The Estonian Prime Minister Redefined The West's Terms For Victory In Ukraine

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Jun 07, 2024 - 07:30 AM

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Substack,

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is considered one of the most hawkish anti-Russian figures in the West, yet it was none other than her who just redefined this bloc’s terms for victory in Ukraine. She recently told the BBC that “Victory in Ukraine is not just about territory. If Ukraine joins Nato, even without some territory, then that’s a victory because it will be placed under the Nato umbrella." This is a far cry from restoring Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders like the West hitherto claimed is its goal.

Here are several background briefings concerning the lead-up to what she just said:

* 24 May: “The US Is Now More Openly Allowing Ukraine To Use Its Arms To Strike Inside Of Russia

* 25 May: “Russia Is Open To Compromise But Won’t Agree To A Ceasefire That Doesn’t Meet Its Interests

* 26 May: “The US Is Playing A Dangerous Game Of Nuclear Chicken With Russia

* 30 May: “Putin Expects NATO, And Possibly Poland In Particular, To Escalate The Proxy War In Ukraine

* 31 May: “Is Ukraine Going Rogue Or Did It Attack Russia’s Early Warning Systems With American Approval?

They’ll now be summarized for the reader’s convenience.

Basically, the West fears Russia achieving a military breakthrough across the front lines (particularly around Kharkov Region), so it’s now more openly allowing Ukraine to use their arms to strike targets inside its neighbor’s universally recognized territory. Poland is also flirting with shooting down Russian missiles over Western Ukraine and commencing a conventional intervention there too. All the while, Ukraine started attacking Russia’s early nuclear warning systems, which is unprecedentedly dangerous.

The NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine is therefore poised to intensify, though the West’s intent appears to be to “escalate to de-escalate” in order to then freeze the conflict afterwards on comparatively better terms for their side, provided of course that the escalation remains manageable. The upcoming Swiss “peace talks” are doomed to fail, but a parallel joint Sino-Brazilian peace process might arise in their wake as explained here and culminate in a grand diplomatic gathering during November’s G20 in Rio.

Kallas’ latest comment should be interpreted in this context as signaling an interest in compromising via the Korean-like armistice scenario that was prominently floated by former NATO Supreme Commander Admiral James Stavridis in November in his op-ed about this for Bloomberg. Ukraine’s bilateral “security guarantees” with NATO members, especially the ones that it’s negotiating with the US and Poland, could be spun as de facto membership that importantly doesn’t cross Russia’s red line of formal membership.

As for Article 5, Kallas recently told the Financial Times that those who dispatch troops to Ukraine on their own as members of implied ‘coalitions of the willing’ do so at their own risk, arguing that the bloc’s mutual defense clause wouldn’t automatically be triggered in that scenario. That said, it’s unlikely that the US would hang its allies out to dry if Russia pulverizes their forces, so this sequence of events would likely provoke a crisis that could only realistically be defused through Ukraine’s asymmetrical partition.

Depending on if or when this happens, there might be a several-month-long gap between freezing the conflict in that way and the potentially planned grand diplomatic gathering in Rio this winter, during which time bilateral negotiations could take place between Russia and the US to hash out the details. To be clear, Russia might not achieve a military breakthrough, NATO members might not conventionally intervene, no brinksmanship might occur, and the conflict might continue raging at its present tempo.

Nevertheless, the significance of Kallas’ statement is that it represents the first signal from the West’s most hawkish anti-Russian faction that they might be willing to freeze the conflict instead of continuing to fight until the last Ukrainian at the risk of sparking World War III by miscalculation. The only reason why she’d do this is because she knows that Russia has already won the “race of logistics”/“war of attrition” with NATO by far and that the West’s planned maximum victory is thus unattainable.

Considering the military-strategic dynamics that were earlier described in this analysis, everything is likely about to get a lot worse before it gets any better, but the incipient Sino-Brazilian peace process leaves hope that a compromise is possible by November’s G20. For that to happen, the impending NATO-Russian escalation in Ukraine must remain manageable, but that can’t be taken for granted given how desperate some Western hawks still are to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia despite the odds.