By Costas Raptis
Peace is postponed indefinitely. None of the parties involved in the Ukraine war appears willing (or sufficiently pressured by the developments) to limit military operations and seek a diplomatic solution, as the developments of the last week foreshadow a further escalation of hostilities. There is a visible danger that a direct conflict between Russian and NATO forces may break out in some field – if it is not already taking place underground.
The Ukrainian side received a huge moral injection with the sinking of the ship “Moscow”, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the day before yesterday. The “Moscow” suffered significant damage off the Romanian-Ukrainian border and sank due to cracks in its reefs, while being towed to the port of Sevastopol. But the open questions surrounding the incident remain open. The Ukrainian side claims that the Russian ship was hit by Neptune missiles, but it is debatable whether they have similar capabilities, while the Russian side talks about a fire that broke out on deck and led, due to the large load of “Moscow” in explosives, to the decision for its immediate evacuation, without, supposedly, any losses among the approximately 500 members of its crew.
The “agnostic” first reaction of the Pentagon spokesman encouraged the emergence of scenarios of all kinds: from the fact that the blow to “Moscow” actually came from Western-made Harpoon missiles, to the fact that the fire at sea is due to sabotage.
Attacks inside Russian territory
But the issue of sabotage is increasingly on the minds of Moscow, after another, if nothing else, communication success of the Ukrainians in the past, namely the destruction of part of the railway network in the Orel province of Russia, as well as the attack of two helicopters on Klimovo village of Bryansk Oblast, eleven kilometers from the border, with eight injured. This is the second attack of its kind after the one on April 1 against a fuel depot in the Russian province of Belgorod, while information wants Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to have given the green light for conducting operations inside the territory of Russia.
Most alarmingly, the Russian Defense Ministry warned through its spokesman, Brigadier General Konasensko, that “if the attacks and sabotage against infrastructure continue, the armed forces of the Russian Federation will decide that they had avoided so far. ”
Indeed, according to unconfirmed reports, powerful explosions were reported in the early morning hours yesterday not only in Kyiv, but also in Kherson, Kharkiv and Ivano-Frankivsk in the west.
Greater involvement of the West
And all this without the “mother of all battles” having begun in eastern Ukraine, where the flower of the Ukrainian armed forces, numbering up to 100,000 men, is in danger of being put under siege by Russian troops. At the same time, the attempted liquidation of the giant and labyrinthine Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where the Ukrainian resistance forces have been fortified, mobilizes efforts to remove, by helicopters or even merchant ships, some of the trapped or trapped detainees.
In any case, the West’s involvement in the conflict is becoming more and more intense. From Joe Biden’s accusations against Vladimir Putin of “genocide” and Congress’ decision to increase military aid to Ukraine (already $ 1.7 billion since the Russian invasion) to his unprecedented statement EU High Representative Josep Borrell said that the Ukrainian issue would be considered on the battlefield and the choice to extend and escalate the war was clear.
The Russian leader is rigid
But it is not just the Ukrainian side that has been sufficiently encouraged to continue fighting with zeal. And the Kremlin strongman, in a statement on Tuesday to his ally, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, stressed that the peace talks had reached a stalemate and that the Russian military operation “would continue until its full completion.”
In those first detailed statements on business after about a month, Vladimir Putin seemed to broaden the horizons of companies, but to limit their geographical scope to creating the “right conditions in Donbass,” whose people “feel an unbreakable bond with Russia and a victim of genocide for eight years. ” He denied that the Russian forces were slow to advance, saying that everything was going according to the plan of the General Staff and that greater operations would result in more casualties.
And most importantly: Putin has for the first time named Britain as the perpetrator of “special psychological operations” that are moving the West to promote pre-determined new sanctions. The report referred to the executions of civilians in Bhutan, which he claimed could be used by Russian intelligence services to provide “vehicle addresses and license plate numbers” to determine who did what.
Reversal of balances in the Baltic
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson and her Finnish counterpart Sanaa Marin said in a joint news conference on Wednesday that they were considering joining the US-led invasion of Ukraine. It is estimated that it could be implemented through fast-track procedures, possibly at the invitation of the Alliance’s Summit in June.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peshkov has said that in such a case Russia would “restore the balance of power” and that Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had stressed that a move by Sweden and Finland would be politically motivated. “.
“There can no longer be any talk of a nuclear-free regime in the Baltic – the balance must be restored,” former Russian President and current Vice President of the National Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday, according to Reuters. However, he recommended “calm”, stressing that the total number of NATO members does not make a difference.