By: Contribution for Syrializm
There is no doubt that the West and Kiev are happy with the ability of the Ukrainians to launch attacks inside the Russian lands, which have been increasing during the last period.
But in fact, they missed that these attacks actually serve Moscow’s position and give the Kremlin irrefutable evidence, confirmation and legitimacy of the steps it’s taking, as well as confirmation of one of its most important justifications that it launched to justify the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin’s argument on the need to protect Russian lands from any Western attack turned out to be correct, and that the Russian borders with the West, and specifically the launch of any attack or targeting from Ukrainian lands, represent a real threat to Russian lands.
This reality brings us back to the fact that the same facts of history and geography imposed on the orientations of the Russian president and the orientation on which Russian strategies are based.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine was a dangerous indicator warning the world of the imminent outbreak of a new world war, but on the other hand, with the fighting in Ukraine entering its second year, the Russian military operation in Ukraine opened the doors to questions about the exposed Russian strategic position on various fronts.
Here, we must not forget the fact that Russia is fighting the West represented by all of NATO in Ukraine, and not just a group of Ukrainian soldiers or mercenaries.
The biggest question revolves around – what is the point of Russia engaging itself in a war with the entire world order, and its haste for confrontation, without being more prepared to avoid the current situation.
Could this confrontation have been postponed for some more years to come?
No objective strategic analyst can deny the magnitude of the strategic crisis that Russia is currently facing.
The special operation that was supposed to be Blitzkrieg like has turned into a stalemate, strike and counter-strike, missile strikes and drones attacks, with slow movement on the ground, as without exaggeration the Russian forces spend weeks and perhaps months until they control meters, and same goes for the other side as well.
On the other hand, the attrition continues on the opposite front in every sense of the word, as the entire West suffers with the Ukrainians from a massive drain on resources and capabilities, without realizing any significant gain.
Here we are looking at the principles of history and geography, which are two subjects that cannot be separated, because political history is governed by physical geography, which is the key to the formation of political geography.
History is driven by wars, and wars are governed by terrain and geography as a whole, and the results of wars are conditions and a political reality on the ground, and this is a summary of human life.
Russia, as a federal state, and with its current borders, even with the addition of the new lands it controlled, still suffers from a strategic dilemma governed by geography and the lessons of history.
Here it must be emphasized that given the facts and the reality imposed on Moscow, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was an imperative and urgent necessity, just as it was necessary to eliminate the rebellion in Chechnya at the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s era at all costs, and also Russia should have invaded Georgia in 2008, despite the apparent strategic or military gains from that invasion weren’t important.
Also, Russia’s concern about the increase in NATO members, especially with the entry of countries such as Finland and Sweden, is worrisome, and even very dangerous for Russian national security.
With regard to Ukraine, the Western powers have realized the importance of Russia securing its borders, especially Ukraine.
Therefore, they were seeking, perhaps systematically, to push Russia towards taking action that would plunge it into a quagmire similar to what happened to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
It’s a strategy based on the premise of repetition, on the basis that history repeats itself, and it’s impossible for a person to learn from his mistakes.
What was required was to exhaust Russia in a long-term war, but with the current situation, the other side has become exhausted as well, perhaps far more than Russia.
When we look at the map, taking into account the detachment from political considerations with regard to political borders, as well as political conditions, which have always been in a state of continuous change with the passage of time.
Russia’s dilemma lies in geography, as geography has never been Russia’s ally.
Russia can change its political approach, it can be negative in its reactions, it can also be Western-oriented, and it can have a president like Boris Yeltsin, or having Western minded blogger like Navalny which will pleased the west very much!
In short, Russia and any country in the world can change all its policies and orientations 180 degrees, but it cannot change the facts and terrain on the ground… Geography cannot be changed… A sea or a river cannot be moved from one place to another, just as mountains cannot be carried to another location.
We cannot turn the flat plains into high mountains that are difficult to move around.
In short, every element of the strategy equation is subject to change, except for the geography components, which is fixed and doesn’t change.
Perhaps if Russia were an island or a distant continent like the United States or Australia, we wouldn’t be in the midst of all that we live today.
The strategic reality governed by geography in both Russia and the European continent is plains and flat lands, known as the “Eurasian plain” or what is termed as the “Great European plains”, which extends from the Ural mountains in the east to the French coasts in the west, and from the Arctic Ocean, Scandinavia and the North Sea and the Baltic in the north to the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea, the Carpathian mountain range, the Alps and the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea in the south.
Russia has lands within this “Great European plains” within its territory, the rest is western Russia, and here is the dilemma.
The enemies of Russia historically, and the invaders of Russian lands throughout history, came from that direction… the West.
Since the Teutonic order and the wars with Poland, which Prussia has a long history of hostility, all the way to the European wars and the wars with Sweden, to Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, and Germany’s invasion of Russian lands, twice during the two world wars, all of these historical stations formed an obsession in the Russian memory, and became an image and the concept of danger in Russian culture and mentality.
By the way, all of these historical enemies, or countries that historically invaded Russia, are today within what is known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, meaning that Russia’s historical enemies have graciously volunteered to unite themselves into one force so that Russia’s understanding of danger becomes in the following form NATO = Danger.
Therefore, Russia remained dissatisfied with its security position in Eastern Europe, since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, all of whose members are now part of NATO.
The current security position of Russia in the Eastern European region is a disastrous position by all standards, so the perception of building the Russian strategic security system has been based primarily on the need for Russia to be in control of most of the Great European plains as much as possible if it wants to feel safe from direction west.
It may be a dream to control the entirety of this plain, especially since whoever looks at the map finds that the Great European plains widens as we head east, i.e. towards Russia, and narrows as we head west.
Of course, the population density increases in those areas of the west, which poses a dilemma in wars.
The length of the Russian borders adjacent to the West is thousands of kilometers, and there is no force in the world, whatever its capabilities, that can secure protection for all this area or repel any invasion.
Perhaps the greatest stage in which the Russians achieved the security equation was after the end of World War II, when the Soviet Union and a group of Warsaw Pact countries controlled nearly 70% of the area of the Great European plains, i.e. from Russia’s territory in the east to mid-Germany in the west, with the entire region Eastern Europe up to the entire coast of the northern Black Sea and the Balkans.
At that time, the strategic position of Russia was comfortable, as the entrance to it was confined to two regions, namely the Baltic Sea region in the north, the southern coasts of the Black Sea, and part of the Carpathian Mountains region.
For example, if NATO, wanted to attack Russia or the Soviet Union at that time, it had to move its forces from the narrowest point in the Great European plains, i.e. through German lands, and therefore the Soviet Union at that time put its largest military bloc in that region, as his military plans and training during most of the Cold War were based on this prospective.
However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the successive accession of its countries to NATO and the European Union, Russia has become in a very big strategic problem.
Germany united and became a member of NATO and the nucleus of the European Union, and the three Baltic countries Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia became independent from the Soviet Union and joined both the European Union and NATO.
Eastern European countries, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, which were divided into two countries, are all NATO members.
Yugoslavia, the neutral communist country, disintegrated into more than six countries, Ukraine became an independent state, Belarus and Moldova as well.
Although Belarus, for example, is still an ally of Moscow, this didn’t prevent the redlines for the defense of Russian lands to have receded to a very large length, with two loopholes represented by Ukraine and Georgia.
It’s now possible for NATO and the United States to deploy forces in vast areas extending from the Caucasus region to the north.
For example, if the Western forces entered the Russian territory through the passages in the Caucasus, for example, they would find themselves, after passing through the North Caucasus region, facing vast flat lands that allow them to move without hindrance in all directions, and with a relatively small population density, and they will continue to advance until they reach most of the major Russian cities.
Here we return to one of the biggest mistakes of the German Third Reich, and the big mistake made by Adolf Hitler in ignoring Rommel’s support in his operations in North Africa, which would have succeeded if the German army had managed to bypass the British in the Battle of El Alamein by entering Egypt and controlling the Suez Canal all the way to the entire region of the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, and Iraq, and proceeds comfortably to the north until it reaches the Caucasus, and then Operation Barbarossa to invade the Soviet Union becomes complete.
To be continued…