Russia and the US disagree on a number of things. Their disagreements could even further escalate as both countries have their own ultimatums.
Following the president of the Russian Federation’s decree on suspending Russia’s compliance with agreements with the US on the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium and the submission of the corresponding bill to the State Duma, disputes have begun in the media on whether this is connected to the rupture of the Syria deal. The second stumbling block is a question: Why is Russia, having known that the US has not fulfilled its part of the deal, only reacted now after a few years?
Some nuclear experts argue that the deal was objectively beneficial for Russia. Maybe. I’m not an expert in this sphere and it’s difficult for me to say how objective they are. Moreover, that which is beneficial from the standpoint of the nuclear industry might be disadvantageous from the point of view of security.
In principle, I think that there were no particular security problems. Russia has a sufficient nuclear arsenal capable of inflicting a deadly blow to the United States. Washington recognizes this as well. There was also more than enough material for the production of new warheads. In the event of full-scale nuclear strike exchanges, the production of another batch of weapons would already be redundant and, indeed, physically impossible. The real problem would be physically preserving the remains of civilization at least at the level of the stone age.
As for the Syria, this is not the first time, and not only in Syria, that the US concludes agreements only to disrupt their fulfillment and then conclude them again. The form of the Russian reaction is clearly not comparable to Washington’s public rejection of cooperation which, in fact, it has yet to do.
I think that in order to understand the scale of this incident, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that Putin has not simply taken Russia out of a contract. He has announced the possibility of returning to it, but he has furnished certain conditions.
Let’s look at these conditions: (1) the US must lift all sanctions against Russia; (1) compensation should be paid not only for the losses from American sanctions, but also for the losses incurred by Russian counter-sanctions; (3) the Magnitsky Act should be repealed; (4) the US’ military presence in Eastern Europe should be sharply reduced; and (5) the US should abandon its policy of confrontation with Moscow. Only one word fits in determining the essence of Putin’s demands: “ultimatum.”
As far as a I remember, the last time that Washington was given an ultimatum was by the United Kingdom over the Trent vessel incident. And that was in 1861 during the American Civil War. Even then, in extremely difficult conditions, America agreed to partially meet British demands.
It should be noted that the British demands in 1861 did not contain anything humiliating for the US. The captain of a US Navy ship had indeed broken international law, arrested people on a neutral (British) ship, and thereby encroached upon the sovereignty of the UK, nearly provoking a war. Then America disavowed the actions of its captain and freed the prisoners, albeit refusing to apologize.
But Putin is not demanding any apologies or the release of a few prisoners, but for all of American policy to be changed, and still more for Russia to be compensated for losses due to the US’ sanctions. This is an unmeetable, humiliating demand. This demand essentially means complete and unconditional surrender in the hybrid war which Washington does not consider to be irreversibly lost. And there’s still all those indemnities payments and reparations.
Something similar was demanded from the US by the British Crown before the end of the war for independence, when the Americans were still King George III’s rebellious subjects. For the last 100 years no one has even imagined talking with Washington in such a tone.
And so, the first conclusion is: Putin has deliberately and demonstratively humiliated the US. He has shown that it is possible to talk tough to the US, even tougher than the US itself has gotten used to talking down to the rest of the world.
How was this done? What did Putin actually react to? Did he actually think that the US would fulfill the Kerry-Lavrov deal and is now upset over what happened? Russia also knew that Washington has not been observing the plutonium deal for years, but Moscow has extracted serious profit from this for its nuclear industry by nearly becoming a global monopoly and is clearly not perturbed by the US’ technological backwardness preventing them from disposing of weapons-grade plutonium as stipulated in the agreement.
Russia’s tough and almost immediate reaction followed the statements of the US Secretary of State’s spokesperson to the effect that Russia will have to start sending its troops home from Syria in body bags, is going to start losing planes, and that terrorist attacks will begin to plague Russian cities.
In addition, the State Department’s statement was immediately followed by the Pentagon’s announcement that it is ready to launch a preventative nuclear strike on Russia. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also reported that Moscow knows about the US’ intention to launch an air war against Syrian government forces, which also means against the Russian contingent legally stationed in Syria.
What else formed the background for Putin’s ultimatum?: The exercises from six months ago involving air and missile defense and strategic missile systems which practiced repelling a nuclear attack on Russia and then launching a responsive counter strike. Add to this the other day’s emergency exercises involving up to 40 million Russian citizens that inspected the readiness of infrastructure and civil defense structures for a nuclear war and provided additional information to citizens on the plan of action in the cause of “X hour.”
If we take all of this together, then we can see that the US has long since informally frightened Russia with a nuclear conflict, and Moscow has regularly hinted that it is ready for such a turn of events and is not going to back down.
However, given the end of Obama’s rule and lacking absolute confidence in a Hillary Clinton victory in presidential elections, the Washington hawks have decided to raise their bets once again. And now things have reached an extremely dangerous limit in which conflict begins to reach the stage of developing independently. At this stage, nuclear Armageddon could begin over any kind of incident, including due to the incompetence of some senior Pentagon officials or White House administrators.
At this precise moment, Moscow has seized the initiative and upped the ante, but by moving the confrontation onto another plane. Unlike America, Russia is not threatening war. It is simply demonstrating its capability of giving a harsh political and economic response which can, in the event of further inappropriate behavior by the US, realize just the opposite of Obama’s dream: tearing apart Washington’s economy and financial system.
In addition, with these actions, Russia has seriously undermined the international prestige of the US by showing the whole world that America can be beaten with its own weapons. The boomerang has come back. Given such dynamics and turn of events, we might see hundreds of representatives of the American elite at the dock in the Hague not only in our lifetime, but even before the next American president serves their first four-year term in the White House.
The US has been given a choice. Either it will carry through with its threats and start a nuclear war, or it will accept the fact that the world is no longer unipolar, and begin to integrate into the new format.
We don’t know what choice Washington will make. The American political establishment has a sufficient number of ideologically-blinded, incompetent figures who are ready to burn up in a nuclear fire with the rest of a humanity rather than recognize the end of US world hegemony, which has turned out to be short-lived, senseless, and criminal. But they have to make a choice, because the longer that Washington pretends that nothing has happened, the greater the number of its vassals (who are called their allies, but have long since been bogged down in dependency) will openly and explicitly ignore American ambitions and cross over to the other side of the new perspectives of global power arrangement.
In the end, the US could be faced with the status of one of the centers of the multipolar world no longer being available for it. Not only Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans, but also Europeans will gladly take revenge against the former hegemon for their former humiliation. And they are not so humane and peace-loving as Russia.
Finally, Putin’s ultimatum is a response to all of those who were outraged that Russian tanks didn’t take Kiev, Lvov, Warsaw, and Paris in 2014 and pondered over what Putin’s plan could possibly be.
I can only repeat what I wrote back then. If you are going to confront the global hegemon, then you have to be sure that you will be capable of responding to any of its actions. The economy, army, society, and state and administrative structures should all be ready. If everything is not fully ready, then one needs to buy time and build muscle.
Now things are ready and the cards have been put on the table. Let us see what the US will respond with. But the geopolitical reality will never be the same. The world has already changed. The US has had the gauntlet publicly thrown down before it and they have not dared to pick it up right away.