At around 10pm Moscow time, 2pm Washington time, Russian President Putin went on television and delivered an address in which he announced he was officially recognizing the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, located on the eastern Ukrainian border and under de facto Russian control since 2014:
It is now expected that the pro-Russian authorities in those regions will vote to join the Russian Federation, and basically they are now officially part of Russia.
Russia has essentially just taken a bite out of Ukraine.
The people in Donetsk are celebrating, although it is late at night there:
Of course “The West” is freaking out, because their official position is that under absolutely no circumstances is anyone but NATO allowed to invade or annex another country.
Russia making moves in order to advance its own national interests and strengthen its geopolitical position: OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!
NATO overthrowing the government of Libya and turning the country into an anarchic hellhole with open-air slave markets: LIBERATION!!!
I mean, hell, the Washington Post just came out and said it:
Whatever. We’re the bad guys. Nothing new there.
Now the question becomes, is Putin satisfied?
I mean, obviously he’s not satisfied with the situation in Ukraine in the big picture–during his address he talked about how the West has corrupted and controlled Ukraine since 2014, and how the West is trying to alienate Ukraine from Russia.
As we just went over yesterday, that is unacceptable to Putin. His long-term goal is to fully recapture Ukraine, expel the Western interlopers, and reunite Ukraine with Russia, its historical and natural home.
But will he pursue that goal now, or will he deescalate and be satisfied with reclaiming the Donbass region?
It’s possible that although his longterm goal is to retake all of Ukraine, he will declare “Mission Accomplished” today and remove the troops from the border.
This is because he got NATO and the US all worked up over a massive invasion of Ukraine, but his actual actions were far less severe and may not even include any sort of full-scale military operations at all.
It’s a matter of expectations. He had us expecting the worst, and so he massively under-delivered, which makes it seem like his annexation of Eastern Ukraine is not such a big deal.
If he had simply announced, out of the blue and without his massive troop movement and buildup, that he was recognizing the independence of the breakaway republics, it would have been an outrageously outrageous outrage and HITLER and a VIOLATION of this and that and blah blah blah.
But now, in comparison to a full-blown invasion of Ukraine, the annexation of the breakaway republics seems like a small and insignificant action.
If Putin chooses to de-escalate now, it is essentially a win for everyone: Biden and the NATO interlopers (who are for some reason involved) get to look like big tough guys that still run the world and call the shots, Ukraine’s puppet government gets to live to see another day, and Putin gets a part of Ukraine.
And all of it without a real war!
Putin would obviously rather annex territory without having to fire a shot or put Russians–both troops and civilians–in harm’s way.
If he can continue to take bites out Ukraine in this manner, I’m sure he would prefer that.
But let us not forget that is was through Russian military action in 2014 that Donetsk and Luhansk were able to break away from Ukraine in the first place.
Plus, as we went over last week, this is Putin’s golden opportunity to recapture Ukraine. He knows it’s being increasingly alienated from Russia as its Western-puppet government promotes an Anti-Russian agenda. He also knows that with impotent and senile Biden in the White House he is dealing with a feckless America.
There is still a strong “strike while the iron’s hot” element here that favors a large-scale invasion of Ukraine that results in the recapture of the whole country.
And, it’s not as if Putin’s announcement was the end of things. The New York Times explains the significance here, and in a surprisingly level-headed, realistic and non-hysterical manner:
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has recognized the independence of two separatist regions in Ukraine, a move many fear may be the spark for a Russian military intervention against Ukraine.
The act of recognition is fraught with meaning because the borders claimed by the Russia-backed leaders of the two breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, extend beyond territory they now control, and spill over into space controlled by the Ukrainian army.
Russia’s recognition of the two regions, the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, could allow separatist leaders to request military help from Russia, further easing a path for a military offensive, Ukrainian officials say. Ukraine would likely interpret that as Russian troops entering Ukrainian territory.
So it’s possible that this move by Putin is just the opening salvo in the large-scale recapture of Ukraine.
I have said all along that I believe Putin will move to recapture Ukraine, and I don’t think today’s announcement means the “situation” is resolved or concluded.
Putin spoke at great length about how he is very displeased with what has been happening in Ukraine these past 8 years, and he sounded like a guy who is not going to tolerate it any longer.
Putin will move troops into Donetsk and Luhansk, and that will be construed as an invasion of Ukraine by both Ukraine and its Western/NATO puppet masters–because obviously they don’t recognize the sovereignty of Donetsk and Luhansk.