The Second Front

According to historian Françoise Thom, Russia has not renounced its original plan to install a pro-Russian government in Kyiv. In pursuit of this goal, not only Ukrainian people are the target of an operation of psychological war, but decision-makers circles in Washington and European capitals are being infiltrated and manipulated. Convincing the Ukrainians that Western support for Ukraine is shaky, discouraging Ukrainians from fighting to victory, is now a priority for the Kremlin.

As our eyes are riveted on the battlefield in Ukraine, we tend to forget that Russia continues to wage a parallel war against the West, this one largely invisible, just as in 1941-1945 Stalin was not fighting the Wehrmacht only: from 1942 onward, he was preparing his great thrust into post-war Europe, infiltrating the Roosevelt administration and opening schools on Soviet territory to train European Communists who would become the nuclei of the future “friendly” governments that Stalin intended to install in the “liberated” countries.

To measure the intensity of this hidden war waged by an army of moles operating from Moscow, it is necessary to clearly understand the Russian plan. This will enable us to gauge the effectiveness of the action undertaken by the Kremlin. First point: Russia has in no way abandoned its initial plan to install a pro-Russian government in Kyiv. We should not imagine that Moscow would be content with a Korean-style scenario, as its agents of influence are suggesting to the West. Russia wants to enlist the West to force Kyiv to accept the so-called “peace for territory” swap and to coerce Ukrainians to resign themselves to the amputation of their country. The real scenario in the minds of Russia’s leaders is not the Korean one: for them, a part of Ukraine integrated into the West is unacceptable. The real scenario that inspires them is the Georgian scenario of 2008-9: it consisted in stirring up the bitterness felt by Georgians after the “betrayal” of the West, in twisting the knife in the wound, so as to demoralize them, make them lose heart, make them plunge back into the corruption and cynicism characteristic of the “Russian world” and finally resign themselves to electing a new government that we now know was a government of collaboration. Without creating this feeling of betrayal by the West, Moscow will not succeed in installing a satrap in Kyiv. For the Kremlin, things look promising. Just imagine the bitterness accumulated by Ukrainians over the past few months, forced to let themselves be cut to pieces for lack of airpower and long-range missiles; just imagine how demoralized these people may be if, on top of that, the West forbids them from winning the war, all to save the day for Russian autocracy. We cannot overemphasize it: allowing Russia to amputate Ukraine is tantamount to creating in Kyiv the conditions for a pro-Russian putsch, camouflaged (or not).

The “back-channel” instrument

So the plan is clear. Now let us look at the means employed to achieve it. Historical precedents are illuminating, especially that of the Great Alliance of 1941-1945 mentioned above. As in that period, Russia’s efforts are focused on the United States. The first step was to set up a “secret channel” with the American administration. During the Second World War, this secret channel was provided by the highly Sovietophile Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt’s right-hand man. The advantage of the secret channel is that it enables Moscow to influence decision-makers directly, behind the scenes, behind the backs of the allies, sheltered from the media. It enables Western interlocutors to be pushed into decisions that are contrary to the West’s interests, which would be obvious in a public debate. It allows the disinformation leading to these decisions to be distilled, without being neutralized in time by counter-arguments. Thanks to Hopkins, who relayed the Kremlin’s propaganda, Roosevelt abandoned half of Europe to Stalin.

Before moving on to current affairs, let us cite a second example of the Kremlin’s well-honed procedure. It concerns the secret channel set up between West Germany and the Kremlin from the end of 1969. On the Soviet side, “journalist” Vyacheslav Kevorkov acted as an intermediary with Andropov. On the German side, his contact was Egon Bahr, a close associate of Chancellor Willy Brandt. This secret channel remained in place under Helmut Schmidt. Thanks to the Ostpolitik of which Egon Bahr was the architect, the USSR was able to establish a parasitic coexistence with the West that lasted for years, gave the dying Soviet economy a breath of fresh air and enabled Moscow to carry out the gigantic armaments program that is still bearing fruit today, since Putin’s army makes use of arsenals dating back to this period.

The second component of this policy is the creation of an appeasement party in the target country, which works on public opinion and exerts an influence parallel to that of the secret channel. The appeasement party deployed in parallel with the secret channel in West Germany enabled Putin to carry out his coups de force for a long time, without jeopardizing his profitable business with Germany.

William Burns, the then US ambassador, with Putin and Lavrov in Moscow in 2008 // kremin.ru

In the USA, the appeasement party has ancient roots. It dominated the Obama administration, so much so that, it may be recalled, the « reset » was proclaimed in Washington immediately after Russia amputated two of Georgia’s provinces following the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008. In the years that followed, the United States demonstrated its weakness and total lack of understanding of Russian objectives and modus operandi. The annexation of Crimea did not serve as a lesson, nor did Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on February 24. A recent article in Newsweek shows the extent to which illusions persist in part of the Washington establishment. The CIA sees its role in the Russian-Ukrainian war this way: “as a primary spy, a negotiator, a supplier of intelligence, a logistician, a wrangler of a network of sensitive NATO relations and perhaps most important of all, the agency trying to ensure the war does not further spin out of control.” The article quotes a CIA official: “Don’t underestimate the Biden administration’s priority to keep Americans out of harm’s way and reassure Russia that it doesn’t need to escalate. Is the CIA on the ground inside Ukraine? Yes, but it’s also not nefarious.” These words show the extent to which Kremlin propaganda has been internalized in Washington. Roosevelt, too, thought it necessary to “reassure” Stalin. Russia invades Ukraine, and it is Russia that needs to be reassured! Russia is trembling in its boots in the face of Western resolve! The Newsweek article goes on to say that after certain Ukrainian initiatives such as the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline (Ukraine denies any involvement in this action) or the drone attack on the Kremlin, the CIA’s big concern is its “main intelligence responsibilities—knowing enough about what the Ukrainians are planning, to both influence them and to adhere to their [the CIA’s] secret agreement with Moscow.” For the rest we quote Newsweek:

The CIA had been monitoring Russia’s buildup and in November 2021, three months before the invasion, Biden dispatched Burns [William Burns, the CIA chief, ambassador to Moscow from 2005 to 2008] to Moscow to warn the Kremlin of the consequences of any attack. Though the Russian president snubbed Biden’s emissary by staying at his retreat in Sochi on the Black Sea, 800 miles away, he did agree to speak with Burns via a Kremlin secure phone. “In some ironic ways though, the meeting was highly successful,” says the second senior intelligence official, who was briefed on it. Even though Russia invaded, the two countries were able to accept tried and true rules of the road. The United States would not fight directly nor seek regime change [in Russia], the Biden administration pledged. Russia would limit its assault to Ukraine and act in accordance with unstated but well-understood guidelines for secret operations. “There are clandestine rules of the road,” says the senior defense intelligence official, “even if they are not codified on paper, particularly when one isn’t engaged in a war of annihilation.” This includes staying within day-to-day boundaries of spying, not crossing certain borders and not attacking each other’s leadership or diplomats. “Generally the Russians have respected these global red lines, even if those lines are invisible,” the official says.”

We now understand why Putin chose the term “special military operation” to designate the war of annihilation of the Ukrainian nation that he planned to wage in that country. The idea was to fool not only the Russians, but also the Americans. It is also clear why Putin literally grew wings after this meeting, to the point of issuing the infamous ultimatum to NATO. Burns had practically given him carte blanche to attack Ukraine, provided he did not attack NATO countries. This disgraceful episode did not prevent the Americans from relaunching “back-channel diplomacy”: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met for several hours in April in New York with Richard Haass, a former diplomat and outgoing president of the Council on Foreign Relations, European expert Charles Kupchan and Russian expert Thomas Graham, both former White House and State Department officials and members of the Council on Foreign Relations. On the agenda were the fate of the occupied territorieswhich Ukraine may never be able to liberate“, and “the search for an elusive diplomatic off-ramp that could be tolerable to both sides.” “Signs are mounting that the U.S. and its allies are eager for Moscow and Kyiv to move toward peace talks in the fall after Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive is completed.”

Clearly, incomprehension of Russia has not changed in the United States (in Europe it is a different story, with France and Germany finally realizing that the Baltic states and Poland were right to warn against Russia). The Moscow Times revealed on July 27 that secret diplomatic talks are underway between former senior US national security officials and high-ranking members of the Kremlin, a fact confirmed by a former US official directly involved in these exchanges. Meetings between US and Kremlin officials reportedly take place at least twice a month, often via an online format. One of the American interlocutors of this secret channel formed from these talks the impression “that the Russians were unable to articulate what exactly they wanted and needed.” “They don’t know how to define victory or defeat. In fact, some of the elites to whom we spoke had never wanted the war in the first place, even saying it had been a complete mistake. […] But now they’re at war — suffering a humiliating defeat is not an option for these guys.” Once again, we find ourselves faced with American ignorance of Russian diplomatic procedures, even though these are well analyzed in the Memoirs of Roosevelt-era diplomats like Charles Bohlen, who had come to know the score. In this type of confidential exchange, the Russians never reveal their cards, letting their adversary speak, so as to realize the possible concessions to be pocketed during an initial phase, just to prime the pump. Of course, there is the familiar refrain: don’t humiliate Russia. Can you imagine that in April 1945, the Allies’ main concern was to “allow Hitler to save face”, “not to humiliate Germany”? This simple question is a measure of the power of the appeasement party in the West. But there is more. Let us continue with the confidences of a privileged Moscow interlocutor: “We made clear that the U.S. was prepared to work constructively with Russian national security concerns. An attempt to isolate and cripple Russia to the point of humiliation or collapse would make negotiating almost impossible — we are already seeing this in reticence from Moscow officials. In fact, we emphasized that the U.S. needs, and will continue to need, a strong enough Russia to create stability along its periphery. The U.S. wants a Russia with strategic autonomy in order for the U.S. to advance diplomatic opportunities in Central Asia. We in the U.S. have to recognize that total victory in Europe could harm our interests in other areas of the world. Russian power is not necessarily a bad thing.

Charles Kupchan at the Valdai annual conference in 2019 // valdaiclub.com

Let us summarize the advantages of the “secret channel” and “back track diplomacy” for Moscow. The Western interlocutor chosen is necessarily either committed to the Russian cause, or a “useful idiot”, otherwise Moscow would refuse contact – the very meeting is seen as a favor granted by the Kremlin! Opposite this figure puffed up by a feeling of self-importance are KGB professionals who are masters of influence techniques. Negotiations become an end in themselves, and Moscow sets out its conditions for them from the outset, an explicit capitulation on the part of the American “partner”, obliged to recognize Russia’s sphere of influence in the former Soviet space and to let down its Ukrainian ally. But above all, this type of contact is a privileged means for the Kremlin to test the effectiveness of particular disinformation themes before injecting them into the West in massive doses.

The main axes of Russian disinformation

If there is one lesson that the Kremlin’s leaders have learned from what happened after February 24, 2022, it is that without the West and without Ukraine, Russia sinks into insignificance. Because sanctions work, and it is only now that this is becoming obvious. In particular, we are witnessing the growing dilapidation of Russia’s transport system as a whole – air, rail, road, and municipal. The collapse of the ruble will have a snowball effect, as Russians will have to fork out more foreign currency to ensure the “parallel import” of electronics and microprocessors indispensable to missiles and other armaments. The two main aims of Russian disinformation are therefore: to co-opt the West as quickly as possible so that western countries start contributing again to the build up of Russian power; and to reinstate imperial control on Ukraine for the same reason, to enlist Ukrainians in the task of maintaining and expanding the empire. By committing the incredible folly of steering Russia toward a project of autarky, Putin has brought the country face to face with itself, forcing it to recognize that, left to its own devices, it becomes irrelevant, to the point where even its ability to do harm is compromised.

The Russian leadership’s priority now is to tilt the United States on Moscow’s side. Europe will follow, Kremlin leaders believe, for they have not taken the measure of the profound changes that the war against Ukraine has brought about in Europe. In their eyes, Putin’s mistake is to have tried to impose himself on both the United States and Europe. Yet the example of 1943-1945 shows that Moscow can only extend its domination in Europe once it has Washington on its side. Stalin understood this before the “vertigo of success” clouded his judgment. The idea of Russian disinformers is therefore to make the United States nostalgic of a remake of the Soviet-American condominium. Several arguments are put forward to encourage Washington to lift sanctions and get down to the task of resurrecting Russian power. The first is well known, and has been trumpeted for years by Russian agents of influence and their dupes on both sides of the Atlantic. Russia must not be thrown into the arms of China. This theme is repeated in exchanges in the secret channel, because the Russians know how sensitive the Americans are to it: “On the subject of Russia’s deepening relationship with China, completely severing ties between Moscow and Beijing was unrealistic. However, efforts should be made to limit the extent of this relationship“, confides the American interlocutor quoted in the Moscow Times.

Blackmailing with chaos

But this argument is now overshadowed by a second one: if Russia does not win in Ukraine, Putin’s regime will collapse and there will be chaos, of which we already have a foretaste with Prigozhin’s march on Moscow. And in the event of the dissolution of the Russian Federation, what will happen to the many nuclear weapons stored on Russian territory? This theme had already worked admirably in 1991, when the West, fearful of chaos, did everything in its power to keep Gorbachev’s head above water and dissuade the nations of the USSR from proclaiming their independence. But here again, the story goes back much further. In his first interview with French ambassador Joseph Noulens on December 18, 1917, Trotsky had a powerful argument to interest France in the survival of the Bolshevik regime: “In any case, if we succumb, Russia is doomed to anarchy for ten years, and the Germans will become its masters1 . At the same time, the Bolsheviks were persuading the Germans that it was in their interest to support Lenin’s regime, otherwise the Entente countries would take advantage of Russian chaos to install a White general in power who would be favorable to them! Today, as we have seen, they brandish the threat of a Sino-Russian alliance.
From the earliest days of the Bolshevik regime, the Kremlin’s leaders masterfully used Russian chaos to manipulate the West. In March 1953, instead of rejoicing at Stalin’s death, Western diplomats panicked… at the idea of the strongman’s demise. French Ambassador Louis Joxe wrote in a dispatch dated March 4, 1953: “Insofar as only a strong man was capable of imposing moderation and even accepting certain setbacks, insofar as the small group of men who are going to take power will need to assert themselves, we can admit that the situation created by Stalin’s death portends difficult times2 . Foreign Office chief Anthony Eden was no less concerned, believing like many others that Stalin exerted a balancing influence that his successors would lack3 . President Eisenhower said he was convinced from personal experience that, had Stalin had a free hand after the war, Russia would have sought more peaceful and normal relations with the world4 . The CIA believed that it would be dangerous to take for granted that Stalin’s successors would have his prudence, his respect for the power potential of the United States, or his control over all USSR agents5 . All these precedents should make us think twice before accepting as self-evident allegations about the perils entailed by the demise of the strong man in Russia.

Lately, the theme of Russia’s apocalyptic collapse in the event of military defeat has become the obligatory commonplace of almost all experts, Russians from the establishment, theoretically anti-Putin Russians from the diaspora, and Western observers with a propensity to be influenced by Russian analyses, even when those observers are critical of Putin’s policies. The Russian diaspora is particularly mobilized. Tatiana Stanovaya, a Carnegie Fund expert, writes in Foreign Affairs: “Prigozhin’s mutiny has pushed the situation to the extreme and could pave the way for the emergence of a more radicalized, warmongering and ruthless state. … The order Putin has built will become messier, and the world will have to deal with a more dangerous and unpredictable Russia.” Influential columnist David Ignatius echoes her view: “In their disorientation, Russians are looking for order and victory. According to confidential polls cited by Stanovaya, Russians support Putin more strongly than before the war, they are angrier at the West and they express strong support for their troops. Russia’s internal disarray poses a serious dilemma for Putin, but it is also very dangerous for the West.6 So Russia threatens us with both autocracy and chaos, and the only way to avoid these apocalyptic scenarios is to hand over Ukraine. Note the use made of so-called polls in Russia, which, confidential or not, are merely indicators of the Kremlin’s will. The Kremlin is a master at manipulating sociology as a tool for influencing Westerners.

Before moving on to the second part of the Kremlin’s psychological warfare, let us do justice to the West’s irrational phobia of Russian chaos. The disintegration of Russia that we hear so much about is highly unlikely to happen (the only region likely to be destabilized is the North Caucasus). The Russian population has reached such a degree of inertia and fatalism that it is hard to imagine it launching into a civil war. You only need to look at the way the mobilized allow themselves to be obediently led to the slaughterhouse in an absurd war. In the event of Putin’s demise, we can expect gang warfare, “a great criminal redistribution of property,” as economist Igor Lipsits puts it. We can expect a collapse of law and order, with all the convicts released by Prigozhin and police numbers plummeting. But Prigozhin’s march on Moscow must be correctly interpreted. It shows that, contrary to all the hype and bogus polls, the war has not encouraged Russians to rally around Putin. In the event of a crisis at the top, Putin would be abandoned by everyone, including the siloviki, just as Nicholas II was in March 1917. Above all, it shows that the Russians, disappointed with Putin, are already looking for a new strongman, and many of them were ready to follow Prigozhin – as in La Fontaine’s beautiful fable « The Frogs Who Ask for a King »:
He whom they thought was a new giant./But he was a log […] Give us, said these people, a king who stirs.” Such a state of mind makes civil war unlikely. As soon as the elites agree on a new leader, the Russians, broken into servitude by 70 years of Sovietism and 23 years of Putinism, will stand to attention before him.

But there is no reason why the West should encourage this resurgence of Russian autocracy under the pretext of “stability.” The experience of Putinism should have taught us that nothing is more dangerous than an uncontrolled autocrat with nuclear weapons. Russia was chaotic from 1917 to 1919. It was too busy installing dictatorship on its own territory to do any serious harm in the West. But as soon as the Bolsheviks had triumphed over the White armies and established their tyranny in the country in the spring of 1920, we find the Red Army at the gates of Warsaw, and Lenin busy destabilizing Central Europe and Germany. In the event of chaos in Russia, the best policy is that of the cordon sanitaire, advocated by Clemenceau on December 11, 1919, when the failure of the White Armies was obvious: “surround Russia with barbed wire” to prevent it from doing any harm to the outside world, “and wait7 . In January 1918, French diplomat Louis de Robien was of the opinion that order would be re-established in Russia “by foreigners, since it has been demonstrated that the Russians know only how to destroy8 . In the months that followed, Westerners were convinced that it was better not to meddle in Russian affairs, as they were unable to find reliable and capable partners. This lesson is still valid today. The best way to remedy the “anti-Western paranoia that has long been the temptation of Russia’s leaders” (quoting former French President Nicolas Sarkozy) is to stand firm and refuse to cave in to the Kremlin in all things, contrary to what Sarkozy implied in his recent interview with Le Figaro, an anthology of the topoi of Russian disinformation. Let Russia stew in its own juices, preventing the Kremlin from doing any harm outside its borders. Isolating the sick and putting them on a diet is often the best therapy. Let us take advantage of the fact that Putin has done the work for us. Instead of allowing the Kremlin to project fear abroad by brandishing the nuclear threat, let us improve our missile defenses. And if there really is chaos in Russia, to the point where the risk of uncontrolled nuclear proliferation becomes real, it is more rational to think of ways, military and otherwise, to secure nuclear sites than to seek to recreate a strong power in Moscow that will once again use nuclear weapons as an instrument of intimidation.

By this orchestrated blackmail of chaos the Kremlin wants to make sure that the West will forbid the Ukrainians from defeating Russia. The theme of chaos is reinforced by that of an allegedly dangerous nationalist reaction in Russia if Russian troops are forced to leave occupied Ukrainian territories. Here again, historical precedents tell a different story. The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in 1989 was greeted with relief in Russia, as was the compromise peace with Chechnya in 1996. The same is likely to happen if Russia were to evacuate the occupied regions of Ukraine.

The demoralization of Ukraine

Today, the men of the Kremlin still harbor the hope of being able to achieve their initial objectives in Ukraine. The war of attrition led by Moscow is a Katyn in slow motion, pursuing the same goal as the execution of Polish officers in the spring of 1940: to destroy the cadres of independent Poland (now Ukraine). Russian leaders believe they have succeeded in convincing the West to prevent Ukraine’s victory. While they were worried stiff in the spring, the divine surprise for them was the fact that the West refrained from supplying Kyiv with sufficient weapons to ensure victory for the Ukrainian army in their summer counter-offensive. They feel the time has come for them to exploit the understandable bitterness of Ukrainians, who are forced to fight with their fists and feet tied against an adversary to whom the West has granted a monopoly on escalation, – and to move on to phase 2 of their psychological warfare, fanning in Ukraine the flames of the feeling of betrayal by the Western “partners” to pave the way for a political crisis that will catapult camouflaged pro-Russians to power in Kyiv.

We have already mentioned the publications highlighting the so-called secret talks between American and Russian emissaries. The convergence between these “leaks” and a multitude of articles appearing in the American press repeating over and over again that the Ukrainians will not be able to reconquer the occupied territories, in spite of all the military help given by the West, strongly resembles a joint enterprise orchestrated by the appeasement party and the Kremlinophile networks mobilized in the West. Professor Valery Solovey, whose videos on YouTube are very popular in the Ukraine, has his place in this scheme. For years, Solovey has been able to indulge with impunity in criticisms of Putin a hundred times more devastating than those of Navalny. He therefore fulfils an important function in the Russian establishment. At least since 2019, he has been spreading the theory that Putin has one foot in the grave, and that he will be succeeded by a team of very good people, Chekists and technocrats, including himself: the conclusion is that the concessions made to Moscow will be of no consequence, since we are heading for imminent de-Putinization. Lately, his murky role has become more obvious: it is clear that he has to give credence in Ukraine to the thesis that Ukrainians are going to be abandoned by the Americans in favor of the old, comfortable Russian-American relationship that existed during the Cold War. Solovey insists that contacts between Russians and Americans are on the increase, with Russian interlocutors including Patrushev, Chemezov and Abramovich. In his view, the West would like nothing better than to come to an agreement with a coalition of siloviki and technocrats, as long as they do not include personalities involved in the Russian-Ukrainian war. These will have to be content to remain behind the scenes. Russia will make the lifting of sanctions a condition for the payment of reparations to Ukraine. “If the exaggerated hopes pinned on the Ukrainian counter-offensive are disappointed, the West will put pressure on Kyiv for peace negotiations“. In support of his thesis, Solovey asserts that the Americans, who in September 2022 were determined to inflict a resounding military defeat on Russia, changed their policy as early as November, as became clear when a missile fell on Polish territory. “If the Americans had immediately called a NATO meeting to discuss the implementation of Article 5, I can assure you that the [Russian] military operations would have ended immediately and President Putin would have been driven from office. All it would have taken was for NATO to show that it intended to take this incident seriously. […] Thus, for the first time, the Americans clearly demonstrated that they had given up on inflicting a strategic defeat on Russia. What followed only confirmed to Russian leaders that the Americans were much more hesitant than they had thought in September.” It became clear, Solovey continued, that the Americans had switched to “a policy of containment of Russia, and that they wanted a peace that would spare the Kremlin“. As a result, they are handing over old weapons to the Ukrainians, and effective systems such as Himars are only being supplied piecemeal. “If these high-tech systems had been granted in larger quantities, the Ukrainian summer offensive would have been much more effective, even without air superiority“. The Americans were afraid of Russian chaos. They were afraid “of throwing Russia into the arms of Beijing“, whereas Russia, Solovey points out, “can become the strategic partner, if not the ally, of the United States, sooner than we think“. What is more, continues Solovey, distilling his venom drop by drop, the Americans, despite their pro-Ukrainian rhetoric, cannot tell the difference between the Russians and the Ukrainians: in their eyes, the Russians and the Ukrainians are barbarians ripping each other apart on the bangs of the civilized world. As for European countries, “some of them don’t want Ukraine to be victorious under any circumstances“. These are the countries of “old Europe”, unwilling to see the weight of “new Europe” reinforced by Ukraine. The Ukrainians were wrong to believe in massive military aid from the West. They will not be able to snatch victory. “Ukraine will be demographically exhausted faster than Russia“. And Solovey goes on: “The West does not believe in the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive“. Better still, “the West has no intention of dismantling Putin’s regime […] for it, the most important thing is that there should be no chaos in Russia, and that nuclear weapons should be under the control of the central power […] the West is only interested in stability, and will only deal with those who seem capable of preventing chaos“. Washington’s objective is to weaken the Russian regime while keeping it afloat. It is the Ukrainians whom the Americans are cynically sacrificing to achieve the first goal.

On Russian television, we hear new notes, which make Solovey’s participation in the Kremlin’s propaganda machine even more obvious, Solovey playing on a more insidious register. Whereas the Solovyov /Skabeeva family used to yap that the West was not denying Ukraine anything, Colonel Khodaryonok recently pointed out on air that of the 500 Himars produced by the USA, some twenty [actually only 34] have been delivered to Ukraine. Of the 700 M-270 multiple rocket launchers available to NATO countries, 15 have been supplied to Ukraine. The Americans have 500 Abrams tanks and have not delivered a single one to Ukraine. They have announced their intention to deliver seven in the autumn [actually 31], and still an obsolete version, Khodarionok points out with relish, pretending to sympathize with Ukrainians. “The Ukrainians are totally dependent on these deliveries from Western countries. If these supplies stop, the war will end.”

As we have seen, one of the aims of the systematic leaks concerning the secret channels is to persuade the Ukrainians that the Americans will come to an agreement with the Russians behind their backs, just as Stalin and Roosevelt did with the Poles. The head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, has just confirmed that “rare, but regular” consultations continue between the SVR and the CIA. The heads of these intelligence services “discussed what to do with Ukraine”. Naryshkin also hints that “once Russia achieves the objectives of the special military operation” in Ukraine, the Americans will return to business as usual – just as Solovei likes to repeat that the Europeans will scramble to get back into the Russian market, as soon as the Ukrainian question is settled.

The second part of the plan is to demonstrate the power of the pro-Russian lobby and the party of Western appeasers mobilized by the Kremlin for this purpose in the West. Hence the barrage of publications and interviews in the Western media. Anonymous sources report disagreements between the US military and the Ukrainian command. We are told that US intelligence officials no longer believe in the victory of the Ukrainian counter-offensive. Stian Jenssen, NATO Secretary General’s Chief of Staff, suggests that Ukraine could join the Alliance if it gave up territory to Russia. Sarkozy proposes to organize a new referendum “incontestable, i.e. organized under the strict control of the international community” in Crimea, taking up an initiative formulated on June 11 by Margarita Simonyan, the voice of the Kremlin: a referendum which would be as credible as the elections organized in 1946 by Stalin in the future People’s Democracies, with the results desired by the authorities being obtained by the same methods, i.e. systematic repression of opponents, a regime of terror, deportations, propaganda bludgeoning, corruption, etc. In this vein Pope Francis tops the list. He did not know better than to praise Russian imperialism before the young believers of Saint Petersburg: “You are the heirs of Great Russia, never forget this heritage.*” *

Such is the gigantic psychological war machine deployed in Russia that Westerners and Ukrainians alike must be aware of this. Once the Kremlin’s objectives and modus operandi are understood, the game can be won. On the battlefield too.

She has a degree in classical literature and spent 4 years in the USSR from 1973 to 1978. She is an agrégée in Russian and teaches Soviet history and international relations at Paris Sorbonne.

Footnotes

  1. Joseph Noulens, Mon ambassade en Russie soviétique, Plon 1933, t.1, p. 176
  2. MAE Europe 1944-1960, sous-série URSS, 114, f. 7
  3. MAE Europe 1944-1960, sous-série URSS, 114, f. 11
  4. K. Larres, K. Osgood (éd), The Cold War after Stalin’s death, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, p. 80
  5. P. Grose, Gentleman Spy, London 1995, p. 351
  6. David Ignatius, “Putin chokes on the Ukrainian ‘porcupine’”, Washington Post, 8 Aug 2023
  7. George A. Brinkley, *Allied Intervention in South Russia, *University of Notre Dame Press, 1966, p. 209
  8. Louis de Robien, Journal d’un diplomate en Russie, Vuibert 2017, p. 256

See also

Why the Anti-jewish Riots in the North Caucasus?

The pogrom at Makhachkala airport took the world by surprise. How should we interpret this event? Was it spontaneous or was it a manipulation by Russian power which thus sought to send messages to the West and Israel?

Why Putin Chooses Chaos

Putin’s speech to Valdai unambiguously states his intention to destroy the international order and create chaos in its place in order to indulge in depredations without constraint. The support for Hamas displayed by Putin and his propagandists perfectly illustrates these aspirations.

Most read

Russian Expansionism: Enduring Goals and Recurring Methods

Russia's messianic, expansionist and militarist propensity is inseparable from the autocratic matrix of Russian power.

The Great Russian Pretence

The Russian propaganda discourse resonates with certain conservatives. Our author looks at the way in which, far from defending a European “civilization”, the Putin regime has transformed into an “eschatological sect”.