Newly Declassified Russian Document Hints That What’s Coming in Ukraine May Be Too Big for Biden To Handle

A dispatch to diplomatic missions lays groundwork for a new Kremlin offensive President Zelensky says could come by May.

Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin pool via AP
President Putin at Moscow, October 9, 2023. Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin pool via AP

A document dated two days  before the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spells out Moscow’s positions on the bloody conflict in unambiguous terms. It suggests that the Kremlin has not been deterred — on the contrary, it will likely double down on what it terms its “special military operation” in the year to come. 

President Zelensky said over the weekend that he expects Russia will prepare new counteroffensive operations by early summer. This could bode more woe not only for Ukraine, but also trouble for President Biden, whose inconsistent foreign policy in an election year risks becoming an international political liability.

Barring a major shift in White House strategy, that could also present an opportunity for rival candidates, regardless of party stripes, particularly as despite significant troop losses Russia seeks to capitalize on recent gains in eastern Ukraine and looks set to dig in.

In a press release that Russian Federation embassies around the world dispatched to their diplomatic counterparts and was obtained by the Sun, the Russians — yet again — laid the blame for the war squarely on Western shoulders and cast it as a conflict not between Russian and Ukraine but rather between Russia and America and its Western allies.

The Kremlin seeks to discredit completely modern Ukraine’s borders as established in 1991 upon the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The four-page document, tersely titled “Situation Around Ukraine,” was kept under wraps until February 22, likely in an attempt by Moscow to get ahead of the widespread press coverage of Vladimir Putin’s invasion hitting the two-year mark on February 24.

“The сuггепt situation did not агisе уеstегdау and is а diгесt consequence of the histогiсаl confrontation between Russia and the West, the desire of NATO countries to inflict a strategic defeat on us and remove Russia as an independent power from the world political map,” the missive reads in part. 

It adds derisively, “Ukraine is only a tool in the hands of our enemies and equally a springboard for attacks against Russia. Any attempts by Western countries to present the current crisis as a bilateral conflict between Russia and Ukraine are hypocritical and untrue.”

That last bit, coupled with the added words that “the Kiev regime launches terrorist attacks on civilian and social facilities in Russia, resulting in deaths and injuries,” is one of the clearest official indications yet that Ukrainian strikes in Russian border regions, largely through drones, are starting to inflict pain on the Kremlin which is largely powerless to stop them. 

With the declaration, “Despite the fact that sensible elites in unfriendly countries increasingly realize the futility of financial injections into Ukraine and its inability to win on the battlefield, the U.S. and its satellites continue to contribute in every possible way to further escalation of the conflict,” the Kremlin seemed to anticipate the presence at Kyiv over the weekend of staunchly pro-Ukrainian European leaders like Ursula von der Leyen, who met with Mr. Zelensky and pledged continuing support. 

For Russia, “a just settlement is possible only if the Kiev regime stops the hostilities and terrorist attacks, and its Western sponsors cease to pour arms into the Ukrainian armed forces,” its statement says.

Moscow also took aim at the 10-point peace plan that Mr. Zelensky has propounded as the only viable way to end the war. “The Kiev regime and its handlers continue to promote the so-called ‘peace formula’ of Vladimir Zelensky, which is essentially a set of his ultimatums and actually requires Russia’s capitulation,” the document reads.

Mr. Putin goes on to aver that “they want to force us to abandon the liberated territories, to leave the Russian people who voted in favor of reunification with their motherland to the mercy of Ukrainian Nazis.” Language like that underscores not only how warped the Russian thinking is but signals the uphill battle faced by anyone who seeks to challenge that mentality.

Two years on, it appears that layers of economic sanctions aren’t really doing the trick. As a measure of the Kremlin’s clumsiness, each time officials attempt to make a cogent point they almost reflexively undercut it with verbiage that veers on lunacy — and that makes for amusing reading, but presents fresh headaches for Western leaders.

“The original foundations of Ukraine’s sovereignty — its neutral, non-bloc and nuclear-free status — must be confirmed,” the document reads, but adds that “the new territorial realities … must be recognized and the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine and the rights of its Russian-speaking citizens and national minorities must be ensured.”

What it fails to mention is that those “new territorial realities” were forged by means of Russian jackboots, missile strikes, artillery fire, and illegal annexations of sovereign Ukrainian territory. The document refers to the Euromaidan uprising of 2014, in which the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was removed from office, as a “coup d’état.”

While there were multiple reports of meddling in Ukrainian politics then, it was also in 2014 that Russia ramped up its arming of Russian separatists in the Donbas, and annexed Crimea. It remains Mr. Putin’s view that, as the document puts it, “everything Russian, including the identity, culture and traditions of the population of the vast territories of the south and east” of Ukraine, was denied, creating “an irreversible blow to the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the 1991 borders.”

Finally, the statement attempts to discredit the Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015 which aimed in two iterations to bring the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine to heel and implement a ceasefire. While it is correct that leaders from the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk were party to the first set of Minsk accords, they were not officially recognized — a salient detail the Kremlin omits.

The New York Sun

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