack with a high level of losses for the target, especially in equipment. On the other hand, if this is not done... by the middle of the third day of fighting, the Russians stably "take" the Polish city of Suwalki.
Here you can argue whether they take it after the march through Tartu, Riga, Šiauliai and Kaunas, or they are a little helped by the "Kaliningrad group of forces and means", the most important thing is not in this. From the very beginning, the war is considered as highly manoeuvrable and very highly targeted in terms of tactical tasks. This, at least theoretically, opens up the possibility of creating conditions for the maximum dispersion of forces and means over a huge space of warfare.
This is what the Pentagon's generals are making a key bet on. On the confidence in the superiority of the Western armies in intelligence, controllability, interaction of the branches of the armed forces, and the pace of manoeuvring forces and means. It is believed that for this to immediately collect a million soldiers "in one line" is even harmful. You can cause an inadequately harsh reaction of the opposing side. And here it is desirable to implement the process by analogy with a frog in a pot of slowly heating water.
All of the above is not at all theoretical and descriptive in nature. It is this scheme that the NATO army has been practicing in the framework of exercises under the code name "Defender Europe" since 2018.
With the only difference that until 2020 inclusive (the coronavirus prevented the full implementation of the plans), the northern part of Eastern Europe was considered to be the zone of the "war games": Scandinavia, the Baltic states and Poland. The main task is to deal with the logistical cross-country capacity of this space for large masses of personnel and equipment, as well as the corresponding volumes of logistics supplies.
In the current year, 2021, "Defender Europe" will be held in the Balkans and the Black Sea region. The United States intends to transfer 20,000 of its troops by air and sea (via Greece and ports on the Adriatic) to the Balkans — to Croatia (Slunj test site), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Manjaca test site) and Northern Macedonia (Krivolak test site).
Part of the training is also planned in Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania. In Bulgaria and Romania, air defence exercises and the firing of surface-to-surface missiles will be held. A significant part of the manoeuvres of the supply units will take place in Hungary, which will serve as a deep rear of the unfolding "war".
To participate in the war game, the Pentagon allocates units from the 1st Cavalry and 82nd Airborne Divisions, as well as the 53rd Infantry Brigade from troops stationed in the United States. Plus, it is supposed to involve parts of the American army located in Europe. The European allies will attract another 11,000 personnel to the exercises.
The second difference, in addition to the general geography, is the "factor of Ukraine". The north-western direction of the Russian troops is closed quite reliably, and the prospect of a "civil war" in the Baltic states is extremely unlikely. At least in the current conditions. While in the Black Sea region there is Ukraine, in which the civil war is already in its seventh year.
I.e., the formal basic conditions for launching the "expanse of war" scheme have been created there by now. It is enough to organise some local, but loud provocation, preferably in front of TV cameras and with blood, as the process can be started. What is missing is the NATO army group, which is now preparing to be deployed under the legend of the large Defender Europe 2021 exercise.
The goal of the United States in what is happening is quite simple – to include Ukraine in the “expanse of war" without its admission to the North Atlantic Alliance. This can only be done by an explicit order. Putting Russia in front of a fact that, as it seems in Washington, Moscow will not dare to react harshly.
In this case, Washington and Brussels will be able to "finally hear Kiev's calls for help" and come to the rescue by directly entering the bloc's troops under the slogan of supposedly protecting Ukraine from the threat of possible Russian occupation. Then you can implement the "Yugoslav scenario", when the troops of the Western alliance did not see the civil war and ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia at close range. And if Russia "does not move the tanks" after that, then it will be possible to organise a direct invasion of Western troops in the L/DPR.
In the context of the conversation between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, Vladislav Shurygin wrote well about this:
"My source in Kiev today threw out information about a certain "Biden plan" for Ukraine, which was announced at the meeting between Blinken and Kuleba. From this meeting Kuleba came out as if on wings and said: "I am very satisfied with the meeting with Tony Blinken and our conversation. We spent an hour calmly discussing all our key issues on the agenda.<...> If you remember, after the first phone conversation with him, I wrote that a new day will begin in relations between Ukraine and America. Today I can confidently say that the day has begun, and we are already living it confidently"
The essence of this plan consists of two points:
1. Ukraine is rapidly adopting a law allowing the deployment of military bases of NATO and the United States on its territory.
2. The United States enters into an agreement with the leadership of Ukraine on the deployment of bases here, and unilaterally places three of its bases in Ukraine. One by sea and two by land. All three airfields will be upgraded for the acceptance of all types of American aircraft, including heavy transport aircraft.
This, according to the Americans, will block the Russian plan for a large-scale military operation against Ukraine, in the event of any aggravation of the situation in Donbass. Under the cover of these bases, or rather the American military presence, Kiev will be able to carry out a phased sweep of Donbass without the fear of a Russian response.
As the source said, as part of this plan, Biden's initiative to meet with Putin and hold a summit was announced. The procedure for preparing for the meeting and discussing the agenda will allow the Russians to buy time to prepare for the adoption of the law, the conclusion of the treaty and the deployment of American troops.
In fact, the Russians should be led by the nose for six months, which is necessary for the preparation and implementation of the American plan."
Moscow understands this scenario and does not want to allow it. That is precisely why, as Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said in his speech, the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, as part of the annual check of combat readiness and the results of the winter period of planned training, checked the relocation of two combined-arms armies and three formations of airborne troops to the south-western border of the Russian Federation.
In other words, it means: we don't want a war, but we're ready for it if there will be one. According to the experience of the Zapad-2019 and Kavkaz-2020 exercises, already on the tenth day of an active operation at any point of contact, the Russian army is able to have an advantage over NATO of 7 to 1, in infantry fighting vehicles – 5 to 1, in attack helicopters – 5 to 1, in barrel artillery – 4 to 1, in jet-propelled systems – 16 to 1, in short–range air defence – 24 to 1, in long-range air defence – 17 to 1, in tactical and operational-tactical missiles - the superiority of the Russian Federation will be absolute. In terms of the pace of building up our forces, we are decidedly superior to all the NATO armies, including the American one, so it is impossible to hope to beat us in this "expanse of war" or, as they say in the Pentagon, in the framework of a "multimodal operation".
And if America does start such a game, it may very well turn out that all this "expanse of war" will eventually be under full Russian control. Regardless of any borders of NATO, the EU or any other, completely conditional, entities. It will cost everyone dearly, but do not forget that Russia is also fully ready to switch to strategic nuclear trumps. As the Russian president said, "if anything, we will go to Heaven, and they will just die."
So it turns out that literally right now there is an approach to the second Caribbean crisis. Whether it takes place or not depends on whether the Pentagon, the White House and Brussels believe in Russian resolve. Last time, although literally on the very verge of a big war, they believed it. We'll see how things turn out this time. Defender Europe 2021 is scheduled for the end of May.
That's why Biden called Moscow for the second time, because after insulting the Russian president, he tried to sharply raise the stakes, but it was a complete bummer, and America has nothing to cover Russian "polite" arguments with, so they again began to delay time under the guise of new peace initiatives. Standard North American hockey practice.