US Is Intentionally Provoking Putin in Ukraine

December 14th, 2022 - by Mike Whitney / The Unz Review

Putin Shrugs-Off Washington’s
Provocations and ‘Sticks to Business’

Mike Whitney  / The Unz Review

(December 11, 2022) — Last week’s drone attacks on Russian military bases represent a serious escalation in Washington’s proxy war on Russia. One of the attacks involved an airfield that is located less than 200 miles from Moscow. Naturally, the incident rankled Russian President Vladimir Putin who convened an emergency meeting of his Security Council to explore the options for retaliatory strikes.

We have no doubt that Russia’s Top Brass recommended tit-for-tat missile strikes beyond Ukraine’s borders as a form of equal payback. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the military stuck with its current strategy of obliterating critical infrastructure in cities across the country. The attacks on Ukraine’s fragile electrical grid are the essential preparation for the launching of a widely-anticipated winter offensive.

Here’s more from an article at the World Socialist Web Site:

Yesterday’s drone attack on an airfield in Kursk marks a major escalation in NATO’s war against Russia…. The location of the attacks and their implementation points once again to the direct involvement of the United States…. The bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines… The explosions in Sevastopol’s naval harbour on October 29 (and) The November 15 explosions in a Polish farming village that killed two civilians…. Every one of these actions reeks of covert US and NATO involvement, each more reckless and potentially dangerous than the last….
A pattern is emerging — one in which the US and NATO keep pushing against Russia in order to test how far they can go without provoking a response from the Putin regime….
The relentless and reckless escalation of the war by the United States carries with it the risk of the Russian government responding with a major escalation of its own, with potentially catastrophic consequences.” 
(“Drone attacks on Russian airbases: A major escalation in the war authored in Washington“, Chris Marsden, World Socialist Web Site)

NATO: Washington’s Global Army

Just hours after the third attack, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken delivered a statement denying any responsibility for the incident. He said:

“We have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia.” Not surprisingly, Blinken’s denial fell well-short of a formal repudiation of the attack itself which one might have expected. More to the point, it appears that the US was directly involved given that “Both NATO and Russian observers (claim) US satellite involvement in attacks on Russian bases.”

Here’s what they found:

Multiple military sources in NATO countries as well as Russia ….. report that the reconditioned Russian Tu-141 drones that Ukraine launched at Russian air bases downlinked US satellite GPS data to hit their targets.

The 1970s-vintage Russian recon drones were converted into cruise missiles, fitted with new guidance systems and directed by American satellites, the sources said. Ukraine does not have the capability to guide missiles on its own, they added.

Russia’s Defense Ministry identified one of the weapons as the Tu-141 in a December 6 statement. According to Russian military sources, the Russians identified the Tu-141 from fragments recovered after the missiles struck Russia’s Dyagilevo and Engels air force bases.

If, contrary to Blinken’s denial, the United States provided guidance for the missile attack, then Washington must be well aware that this brings NATO forces to the brink of direct involvement in the Ukraine war and the Biden administration must be prepared to run that risk.” (“Military sources: Ukraine missiles used US guidance,Asia Times)

So, what does this new incitement mean and how will it affect the conduct of the war?

We think Washington has adopted a new tactical approach that could be called “calculated recklessness”, that is:
• The US is launching meticulously planned attacks that are made to look like impulsive acts of aggression by their proxy, Ukraine.
• The objective of these attacks is to provoke Moscow into an overreaction, that is, retaliatory strikes on targets outside of Ukraine.
• That, in turn, could be used as a justification for NATO’s entrance into the conflict which, ostensibly, is Washington’s goal.

Ukrainian drone strikes fuel depot deep inside Russia.

It appears, however, that Putin and his advisors have resisted the temptation to expand the war beyond the current battlespace. This is from an article at Southfront (“Kiev plays dangerous games with Russian long-range aviation”):

In response to Kiev’s attempts to disrupt the work of Russian aviation, Russian forces launched another massive strike at military and energy facilities throughout Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that all 17 targets in Ukraine were hit. Explosions were reported in more than 10 regions of the country.

Strikes on infrastructure facilities led to another collapse of the entire energy system of Ukraine. Due to the imbalance in the system, a wave of emergency power outages is still rolling across the country, accompanied by massive accidents in the power grid…

The lack of electricity, water and communications throughout the country is accompanied by loud statements from Kiev that the Ukrainian Air Defense allegedly successfully intercepted almost all Russian missiles.”

In other words, Putin has not been baited into the escalation that Washington seeks, but that doesn’t mean he won’t call up additional reservists to form territorial defense units in multiple areas along Russia’s western flank. We think he will. Moscow can no longer ignore the threat of future attacks or incursions on its own soil. It must bulk up its manpower and prepare for the worst. Gradually, Russia is moving towards a full wartime mobilization.

What is particularly interesting about this new escalation is that contradicts the administration’s original commitment to prevent the conflict from spreading beyond Ukraine’s borders. This is from the WSWS:

The United States, having instigated and provoked a war that has killed tens of thousands of Ukrainians, has crossed not only Russia’s “red lines,” but its own…. In May, Biden published an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine,” in which he stated that “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”
But Washington has done precisely that, giving targeting information, weapons, and logistics support that have allowed Ukraine to attack deep inside Russian territory.”

Washington’s promises means nothing. US actions are guided by self-interest alone and by an insatiable thirst for power. That means we should expect to see similar provocations in the future as Washington pushes the envelope in its effort draw Russia into a wider war that will likely engulf the region. Here’s more from the World Socialist Web Site:

The bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines… The explosions in Sevastopol’s naval harbor on October 29 (and) the November 15 explosions in a Polish farming village that killed two civilians…. Every one of these actions reeks of covert US and NATO involvement, each more reckless and potentially dangerous than the last….
The latest attacks deep inside Russian territory could have been orchestrated by sections of the US military, intelligence and political elite… no matter how potentially disastrous the outcome of such brinksmanship might be.” 

The analysts at the WSWS have never accepted the fiction that the US is merely assisting Ukraine in its struggle against the Russian boogieman. From the very beginning, they have grasped that the conflict was largely a US concoction aimed at using proxies to weaken Russia in order to achieve its broader geopolitical goals.

These latest attacks confirm that the United States is committed to resolving this crisis through the use of military force. That means a negotiated settlement is not only out-of-the-question, but is seen as anathema to Washington’s strategic objectives.

As foreign policy analyst John Mearsheimer points out in a recent interview, there are no longer any “realistic options” for how the war can be brought to an end. The differences are irreconcilable, there is no willingness to compromise, and the US sees military confrontation as the solution. Bottom line: Escalation is inevitable.

Here’s part of a recent interview with Mearsheimer that underscores the hopelessness of the current situation in Ukraine which is bound to get worse before it gets better.

John Mearsheimer:
The West Is Playing Russian Roulette

Freddie Sayers interviews political scientist John Mearsheimer, a proponent of realism in international relations. Recorded in London on November 28, 2022.

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